Sunday, 20 November 2022


Index of this Newsletter



1.1. UGC’s new draft norms to ease procedures for autonomy status to colleges
1.2. FIFA-AIFF to implement Football4Schools, aims to empower students with life skills and competencies
2.1. Green hydrogen, electrolyzer projects may get ₹12k cr sops
2.2. Jakson Green to invest Rs. 22,400 crore (US$ 2.71 billion) in green hydrogen project in Rajasthan
3.1. ReNew Power to Invest ₹30,000 cr
3.2. Made in India 5G gear to be commercially available by March: DoT secretary
4. Hyderabad bags World Green Cities Awards 2022 in 2 categories
5.1. ‘Shiv Nadar India’s Most Generous, Gave ₹3 cr a Day’
5.2. 66% of schools didn’t have internet access in 21-22 academic year: Report


6.1. India Lifted 415 Million Out of Poverty in 15 Years, says UN
6.2. India's sugar output to be higher at 36.5 million tonnes in 2022-23 marketing season: ISMA
7.1. India cotton output seen rising 12% on bigger crop area, says trade body
7.2. Indiscriminate cultivation of water-intensive crops depleting groundwater more than climate change: ICRISAT study
8. Tata Power is creating a solar-energy heavyweight, and your rooftop has got a lot to do with it
9.1. The Spotlight may come to India as it never has before. And that’s terrific
9.2. Amazon India Set to Deliver Third-party Ecommerce Orders
10.1. Tracing the Journey Of An ‘Indomitable’ Working Womans
10.2. Ten years of India’s unicorns: what global private capital got wrong in the country


11.1. ‘Boeing Order could Bring in More Investments to India’
11.2. Why it is time for Indian pharma to step up R&D investments
12. HUL in talks to buy Wellbeing Nutrition, Conscious Foods
13.1. A fire that charred India’s semiconductor-chip dreams
13.2. ONDC, Account Aggregator Network to Open up New Avenues for Startups: Nilekani
14.1. ET Startup Awards 2022: Razorpay Edges Out Peers, Bags Top Prize
14.2. Our secret sauce comes from customers: Nayar
15.1. Despite hurdles, Tata sees robust demand for JLR in key markets
15.2. ‘India to Soon Make Transport, Commercial Planes for World’

– SERVICES (IT, R&D, Tourism, Healthcare, etc.) 

16.1. Tata Trusts move to ready next gen for leading roles
17.1. India Space Congress enables startups to partner in US$ 1.5 trillion space economy
17.2. IIT Guwahati's CoE provides boost to innovation in nanoelectronics and healthcare devices
18.1. Air India Looking to Become Carrier of Choice Globally
18.2. Jammu and Kashmir Tourism receives record number of tourists in 2022, highest in 75 years
19.1. D2C: Customer loyalty, pricing parity, cost: why D2C has grown more relevant in the post-pandemic world
20.1. Opinion: By prioritising healthcare on govt agenda, states can make a long-term impact on people's well being
20.2. India, a leader in digitalisation, a logistical marvel: World leaders at IMF-WB conference


21. World bank seeks to take Indian digitisation efforts globally
22. M&As hit a record on HDFC, Adani, LTI-Mindtree deals
23. The world’s biggest bet on India
24. Can India fully localise EV components? Suppliers say it can, with gov. incentives and JVs
25.1. India’s net-zero goal will need 50 million green jobs. Here’s how it is raising the skills game
25.2. More UK Misery as Economy Contracts in Q3

* * *





1.1. UGC’s new draft norms to ease procedures for autonomy status to colleges 
ET Gov. 28 Oct. 2022 

With the autonomous status, colleges will be able to have their own admission rules, design their own syllabi, and restructure courses. 

With a view to increasing the number of autonomous institutions, the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 envisages simplification of the process of granting autonomy to the deserving institutions. There are a total of 894 autonomous colleges in the country promoting higher education with greater autonomy in academics. 

With a view to enable more colleges to get autonomous status, the UGC has drafted new guidelines and invited the stakeholders’ feedback. 

At present, Bihar has got the minimum number of autonomous colleges. There are only two autonomous colleges, namely, Patna Women’s College (PWC) under Patna University and St Xaviers’ College of Education (SXCE) under Aryabhatta Knowledge University, even as there are more than 250 constituent colleges in the state. The number of autonomous colleges in the neighbouring states with much less population and corresponding educational institutions is much greater as compared to Bihar. 

Jharkhand has got five autonomous colleges, Assam has five, West Bengal has 18 and Uttar Pradesh has got 14. Tamil Nadu has 232 autonomous colleges, the maximum in the country, followed by Maharashtra (144) and Andhra Pradesh (123). 

Bihar State Higher Education Council’s vice-chairman Kameshwar Jha says that the UGC (Conferment of Autonomous Status upon Colleges and Measures for Maintenance of Standards in Autonomous Colleges) Regulations, 2022 allows colleges to directly apply for autonomous status any time of the year. The draft guidelines, when approved, will replace the 2018 regulations. 

With the autonomous status, colleges will be able to have their own admission rules, design their own syllabi, and restructure courses. Autonomous colleges are free to start certificate or diploma courses without prior approval of the parent university. The grant of autonomy will be based on the accreditation and assessment scores of the institutions. 

The draft guidelines are aimed at making the autonomy-granting process easier without on-site visits by a UGC expert committee. 

Instead, a standing committee of the UGC will examine the application of the college. The affiliating university will be responsible for processing the application of the college and sending its recommendations within 30 days to the UGC portal. 

The new amendments have also made it possible for colleges to become autonomous permanently. An autonomous college which has functioned as an autonomous college for 15 years continuously will be considered as autonomous college on a permanent basis, states the draft guideline. The existing guidelines have the provision of granting autonomous status for only 10 years and a five-year extension for a college. 

Jha, however, pointed out that to maintain autonomous status, a college will have to maintain the required grades in the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation. Colleges offering technical education will require NBA accreditation for at least three programmes with a minimum score of 675. 

To monitor autonomous colleges, the UGC has proposed an internal quality assurance cell or "IQAC" in the college with an external peer team of academics. Once a year, a report on college performance will be published in the public domain and peer-reviewed. 

He further said there are about half-a-dozen more colleges in Bihar which can be easily accorded the status of autonomous colleges. 

These colleges include AN College, Patna, College of Commerce, Arts and Science, Patna, M Science College, Laheriasarai, Millat Teachers’ Training College, Madhubani and LS College, Muzaffarpur, he said. 

1.2. FIFA-AIFF to implement Football4Schools, aims to empower students with life skills and competencies 
ET Gov. 1 Nov. 2022 

‘Football4Schools’ aims to empower 25 million young boys and girls in India through sports-integrated learning. 

Union Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addresses after signing MoU with FIFA and All India Football Federation for the ‘Football4Schools’ in Mumbai on Sunday. 

Union Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, signed an MoU with FIFA and All India Football Federation for the ‘Football4Schools’ initiative in India. 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and President, All India Football Federation, Kalyan Chaubey signed the MoU on behalf of respective organizations in Mumbai on Sunday. 

Speaking on the occasion, Pradhan said that sports has been given prominence in NEP 2020 and the Football4Schools program espouses the spirit of NEP 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid emphasis on mainstreaming of sports with education and Football4Schools program is a step towards translating that vision of making sports as a way of life as well as creating well-rounded citizens, he added. 

FIFA, AIFF and Ministry of Education, GoI have signed this MoU on the sidelines of U-17 WWC to promote football and also equip the young learners with valuable life skills. 

Pradhan said that football is an immensely popular sport and the Football4Schools program uses it as a positive tool to inspire children and ensure their holistic development. He further said that ‘Football4Schools’ aims to empower 25 million young boys and girls in India through sports-integrated learning. 

The initiative also aims to empower learners (boys and girls) with valuable life skills and competencies; empower and provide coach-educators with the training to deliver sport and life-skills activities; build the capacity of stakeholders (schools, member associations and public authorities) to deliver training in life skills through football and strengthen the cooperation between governments and participating schools to enable partnerships, alliances and intersectoral collaboration, the ministry said. 

The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Youth Affairs & Sports Nisith Pramanik, Minister for School Education and Marathi Language, Maharashtra, Deepak Kesarkar, Commissioner, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti Vinayak Garg and officials of All India Football Federation were also present on the occasion. 

2.1. Green hydrogen, electrolyzer projects may get ₹12k cr sops 
MINT, 24 Oct 2022, Rituraj Baruah

The comprehensive green hydrogen mission was launched after the government unveiled the green hydrogen policy in February. bloomberg 

Favourable policy to support electrolyzer manufacturing is key to reduce green hydrogen price 

NEW DELHI: The government is expected to allocate around ₹6,000 crore each for production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for electrolyzers and green hydrogen from the ₹20,000 crore green hydrogen mission, said two people aware of the developments. 

The ministry of new and renewable energy has moved a cabinet note detailing green hydrogen consumption obligations, subsidies and standards for the pilots, and research and development requirements under the mission. 

“The green hydrogen mission is of ₹20,000 crore, and the bulk of the amount is for PLIs for electrolyzers and hydrogen. It would be ₹5,000-6,000 crore, each, for both the incentive schemes," said one of the two people requesting anonymity. 

A second official said the initiative includes major enabling provisions for developing the green hydrogen industry and adoption in India. 

Queries to the new and renewable energy ministry, finance ministry and the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade did not elicit any response till press time. 

A favourable policy to encourage the manufacturing of electrolyzers is crucial for India to bring down the cost of green hydrogen. 

Union minister for new and renewable energy R.K. Singh has spoken about the Centre’s plans to develop an incentive scheme to boost electrolyzer manufacturing. Recently, he revealed plans for a PLI scheme for green hydrogen, too. He said support would be offered for the initial projects. 

“We will have a PLI for electrolyzers and a PLI for manufacturing green hydrogen. But the PLI for manufacturing green hydrogen will only be required for the initial capacities, maybe 4 million-5 million tonnes. After that, the green hydrogen (industry) will stand on its own feet,“ he had said at an event last week. 

The comprehensive green hydrogen mission was launched after the government unveiled the green hydrogen policy in February, with a promise to offer cheaper renewable power, fee waivers for inter-state power transmission for 25 years for projects commissioned before June 2025, land in renewable energy parks, and mega manufacturing zones to help local industries lower the use of fossil fuels. 

The policy seeks to promote green hydrogen and green ammonia, besides facilitating storage of green power, to help green power producers to save surplus power with electricity distribution companies for up to 30 days. It also envisages building bunkers near ports to store and export green ammonia. 

After the National Green Hydrogen Mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2021, India has seen a serious push on both the policy and industry front. Billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani have announced mega plans to make India a green hydrogen hub, and state-run Indian Oil Corp Ltd, earlier this year, agreed to partner with clean energy producer ReNew Power and Larsen and Toubro to produce green hydrogen. Several private companies have also announced their forays into green hydrogen. In September, global steelmaker POSCO signed a memorandum of understanding with renewable energy firm Greenko ZeroC to make green hydrogen and pursue opportunities in renewables and other derivatives of green hydrogen. 

Green hydrogen is generated by breaking down water in an electrolyzer. The hydrogen can then be combined with nitrogen to make ammonia, avoiding hydrocarbons in the process. Green ammonia is used to store energy and in fertilizer manufacturing. India has set a target of 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030. Over the next decade, the Centre plans to add 175 GW of green hydrogen-based energy. 

2.2. Jakson Green to invest Rs. 22,400 crore (US$ 2.71 billion) in green hydrogen project in Rajasthan 
IBEF, Oct. 26, 2022 

Jakson Green has agreed to invest Rs. 22,400 crore (US$ 2.71 billion) to establish a green hydrogen and green ammonia facility in Rajasthan over the course of several years. 

Jakson Green is expected to set-up a 365,000 tonne per annum green hydrogen and ammonia plant together with a phased-in integrated hybrid renewable power complex. 

Mr. Vish Iyer, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Jakson Green, and Mr. Bhaskar S Sawant, Principal Secretary of Energy for the Rajasthan government, signed the MoU. 

Jakson Green has revealed its global goals to be a major developer and integrator of green hydrogen and green ammonia assets across specific geographies. The company is also considering a move into the independent hydrogen & ammonia production and electrolyser manufacturing sectors. 

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same. 

3.1. ReNew Power to Invest ₹30,000 cr 
ET, 17 Oct. 2022 

Green energy company ReNew Power plans to invest ₹30,000 crore over the next two years to scale up its solar and wind energy capacities, its Chairman Sumant Sinha said. “We have 5,000 megawatts (MW) of projects that we are building right now. We have won various auctions... 

Green energy company ReNew Power plans to invest ₹30,000 crore over the next two years to scale up its solar and wind energy capacities, its Chairman Sumant Sinha said. 

“We have 5,000 megawatts (MW) of projects that we are building right now. We have won various auctions... have PPAs (power purchase agreements),” Sinha, who is also the founder and CEO of the company, told PTI. 

The company plans to spend almost ₹30,000 crore over the next two years to scale up solar and wind energy capacities, he said. 

ReNew Power, a subsidiary of ReNew Energy Global Plc, is one of the largest renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs) globally. 

The company currently has an aggregate capacity of 13.2 gigawatt (GW), including capacity already won in competitive bids. 

Sinha also said his company plans to produce green hydrogen in India. 

In his Independence Day speech last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the launch of the National Hydrogen Mission. 

3.2. Made in India 5G gear to be commercially available by March: DoT secretary 
ET Gov. 9 Nov. 2022 

The move could pitch India as a major telecom technology player, taking on companies from the likes of the US, Finland, Sweden and Korea. 
Full-fledged indigenously designed and developed fifth generation (5G) equipment that includes core and radio network components could be commercially available by March next year, a top official said. The move could pitch India as a major telecom technology player, taking on companies from the likes of the US, Finland, Sweden and Korea. 

"The processes will take an extra three to four months. So, I potentially feel that by March next year, it (C-DoT) will be in a position to actually commercialise both radio and core equipment," K Rajaraman, secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), told ET. 

The 5G stack is still undergoing testing and was initially expected to be completed by the end of this year. 

"The launch (5G core) has happened. We are working with some companies to actually get the radios ready, because that's where full stack comes in as it has to include radio and other components," Rajaraman added. 

Core, also called a backbone or brain of a telecom network, is a central conduit used to transfer network traffic, and connects to radio or antenna for transmission or emission of electromagnetic waves. 

Once commercialised, the 5G network could propel India into a coveted club of countries—such as the US, Sweden, Finland, South Korea and China—that have developed telecom network technology. The market is dominated by the likes of Sweden’s Ericsson, Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei, while Korea’s Samsung is also emerging as a key player. 

Last month, the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), a public sector telecom research and development (R&D) firm, unveiled the home grown non-standalone (NSA) 5G core, and together with radio access network (RAN) partners—Reliance Industries-owned Radisys India, VVDN Technologies and WiSig Networks—demonstrated a 5G call on the indigenous network to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

C-DoT, as part of the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)-led consortium, is deploying the 5G NSA core equipment in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's (BSNL) proof-of-concept (PoC) network in Chandigarh. 

Its chairman Rajkumar Upadhyay said that the state-owned firm has been aggressively working to develop 5G RAN domestically. He added that C-DoT is working closely with Indian companies to locally develop the 5G antennas as well and has plans to promote it in overseas markets too. 

"This will be a cost-effective solution, with software playing a central role. Dependence on foreign vendors will be reduced. We will pitch it with Indian and overseas telecom operators," Upadhyay said. 

The firm, according to the official, is expected to come up with a 5G standalone (SA) mode by 2023. 

Analysts reckon that a local 5G network solution also being developed by the Indian combine can place it in contention for a share of the $500-billion international telecom equipment market. 

In recent years, the government has been pushing for self-reliance in the telecommunications sector due to national security concerns. The political and military face-off with China has also led to Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE being barred from participating in India’s 5G rollout, while stiff conditions have been imposed on others. 

4. Hyderabad bags World Green Cities Awards 2022 in 2 categories 
ET, 17 Oct. 2022 

The Hyderabad ORR greenery called as ‘Green Necklace to the State of Telangana’ was adjudged the best in 'Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth' category. 

Hyderabad has won the overall ‘World Green City Award 2022’ and another award in the category ‘Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth’ at the International Association of Horticulture Producers (AIPH) 2022 World Green City Awards 2022 held in Jeju, South Korea on Friday. 

AIPH invited entries for ‘World Green Cities Awards 2022’ across six categories. A total of 18 finalists across six categories were selected and final category wise winners were announced on Friday. The six categories and the shortlisted countries are: 

Living Green for Biodiversity – Columbia, Australia, France 
Living Green for Climate Change - Turkey, Australia, Mexico 
Living Green for Health and Wellbeing – Brazil, Netherlands, Australia 
Living Green for Water – Canada, Australia, South Africa 
Living Green for Social Cohesion - Argentina, South Korea, France 
Living Green for Economic Recovery & Inclusive Growth- Canada, Iran, India 

Hyderabad was the only Indian city to be selected and it is a matter of pride for Hyderabad, Telangana and India as the city has won not only the category award but the overall ‘World Green City 2022’ award -- the best across all six categories, the state government said in a statement. 

In the category ‘Living Green for Economic Recovery and Inclusive Growth’, the greening of the outer ring road (ORR) was submitted as Hyderabad’s entry. The category focusses on creating systems and solutions that allow all city residents to overcome economic distress and thrive and the ORR greenery called as ‘Green Necklace to the State of Telangana’ was adjudged the best in this category. 

The Minister for MA&UD KT Rama Rao has been emphasising on ensuring greenery along the ORR and under the guidance of CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao, massive greenery efforts have been undertaken, the government said. This award is a testimony to the continued efforts and focus of the government of Telangana on increasing the green cover in the state through its flagship programme ‘Telangana ku Haritha Haram’ (TKHH), it said. 

Rama Rao congratulated entire HMDA team and Special Chief Secretary Arvind Kumar on this achievement. 

5.1. ‘Shiv Nadar India’s Most Generous, Gave ₹3 cr a Day’ 
ET, 21 Oct. 2022 

HCL founder Shiv Nadar has emerged as India's most generous person with an annual donation of ₹1,161 crore, or ₹3 crore per day, according to the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022. Wipro’s Azim Premji came in second with an annual donation of ₹484 crore. 

HCL founder Shiv Nadar has emerged as India's most generous person with an annual donation of ₹1,161 crore, or ₹3 crore per day, according to the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022. 

Wipro’s Azim Premji came in second with an annual donation of ₹484 crore. Premji is the only living Indian to feature in the EdelGive Hurun Philanthropists of the Century list. With a donation of ₹190 crore, India’s richest man Gautam Adani was seventh on the list. Fifteen people made an annual donation of over ₹100 crore, while 20 people donated over ₹50 crore and 43 donated over ₹20 crore. 

AM Naik, group chairman of L&T, donated ₹142 crore. 

Nithin Kamath and Nikhil Kamath, cofounders of stockbroking platform Zerodha, donated ₹100 crore. With donations of ₹213 crore each, Subroto Bagchi and NS Parthasarathy, co-founders of mid-tier IT services provider Mindtree, became a part of the top 10 in the EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022. This is the ninth annual ranking of the most generous individuals in India. Donations were measured by the value of their cash or cash equivalents from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. 

This year’s EdelGive Hurun India Philanthropy List 2022 features individuals who have donated ₹5 crore or more during the period under review. “Our focus remains the same on bringing forth one of the most authoritative lists of philanthropists in India. Like every year, we aim to document and analyse the evolving patterns of philanthropic giving in the country,” said Naghma Mulla, CEO, EdelGive Foundation. Over the last five years, the number of donors who have given more than ₹100 crore has grown from two to 15, and over ₹50 crore, from five to 20, said Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and chief researcher, Hurun India. 

“Considering the wealth creation potential of India and if the billionaires keep up with philanthropy, I expect these numbers to at least double over the next five years,” he said. 

5.2. 66% of schools didn’t have internet access in 21-22 academic year: Report 
HT, Nov. 04, 2022, HT correspondent 

In the 2021-22 academic year, the education system worked in the online mode in view of the Covid-19 pandemic 

The report highlighted 10.6% of the schools did not have electricity. (HT Photo) 

At least 55.5% of the 14,89,115 schools in the country did not have computer facilities, and 66% were without internet access in the 2021-22 academic year when the education system worked in the online mode in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, said a Union education ministry report has said. 

The Unified District Information System for Education (UIDSE+) report, which was released on Thursday, is based on voluntary data from government and private schools. It said only 6,82,566 schools had computers in the academic year 2021-22 while 5, 04, 989 of them had internet connectivity. 

The report highlighted the digital gaps among schools. It said only 2.2% of the schools had digital libraries and that only 14.9% of them had “smart classrooms”, used for teaching with digital boards, smart boards, and smart TVs. 

The report highlighted 10.6% of the schools did not have electricity and 23.04% were without playgrounds. As many as 12.7% did not have libraries and reading rooms. 

Only 26.96% of schools had children with special needs (CWSN)-friendly toilets and less than 50% had ramps with handrail facilities in 2021-22, the report said. Despite the lack of facilities, the enrolment of CWSN students increased by 3.4% in 2021-22. 

The report said the number of Scheduled Caste (SC) students increases from primary to higher secondary. “It has gone up to 4.83 crore from 4.78 crore in 2020-21. Similarly, total Scheduled Tribe (ST) students have gone up from 2.49 crore to 2.51 crore and Other Backward Caste (OBC) students from 11.35 crore to 11.49 crore during 2020-21 and 2021-22,” the ministry said in a statement. 

Additional indicators have been added to the UDISE+ report in line with the National Education Policy 2020. The report said over 2.47 million students have been identified as “gifted children” and 980000 have been provided with mentors. 

- Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development 

6.1. India Lifted 415 Million Out of Poverty in 15 Years, says UN 
ET, 18 Oct. 2022 

In a “historical change” for India, 415 million people exited multidimensional poverty in the country in 15 years between 2005-06 and 2019-21, the United Nations (UN) said on Monday. The incidence of poverty in the country dropped from 55.1% in 2005-06 to 16. 

In a “historical change” for India, 415 million people exited multidimensional poverty in the country in 15 years between 2005-06 and 2019-21, the United Nations (UN) said on Monday. 

The incidence of poverty in the country dropped from 55.1% in 2005-06 to 16.4% in 2019-21, as per the latest Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) compiled jointly by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). 

India demonstrated that the ‘Sustainable Development Goal’ target of reducing poverty by half the proportion of men, women, and children of all ages by 2030 was possible even at a large scale, UNDP said in a statement. “India is an important case study for the Sustainable Development Goals,” it said. 

Of the nearly 415 million people who exited poverty in India in the 15 years before the Covid-19 pandemic, roughly 275 million did so between 2005-06 and 2015-16 and another 140 million did so between 2015-16 and 2019-21, the report said. 

“India has shown great commitment and leadership in lifting people out of poverty, especially among the poorest in the country,” said Shoko Noda, resident representative of UNDP India. 

The UNDP report noted that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on poverty in India cannot be fully assessed because 71% of the data from the 2019-2021 ‘Demographic and Health Survey’ for the country were collected before the pandemic. 

The incidence of poverty fell from 36.6% in 2015-2016 to 21.2% in 2019-2021 in rural areas and from 9.0% to 5.5% in urban areas, it said. 

About 4.2% of the population in the country still live in severe poverty, and about 18.7% – roughly the same proportion as in 2015-2016 – are vulnerable to poverty. 

Ending Poverty a Challenge: 
Based on 2020 population data, India has the largest number of poor people worldwide (228.9 million), followed by Nigeria (96.7 million), according to the report. 

Despite progress, India's population remains vulnerable to the mounting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising food and energy prices, the MPI report said. 

Rural areas account for nearly 90% of poor people: 205 million poor people live in rural areas, making them a clear priority, it said. 

“Integrated policies tackling the ongoing nutritional and energy crises should be a priority,” the report said, adding that the ongoing task of ending poverty for the 228.9 million poor people in 2019-2021 was daunting, especially as the number had nearly certainly risen since the data were collected. 

Bihar, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh, which were initially among the poorest states, reduced poverty faster in absolute terms than the national average, narrowing the poverty gap, UNDP said. 

6.2. India's sugar output to be higher at 36.5 million tonnes in 2022-23 marketing season: ISMA 
IBEF, Oct. 18, 2022 

According to industry group ISMA, the country's expected sugar production for the 2022–23 marketing season will be 36.5 million tonnes, up 2% from the same time last year. 

October month marks the beginning of the marketing season. During the 2021–22 marketing year, 35.8 million tonnes of the sweetener were produced in India, the world's largest producer. 

The ISMA anticipates export to be about 9 million tonnes this season, with an expected increase in production despite higher diversion for ethanol. 

The Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) announced the initial estimate and stated that "after accounting for the reduction of 45 lakh tonnes in sugar production due to diversion of cane juice/syrup and B-molasses to ethanol, ISMA estimates sugar production in 2022-23 at around 36.5 million tonnes of sugar." 

During the 2022–23 season, it was predicted that Uttar Pradesh would produce 12.3 million tonnes of sugar, Maharashtra would produce 15 million tonnes, and Karnataka would produce 7 million tonnes. 

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same. 

7.1. India cotton output seen rising 12% on bigger crop area, says trade body 
IBEF, Oct. 19, 2022 

India is expected to produce 34.4 million bales of cotton in the 2022-23 season, which began on October 1, 2022 up 12% from the previous year due to farmers expanding crop area. The increase in output in the largest cotton-producing country could have an impact on international prices, which have recently reversed dramatically after reaching a 10-year high earlier this year. 

According to Mr. Atul Ganatra, president of the Cotton Association of India (CAI), the area under cotton crops has expanded by almost 10%, and this year's per-hectare yields are expected to improve as well. According to him, India's carry forward stockpiles for the new season were 3.19 million bales, down from 7.18 million bales last year. He noted that the country's cotton consumption, which was negatively impacted by decreased supplies and higher prices, could increase from 31.8 million bales to 32 million bales in the upcoming season. 

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same. 

7.2. Indiscriminate cultivation of water-intensive crops depleting groundwater more than climate change: ICRISAT study 
ET Gov. 31 Oct. 2022 

The findings point to a need for the improved governance of water resource sustainability which remains a critical challenge. 

Water for irrigation is pumped from an aquifer in the Himayat Sagar catchment area in Telangana. 

The indiscriminate cultivation of water-intensive crops in the catchment area of Himayat Sagar in Telangana is diminishing precious rainwater harvesting efforts through the excessive use of groundwater, an ICRISAT modeling study has revealed. 

The findings point to a need for the improved governance of water resource sustainability which remains a critical challenge, particularly in semi-arid regions where despite an increase or no change in rainfall, there is a steady decline in the stream flow of catchments. 

“We observed that nearly 50 percent of the water harvested by hydrological structures helps increase groundwater recharge. However, crop area expansion using groundwater for irrigation has depleted stream flow and groundwater storage in the Himayat Sagar catchment. The annual groundwater recharge in the catchment is able to fully meet the irrigation requirement during high rainfall years, 50 percent during dry years and 30 percent during normal years,” said Dr Rajesh Nune, Hydrologist at IDC. 

Researchers at the ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) studied historical data on climate, land use, watershed structures, and groundwater levels available with the Telangana government organizations and conducted field surveys to gather data on groundwater utilization for different cropping systems during the rainy (kharif) and post-rainy (rabi) seasons. 

The data was analyzed using an integrated hydrological model called 'Modified Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)'. The approach combines SWAT’s rainfall-runoff model with a groundwater model for each of the 19 sub-catchments in Himayat Sagar. 

The model is structured to capture dynamic changes in climate variability, land use, and watershed development structures in the catchment, ICRISAT said in a statement on the study summary. 

Adaptation to climate variability in the future 

The ICRISAT-led study also explored the future impact of potential climate and catchment changes on stream flow and groundwater storage in the Himayat Sagar catchment. 

The model explored factors such as expanding groundwater irrigated areas, watershed structures, and rejuvenation of existing tanks under the Telangana government’s ‘Mission Kakatiya’ in the future. 

Notably, the State of Telangana is expected to witness the highest rainfall in September instead of August by the end of this century in light of rising temperatures (0.6 degree - 0.9 degree C every 30 years) and climate change. 

ICRISAT’s findings reveal that despite the increase in average rainfall, a decline in stream flow is expected, considering variations in seasonal rainfall in the months of May and November. 

Critically, the study observed that catchment changes would have a more significant impact than climate change (rainfall and temperature) in the future. 

Under the ‘Mission Kakatiya Program,’ village tanks were desilted, rejuvenated, and interlinked with the drainage network. According to model predictions, this mitigation strategy captures excess runoff, enhances groundwater recharge for upstream users, and helps control flood damage to downstream users during high-intensity rainfall events. 

“It is also necessary to have a better water resource governing policy for the administration of village tanks, especially during the dry years, for the benefit of downstream users,” said Rajesh. 

Efficient planning of cropping systems based on available resources ICRISAT’s modeling has been designed to inform better public policy leading to improved natural resource management and enhanced farming productivity. 

“The analytical framework ICRISAT has employed will help policymakers to take appropriate measures to monitor the cultivation of water-intensive crops (paddy, sugarcane, maize, etc) and guide farmers to diversify their crops while ensuring efficient use of water resources in their region,” said Rajesh. 

“Understanding the impact of climate variability on stream flow and groundwater recharge along with land use change will help water resource managers adopt better landscape management practices in the catchments for current and future water 
requirements,” concluded Dr Sreenath Dixit, Head, IDC. 

8. Tata Power is creating a solar-energy heavyweight, and your rooftop has got a lot to do with it 
ET, 11- Nov. 2022 

By 2030, Tata Power wants clean energy to account for 80% of its generation capacity as it aims to become net carbon zero by 2045. The residential solar market, which is likely to reach 3.2GW by FY23 from the current 2GW, is one of the key segments it is focusing on. But there are hurdles it needs to cross. 

Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company, seems to have well understood where the future of the energy sector lies. It wants renewable energy to account for 60% of its portfolio by 2025 from 30% at present. And it is on course to add 15 gigawatt (GW) green energy capacity by then. The company recorded a 94% year-on-year jump in revenue in the solar rooftop segment alone in FY22. Its stock has risen more than 1,000% in two years. 

The growth drivers for Tata Power’s clean-energy business have been solar rooftops, solar pumps and electric-vehicle charging stations. 

Praveer Sinha, CEO of Tata Power, says, “All our existing operations have been doing very well and some of our new businesses, including renewable, rooftop solar and large utility-scale solar pumps, among others, have started showing results as a good foundation has been laid for them.” 

Rooftop solar power, especially, has a lot of headroom for growth in India. The total rooftop solar capacity in the country is estimated to have reached 10,221 megawatt (MW), which is still only 17% of the total solar capacity in the country. 

Rooftop solar and its untapped potential 
Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which was launched in 2010, India targets to generate 100GW of solar power by 2022. Of this, 60GW was to come from the utility-scale segment and the rest 40GW from the rooftop solar segment. 

Against this 40GW target for rooftop solar, the total installed capacity by July 2022-end stands at only 7.9GW. The residential category accounts for a minuscule 2,010MW. 

Last month, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) extended the deadline for achieving the 40GW target from 2022 to 2026 with no increase in budget outlay. While several initiatives by the central government in the past have failed to boost rooftop solar in India, Tata Power is keeping its focus on the segment. 

However, many experts say rooftop solar is not the government’s priority anymore. They say the Centre is more focused on large-scale utility and feel that the decentralised solar sector will grow automatically, at its own pace. 

Smaller countries like Vietnam installed over 9,000MW of rooftop solar in a year, much ahead of India. 

So, what’s making Tata Power focus on this segment? 

A calculated bet 
The new and simplified rooftop solar subsidy scheme, introduced by the Centre in July 2022, has got many takers. Many are now realising the growth potential of the residential solar market in the country. 

According to the scheme, a consumer who wishes to install rooftop solar can register in the universal portal and get direct subsidies in their bank accounts. 

“The rooftop [solar] business growth is supported by favourable policies such as open access and mandatory solar provision in the model building byelaws. The company [Tata Power] witnessed a major uptick in orders and execution in its rooftop business. The order book stands at 393MW or over INR1,500 crore,” Sinha tells ET Prime. 

As per an analysis by Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a public-policy think tank, discoms are likely to save INR0.22 per unit from electricity generated from rooftop solar installations. Benefits are maximum in the residential categories and could reach up to INR0.75 per unit. This will also help discoms save on the cross-subsidy paid out to residential consumers. 

"The company witnessed major uptick in orders and execution in its rooftop business. The order book stands at 393MW or over INR1,500 crore." 

— Praveer Sinha, CEO, Tata Power 

The cost of installation of rooftop solar has come down drastically over the years. In 2020, the average cost of a residential rooftop solar system in India was USD658 per kilowatt (kW), down 73% from the 2013 level. In comparison, the residential rooftop solar cost in 2020 in countries such as Japan, the UK, Switzerland and the US was four to seven times higher than that of India. 

However, one of the reasons why the rooftop solar segment is yet to reach its potential is that consumers don’t want to invest upfront in installation. Also, residential rooftop solar has not really been the priority sector for solar developers in India because commercial and industrial rooftops offer greater economic viability. 

India is currently trying to build a strong manufacturing industry with the capacity to produce solar cells and modules which could bring down costs further. Tata Power has joined hands with the Tamil Nadu government to invest around INR3,000 crore for setting up a greenfield 4GW solar cell and 4GW solar module manufacturing plant in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu. 

Sinha says the manufacturing plant will help Tata Power support India’s aspiration to create a comprehensive ecosystem for solar manufacturing and fulfil the needs of solar projects as well as help the company improve its margins and have better control over the cost of solar cells and modules. “The first phase of the plant of solar module is expected to be commissioned by June next year. And the second phase of cells will get commissioned by November next year,” Sinha adds. 

At present, China’s solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing accounts for around 71% of the world’s total capacity. It grew to 106GW in 2019 from 10GW in 2010. China is also a leading producer of silicon wafers with a 97% share in the global market, a 79% share of PV cells, and a 67% share of polysilicon. 

“We have tied up with a couple of manufacturers over here and as you know, the customs duty for cells is 25% while for modules it is 40%. So, we have 15% arbitrage if we get it manufactured in India in terms of the customs duties,” Sinha explains. 

According to the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the residential solar market is likely to reach a size of 3.2GW by FY23 from the current 2GW. 

Currently, Tata Power has 1.3GW of owned projects and 2.3GW of external orders, aggregating 3.6GW of total large-scale EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) contracts worth INR15,000 crore. The company expects to get these EPC contracts completed in the next 12 to 18 months. “Due to higher commodity prices, including solar cells and modules and foreign-exchange movements, we saw a hit on the profitability of the EPC business, but [we] expect that the margins will improve in the coming quarters with newer orders and contract manufacturing, which has been tied up to be done in India,” Sinha adds. 

The way forward amid challenges 
With a fat order book and planned capacity expansion, Tata Power is struggling as the prices of solar modules have increased. Ramesh Subramanyam, chief financial officer of Tata Power, says, “We had some pressure on the module front, but this will ease off as we go. Module prices have tightened all over the world. The new orders will be factoring in the new prices. So, that should take care of the margins.” He, however, points out that some of the existing orders may face some headwinds until they are completed. 

On a positive side, the company has significantly reduced its net debt by more than INR7,500 crore over the last one year through divestment of various assets and strategic fundraise from the promoters. 

Net debt at the end of the first quarter 2022 was around INR 42,000 crore. The net debt-to-equity stands a little higher at 1.55 times compared with 1.53 times in the previous quarter. 

The Tata Power stock has been in a downtrend since 2014. It made a low of INR27 in May 2020. It has now broken the downward spiral and has resumed an uptrend. The stock has now given a range breakout after 12 years. It made a high of INR300 in April 2022 and posted a return of more than 1,000% in two years. At present, it is taking support at 230 levels. 

In 2015, as much as 84% of Tata Power’s generation capacity was coal-based. This year, it went down to 66% and clean energy made up for the rest. By 2030, clean energy will make 80% of its capacity, as the company is pursuing major expansion in solar and hybrid clean-energy sources. Between 2040 and 2050, Tata Power plans to phase out all coal-based plants. It aims to become net carbon zero by 2045. 

“The future is going to be catalysed by the opportunities in renewable energy across the spectrum, be it utility scale or otherwise, as the global shift to clean energy intensifies,” Sinha says. 

9.1. The Spotlight may come to India as it never has before. And that’s terrific 
ET, 7 Nov. 2022 

Brian Friedman, president of Jefferies Financial Group, one of Wall Street’s fastest-growing firms, is no stranger to India. He has visited the country several times in the past two decades. But, this time, Friedman is more bullish than ever before. 

Brian Friedman, president of Jefferies Financial Group, one of Wall Street’s fastest-growing firms, is no stranger to India. He has visited the country several times in the past two decades. But, this time, Friedman is more bullish than ever before. In a chat with Nishanth Vasudevan during his latest visit to Mumbai last week, Friedman spoke on a range of issues including US interest rates, China and India. Edited excerpts: 

When do you expect the US Federal Reserve to stop its rate increases? 
Our current expectation is that rate increases will slow down and dissipate into early next year. The Fed is likely to find a juncture next year where pausing and assessing will be the right strategy. The Fed has already made a very strong statement to the markets and to corporates, and likely will have an impact in 2023. Ultimately, the Fed needed to act to curb inflation. They did so decisively, and the impact will be felt in 2023 and into 2024. 

So, are you expecting a US recession in 2023 and 2024? 
I won’t venture a very precise thought, but rather suggest that there’s a fair likelihood of some depth of recession. How deep, how long? I personally won’t make a suggestion. But is it likely? Yes. The US internal forces are a tight labour market that has caused wage inflation and a tight housing supply that has caused home price inflation. Both of those are effectively the targets of the Fed’s interest rate increases. Next year, there should be some cooling. And if there is cooling, the Fed will be accomplishing its objective though it could push us into a recession. 

Is fixed income looking more attractive than equities at this juncture? 
Deciding where fixed income sits relative to equities is a dynamic process. But it’s fair to say that with the advent of higher interest rates, bonds are more attractive than they’ve been for a long time. Until this moment, there was a great deal of risk in duration. That risk actually existed arguably for the last 10-plus years. Fixed income is likely to be more attractive in the near-to-intermediate future than it has been in the near-to-intermediate past because it can offer a real return again. But, over extended periods, equities should still generally provide better returns than debt because of their returns on risk. 

Where are you positioning India in your list of emerging markets? 
For me, visiting here for the first time post-Covid, I have renewed expectations that India potentially will accelerate, and its attractiveness will grow to global investors and global business operators. As the light moves from some other emerging markets, I think there is a great chance that it will find India. I have said to our team here that the spotlight may come to India as it never has before. You have historically shared the light but India may now get a pure and brighter and wider light. And that’s terrific. 

You have been visiting India for the past two decades. What makes you particularly optimistic about India this time? 

There seems to be greater consistency, confidence and clarity from the government. Everything from infrastructure, to the quality, sophistication, and drive of industry are all better. And our team here laughs sometimes when I point out that the ride from the airport keeps getting better. That’s a big deal! When you have a better ride, you want to come back sooner. And I say it facetiously. But it’s true. And so I think that the emphasis has increasingly been in the right place; it has been effective. You now have a unicorn class of companies. You have families that have reinvested and become larger and built more businesses. You have many businesses that relative to the first time I came here have gone from SMEs to being serious and large. 

There is a section of global investors who thinks China is increasingly becoming uninvestable. In your conversations with global investors, are you actually seeing a large shift in allocations from China to India? 

The word uninvestable goes for me with a phrase that I use often with our team: Never say never. Thinking anything is categorical typically comes back to bite us. Having said that, there’s no question that the most recent events in China have caused investors and businesses to look up and, in some cases, to pause and re-examine. We’re probably early in that process because people don’t necessarily reach deep conclusions rapidly. There may be direction, but I think conclusions aren’t necessarily formed or necessarily firm. When you step back, India was already rising in people’s vision and was getting a greater proportion of attention. Might this further support a relative opportunity? Potentially. But I think it’s too early to again make a strong statement on that. 

The market has been jittery about the health of Credit Suisse. Are there any similarities to Lehman Brothers in 2008? 

The overall financial system and financial markets are incredibly stronger and more stable than arguably they have ever been. And there is nothing in the current moment that I see that remotely suggests the 2008 period. Individual institutions go through change. I am not sure that suggests instability financially. You have seen other banks change strategy, divest businesses, and exit underperformers. That’s business evolution. So, I’m not going to comment on any single institution. But at any given time, there are institutions in transition. Broadly, I think that financial institutions are in a strong position. 

FAANG stocks and new-age businesses have taken a fair bit of beating. Is the best over there? 

I would separate the business prospects from stock prices. When you talk of FAANG, you can’t leave Microsoft out. These are meaningful companies, and they have to earn it every day and keep evolving. Valuations became very aggressive and that happens from time to time. There has been a rerating. I don’t think people should fixate on valuations or levels of risk-taking. What is important to society is not the stock prices but it’s the availability of capital. 

9.2. Amazon India Set to Deliver Third-party Ecommerce Orders 
ET, 8-Nov. 2022 

Ecommerce major Amazon is set to open its logistics infrastructure in India for non-Amazon orders to various online businesses, multiple sources briefed on the matter said. 

Ecommerce major Amazon is set to open its logistics infrastructure in India for non-Amazon orders to various online businesses, multiple sources briefed on the matter said. This will also make the US ecommerce major now a direct rival to new-age logistics firm Delhivery, Xpressbees, Ecom Express as well as Flipkart’s Ekart, which recently started onboarding external merchants to ship non-Flipkart orders. 

Called Amazon Shipping, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, logistics aggregators and other businesses who take direct orders from consumers have been tapped by Amazon to start its vertical to deliver non-Amazon orders. ET has seen its pitch, rate card and other details being offered under the programme. 

“...Now you may ship orders received by you via own website or via social media or any other means,” one of the emails sent by a senior Amazon executive on the matter said. It added that Amazon is covering over 14,000 PIN codes in India and using its ‘high service levels’ will lead to on-time performance eventually reducing ‘overall logistic cost and improved customer experience.’ 

Interestingly, one of the customers using the beta service said they are being billed for the service under Amazon Seller Services — which runs the India marketplace unit. Amazon Transportation Services is one of the key India entities of Amazon which houses the logistics business. 

The local shipping services arm of the US ecommerce giant reported total revenues of ₹ 4,581 crore in FY22, a 12.6% jump from the year-ago period. 

“The shipping rates being offered are similar to what an Amazon merchant will be given for the marketplace orders. Over the last few weeks, the outreach is more consistent from Amazon executives and this is being promoted actively,” one of the people mentioned above said. 

“We’re always working to develop new, innovative ways to support small and medium businesses and serve our customers. However, at this point we don’t have any additional details to share,” a spokesperson for Amazon said in response to ET’s query. 

While the pilot is underway, Amazon is expected to make a formal announcement over the next couple of months in India. Industry executives and analysts said depending on how Amazon scales the service, it could have a wider impact on existing players. 

“Amazon has perhaps the best technology (for logistics) and manpower for every pin code. It would be a lot easier for them to offer this shipping service. For brands, too, they can tap into the Amazon network without having to list as a seller and not losing consumer data to the marketplace. They (Amazon) are superiorly placed to do this..but its impact on others will depend on how seriously they expand this here,” said Rajat Tuli, partner at Kearney, a consulting firm. 

“They might be able to offer it cheaper than others also.” 

10.1. Tracing the Journey Of An ‘Indomitable’ Working Woman 
ET, 13 Nov. 2022 

In her book, “Indomitable - A Working Woman’s Notes on Life, Work and Leadership”, Bhattacharya has chronicled a working woman’s experiences in the corridors of India’s largest public sector bank 

ETtechArundhati Bhattacharya, CEO, Salesforce India 

“I did not want it to be a cut and dried management book. I wanted to write anecdotes readers could relate to.” 

Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO of Salesforce India, and the former chairman of public sector lender State Bank of India, has shattered glass ceilings all her life. 

In her book, “Indomitable - A working woman’s notes on life, work and leadership” – Bhattacharya has chronicled a working woman’s experiences in the corridors of India’s largest public sector bank. 

“Some of the feedback I received about the book said I should have highlighted in it the management lessons from my life. I would rather like to think about it as shells strewn in the sand,” she said about the book released earlier this year which takes readers through a vivid flashback of her journey through school, college and professional life - watching leadership skills develop one brick at a time 

The early chapters stand out for the vivid details of her childhood in the quaint townships of Bhilai and Bokaro in the postIndependence years. She describes her struggles with academics, bullies, friends, teachers and even grief at an early age. The management lessons shine through in conversations with family, educators, colleagues and even customers 

“What really drove me to write the book, and I am hoping that readers will pick up on it, is that if you have a dream, you can live it anywhere. You don’t have to go to the Western world in order to be able to live your dream,” Bhattacharya said. 

Until the early years of her career at SBI, the book mentions how certain choices - like that of her graduate stream or even college - were influenced by what was considered appropriate for women. She even mentions how she rushed to complete her studies and find a job before her father retired, a necessity that turned her away from a career in medicine and zoology

“When I was young, when I used to see high school and college mates going to IIM-Calcutta, colleges in the US, the UK, I used to look longingly at them, thinking (how I was) missing out on those opportunities. But despite the lack of opportunities, I could still live my dream,” she said. 

For young employees (especially women) in the corporate sector, these anecdotes hold powerful lessons, probably less so for women in advanced stages of their career, where the book delves into the intricacies of opportunities specific to SBI. 

“In some cases, former colleagues reached out after reading the book to tell me that I had not mentioned certain incidents or not done enough justice to certain roles, like my stint in Lucknow. Many others reminded me of incidents that I had forgotten,” the book lover and English literature graduate said. 

The pages of her book flow much like a conversation with a high school English teacher - unhurried, engaging and witty - just like she sounds in-person. 

The book was written during the 2020 lockdown, soon after Bhattacharya took over the leadership role at USheadquartered Salesforce. 

Her interest in the technology sector is evident in many of the anecdotes and business decisions through the book. 

Now that she has experienced leadership roles in both the public and private sector, will she consider writing an indepth management treatise? “Maybe I will write a book, busting myths across the public and private sector, or I may write something else.” 

10.2. Ten years of India’s unicorns: what global private capital got wrong in the country 
ET, 4 Nov. 2022 

India had its first consumer Internet unicorn a decade back. Since then, it’s been a story of misplaced expectations, missed targets, and muddled execution. For global private capital, the India gold quest has turned out to be a long, hard, and uncertain voyage. 

The jubilation over India churning out 100 unicorns has quickly given way to anxiety over a bitter funding winter. The capital crunch, down rounds, and likely blowups are in everyone’s mind. As the Indian startup community battles mood swings — including the fear of an aggravating liquidity crisis on one hand and the pride of the ecosystem coming of age on the other — 2022 quietly marked the decade of a significant event. 

Uncelebrated, and worse, unremembered, it is ten years since the emergence of India’s first consumer Internet unicorn. A USD150 million round led by Naspers made Flipkart a unicorn in 2012. 

The significance of that event is not restricted to finding the country’s first e-commerce unicorn. It unleashed billions of dollars of venture capital investment into a plethora of startups. While one trigger was lots of easy money sloshing around in the global financial system, the other was the discovery of a new potential goldmine of Internet ventures. 

Having seen and benefitted from the spectacular rise of China’s digital economy, several private capital investors saw a similar e-commerce boom playing out in India. Global fund houses such as SoftBank, Tiger Global, and Naspers had plenty of successes and multibaggers in China — SoftBank had Alibaba, Tiger Global had JD.com, and Naspers had Tencent, to name a few. 

Ten years since the first unicorn came out of India’s digital economy, it is time to take stock of things. Beneath the excitement of the mushrooming of unicorns, the India gold quest has turned out to be a long, hard, and uncertain voyage for the global private capital. 

Let’s take a look at the earliest 10 consumer Internet unicorns in the country and the venture capital investors’ ride with them. A review of the performance of these companies would be useful. They are not just the country’s oldest internet ventures that became unicorns but they represent a cross section of the internet economy too. They are in horizontal e-commerce, online education, cab aggregation, food delivery, listing, value commerce, hotel aggregation, gaming, etc. 

Here are some key observations. 

No Alibaba-like outcome from India. Founded in 1999, eight years before Flipkart, Alibaba turned in a profit in three years and had one of the world’s biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) worth USD231 billion in its 15th year. 

None of the 10 earliest Internet unicorns has become profitable. All are 10 years or older, but they are not self-sustainable yet. Most of them are still quite some distance away from profits. 

Out of these 10, three, or maybe four, fell off the list of unicorns. Their investors marked down, wrote off, or sold their investments cheaply. 

Only one company — Flipkart — managed a successful acquisition that was rewarding for its investors. Two unicorns went for IPOs and were hurt by the bearish sentiment. Zomato shares are trading at half their IPO price while the stock of Paytm is currently at nearly a third of its listing price. One (Shopclues) ended up in a distress sale at a meagre valuation. 

Seven of this first set of unicorns — Oyo, Ola, Snapdeal, Byju’s, Quikr, Shopclues and Hike — declined in terms of revenue or size in recent years. 

Only three companies — Flipkart, Paytm and Zomato — have shown steady growth in revenues. But their expenses and losses, too, have gone up. In short, in their early-to-mid teens, they continue to be capital-intensive and loss-making companies, akin to spendthrift teenagers who are yet to shape up. The larger the growth, the larger the loss and bigger the expense. 

Four of them — Snapdeal, Quikr, Shopclues, and Hike — have drastically shrunk their businesses. Their toplines are a fraction of what they used to be. 

Three others — Byju’s, Oyo, and Ola — which are at various stages of IPO preparation, went through downsizing and are often reported to be facing markdowns, down rounds or flat rounds, and controversies in recent times. 

A rough calculation shows that India’s oldest 10 consumer Internet unicorns together spent USD32 billion, earned nearly USD18 billion, and lost USD14 billion cumulatively in the past decade. In that loss of USD14 billion of venture capital lies the story of misplaced expectations, missed targets, and muddled execution. 

For global venture capital, India's story doesn’t mirror their China success, at least for now. Towards the end of the last decade, it became clear that India’s consumption growth had a different trajectory compared to that of China. 

As an article in The Economist in 2018 pointed out, the world was looking to India for a repeat performance of China’s middle-class expansion. But the Indian middle class is different. “A lot of this middle class has little money to spend… There are a great many more who have risen above the poverty line — but not so far above it that they spend much on anything other than feeding their families,” it said. 

The situation isn’t any better now, and may have perhaps become even less bright. India’s per-capita income remains nearly a fifth of China’s. Some statistics show about 90% of the population earns INR 25,000 or less every month. Studies show that an additional 230 million fell below the poverty line during the pandemic. 

The target customer group for companies remains small and the addressable market has shrunk. In this context, the high cash burn-fuelled fast growth to chase mountainous valuations may not have helped those companies and their backers achieve the desired goal. 

Indeed, despite the grim income story, two outside events influenced the growth in digital transactions and consumption. The sudden demonetisation of high-value currencies five years ago nudged people to make payments via phone. The prolonged and intermittent lockdowns during the pandemic led to a spike in e-commerce. 

Some investors point out that a large portion of new startups in consumer Internet are targeting the second and third strata of the income pyramid that encompass nearly 400 million people. They also say that a large chunk of venture capital is now directed towards enterprise tech/SaaS companies which address the global market. And the global money flow is determined by factors such as the availability of easy money which in part drove the funding boom during the pandemic years. The geopolitical developments forced many fund houses to retreat from China and redirect that capital to India. 

In other words, the less shiny India consumption story need not necessarily put a break on the venture capital inflow. It is guided more by the money movement across the world. 

Having said that, the 10-year performance of India’s oldest Internet unicorns makes two things clear. 

Becoming a unicorn means very little. It perhaps takes many more years to validate or justify the valuation. And sometimes, it takes forever. 
In most cases, growth projections were not in sync with the buying power of a vast majority. Maybe, just maybe, the high burn-high growth phase of venture capital investing is over. 

Some investors such as Sweden-based Kinnevik, which was active in the early 2010s, have already left India. Just last month, Naspers showed it had no qualms about backing out from the BillDesk acquisition which was under process. 

Clearly, there is some hesitation in the air. Some global money bags are now taking the India story with a pinch of apprehension. 

- Industry and Manufacture 

11.1. ‘Boeing Order could Bring in More Investments to India’ 
ET, 21 Oct. 2022 

Committing to make long-term investments in India, US defence and aviation giant Boeing has said that it is seeking to create enabling capacities here across the value chain – from design, engineering and manufacturing to sustainment of weapon systems. 

Committing to make long-term investments in India, US defense and aviation giant Boeing has said that it is seeking to create enabling capacities here across the value chain – from design, engineering and manufacturing to sustainment of weapon systems. 

Speaking with ET, Ted Colbert, CEO, Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said that if its F/A 18 Super Hornet is selected by the navy for its requirement of carrier-borne fighters, the company estimates that the project will have a $ 3.6 billion impact on the Indian economy. This, the company says, would come from creating a supply chain, research and engineering and even incremental manufacturing of the jets that could be brought to India. 

“My dream is for the next generation to wake up in the morning and see the Boeing logo and believe it is an Indian company. The only way to do that is by continuing to grow our investments across the entire life cycle – design, engineering, supply chain, training, maintenance and support,” Colbert said on the sidelines of DefExpo, India’s biggest military exhibition. 

Boeing has already supplied cutting-edge weapon systems to India – including the P8I maritime aircraft and Apache attack helicopters – and is currently in competition with French manufacturer Dassault for an Indian requirement of carrier-borne jets. 

“We believe we put forth a very good offering and we have feedback that the user loves our product. The interoperability (of the F/A 18) with our other products, like the P8 I to support missions is a strong piece of the offering,” he said. 

The navy is currently accessing results of trials it carried out on both the US and French offerings and a shortlisting is expected before end of the year. The order for new jets will be placed under the government-to-government procurement mode. 

On other possible collaborations, the Boeing executive said that the Mk2 version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and India’s new medium-lift helicopter plans are being considered. Colbert said that there are opportunities to co-develop and co-produce the aircraft, leveraging Boeing’s partnership with the Tata Group that produces components and parts for several platforms, including the Apache helicopters. 

11.2. Why it is time for Indian pharma to step up R&D investments 
ET, 1 Nov. 2022 

A large number of drugs going off-patent in the next 10 years are biologics, which are high-value products. Most Indian companies have lagged in developing biosimilars. While many of them are talking about working on biosimilars, R&D investments have to start soon to make use of the opportunities. 

For long, the founders of leading Indian pharma companies carried a vision to bring out an innovative drug from India. But it remains a distant dream despite several efforts in the last three decades. 

Investments by Indian companies in research and development (R&D) are largely directed towards developing generic drugs – copycat versions of existing innovative drugs (new chemical entities). In the past few years, pharma companies have moderated their R&D spending. 

Indian companies’ R&D investments are aimed at creating a pipeline of generic products for regulated markets, particularly the US. The challenging environment for the generic drugs business in the US in recent years and shrinking margins have compelled pharma companies to improve their cost structures, which included calibrating and moderating R&D spends. 

According to a recent report by investment-banking firm Candle Partners, large-cap pharma companies have been consistently cutting down on R&D spends as a percentage of sales after five years of high allocation up to FY17. Both, large caps and mid-caps put sizeable amounts into research from FY14 to FY17, with spends as a percentage of sales peaking at 9% for both. The trend reversed in FY17. 

“We expect this to be a lower number in FY23 as R&D productivity is a key issue for the sector to drive profitability in the future years,” the firm says. 

Does lower R&D spend mean future revenue is at risk? 

Theoretically it is. If a company doesn’t invest enough in R&D, the product pipeline and future launches get affected. The impact can be seen usually after five years. But it seems the reduced R&D spend may not significantly affect the revenue growth of Indian companies in the near future. That’s because the moderation in R&D investments in the last few years is a result of systemic inefficiencies being weeded out, and a focus on developing select molecules that are complex and have limited competition, such as peptides, injectables, and inhalation products. 

“Companies had a long tail in the R&D pipeline. They realised there is no point being the seventh, tenth, or fifteenth player in the market for any molecule and its best not to look at developing such drugs. They are taking a more calibrated approach on R&D spends,” a research analyst says. 

“Another change is that earlier companies used to develop products targeting just the US market, but now they are looking to leverage their pipeline and launch products across various regulated and emerging markets. This improves their R&D productivity,” the analyst added. “Given the focused approach on product selection and leveraging of the pipeline for global markets, revenue growth may not be impacted much.” 

While R&D spend as a percentage of sales has come down, there has been some increase in absolute terms in the last two years for several companies after a decline from FY17 to FY20. 

From here on, Indian pharma companies will need to step up R&D investments to strengthen their product pipeline and target biosimilars, a similar version of biologic drugs. This will be crucial for sustaining growth in the long term. 

A large number of drugs going off-patent in the next 10 years are biologics, which are high-value products. Most Indian companies have lagged in developing biosimilars. While many of them are talking about working on biosimilars, R&D investments have to start soon to make use of the opportunities. 

Leading companies such as Sun Pharma, Dr. Reddy’s, Aurobindo Pharma, Lupin are working on biosimilars, along with complex generics. Biocon has already launched biosimilars in regulated markets and continues to build its pipeline of biosimilars. 

The cost of developing a biosimilar (USD50 million-USD100 million) is much higher compared to a complex generic drug (around USD10 million) and a simple generic drug (less than USD5 million). This limits the ability of Indian companies to develop a meaningful pipeline of biosimilars. 

Some regulatory changes for biosimilars are likely in Europe and the US, which can fast-track the entry of biosimilars into the market and reduce development costs. Indian companies stand to benefit as and when these changes take place. 

Pharma companies are recovering after a difficult three to four years since FY17, when revenue growth, profitability, and return ratios deteriorated due to a weak US business. Their balance sheets are improving, and so is their ability to invest in future growth. 

This means they may soon enter the next phase of increased R&D spends. While complex generics and biosimilars are on their radar, getting into development of innovative drugs will continue to be difficult. It takes over a billion dollars and 10-15 years to bring a new drug to the market, and chances of failure are high. It is not rational to expect Indian companies, with much smaller balance sheets than global pharma giants, and low risk appetite, to venture into this terrain. 

To enable innovative drug research, India has to build an ecosystem with strong support from the government, collaboration between academia and industry, and funding by investors. Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened despite India being called the pharmacy of the world. 

12. HUL in talks to buy Wellbeing Nutrition, Conscious Foods 
Mint, 17 Oct. 2022, Debjyoti Roy

NEW DELHI: Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) is in talks to acquire majority stakes in direct-to-consumer brands Wellbeing Nutrition and Conscious Food to strengthen in-house product categories, three people aware of the matter said. 

Wellbeing Nutrition is a plant-based nutrition company, while Conscious Food sells packaged organic food items, one of the three people cited above said. 

All three people spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

The Wellbeing Nutrition transaction is likely to be around $20 million, the person cited above said; the size of the Conscious Food deal couldn’t be ascertained. 

Hindustan Unilever is considering the Wellbeing acquisition to gain from growing consumer awareness for organic and healthy food. 

The diversified conglomerate is keen to ramp up its Annapurna brand, which primarily offers atta and salt, and Conscious Food could be housed under the same vertical if the deal materializes. 

A spokesperson for Hindustan Unilever said the company does not comment on “market speculation". 

Email queries sent to Wellbeing Nutrition and Conscious Food remained unanswered till press time. 

Wellbeing Nutrition, founded in 2019 by Avnish Chhabria, offers products across daily wellness, functional nutrition, children’s organic nutrition and natural nutri-cosmetics. 

The company’s website says it works with more than 150 organic farms and suppliers globally. 

The brand sells on its online platform across more than 2,000 stores in India and over 5,000 stores across the world, in the US, UK, United Arab Emirates and Germany. It counts early-stage venture capital fund Fireside Ventures among its key investors. 

Conscious Food, established in 1990, offers products such as sprouted wheat dalia, sprouted ragi flour, semolina, digestive mix, spirulina power, Gir cow ghee, herbs and energizing tea. 

It is available nationwide at modern retail brands stores such as Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, FabIndia, Westside and HyperCity, and can be ordered on online platforms such as Amazon and BigBasket. 

To enter the nutraceutical space, which is one of the sought-after categories among both institutional and strategic investors, Hindustan Unilever has in the recent past also had a similar discussion with Power Gummies, which is backed by 9Unicorns, DSG Consumer Partners, Wipro Consumers and Sharpp Ventures (Marico family office), among others. 

The talks didn’t yield any outcome as there were differences over valuation, among other reasons, the second person added. The platform was launched in 2018 by Divij Bajaj to introduce dietary supplements in a chewable form rather than capsules and tablets. 

Currently, the brand has several variants, including Gorgeous Hair & Nails (hair & nail vitamin gummies), The Beach Body (sugar-free gummies for weight management), That Time of the Month (period pain relief gummies) and Jaw-Dropping Skin (collagen builder gummies for skin), among others. Email queries sent to Power Gummies remained unanswered. 

13.1. A fire that charred India’s semiconductor-chip dreams 
ET, 28 Oct. 2022 

As chip wars continue to dominate the geopolitical landscape, the Indian government is giving the much-needed impetus to its own long-forgotten lab, the Semiconductor Complex Limited. Had the state-owned semiconductor unit been quickly rebuilt after a fire destroyed it more than three decades ago, India could have led the global race for chips. 

“Taiwan is No.1 in semiconductor foundry, packaging and testing, producing 92% of the world’s leading-edge semiconductor chips and accounting for over 60% of semiconductor manufacturing revenue,” Taiwan’s de-facto ambassador to India, Baushuan Ger, said earlier this month. 

While Ger emphasised the need for New Delhi and Taipei to join hands to counter China’s aggressive policies, it is worth noting here that India could have become the world’s top semiconductor manufacturer but for an unfortunate incident more than three decades ago. 

In 1989, Chandigarh-based state-owned Semiconductor Complex Limited (SCL), which was set up in 1984, was destroyed in a fire. It was the end of what could have been the Indian version of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TMSC). 

But why didn’t the government rebuild the facility? 

A missed opportunity 

According to Shen Rongqin, an associate professor at York University in Canada, India’s corrupt bureaucracy and backward infrastructure are the main reasons for this failure. Though the cause of the fire is unknown till date, there have been various speculations. In a Facebook post, Rongqin pointed out that India could have become like Taiwan in semiconductor manufacturing, but the fire incident changed the country’s trajectory. 

Clearly, India’s loss has been Taiwan’s gain. 
Even China is dependent on TSMC (which was established nearly three years after the SCL) to meet the 70% deficit in chips to feed the country’s consumer electronics industry. The company controls a huge share of the semiconductor foundry market and produces 10 nanometres (nm) and smaller advanced chips for cutting-edge technologies. 

According to a 2019 report by Semiconductor Industry Association and Boston Consulting Group, there has been no cutting-edge logic capacity below 10 nm being done in the US.“It is all being done in Asia where 5 nm process technology has been achieved and 3 nm technology is on the horizon. Interestingly, 92% of the <10nm is being produced by Taiwan,” it said. 

Rebuilding the dream 
Three decades and as many years after the fire charred India’s semiconductor-chip dreams, the government is wooing Taiwanese multinationals such as TSMC and Hon Hai Technology Group(Foxconn) etc. to develop full-fledged semiconductor facilities in India under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme. 

Meanwhile, as chip wars dominate the geopolitical landscape, the Indian government is giving the much-needed impetus to its own long-forgotten lab and will spend up to USD1.3 billion to modernise and upgrade SCL. The initiative by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) is being funded from the government’s USD10 billion incentive package which was announced in December 2021. The move is intended to strengthen India’s intellectual property rights (IPR) in the semiconductor space. 

As per a parliamentary committee report, India’s strength lies in designing semiconductor chips. India designs chips even for foreign entities, but doesn’t make its own IP design or compete with companies. The MeitY has also announced a Design Linked Incentive (DLI) scheme to make good for the shortcomings of the domestic industry involved in semiconductor design in order to not only move up in the value chain but also to strengthen the semiconductor chip design ecosystem in the country. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), a body under MeitY, is responsible for implementation of the DLI Scheme as the nodal agency. 

India has also set up the India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) as an independent business division within MeitY’s Digital India Corporation with administrative and financial autonomy to formulate and drive long-term strategies for developing semiconductors, display manufacturing facilities, and semiconductor design ecosystem. Envisioned to be led by global experts in the semiconductor and display industry, ISM will serve as the nodal agency for efficient, coherent, and smooth implementation of the schemes. 

Better late than never 
More than three decades after the fire incident, India is back on track to rebuild its semiconductors supply chain with the help of Taiwanese and Indian companies. This strategic move makes India and Taiwan natural allies in the wake of a belligerent China. India’s former ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, had pointed out without naming China that “at a time when one large country is attempting to dominate Asia, we [Taiwan and India] look at security issues from the same lens”. He also said that the two countries also benefit through trade, investment, and exchange of technology. 

Bambawale believes that India and Taiwan are being inexorably drawn closer together. “We should not try to slow down such geopolitical and geo-economic trends. Let us work closer together. Such closer ties do not violate any stated positions of either country.” 

Geopolitical analysts believe that India’s silicon shield, Taiwan, will go a long way in ensuring New Delhi’s emergence as a global powerhouse of semiconductor chips in the years to come. Taiwan is a key ally for India, both economically and strategically. The two countries can potentially challenge China’s technological dominance in the days to come. 

13.2. ONDC, Account Aggregator Network to Open up New Avenues for Startups: Nilekani 
ET, 13 Nov. 2022 

Rollouts of the account aggregator network for financial data sharing and ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) to develop ecommerce will open up more avenues for startups and entrepreneurs to create products and services using these as a foundation, Nandan Nilekani has said. 

Rollouts of the account aggregator network for financial data sharing and ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) to develop ecommerce will open up more avenues for startups and entrepreneurs to create products and services using these as a foundation, Nandan Nilekani has said. 

Speaking at TieCon Pune on Saturday, Nilekani, non-executive chairman of Infosys, said Aadhaar and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) had shown that when you build the right kind of rails at scale, and make them available as APIs (application programming interface), entrepreneurs can build on that and create multi-billion-dollar valuations, referring to Jio using Aadhaar to instantly verify users and companies like Paytm and PhonePe. 

“If the basic rails are provided for by the government or at the public system level, then entrepreneurs can leverage these rails and build phenomenal applications. I see this as very complementary,” said Nilekani, who is also among the key architects of Aadhaar and UPI framework. 

The opportunity, he said, could range from creating consumer-facing apps, working with suppliers or logistics providers to support the massive growth in shipping, or building new direct-to-consumer brands. 

Nilekani said job creation was among the biggest challenges for India at present, and tackling it will need millions of small businesses to do well as that in turn would lead to millions of jobs being created. 

“What small businesses need is access to capital and access to markets… The account aggregator system allows access to capital for small businesses leveraging their own data, and that is being rolled out and that will lead to democratisation of credit to small business,” he said. “The second is how do they get access to markets and that’s where ONDC comes in.” 

The account aggregator network was unveiled by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in September last year while ONDC was incorporated as a Section 8 non-profit company in December 2021 with Quality Council of India and Protean eGov Technologies as initial promoters. 

While delivering the opening remarks at TieCon Pune, a two-day annual conference of entrepreneurs and city luminaries, on Friday, scientist and Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mashelkar said there needed to be a paradigm shift in the innovation strategy, from being followers and creating me-too ventures to becoming leaders and creating global firsts out of India. 

“In the past, India was good at reverse engineering, copying what the West did,” he said. “But if we want to succeed, we have to shift our way of thinking. We can’t take small steps to success. We need to pole vault.” 

Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO of Ola Cabs and Ola Electrics, speaking about his experience building Ola and now Ola Electric, said capital has an upcycle and a down cycle, and entrepreneurs had to know how to be able to ride both the ups and down of this. 

TieCon Pune chairperson Ganesh Natarajan summed up the mood when he said he was dangerously optimistic about the potential for Indian entrepreneurs and startups given the opportunities that lay ahead. 

14.1. ET Startup Awards 2022: Razorpay Edges Out Peers, Bags Top Prize 
ET, 31 Oct. 2022 

Online payments solutions company Razorpay bagged top honours at the eighth edition of India’s most prestigious awards for entrepreneurship — The Economic Times Startup Awards 2022. 

Online payments solutions company Razorpay bagged top honours at the eighth edition of India’s most prestigious awards for entrepreneurship — The Economic Times Startup Awards 2022. At a virtual meeting that lasted for more than two hours on October 28, a high-powered jury led by Infosys CEO and MD Salil Parekh picked the Bengaluru-based company as the Startup of the Year for building a large-scale fintech business in a tough sector while keeping profitability in mind. The jury chose a total of nine winners from a shortlist of 45 contenders across nine categories. 

Founded by Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar in 2014, Razorpay joins a list of eminent winners that have previously bagged the top prize including Zomato, Zerodha, Delhivery, Oyo Hotels & Homes, Swiggy, Freshworks, and Ola. Three of the previous winners – Zomato, Delhivery and Freshworks– are public companies showcasing the depth of the firms that have won the top award since ETSA’s inception in 2015. 

Falguni Nayar, founder and CEO of Nykaa, was chosen as the CEO of the Year, marking the launch of a brand new award category. 

Other notable winners include Shekhar Kirani, partner, Accel, who snagged the Midas Touch award for best investor. While Nayar’s unconventional way of building an omni-channel beauty retailing platform and taking it public last year won her the award, Kirani’s long-standing association with fundamentally strong enterprise and SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies like Freshworks – which completed a public listing in 2021— was recognised by the stellar panel of jurors. 

"All the nominations for Startup of the Year (SOTY) were simply outstanding companies, and it was a really close call at the end of the day. I want to congratulate the Razorpay team for emerging winners in the category. They've demonstrated great growth profitably on the back of relentless customer focus, continued innovation in adjacencies, and a culture that allows them to 'build to last'...," said Sriharsha Majety, cofounder and CEO, Swiggy, which had bagged the SOTY award in 2017. 

Profitability, sound unit economics and staying frugal were themes that met the jury’s approval as proven by the type of winners and close contestants they picked. 

Browserstack, a profitable software testing platform, closely contested with Razorpay for the SOTY award. 

The award for the Bootstrap Champ went to Noise, a smart wearables brand with sizable revenue and profits, while the prize for Top Innovator went to Eyestem, a Bengaluru-based cell therapy company. Cloud telephony platform Exotel was chosen as the winner in the Comeback Kid category while Solinas Integrity, a deep-tech startup founded at IIT Madras that develops robotic solutions for the pipelines and sanitation industry, was adjudged as the Best on Campus. Smita Deorah, cofounder and co-CEO, Lead, an edtech company, was the winner in the Woman Ahead category and plastic recycling startup Banyan Nation bagged top honours in the Social Enterprise category. 

The jury, comprising top entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders from across the globe, chose winners after several rounds of discussions and voting, in what turned out to be an intensely competitive year, with more than a few tie-breakers to arrive at the final winners. The ten-member panel was drawn from locations across India, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Singapore. "The breadth of categories re-enforced the growing importance and scale of the new companies in India and the ecosystem that enabled the creation of these. Among the nominees, there were so many that were special, engaged in solving problems that can have long-lasting, positive impact on India and the world," said Parekh. 

Joining Parekh on the jury were Shailendra Singh, MD, Sequoia India and Southeast Asia; Hemant Taneja, MD, General Catalyst; Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO, Freshworks Inc.; Arundhati Bhattacharya, CEO, Salesforce India; Sriharsha Majety, cofounder and CEO, Swiggy; Sahil Barua, cofounder and CEO, Delhivery; Satyan Gajwani, vice chairman, Times Internet; Lizzie Chapman, cofounder and CEO, ZestMoney and Sanjeev Bikhchandani, cofounder, InfoEdge. 

The initial pool of candidates for the eighth edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards was created by a select group of around 200 founders, investors and other stakeholders of the country’s startup ecosystem. ET’s editorial team worked with knowledge partner Tracxn, a research platform, to create the final shortlist. 

The Economic Times Startup Awards 2022 is presented by IDFC First Bank in partnership with Knowledge Partner Tracxn. 

14.2. Our secret sauce comes from customers: Nayar 
MINT, 10 Nov. 2022, Malvika Maloo 

Women feel empowered and confident with what Nykaa offers, says founder and chief executive Falguni Nayar. 
The Nykaa founder says the company has utilized customer feedback to make its decisions 

BENGALURU: Beauty retailer Nykaa gets most research ideas for launching new products and categories from customers, and has benefited from its early adoption of social media, Falguni Nayar, founder and chief executive, said. 

“Honestly, our secret sauce comes from our customers. They write to us and we are very open, we listen to our customers," Nayar said at the 20th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 

The beauty, wellness and fashion startup has been active on social media, and interacts with customers online, taking note of what they expect from it. When it initially announced the launch of its Bareilly store, the company was surprised by the number of suggestions it received from customers via social media, on the opportunities across markets it could enter and, later, on the brands it ought to procure, she added. That set the tone for how it utilized consumer feedback to make decisions. 

At present, about 60% of its demand is from non-metros. “They (women) feel empowered and confident with what Nykaa offers. That has been my big motivation," Nayar said in a conversation with Mint’s editor-in-chief Sruthijith K.K. 

Nayar started Nykaa in 2012. The company offers more than 5,500 brands across beauty and fashion, with about a billion site visits every month. 

When the startup debuted on the stock market last year, it was valued at over $13 billion. Its current market capitalisation is a little over $6.6 billion. 

Not having a background in retail helped Nayar as she did not follow the conventions of the industry, such as retailing luxury brands only in a luxury environment. “Many (people) tell me that since you were not from the beauty industry, you broke all rules, and you didn’t take constraints for granted," she said. “We didn’t carry the baggage of how beauty had to be done." 

Nayar, who was previously managing director of Kotak Investment Banking, started Nykaa in a small office space of less than 1,000 sq ft in one of Mumbai’s industrial areas. “In spite of having a very comfortable home and previous offices, I wanted the startup office to be ‘startup-like’, because that’s when the startup culture comes in. That’s when the culture of frugality comes in." 

Initially, Nayar, the finance professional, faced a new set of challenges—from getting the technology right to the proof of concept. “I was very naive to think that I can do tech on my own. I was not even in the tech ecosystem," she said, adding that she met people from the industry, taking lessons on beauty, retail and technology. “I have to admit that entrepreneurial journeys are not easy, especially early days are characterised by pain points." 

As an investment banker at Kotak, Nayar helped entrepreneurs such as Harsh Mariwala, co-founder of consumer goods company Marico, Adi Godrej, chairperson of Godrej Group, and UTV founder Ronnie Screwvala, for their roadshows before initial public offerings. 

“I had seen these entrepreneurs, as they portrayed their visions. There were so many people who didn’t believe in (them), but they eventually created that," said Nayar. 

These experiences inspired Nayar. “I saw a lot of entrepreneurs pursue their vision and dreams, and create an enterprise that was extremely successful, creating a value proposition for customers in India. I particularly wished a similar journey," she added. 

Nykaa will focus on wellness products and athleisure fashion through content-led commerce. “We retail the products on our website, but we believe in content-led commerce and we need to do more with education and consumer advice." 

15.1. Despite hurdles, Tata sees robust demand for JLR in key markets 
MINT, 10 Nov 2022, Alisha Sachdev

Tata Motors plans to complete the acquisition of Ford’s car factory in Sanand, Gujarat, by early next year and start production 

NEW DELHI: Luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) expects its already-large order book to swell further, despite economic headwinds and uncertainties in major markets such as Europe and China. 

With no immediate stress on demand in sight, JLR is focusing on ramping up supplies to meet its 205,000-strong order book. 

JLR’s September quarter sales rose 17.6% from a year earlier to 75,307 amid easing production constraints, parent Tata Motors Ltd said. 

Tata Motors on Wednesday narrowed its consolidated second-quarter net loss to ₹945 crore from ₹4,441.57 crore a year earlier. 

This is the seventh consecutive quarter in which the carmaker has failed to turn in a consolidated net profit. Consolidated net loss in the quarter ended 30 June was ₹5,006 crore. 

JLR’s September quarter sales rose 17.6% from a year earlier to 75,307. 

Consolidated revenue rose 29.7% in the second quarter of the ongoing fiscal to ₹79,611 crore, and the Ebitda margin widened 130 basis points from a year earlier to 9.7%. 

Tata Motors also said it has decided to delist its American Depository Shares (ADS) from the New York Stock Exchange since the objectives behind the listing are not relevant anymore. 

The company will file for the delisting in January. 

Shareholders will need to convert the ADS to underlying ordinary shares by July 2023, which will be tradeable on Indian stock exchanges. 

Tata Motors said delisting ADS would simplify its financial reporting requirements and reduce the administrative burden with listings in multiple geographies. 

Besides, participation has been consistently dropping in ADS, which now accounts for less than 5% of ordinary shares. 

“The order book for JLR continues to remain strong and is growing, even though we have started to ramp up production of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. So, we see continued demand there, and at this point, we have enough and more orders to fulfil and don’t see the concern on demand", P.B. Balaji, group chief financial officer, said on a post-results conference call. 

“However, global markets are volatile, and we will watch them cautiously. Our entire focus in the near term is on ramping up production," Balaji added. 

Balaji, however, said there is some stress in the lower-end variants of the JLR portfolio, which is being addressed by an increase in marketing spending or customer discounts. In China, JLR continues to see good demand for its premium and luxury vehicles. 

In India, Tata Motors plans to complete the acquisition of Ford’s car factory in Sanand, Gujarat, by early next year and start production quickly, Balaji said. 

Domestic passenger vehicle wholesales grew 69% to 142,755 vehicles as the carmaker ramped up supply for the festive season. While some demand moderation is expected, Balaji said the domestic order book at 100,000 units is fully aligned with demand, and there are no concerns around inventory build-up. Discounting actions to aid liquidation ahead of the implementation of BS-VI phase-II from April next year are likely to take place, he said. 

Balaji said the residual impact of commodity price inflation, too, has been addressed by a 0.9% price hike this month. “This will be the last of the price hike actions from us in the near term," Balaji said. 

The commercial vehicle business of Tata Motors saw a 15% growth in sales. While domestic wholesales stood at 93,651 vehicles, a growth of 19% from a year earlier, exports fell 22% to 6,771 vehicles because of muted sentiment amid financial crisis in some export markets, the company said. “Domestic retails grew at a higher rate compared to wholesales, and margin improvement was aided by higher volumes and realizations, although impacted by residual commodity inflation and foreign exchange", Tata Motors said in a press release. 

15.2. ‘India to Soon Make Transport, Commercial Planes for World’ 
ET, 31 Oct. 2022 

PM lays foundation stone for Tata-Airbus facility in Vadodara; another aerospace hub to come up in Dholera. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Tata son's chairman N Chandrasekaran in Vadodara. 

India will emerge as a major manufacturer of transport and commercial aircraft in the future that will not just meet domestic requirements but also cater to the global market, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said. 

Speaking after laying the foundation stone for a military transport aircraft manufacturing facility at Vadodara being set up by the Tata Group, the Prime Minister said that India presents a golden opportunity to the world as it has combated the Covid-19 pandemic and other downturns to maintain a growth momentum when it comes to manufacturing. 

“India will become a major manufacturer for transport aircraft. I also see the days coming when larger passenger planes for the world will also be made in India. The aircraft that will be made here will not just strengthen our armed forces and will also create a new ecosystem for aircraft manufacturing,” the PM said. 

Tata will establish the main manufacturing facility for the C 295 transport aircraft in Vadodara and will also set up an aerospace and defence complex at Dholera. The company has tied up with Airbus that won a ₹21,935 crore contract to supply 56 transport aircraft to the Indian air force in 2021. 

The new complex will be India’s first ever private sector aircraft manufacturing facility. While smaller aircraft have been made in India in the past, the projects were executed by public sector enterprises, mainly Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) 

“This is the first time that India’s defence and aerospace sector has seen such a large investment. Vadodara will now become an aviation hub. In the past, India has been supplying parts and systems to global manufacturers but this is the first time a military transport aircraft is being made here,” he said. 

Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran said that the project would generate over 15,000 skilled jobs and 40 of the aircraft will be fully built in India. “The aircraft will also be of tremendous value for other entities like the army, navy, coast guard, BSF and others. There is also a very substantial global demand and I definitely see exports as a big opportunity in the not so distant future,” he said. 

The PM too delved on exports, saying that the mantra of ‘Make in India, Make for the Globe’ is becoming a reality. “India is today making its own fighter aircraft, its own tanks, own submarines. Not just that medicines and vaccines made in India are saving lakhs of lives worldwide,” the PM said. 

He added that given the growth in the Indian aviation sector, the demand for passenger aircraft is expected to exceed 2,000 in the coming 10 to 15 years, which presents a unique opportunity to create an aerospace ecosystem. 

- Services (Education, Healthcare, IT, R&D, Tourism, etc.) 

16.1. Tata Trusts move to ready next gen for leading roles 
Mint, 01 Nov 2022, Satish John 

Noel Tata’s children Leah, Neville and Maya have been appointed to Tata Medical Centre Trust’s board, a Tata Trusts affiliate, in a move seen as developing the next generation of leaders, a person close to the development said 

MUMBAI : Noel Tata’s children Leah, Neville and Maya have been appointed to Tata Medical Centre Trust’s board, a Tata Trusts affiliate, in a move seen as developing the next generation of leaders, a person close to the development said. 

Tata Trusts’ decision to get the three executives on the Tata Medical Centre board will help groom them for bigger roles under chairman Ratan Tata’s watch, the person said, requesting anonymity. The appointments were made with effect from 31 October. Ratan Tata, Vijay Singh and Mehli Mistry were already on the board of Tata Medical Centre Trust, which runs a cancer hospital in Kolkata. Involving them in a smaller trust within Tata Trusts is also seen as a way to make the three work their way up. The number of trustees in the Tata Medical Centre Trust has doubled with their appointment. 

All three are working in middle management roles as the family elders felt they needed to work their way up the ladder 

An email query to the trustees of Tata Medical Centre Trust did not elicit any response till press time. 

Tata Medical Centre is a philanthropic initiative aimed at helping cancer patients from east and northeast India and Bangladesh. It started operations in 2011 and runs a 431-bed hospital. The hospital was established in Kolkata as cancer patients from the east and northeast had to travel to Mumbai for treatment. Ratan Tata and Noel Tata’s family have bonded well in recent years, with the former attending family get-togethers on occasion. 

Leah, the eldest daughter of Noel Tata, studied marketing at the IE Business School in Madrid and is a manager responsible for development and expansion at Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. Maya works at Tata Digital, the Tata Group’s venture in the digital space, while Neville is associated with retailer Trent Ltd, founded by his uncle. 

All three are working in middle management roles as the family elders felt they needed to work their way up the ladder. Noel Tata, chairman of retail chain Trent and Voltas Ltd, in a recent interview, said his children had the choice to join different firms in the group, and as a father, he encouraged them to pursue their passion, akin to what he did for most of his career. 

17.1. India Space Congress enables startups to partner in US$ 1.5 trillion space economy 
IBEF, Oct. 26, 2022 

To foster the growing interest in deep space tech startups in India, the India Space Congress, 2022 (ISC'22) announced a number of initiatives to showcase excellence, including partnering with Microsoft to extend Founders Hub benefits to the 15 shortlisted startups and engaging with the 'iDEX 75 Space Challenges' announced by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi during the Defence Expo. 

As part of the Founders Hub programme, 15 selected startups may apply and receive up to US$ 150,000 in free Azure credits. On October 27, 2022, five finalists from Space Tech startups will pitch their ideas to industry leaders and investors at the session 'Pitch Right for Skyrocketing Startups.' The three-day India Space Congress 2022 will feature 500+ delegates, 180 speakers, and 35 thematic sessions from 20 countries. 

The goal of the platform is to open dialogue, discuss business models, discuss regulatory challenges and possible learnings from other geographies, and generate interest in new entrepreneurs - all with the goal of making 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' a reality. Speakers from 30 countries will engage in intense discussions on various aspects of space segments, with the goal of establishing a new age space ecosystem in the country. 

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same. 

17.2. IIT Guwahati's CoE provides boost to innovation in nanoelectronics and healthcare devices 
ET Gov. 5 Nov. 2022 

At the time of its inception, IIT Guwahati and MeitY collectively planned and envisioned this CoE with major long-term objectives. 

The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology successfully achieved the goals set for the Center of Excellence (CoE) in Research and Development of Nanoelectronic and Theranostic Devices established in 2014. 

Appreciating the success of the CoE, Prof. Dr TG Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati said, "It is with great pride to note that the faculty members working at IIT Guwahati's Centre for Nanotechnology in collaboration with MeitY have worked tirelessly towards the success of establishing this pioneering Centre of Excellence. This visionary support by the MeitY has been instrumental in expanding the base of nanoelectronics inventions and innovations in the country well in line with the twin missions of GoI - 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' and 'Make in India." 

At the time of its inception, IIT Guwahati and MeitY collectively planned and envisioned this CoE with major long-term objectives. 

The CoE has surpassed these objectives including the establishment of a brand-new Centre for Nanotechnology building of 10,000 sq. m. area equipped with ISO 5 and 6 clean rooms and 23 state-of-art laboratories - Lithography, CVD and PVD reactors, oxidation and diffusion furnaces, and printers, characterization - confocal and electron microscopes, UV-Vis spectroscopy, and AFM-Raman-TERS and testing - IV-CV analyzer, AC/DC/RF probe stations, network analyzer facilities, for the first time in North-East India. 

The other feature also includes the development of an array of healthcare devices to detect liver/kidney/pancreatic health, detect pathogens and cancer markers with immense commercial potential. In the process, 7 transfer-of-technologies and more than 280 publications in the high impact international journals, more than 40 Patents, 30 prototypes, 50 PhD students, and manpower training. 

Speaking about the CoE at IIT Guwahati, Prof. Ramgopal Rao, Pillay Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Former Director of IIT Delhi said, "A successful establishment of the Centre for Excellence is an epoch-making event in the North-Eastern region because the youth of the region can now utilize these world-class facilities available at their doorstep to pursue their lofty scientific and technological dreams. Importantly, the Nano Centre has already started delivering an array of technologies that will cater to the needs of society." 

18.1. Air India Looking to Become Carrier of Choice Globally 
ET, 17 Oct. 2022 

The Tata-owned Air India is targeting to be the carrier of choice for passengers across the world and compete with leading airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, CEO & MD Campbell Wilson said. 

Tata Sons on May 12 announced the appointment of Campbell Wilson as chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director (MD) of Air India. 

The Tata-owned Air India is targeting to be the carrier of choice for passengers across the world and compete with leading airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines, CEO & MD Campbell Wilson said. 

“We want to appeal not just to the people of India but we want the world to see Air India in the same category as Emirates, Qatar Airways or Singapore Airlines. So, it’s not just about making it the choice of Indians, it’s about people from all parts of the world flying Air India by choice…”Wilson told ET in his first media interview since assuming charge. “Air India carries national pride and we want to represent India in a way, it wants to be represented at global stage, ”he said. 

The New Zealand-born 52-year-old Wilson is the first CEO of the privatised Air India. He joined the airline in May after working for more than 20 years at Singapore Airlines and its subsidiary Scoot. 

“I think it's no secret that there's a huge market between North America and India, also between greater Europe and India, Australasia, Southeast Asia which is underserved.” Wilson said. 

“So those are the geographies that we're going to target first. But with India’s geographic position and diaspora, and the manufacturing capacity coming here, there is an opportunity to be connected far more,” he said. 

Air India intends to grow its fleet size from the current strength of 117 by three times and increase market share to 30% in both domestic and international space in next five years. 

"In the first phase, we are addressing all legacy issues, secondly we are bringing in new systems, practices and aircraft, upgrading skills of our people and then in the third phase, we will do the million things consistently right which transforms us from being very good to world class," Wilson said. 

The airline will expand fleet to increase network density and expand the footprint to new areas, he added. 

Sources said Air India intends to increase its presence to 100 destinations from the current 50 while on the international front, it will aim to expand to 125 destinations from the current 75. The airline intends to triple its capacity on US routes beyond Delhi and Mumbai and also add more flights to Europe and Australia. 

Wilson indicated that the airline will rejig its network in a manner where it can carry passengers from neighbouring nations using Indian airports as the hub. "In the course of flying to and from India, we can take people from Southeast Asia to the Middle East or from the Indian subcontinent to North America using Indian airports as hubs in the same way that some of our neighbours do," he said. 

While he declined to give a timeline for Air India’s financial turnaround, Wilson said that operational turnaround will lead to increase in top line. "Financial turnaround is a consequence of operational turnaround. While we have renegotiated a lot of contracts which has made us leaner, much of the turnaround will come by improving the foundation," he said. 

Listing the changes that have taken place since Air India has been privatised, Wilson said around 2.5 lakh cases totalling more than Rs 150 crore refund, which was pending since COVID, has been processed by the new owners. 

The airline has also significantly improved its on-time performance (OTP), refurbished its menu and aircraft with new seats and cushions, and improved inflight entertainment. 

In September, the airline had the best on-time performance among Indian airlines. "Air India has not been number one in OTP in any month, since 2014. So these are indications that the airline is making significant steps forward," Wilson said. 

18.2. Jammu and Kashmir Tourism receives record number of tourists in 2022, highest in 75 years 
IBEF, Oct. 27, 2022 

The region of Jammu and Kashmir has seen 1.62 crore tourists in 2022, the highest in India's 75 years of independence. 

The Union Territory's increased tourism has led to the highest levels of employment across a number of regions, showcasing the territory's overall development through a proactive strategy, transformative projects, and necessary reforms to strengthen J&K for its people, culture, and society. 

J&K has allocated Rs. 786 crore (US$ 95.81 million) to the tourism sector, which has shown outstanding progress recently, including a large increase in profit collection. 

In the last few years, the infrastructural and social development of the region and its people have advanced quickly. 

In recent years, air traffic and tourist levels to Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh- a tourism destination that is currently being pushed on all available international forums have reached record highs. 

The locals' trust in the state's institutional mechanism has been reaffirmed by these initiatives and the overall local-friendly strategy used up until now. 

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same. 

19.1. D2C: Customer loyalty, pricing parity, cost: why D2C has grown more relevant in the post-pandemic world 
ET, 28 Oct. 2022 

The pandemic gave rise to the popularity of D2C as a retail channel. While many brands are focusing on having a presence across channels, D2C stays relevant even in the post-pandemic world as it helps brands reach the INR 100crore revenue-mark quickly, save on costs, and cultivate brand loyalty. 

The direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel has been in existence for decades. But it was the pandemic which put it under the spotlight. 

As physical stores stayed shut amid prolonged lockdowns and e-commerce was the only functioning retail channel, brands quickly started to adopt the D2C model. 

To be sure, most digital-first brands in India started off their journey with D2C and marketplace retail sales. However, the true potential of D2C — or the business model of selling products directly to customers — was realised only during the pandemic years as it was the only channel which was the equivalent of online brand outlets. 

According to a recent report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), “Online sales through brands’ app and website, social media pages, and inclusive of both traditional and D2C brands” is sized at USD5 billion in FY22. This market is expected to register a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35% to reach USD22 billion by 2027. 

Vinay Singh, co-founder of early stage investment firm Fireside Ventures, points out that the D2C channel in today’s day and age is not just the online EBOs (exclusive brand outlets). “You could call it the online lab as well. It is the only channel apart from a physical EBO, which allows brands to collect information regarding their consumers, and that information and consumer data is imperative for growth,” he says. 

However, as we move away from the pandemic years, one can see that most digital-first brands are now focusing on expanding their offline presence. 

Irrespective of the category — from beauty and personal care to apparel and fashion to food and beverages to even electronics — most companies including audio and wearables brandboAt Lifestyle, SUGAR Cosmetics, and Plum Cosmetics are all focusing on expanding their offline businesses. 

While D2C as a channel allows brands to set up shops with minimum business entry resistance, offline retail is where brands grow to become a household name. 

Does it mean that in the post-pandemic world, D2C channel will lose its relevance? 

Let’s find out. 

Hitting the INR100-crore revenue mark 
For any brand to become a household name with a high frequency of repeat purchases, a presence across all offline retail channels is imperative. One of the primary strategies that all consumer brands agree upon and are working towards is having an omnichannel approach. Presence across different retail channels is pertinent for ‘different stages’ of growth for a brand. 

“The reason why D2C is important, and will continue to be so, is the role it plays, especially for most of the new-age digital-first brands. For a company to enter the retail scenario using D2C channel makes a lot more sense as the entry barrier is negligible. If you have a brand website or app, you have your primary point of contact with consumers. And most importantly, you have the data and hence can have targeted communication,” says Singh. 

He believes that for a brand to grow to the INR100 crore-mark in revenues, D2C will be the key. But he also agrees that the development and reach of the brand will change in various phases of its trajectory. 

Much before e-commerce became popular, most consumer brands took at least a decade or more to touch the INR100 crore-mark in terms of revenues. One of the first things that D2C changed for brands was this time frame. A growing base of smartphone users coupled with cheap data is likely to further shorten this duration. Most of the digital-first brands of the country took half that time to reach INR100 crore in revenue. 

Kaushik Mukherjee, co-founder, SUGAR Cosmetics, says, “The pandemic has completely blurred the lines between online and offline channels. Earlier, D2C was opted by only digital-first brands.Now a lot of legacy companies are following the same route”. 

According to Mukherjee, the prioritisation in terms of channel focus has changed a lot over the years for the Mumbai-based cosmetics brand. The brand is present across all retail channels, except travel retail (airport kiosks), which Mukherjee says will happen over time. “We realised that a customer switches between channels. Therefore, for the repeat customers, who are your loyalists, you want to make the shopping experience seamless. You don’t want to confuse the customer in terms of whether they will get a better deal on Amazon, D2C, or at a store,” he adds. 

According to the CII report cited above, while the number of smartphone users as of 2021 was 750 million, this rose to 830 million. The number of online shoppers was 190 million in 2021. By 2030, the number of smartphone and Internet users is expected to grow to 1.3 million while the count of online shoppers is expected to touch 500 million. 

Therefore, the market potential is very high. 

In addition to this, the primary consumer base for digital-first brands in India is the millennials and Gen Z who spend a lot of time on social media. 

One of the primary disadvantages of a D2C-only brand is discoverability. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, Myntra, and Nykaa help consumers find new brands either with the help of search engine optimisation or marketing tools within the category search with the help of banners and more. Either way, coming across a new brandand trying it out (as the consumer trusts the retail channel) is much easier using marketplaces. 

However, digital-first brands are engaging with their target audience with the help of focused content which allows them to have followers on social media channels, which in turn makes even first-time consumers feel confident about shopping from these D2C channels. Therefore, once the brand and consumer have come in contact, chances are that the consumer will place her next order through the D2C channel, app, or the brand’s social media page. 

“We get a lot of conversions from Instagram — as in when people see our profile and see 2.4 million followers, they automatically feel we are trustworthy. Instagram has compounded to a point that it has the best conversion rate for us,” says Mukherjee. 

The importance of repeat customers 
The intent of any shopper who walks in to an EBO store of a brand is the highest. The consumer knows they want to purchase that brand, and the entire order value, across categories will be generated by the same brand.This is one retail touch point which is perhaps the most sought after by all consumer brands as one gets data and the shopping behaviour of consumers directly. 

D2C offers the same scope online with a lower setting up cost. 

D2C channel primarily has three members in its value chain. The product goes from the manufacturing plant to the warehouse and then directly to the consumers. 

While walking into a store is sometimes organic, depending on the location of the store (malls or high street), visiting a D2C website directly is rarely so. In fact, consumers who prefer buying from D2C channels are mostly repeat customers. And this is the consumer base that every brand focusing on to retain and grow while constantly trying to acquire new consumers via other channels. 

Further, the cost of acquisition of a consumer is often higher (which varies between different consumer categories)as compared to the D2C channel as it requires specific and targeted advertisements. 

D2C focuses on targeted advertising with the help of Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Google while marketplaces and offline channels focus on SEO (search engine optimisation) and more traditional advertising mediums such as the print and television. 

One of the primary reasons why the relevance of D2C will continue to be strong in the post-pandemic world is the nature of the consumers that most of these digital-first brands are targeting. 

As mentioned above, D2C shoppers are also repeat customers of a brand. For boAt Lifestyle, for example, the repeat frequency among shoppers is one year. Typically, half of its consumers are replacing headphones once every 12 months while one-fourth are repeat customers. Moreover, 35% of its audio consumers are also buying smartwatches. 

Vivek Gambhir, CEO of boAt Lifestyle confirms that repeat rates are slightly higher on D2C channel than others.“Currently we have 25% of our sales coming in from offline channel and 70% from marketplaces like Amazonand the remaining 5% from our D2C channel. The cost of acquisition will always be higher in D2C because a consumer is mostly buying only one category from the D2C channel. Typically for a consumer, when they go on Amazon or Flipkart, they end up buying multiple categories.” says Gambhir. 

While the marketing costs for any new-age brand using marketplace is nearly 20%-25% of the total sales generated from the channel, the cost of acquisition of a new consumer is always lower via these channels as the new brand is part of the shopping basket and not the only brand in it. 

According to Gambhir, 17%-18% of boAt’ssales is marketing costs. “All our marketing is digital. We invest primarily behind Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook,Google, and the platform advertising on the marketplaces. Therefore, there is no offline marketing component beyond a little bit of merchandising and point of sale kinds of investment.” 

SUGAR Cosmetics’ Mukherjee says that a brand does several things while trying to drive footfall into offline stores. “You are doing mall branding, billboard branding, you want to apportion a part of your expenses to newspaper and television commercials as well — and this number cannot be apportioned only to one category though as television advertising will impact my overall sales and not just one retail channel.” 

Currently for SUGAR Cosmetics, 15%-20% of its total revenue is marketing costs. 

According to Ayushi Gudwani, founder of FS Life, a new-age online apparel company, the average order value from its D2C channel is currently isINR3,800-INR4,000. This had gone down to INR3,100 during the pandemic. Gudwani says about 45%-50% of the company’s customers are repeat shoppers. “The frequency of purchase from our D2C channel is nearly 2.5 times a year and the average order value for our repeat customers is generally higher than that of first-time buyers,” she says. The brand is currently only available online and via marketplaces besides its own D2C channel. 

Ensuring price parity 
Generally, the average order value for brands varies drastically between an MBO (multi-brand outlet) or EBO channel irrespective of whether it’s online or offline. While most brands cannot comment on MBO average order values as they do not have the data, they are practicing price parity across channels to make the shopping experience seamless for both first-time and repeat customers. 

“A lot of new-age brands will go on marketing campaigns such as ‘2+1 free or get 40% off’ if you buy from a specific channel. But if you haven’t established your brand as something worthy that the consumer would need or want, even if you give it to them for half the price, it’s still not worth it,” says Mukherjee, who prefers to maintain the same price for SUGAR’s products across channels. 

As of September 2022, 55% of SUGAR’s sales were generated via the offline channel. Out of the remaining 45%, 50% sales come from its own website and app, and 50% comes from Nykaa, Myntra, and Amazon among others. 

Mukherjee confirms that the current average order value for SUGAR Cosmetics stands at INR1,350 via both its D2C and assisted sales channels such as large format stores. 

Gambhir of boAt Lifestyle concurs. “Average order values change less because of channel and are more dependent on the product mix and category. The average order value for boAt is INR1,500. We ensure price parity across channels.You might see some pricing divergences, but mostly, from our end, we try and give as much pricing parity as possible. As a policy, we don’t under-price our products on our D2C channel,” he says. 

From a consumer behaviour perspective, highly price conscious customers are likely to go to an online marketplace. But once the consumers take the trouble of going to a brand website, they become loyal consumers with a clear intent to make purchases. For those consumers, discounts don’t make sense as they are already loyalists and such a practice would lead to a pricing imbalance which will create issues with marketplace partners. 

"The pandemic has completely blurred the lines between online and offline channels. Earlier, D2C was opted by only digital-first brands. Now a lot of legacy companies are following the same route." 

— Kaushik Mukherjee, co-founder, SUGAR Cosmetics 

The bottom line 
In the post-pandemic world wherein consumers are back to offline stores, and footfalls in malls have recovered, brands are rejoicing the growth momentum. Irrespective of the retail channels, this festive season most consumer brands will see an uptick in sales. 

The relevance of D2C, however, stands out — just like EBOs in the offline space. However, D2C is slightly more relevant. 

The primary target audience of most digital-first new-age brands is Gen Z and the millennials who research everything before making the purchase. Whether its how to use the product using a YouTube tutorial or comparing the brand with others using a marketplace channel, the first point of contact that consumers have with a brand now is online. While the contribution of D2C revenue generation continues to be the lowest among all channels, it is also generated by the brand’s strongest loyalists. 

Hence, pandemic or not, the D2C channel is here to stay. 

20.1. Opinion: By prioritising healthcare on govt agenda, states can make a long-term impact on people's well being 
ET Gov., 4 Nov. 2022, GS Naveen Kumar 

Technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have ushered in a new wave of medical services and transformed public healthcare. 

The Indian healthcare sector is still in its infancy and yet far from achieving international benchmarks, a flaw that became more apparent during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, some states handled COVID-19 better than others. What explains the markedly different experiences of various states? The answer is mostly two-fold. States that seem to have done better have benefited from a strong, existing healthcare infrastructure along with political leadership that prioritized science-based medical care. 

The Constitution empowers the states to determine public health policy and set health-spending decisions based on resources allocated by the Central government. While many states have under-invested in their healthcare systems, the Andhra Pradesh government has given the highest priority to the health and welfare of the people. On forming the government in 2019, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy embarked on bringing revolutionary reforms in the health sector for providing better services to the people, right from improving and building better health infrastructure to filling up vacancies and revamping all government hospitals in the state. 

The efficacy of this approach was seen during the Coronavirus surge. The state government’s gambit of investing large sums of money into the public sector, especially health, proved to be right. Remember, it was the public healthcare system in Andhra Pradesh that almost single-handedly tackled the efforts to contain the pandemic while almost the entire private healthcare shut down operations. Since coming to power, the state government has increased the health budget to Rs 13,830.34 crore in 2021-22 marking a significant increase of 11.23 percent. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has summed up the goal of public health as essentially that prevents disease, promoting health, and increasing the life expectancy of the population. Therefore, one of the key challenges for any state government is to ensure that healthcare facilities are affordable and easily accessible to all, without exception. Here, again, Andhra Pradesh has recently taken several innovative approaches to improve access to healthcare for the public. The government has equipped the 10,032 sub-centers (Dr. YSR Village Health Clinics) with 67 categories of drugs along with 14 types of diagnostics, increased the number of beds in primary health centers to 7,908, and decided to implement Family Physician Concept in 1,142 primary health centers in the state. The program entails one medical officer attending the OP at PHC and another visiting the allotted village with mobile medical unit. 

While international organizations like the World Bank, European Commission, and the Department for International Development (DFID) have a history of supporting reform initiatives within the health sector in the state, these cannot be effective without a political will for healthcare reforms. This is where the state government has shown remarkable initiative and seized the opportunity. 

By giving the highest priority to the health and welfare of the people in the state, the government has initiated several revolutionary measures to bring about a sea change in the health sector. 

With a view to ensuring universal health coverage for BPL families, whether in terms of financial protection or access to effective healthcare, the Government of Andhra Pradesh implemented its flagship program 'Dr YSR Aarogyasri Health Insurance Scheme’. Under this scheme, there are about 1.4 crore Aarogyasri cardholders across the state. Around 3,118 medical procedures for identified diseases in 30 categories are made available to the beneficiaries. It is up to the patient to choose which hospital to go to for the treatment. Through online web-based processing, the entire process of organizing health camps, screening, diagnosing, treating, following up, and payment is transparent to prevent any misuse or fraud. 

For the first time, the state has brought in YSR Aarogya Asara, a game-changing policy in which the government pays up to Rs 5,000 to the patient who has undergone a surgery. The government also provides monthly pensions ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 to people suffering from chronic ailments. Since the inception of the present administration, 9,712 posts have been filled in addition to appointing 15,000 ANMs at the secretariat level and further 14,788 posts have been filled early this year. That is, a total of 40,000 posts were being filled in the medical and health sector. 

All these initiatives are bolstered by the rapid adoption of digitalization of health services by the AP government. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption in the healthcare segment. 

Technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have ushered in a new wave of medical services and transformed public healthcare. This was evident during the pandemic when the state government enabled hospitals to manage logistics supply to maintain the surge of patients. State health officials leveraged data to help patients with hospital transfers, bed availability, or home isolation. It was a remarkably successful digitally driven logistics management movement which was possible only because the state government was open to tech and digital adoption. 

This changed mindset has led to significant budget allocations, which provide the ground for new initiatives and will accelerate the improvement of health facilities and services to reach the underserved segments of the population. Wherever necessary, the government has partnered with the private sector for more effective healthcare delivery. 

The state government has repeatedly emphasized cancer prevention and treatment. In addition to installing LINAC machines in four teaching hospitals, it also established a cancer department in all medical colleges. The cancer wing in seven medical colleges would also be modernized and strengthened. With the investment in cancer care and other related services, government health services will move towards quaternary care. 

Further, the government’s decision to appoint health experts like Dr Dattatreyudu Nori as an adviser and make them part of healthcare design will be a big boost for the experts executing the projects. 

There is no doubt that all six As - Awareness, Acceptance, Availability, Accessibility, Affordability, and Adherence - of health care are being taken care of by the state. 

The author, a senior IAS officer, is the Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Andhra Pradesh; views are personal. 

20.2. India, a leader in digitalisation, a logistical marvel: World leaders at IMF-WB conference 
ET Gov. 28 Oct. 2022 

The painstaking groundwork was implemented on a mission mode to make a large part of the population digitally compliant. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks at a news conference during the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, US, last week. 

"A bright spot in a dark horizon", "A logistical marvel", "A leader in digitalisation" are some words of praise coming out of Washington DC for the Indian economic model. 

The international monetary fund recently heaped praise on India for facing unfavourable economic headwinds as the World braces for market-damaging events unfolding at a rapid pace. 

A recession looms and is expected to have a global impact; from major developed economies to those just emerging. The annual conference of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank featured many discussions about the state of the world economy. 

With the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalating to almost nuclear threats oil prices spiking the world over and a general slowdown in consumption patterns coupled with global high inflation the mood was grim at this year's IMF meeting, with fears of a recession looming large. 

However, amidst this gloom and doom, the IMF reserved special praise for India. 

India's path to a strong economic model to be emulated by the world has not been an easy one. The painstaking groundwork was implemented on a mission mode to make a large part of the population digitally compliant. 

The DBT or Direct Benefit Transfer scheme which transfers government funds directly to beneficiaries without any interference from middlemen, also was a topic of praise by the IMF, calling it a "Logistical Marvel". 

In contrast to this success story of Digital India, we look at the German Finance Minister's recent comments when asked to conduct a similar exercise in his country. Prominent Twitter users were aghast that Germany had difficulty matching bank accounts with beneficiaries and that a process like India's DBT could take almost 18 months. 

"From India, there is a lot to learn. If I look at the case of India, it is actually quite impressive", says, Paolo Mauro, Deputy Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF 

One sector, however, that remains a worry for India is the Dollar to the Rupee exchange rate. With the Rupee breaching Rs 82 to a dollar, headlines across the Indian media landscape predict a doomsday scenario for the Indian Rupee. 

However, if we dig a little deeper into the data behind the exchange rate fluctuation we see that in 2022, the Rupee depreciation has been a lot lesser than other Asian currencies, despite an increasing crude oil bill. Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated this fact on her recent trip to Washington DC. 

"The Indian rupee has performed much better than many other emerging market currencies. The efforts of RBI are more towards seeing that there is not too much volatility; it is not to intervene in the market to fix the value of the Rupee. Containing the volatility is the only exercise RBI is involved in and I have said this before that Rupee will find its own level.", said, Finance Minister. 

According to the World Economic Outlook published by the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to surpass Germany to become the fourth-largest economy by Financial Year 2027.It also says that India would expand faster than Japan by Financial Year 2028. 
Political stability and the attractiveness of the Indian economy as an investment destination for foreign multinationals can continue to drive structural flows into the country via FDI. This will provide a further impetus to the country's strong economic foundation. 

While the world was still rebuilding from the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftershocks, India took a massive leap on the economic front when it recently surpassed the United Kingdom in terms of nominal GDP. 

Observers say that a tripartite foundation consisting of a resolute political will to make difficult decisions for the greater good, swift implementation of fiscal objectives, and a development strategy based on science and technology has yielded rich dividends for the country. 

As countries brace for economic headwinds, the Indian growth story continues to march on. As the IMF put "India remains a bright spot in a dark horizon." 

India and the World 

21. World bank seeks to take Indian digitisation efforts globally 
ET Gov. 18 Oct. 2022 

The World bank extends a request to showcase how Indian people have accepted the deepening digital applications 

Budget 2022: 'Big tech' takes centre stage as Sitharaman focuses on e-governance, digitisation to drive economy on growth trajectory 

From digital currency to 75 new digital banks in 75 districts and from digital university to e-passports and use of drone in agriculture, the ‘all tech’ Union Budget 2022 has set a new inclusive growth roadmap 
Ajay Kumar Shukla

Walking down the ‘Digital India’ lane, the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in one of the biggest ‘Big tech’ Budget 2022 announcements on Tuesday, embraced the ‘tech bylanes’ to focus on e-governance, digitisation while driving the economy on a growth trajectory. 

From launching digital currency to starting 75 new digital banks in 75 districts and from launching digital university to introducing e-passports and drone tech to further agriculture output all tech-backed programmes featured in the Union finance ministers’ list during her Budget 2022 presentation on Tuesday. 

Adopting drone tech to expand agricultural output: 
Among the top e-governance initiatives announced during the Union Budget 2022 include the use of drone technology to increase agricultural output. According to the Budget announcement, the use of Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients. 

“Use of Kisan drones will be promoted for crop assessments, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients. States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agri universities,” Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. 

Digital University at fore: 
The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed to set up a digital university to provide education that will be built on a hub and spoke model. The FM announced that 1-Class-1-TV channel will be implemented to provide supplementary education to children to make up for the loss of formal education due to the pandemic. 

Open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem: 
The Union finance minister announced a new open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem to be rolled out under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). 

The National Digital Health Ecosystem platform will include digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework and would provide universal access to the health facilities. 

75 Digital Banking units to be setup in 75 districts: 
While announcing large scale digital upgradation in the banking sector, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced setting up of 75 digital banking units in 75 districts by scheduled commercial banks. 

“In recent years, digital banking, digital payments and fintech innovations have grown at a rapid pace in the country, and the government has been continuously encouraging them to ensure that the benefits of digital banking reach every nook and corner of the country in a consumer-friendly manner. 

Taking forward this agenda, and to mark 75 years of our independence, the Finance Minister announced that it is proposed to set up 75 Digital Banking Units (DBUs) in 75 districts of the country by Scheduled Commercial Banks,” Sitharaman said. 

Digital rupee for digital economy to emerge in FY23: 
Supplementing the needs of digitisation in the banking sector, the Union finance minister has also announced to launch digital currency in the next financial year beginning April 2022 to boost the digital economy and efficient currency management. 

According to the Union minister, the introduction of a central bank digital currency will not just boost the digital economy, but the digital currency will also help in better the currency management system in terms of tracking and transparency. 

“Digital currency will also lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system. It is therefore proposed to introduce digital rupee using blockchain and other technologies to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India, starting 2022-23,” Sitharaman said. 

Also while further liberalising the banking sector for farmers and poor, the Union minister announced to link all the post offices with the regular banking system, a move that will give a much required boost to the rural economic ecosystem. 

e-Passports to be a reality soon: 
The Union Budget 2022 has set the ball rolling for the launch of Passports with biometrics in 2022-23. The Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech said e-passports will be launched in 2022-23. 

So far very few countries including Germany, UK use such hi-tech biometrics enabled e-passports. An e-passport generally comes fitted with a small electronic chip containing the data. 

5G auctions, rollout on cards: 
While signalling a ‘paradigm’ shift in the model of governance, the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her fourth Budget presentation also announced the future roadmap of last mile digital connectivity furthering the reach of government schemes in the remotest areas. 

To enhance digital connectivity the Union minister announced that the Centre will conduct a spectrum auction this year, a move that will fast track the 5G roll-out by private telecom operators in the current fiscal. This will facilitate the rollout of 5G services by private telecom operators during the current financial year 2022-23. 

“Spectrum auctions will be conducted in 2022 to facilitate the roll-out of 5G mobile services within 2022-23 by private telecom providers,” Sitharaman said. 

According to Sitharaman, better digital connectivity with the launch of 5G will enable affordable broadband and mobile service proliferation in rural and remote areas. The Centre has also announced to allocate 5% of annual collections under the universal service obligation fund under the budgetary plan. 

“This will promote R&D and commercialisation of technologies and solutions. Our mission is that all villages and their residents should have the same access to e-services, communication facilities and digital resources as urban areas and their residents,” Sitharaman said. 

According to the Union minister, the contract for laying optical fibre in all villages, including remote areas, will be awarded through the BharatNet project through PPP in 2022-23. “Completion is expected in 2025. Measures will be taken to enable better and more efficient use of the optical fibre,” Union minister said. 

22. M&As hit a record on HDFC, Adani, LTI-Mindtree deals 
Mint, 19 Oct 2022, Swaraj Singh Dhanjal

The deal value was boosted by transactions such as the $60 bn merger of HDFC Bank and HDFC. 

Factors driving M&As include reasonable valuations, large pools of funds available with PEs and return of FIIs 

MUMBAI: The volume and value of mergers and acquisitions in India hit new records, defying a global slowdown in deal-making as central banks turned off the liquidity spigot. 

Deal value in India rose 58% to $148 billion in the nine months to 30 September from $93.5 billion in the year earlier, Refinitiv data showed. It even exceeded the full-year figures of $127.6 billion in 2021 and $132.2 billion in 2018, according to Refinitiv. 

23. The world’s biggest bet on India 
The Economist, Sep. 15th 2022 

What Tata’s $90bn pivot to its home market says about the planet’s fifth-biggest economy 

If you want to glimpse the frontier of Indian capitalism, take a trip to Tamil Nadu in the south of the country. New factories with solar panels on their roofs lie on a vast 550-acre (220-hectare) site. Inside, it is reported, Tata is making components for the latest iPhones on behalf of Apple—and in the process finally connecting India to the world’s most sophisticated supply chain, which used to be anchored to China. 

The project is not a one-off. It is part of a new and staggering $90bn investment surge by India’s biggest business that is repositioning itself towards its home market and away from its 30-year strategy of fanning out globally. Tata’s ambition to create electronics factories and semiconductor fabs in India could transform its economy. “I firmly believe that this is going to be India’s decade,” says Natarajan Chandrasekaran, who runs the holding company, Tata Sons, which oversees the group. 

The change in strategy also reflects the dramatic psychological shift within the business world’s most ardent globalisers, as they adapt to new megatrends. These include the rebasing of strategic manufacturing away from China; the rise of a new energy system; and industrial policy, which in India is being championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Anyone who follows India, the world’s fastest-growing big economy, may be under the impression that it is run by Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, two swaggering tycoons, whose conglomerates generate headlines and make them Asia’s richest men. Together the “two As” may spend over $100bn in the next five years. Yet Tata is in fact the country’s biggest business measured by market value ($269bn) and operating profits ($16bn last year), spanning everything from steel mills to software. And we estimate that its new plans are larger than any other individual firm’s, encompassing electric vehicles (evs), electronics, battery gigafactories, clean power and chips (see chart 1). If that doesn’t sound ambitious enough, it has also taken on the Everest of corporate turnarounds, buying Air India. 

The firm’s scale, reputation and record make it one of the world’s most important companies. With 800m-900m customers across ten business lines, it employs almost 1m people, more than any listed firm anywhere bar Amazon and Walmart. It is also the ultimate survivor. Of the world’s firms worth over $200bn that have remained independent, it is the oldest, founded in 1868, 18 years before Johnson & Johnson was incorporated. When blue-chip multinationals head to India—not just Apple (reportedly), but everyone from Starbucks to Zara—they seek to team up with Tata, the one firm you can really trust. In a twist, Tata is run by technocrats who report to what may be the world’s least-known and richest charity, not tycoons eyeing the Forbes rich list. 

To understand where Tata and India are heading in the 2020s and 2030s you have to go back in time. The company has stayed alive by adapting to technological and political change. It made steel for colonial railways, and after independence it coped with India’s socialist detour. When the economy opened up in the early 1990s it helped reinvent white-collar work by selling information-technology outsourcing (it) services. Ratan Tata, the boss between 1991 and 2012, spent the first decade dragging the group into the modern era and the second taking it global through $18bn of cross-border takeovers, including of Jaguar Land Rover, a British carmaker, and Corus, an Anglo-Dutch steelmaker. 

Tata’s belief in the boundless opportunities of borderless commerce was shared by many others at the time. Annual investment by Indian firms abroad soared almost 40-fold between 2000 and the peak in 2008; for all emerging markets it rose by four times. China urged its bosses to “go out there”. Even Cemex, Mexico’s cement giant, became an unlikely deal machine. 

In, out, shake it all about 

Behind the boom lay insecurity as well as optimism. Tata worried India was too corrupt to offer a level playing field. More broadly it and fellow emerging-market firms believed that to tap advanced technologies you had to be in the West. Tellingly, at home in India the fashion then was for “Jugaad Innovation”: basic, frugal engineering that was supposedly a source of advantage. Tata launched the Nano, an ultra-basic car for India that cost $2,000. 

This era of reflexive corporate globalism has come to an end. Geographical sprawl weakened the finances of most multinational acquirers. In Tata’s case, we reckon that about two-thirds of its sales were abroad by 2012. Meanwhile, 70% of its capital employed earned a return of less than 10%, our yardstick for underperformance. Net debt had risen to twice gross operating profit. The strain helped trigger a governance crisis as Mr Tata fell out with his successor, Cyrus Mistry, whose family own 18% of Tata’s holding company (Mr Mistry died in a car crash near Mumbai on September 4th). In early 2017 Tata replaced him with Mr Chandrasekaran, the meritocrat’s choice, who had run the thriving it business that had kept the group afloat. 

The rise of Mr Chandrasekaran to the pinnacle of Asian business illustrates another sharp change: emerging markets’ technological self-confidence. In the past decade India has created perhaps the world’s most advanced payments systems and a venture-capital scene that has helped fund (at least before the recent worldwide tech slump) more than 100 private tech “unicorns” valued at $1bn or more. The it-services firms, including Tata’s, have more than doubled in size and are far more technically sophisticated. And though Tata might not like to admit it, Mr Ambani’s landmark $46bn ten-year investment in Jio, a domestic 5g telecoms business, has shown that you can profitably deploy vast sums of capital in cutting-edge tech in a developing economy. 

More self-confidence in tech has coincided with the last shift, the changing relationship between the role of businesses and the state, championed by Mr Modi’s government. A move in supply chains away from China, new technologies and the energy transition all create opportunities. But who will exploit them? 

The usual suspects are not up to snuff. India’s state-run firms are hopeless. Foreign multinationals have ushered in neither industrialisation nor technological breakthroughs. Capital markets have failed to create young firms with enough equity to take big risky bets. India’s last investment cycle, an infrastructure boom in 2003-11, was debt-fuelled and ended in tears. The government and some bosses now favour giant firms. Those include conglomerates as well as specialist companies like jsw Steel and hdfc, a bank which is concluding a $140bn mega-merger. 

Some firms, such as Adani Group and Mr Ambani’s Reliance, embrace this role and the proximity to the state it brings. Others are making a more calculated bet that the demands of national development and responsible, profitable business really are compatible. Tata is in the second camp. 

As boss, Mr Chandrasekaran is quick and ultra-rational, with a dash of humour, compared with the aristocratic and enigmatic Mr Tata. Emails are dispatched fast. Satraps running subsidiaries are told to deliver performance first and get capital later. Tata’s worst bits are being quietly killed off: Tata Sons has written off $10bn since 2017 as it has exited weak areas like telecoms, and recapitalised fragile divisions. 

Some of Tata’s domestic laggards have got their act together. The cyclical steel business is booming, for now, and Tata’s market share in cars has surged, especially for electric vehicles (even though its best-selling Nexon ev costs $17,000 more than the abandoned Nano). The clean-up operation is roughly two-thirds complete and as a result of it, we calculate that Tata’s return on capital has reached 21%, or 14% excluding it services. The share of capital underperforming by our 10% yardstick is down to 48% (see chart 2). Leverage is less than half what it was. By our maths a share in Tata Sons has outperformed India’s stockmarket by 46 percentage points since 2017. A legal battle over the succession ended when India’s Supreme Court ruled in Tata’s favour last year. In February Mr Chandrasekaran was appointed for another five years. 

Something striking is also happening. Tata is becoming more Indian for the first time since the 1990s. Sales from the subcontinent reached 38% of the total last year, having grown almost twice as fast as foreign ones in the past decade. The plan for the next five years will accelerate this by deploying an estimated $90bn of capital, mostly in India and mostly in projects that have a technological edge and are compatible with the government’s agenda. Some are plays on growing consumption in India, others on manufacturing for export. Mr Chandrasekaran spies a “global opportunity for global companies to create a supply chain based in India”. 

Chandra’s capex challenge 

Tata’s annual capital spending will rise to $18bn, more than twice the average of the past decade, we reckon. That would make it India’s biggest investor. Tata and Reliance together account for 7% of the total for all private firms. If all goes to plan, new, higher-tech businesses could rise from a quarter of Tata’s capital employed to half by 2027. Some 77% of Tata’s new investments will be in India. These are large and potentially transformational shifts—for the firm and the country alike. 

That money is going into several bets. One is on the energy transition. Tata’s power subsidiary will invest almost $10bn over the next five years in renewable generation. There is a $5bn project to build gigafactories in India and Europe, to supply Tata’s own cars and those of other manufacturers. The Indian car operation is launching ten ev models (it has just bought Ford’s plant in Gujarat). And Tata will ramp up the manufacturing of solar panels, a business China dominates today. 

Another wager is on tech and electronics. Tata has invested $1bn so far in electronics manufacturing for Indian and global customers, mainly in Tamil Nadu, and there is more to come. It intends to make 5g telecoms gear using the software-heavy Openran standard, and challenge Huawei, China’s hardware-focused champion. It is entering semiconductor testing and packaging (the final, less intricate stage of chip fabrication) and Mr Chandrasekaran is weighing up building what may be the first fully fledged semiconductor “fab” in India, in partnership with a foreign firm. The factory, which could cost $5bn or more to build, would not make chips as advanced as those of Taiwan’s tsmc. But it would be a leap for India and, Mr Chandrasekaran concedes, the biggest challenge for all of Tata Group. There are other contenders, too: on September 13th Vedanta, an Indian-focused firm, and Foxconn, from Taiwan, said they would invest $19.5bn in a semiconductor plant in Gujarat. 

The third gamble involves the Indian consumer. The firm has spent $2bn on a digital platform and app called Neu that aspires to be a “superapp” for Tata customers, linking them to its retail, hotel, health-care, transport and financial services, and to products including cars. It has amassed 17m users since its launch in April—a tad disappointing, but the plan is to keep investing, particularly as some startups with competing services are now being starved of cash by a global venture-capital crunch. 

Lastly there is Air India, the perennially troubled flag carrier. Before you wince, consider its selling point: it owns international slots for a huge aviation market, was bought from the state for a meagre $350m, debt-free, and can be merged with Vistara, a domestic airline joint-venture Tata has with Singapore Airlines. The idea is to create a powerful national airline like Emirates or Lufthansa, which India has always lacked. Press reports suggest that Tata may soon buy 300 new aircraft. 

These bets could sour. Tata is doubling down on being a conglomerate, opting for geographic concentration but sectoral diversification. In India, and many emerging economies, conglomerates have advantages: brand presence, clout with regulators, shared access to scarce land. But they bring complexity: Tata’s holding company has over 30 big operating and 286 legal subsidiaries and Mr Chandrasekaran is on the board of seven listed firms. 

Although Tata is huge, it lacks global scale in individual industries. Its $1bn bet on electronics is equivalent to 8% of the capital of Foxconn, the leading contract manufacturer: it must deploy much more cash to truly compete. The $5bn investment in batteries amounts to 40% of the plant of catl, the top Chinese firm. In India Reliance’s two main specialisms, in 5g, and petrochemicals and refining, each has double the capital of Tata’s largest subsidiaries. A lack of focus could make technical breakthroughs harder. The boss of a big chipmaker is sceptical that India can build a globally competitive fab: “It’s too soon.” 

Another risk is Tata’s ownership. It has three layers. At the top are self-governing charitable trusts that together own 66% of Tata Sons. They are chaired by Mr Tata, with other venerable directors. They are asset-rich—together the trusts are worth $100bn, more than the Gates Foundation—but income-poor, getting dividends equivalent to under 1% of the group’s operating profits. Below them is Tata Sons, the middle layer, which Mr Chandrasekaran runs and which has stakes in the operating companies, the third layer. 

A few things may destabilise this structure. The death of Mr Mistry, and of his father in June, could lead to a reappraisal by his family of their 18% stake in Tata Sons. They have the right to sell the stake to the company, which would force it to scramble to raise $27bn of cash to finance the purchase. Mr Tata himself is 84 and, though still mentally sharp, physically frail. When he retires from the trusts, as is likely, it is unclear who will inherit the de facto leadership of the trust boards. The hope is that a consensus forms, or a strong and respectable candidate emerges who doesn’t meddle in the business. The nightmare scenario is a power struggle, or someone cosy with the government gaining sway. 

The final risk is the government. The prime minister’s critics fear that he is presiding over crony capitalism, pointing to exhibit “two As”. Some of this is over the top. India’s business scene is slightly less concentrated than America’s: the four biggest groups have operating profits of 1.1% of gdp, compared with 1.2% in America. Unlike classic rent-seeking firms, India’s giants are reinvesting furiously. 

But even Tata, which considers itself aloof from politics, has paid symbolic homage to Mr Modi’s populist nationalism. In 2019 Mr Tata visited the headquarters of the rss, the Hindu-chauvinist association that backs Mr Modi. In the same year Mr Modi attended the launch of a book by Mr Chandrasekaran. The Tata charities are also working more closely with the state, for example on hospitals. And Tata is participating in India’s $26bn manufacturing-subsidy scheme (though it insists the handouts are too small to swing investment decisions). 

For the time being Mr Modi’s firm hold on power and vision for the economy are tailwinds. But that could change. Unlike the chaebol which made South Korea rich by exposing the country to global competition through export markets, some of India’s big firms are eyeing the domestic market only. They could become too cosy or corrupt. As a handful of giants diversify at home they will increasingly overlap, as they already do in renewable energy. When all that happens, can Tata be sure of equitable treatment? And when some of Tata’s new bets fail, as some surely will, can it be sure it can exit even if that deprives India of a presence in an industry the government regards as “strategic”? 

Some of the reasons for Mr Tata’s wariness of investing in India in the 2000s still hold. Deploying tens of billions of dollars at home is a risky game. If it works, though, Tata and others may finally industrialise and digitise India, turning it into a source of innovation and manufacturing for Indians and the world. To see which way the country goes, follow Tata. ■ 
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline "The world’s biggest bet on India" 

24. Can India fully localise EV components? Suppliers say it can, with gov. incentives and JVs 
ET, 6 Nov. 2022 

Companies like Anand Group, Sona Comstar, UNO Minda, Brakes India and Lumax are pushing the localisation envelope. Armed with government schemes such as PLI, PMP and FAME II, they are focusing on making battery packs, electric motors and controllers, electricals and electronics, etc. India can make a global play with its software and application-engineering capabilities, and a lower cost base. 

When Mercedes Benz’s India arm recently said it would locally assemble most of its electric cars in the next five years, there was one unanswered question floating around. Does India have a supplier ecosystem that allows automakers to fully localise their electric vehicles (EVs)? 

Well, the EV supply chain may not be completely ready just yet, but India’s auto component makers are gradually getting there – armed with government schemes and subsidies, and joint ventures. 

To promote indigenous manufacturing of EVs, the government in March 2019 notified the Phased Manufacturing Plan or PMP. The aim is to substantially increase domestic value addition, add jobs and build capacity. PMP laid down certain timelines on localisation of components (assemblies/sub-assemblies, parts/sub-parts, etc.). 

Last June, the government’s FAME II (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and EVs) scheme was extended by another two years to March 31, 2024. It increased subsidy by 50% to INR15,000 per kWh from the earlier INR10,000 for electric two-wheelers. The maximum cap was also increased to 40% of the electric two-wheeler cost compared with 20% earlier. 

Last month, the Ministry of Heavy Industries extended the deadline for automakers (to September 30 from September 1)to digitally record domestic value addition under the FAME II scheme, for availing of government subsidy for electric and hybrid vehicles. 

Another scheme, Component Champion Incentive, under the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) programme, was rolled out in March. Among other sops, incentives of 8%-11% will be given to investor companies with an additional 5% incentive for making components for hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles(BEV). A total of 75 companies have been approved for the Component Champion Incentive scheme, including Maruti Suzuki, Hero MotoCorp, Motherson Sumi, Bharat Forge, Bosch, Varroc, Lucas TVS, Lumax, Sona BLW, Schaeffler, Garrett, Pinnacle, and Mando. 

So, how are things panning out for auto component manufacturers looking to make a mark in the EV space? Before we get there, let’s take a brief look at the opportunity called electrification. 

The localisation landscape 
The government wants EV sales to constitute 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles and 80% of two- and three-wheelers by 2030. 

Leading automakers such as Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor India, Mahindra & Mahindra want to enter the electric passenger vehicle market in a big way by 2025. Tata Motors already has its popular ICE (internal combustion engine)-derived electric versions of the Nexon, Tiago, and Tigor. 

The automakers EV drive will need a significant push for localising components. And studies show that the supply chain is moving in the right direction. 

A joint study by industry bodies SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) and ACMA (Automotive Component Manufacturers Association) on the localisation road map with 2019-20 as the base year pegs the import content across product categories at INR174,928 crore in FY20. The localisation push is expected to reduce this to INR25,915 crore-INR33,744 crore by 2024-25. 

An ACMA-YES Bank report of 2021 has highlighted that suppliers can upgrade some existing components for EVs, while some new parts will have to be developed specifically for e-mobility needs to replace engine components and exhaust management systems. 

A recent ACMA-McKinsey joint report on ‘The future of mobility: Transforming to be ahead of the opportunity’ estimates a transition to EVs could impact up to 50% of ICE bill of material (BOM) components. 

Innovation and a global play, a USD25 to USD40 billion opportunity by 2030, is emerging in various stages of the EV ecosystem – supply chain of battery cell, battery pack manufacturing, e-motor supply chain, e-axle/reducer, electricals and electronics for EVs, and the charging infrastructure. 

Electric motor manufacturing requires multiple sub-components made through forging (shafts, bearings) and casting (casings) processes. This could expand into downstream services, especially connectivity, where India can make a global play due to its software and application-engineering capabilities, and a lower cost base, according to the ACMA-McKinsey report. Indian SMEs could capture an incremental USD20 billion-USD30 billion markets by 2030, it says. 

Are the component manufacturers ready? 

A new chapter in component making 
Vinnie Mehta, director general of ACMA, tells ET Prime that when FAME I (the scheme was started in 2015for promoting sales of EVs) was announced, the localisation level of EV components was almost negligible. The customs duty on imported items was very low. But over a period of time, the custom duties have increased on EV components like motors, chargers, battery packs, power control units-inverters, and AC/DC converters to dissuade imports and to promote local manufacturing. 

Suppliers are increasingly localising these parts. Mehta says ACMA is getting a lot of enquiries for locally sourcing components for electric mobility. “We have organised several tech shows for the automakers, more like a dedicated private exhibition inside a particular automaker’s premise,” he elaborates. 

The list of components that are planned to be sourced locally is given to ACMA by the automakers and the same is circulated among the 800 members of the industry body. The list of shortlisted companies is then sent to the automakers who further filters them based on their criteria. 

The final list of suppliers then displays their products on the premises of the automaker. The entire process takes around three-four months. 

“We've done this activity for Hero MotoCorp for their electric two-wheeler, for electric cars of Hyundai, for Tata Motors, for Ashok Leyland,” Mehta says. Some of the larger suppliers also hold their own private tech shows for automakers. Most of the EV manufacturers are looking at sourcing motors, motor controllers, electronics for battery management systems (BMS), e-axles, and differential gears. There is a lot of focus on light weighting as also on making products energy-efficient. 

Here's how some auto component manufacturers are going about localising EV components. 

Anand Group: For the Delhi-based supplier, the electric two-wheeler space is very promising. “What we have done is we have formed two new companies”, says Rajeev Gera, president, business development & corporate materials, Anand Group. The first new company that was set up was Mando eMobility, a JV with South Korea’sMando Corporationinked last year. Anand Group holds a majority stake of 60% in the JV. “That was our first step towards manufacturing BLDC (brushless DC motor) hub motors and controllers,” says Gera. 

Anand group already has a JV with Mando for braking systems. Mando now brings the technology for motors and Anand Group does the manufacturing and ropes in customers. A new plant has been set up at Bhiwadi, Rajasthan with an investment of INR50crore shared by the partners. The facility also has an R&D centre with about 25 engineers across electronics, electricals, and software to increase the company’s tech capability. “The main part of the controller is software,” Gera explains. Anand Group is eyeing a revenue of INR500crore from the new facility by 2025. 

The company also acquired a design house in Delhi with 12 engineers to design chargers and HMI (human machine interface) clusters last year. The manufacturing unit for these parts will come up adjacent to the new plant at Bhiwadi. Gera expects the first tranche of investment in this plant to be around INR20 crore funded through internal accruals. The plant is expected to go on stream by next March. Casings, housings, and product assemblies will be made on the first assembly line here. For electric passenger vehicles, Anand Group will again tap its JV partner Mando, which has products like AC-DC converters and inverters. “We are exploring the possibility of another company to come up with these products,” Gera says. 

Sona Comstar: The company had started developing EV products in as early as 2016. Today, it leads in supplies of differential assemblies for battery electric cars. ”With the development of spool gears and epicyclic gearsets earlier this year, we have EV transmission solutions for all types of BEV architectures,” says Sunjay Kapur, chairman, Sona Comstar, and president ACMA. “Last quarter, we celebrated the milestone of manufacturing 100,000 traction motors at our Chennai plant,” he says. The company’s R&D team is working on the development of traction motors for all vehicle segments, including cars, buses, tractors, and bots. 

Sona Comstar already has partnerships with IRP, Israel for magnet-less motors for two-wheelers. In partnership with Enedym, Canada it makes magnet-less SRMs (switched reluctance motors) for three-wheelers and small commercial vehicles. It also has a partnership with C-Motive Technologies for electrostatic motors. 

“If we find an opportunity to tie-up with a technology partner to accelerate our journey on the product road map, we are always open to evaluating those opportunities,” affirms Kapur. 

He says Sona Comstar has a capex of INR900 crore for the next three years to expand capacities to execute its order book of over INR20,000 crore (June end). “In addition, we spend 3% of our annual revenue on R&D, which is largely focused on EV products,” Kapur adds. At present, the company exports 80% of its product portfolio, of which 30% is for EVs. 

UNO Minda Group: The company inked a JV with Friwo AG, a German component supplier, to make EV parts in 2020 for two- and three-wheelers. Its listed entity in India, Minda Industries, is investing INR390 crore through a mix of internal accruals, debt, and equity over six years to expand this business. Sunil Bohra, group CFO and chief strategy officer of UNO Minda, says the company is already making battery management systems (BMS), on-board chargers, body control module and smart plug with RCD (residual current device) cable, and DC-DC converters. It is also developing off-board chargers, motor controllers, and battery packs jointly with Friwo. 

Bohra elaborates in the electronic-components space, chips constitute between 30% and 50% of the cost, which is the biggest challenge in localisation. Rest of the parts can be largely replaced. He feels unless there is a facility for making all the electronic components locally, the domestic value addition of 50% on EV components to get the government incentives should not be enforced for electronic parts. 

UNO Minda is setting up a new plant for making all the EV components at Farrukhnagar (beyond Manesar) in Haryana. The plant will be operational in nine months. Bohra feels it is mostly tier-I suppliers who are investing in advanced technologies and R&D, as tier II and III vendors make only the sub- parts based on build-to-print, wherein the design is given by the tier I supplier. He believes that the EV business for two- and three wheelers will contribute almost INR1,500 crore in annual revenue for the group in the next five years. 

Lumax: The lighting major is upgrading its product lines in gear shifters and lighting where it sees a faster EV adoption. Deepak Jain, chairman and managing director of Lumax Industries, says in the last two to three years, multiple partnerships have been forged to ensure an entry into engineered plastics and other products. “We would probably be getting more into sensors. And also into connected vehicles — for example, antennas, telematic devices and electronic parts like switches, besides light-weighting technologies to ensure lower energy consumption,” Jain says. 

Lumax has 10 JVs for 10 different product lines and it will leverage these partnerships to upgrade its products for EVs. Jain is targeting a localisation content of 60% to 95% across products over the next two-three years when most of the EV platforms are in place. 

“We have an agreement with all our JV partners that they will be supporting us in localising and engineering work,” he adds. 

"Unless there is a facility for making all the electronic components locally, the domestic value addition of 50% on EV components to get the government incentives should not be enforced for electronic parts." 

— Sunil Bohra, group CFO and chief strategy officer of UNO Minda 

Brakes India: The Chennai-based supplier believes its product portfolio won’t change significantly in the EV transition. EVs will primarily use hydraulic braking systems which are proven and safe technologies. Sriram Viji, managing director, says the company is working on integrating new convenience, comfort and safety features, and electronics into its braking system.“We're looking very actively to develop our software electronics capabilities. In fact, we are probably the first company in India to roll out the motor on the drum brake.” 

He elaborates that regenerative braking is dependent on the motor of the electric car and the company has developed an ultra-efficient brake switch to reduce losses on the braking system that pairs well with EVs. 

Viji adds that “EVs tend to be extremely quiet and braking systems, which typically generate some level of noise right now, will have to be quieter and more efficient. That is an area of focus for EVs, and we are partnering with Indian and German universities to become best in class.” 

Since Brakes India will be upgrading its existing product line for EVs, Viji says it has already localised its products 90%. “We have a very strong local supply base,” he says. But some critical components, especially in electronics, still need to be imported. 

The road ahead 
Industry experts believe globally a lot of the technologies are today available off the shelf. Besides, joint ventures, there are technology partnerships for acquiring green technologies. 

“How many companies actually invest and make the EV components in India will be known over the next 24 to 36 months, as they announce their capex plans under the PLI, or otherwise,” says Som Kapur, partner, automotive at EY India. Chinese EV components are localised to a great extent, as China dominates the battery components’ supply chain, which includes cathode, anode, separator, etc. They make the batteries and powertrain locally. So, they are able to achieve high levels of localisation. Kapur feels, in India, localisation should happen in phases, first targeting those products that have an economies of scale advantage such as two- and three-wheelers. Suppliers can also explore potential export opportunities to improve economies of scale. This will make the case for localisation stronger and drive the change faster. 

The ACMA-McKinsey joint report expects a significant adoption of electric two- (50%) and three-wheelers (70%) by 2030. However, uptick in electric passenger and commercial vehicles will be relatively low, as government incentives encourage adoption of the two- and three-wheelers first. “By 2030, it is expected that 10%-15% sales of passenger vehicles will be electric and in commercial vehicles the adoption will be around 10%,” Kapur of Sona Comstar says. 

The industry could benefit from government incentives aimed at growing exports. For instance, purchase-linked export incentives could encourage international procurement offices (IPOs) to purchase more from India or grow component exports by an automaker. This would offer alternate avenues to traditional component suppliers and help them play their part in an expanded value chain as well. 

Kapur of Sona Comstar suggest that the government could institute trade agreements (like free trade agreements) and reforms for tapping the exports opportunity. A dedicated multi-stakeholder task force (comprising ACMA, SIAM and the government) could systematically empower industry players through automakers connects, further incentivising investments in innovation, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and policy support. 

25.1. India’s net-zero goal will need 50 million green jobs. Here’s how it is raising the skills game 
ET, 6 Nov. 2022 

India, which ranks third globally in carbon emissions, has to expedite its transition to a green economy. By 2070, 50 million green-sector jobs will be created as India aims for a net-zero target. What are the areas that will account for a chunk of this workforce, and what needs to be done to skill it for this goal? 

The third-floor office of Skills Council For Green Jobs (SCGJ) at the heart of New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri has a deceptively sleepy look, akin to a government department. Around two dozen employees, sitting behind computer terminals, work out of this 1,500 sq ft office. 

Small as the workforce may be, it has a humongous task at hand: to map, measure, and certify India’s efforts to skill, reskill, and upskill a workforce for the evolving green-jobs ecosystem. In essence, what they are preparing will be the building blocks to make India’s workforce ready for 50 million new jobs to be created by 2070 as India steps on the accelerator on the path to a net-zero economy. 

A large source of this employment creation over the next 30 to 40 years will come from efforts to decarbonise the economy and the transition to sustainable energy ecosystems. 

Working under the aegis of the National Skill Development Council, the SCGJ was set up in 2015 to do just that. In the last seven years, the council has largely focussed on manpower and the skilling needs of the renewable-energy and waste-management sectors. It has also facilitated training for around 500,000 workforce largely in solar, wind, and waste management. 

Arpit Sharma, chief operating officer, SCGJ, indicates that the council is undergoing a pivot. The government-industry partnership initiative is in the process of ramping up its operations. While maintaining its sway over the renewable-energy and waste-management segments, the council is looking to impart skill upgradation and other training programmes for other upcoming sectors like green hydrogen and electric vehicles. “The vision is to make green energy part of every household and industry,” says Sharma. 

India ranks third globally in carbon emissions, behind the United States and China. Policymakers, businesses, and civil-society players have acknowledged that there is a mounting need to expedite the country’s transition to a green economy. 

According to SCGJ’s estimates, energy-transition sectors will generate 30 million-35 million additional jobs by 2047, or over the next 25 years. SCGJ has set a goal of imparting 1 million short-term skill-upgradation training programmes in clean and green technologies in a year by 2030. The council is in the process of mapping the green-job ecosystem across sectors with help from external stakeholders. This will serve as the basis for a blueprint on how India’s green jobs ecosystem will evolve in the coming decades, say experts. 

What are the areas of the ecosystem that will account for a chunk of the green workforce and what will be the initiatives needed to raise this workforce? Among various measures, developing awareness and improving skilling infrastructure will need to be prioritised, but what are the lacunae that need to be fixed at the outset? 

The mystery of missing definitions and data points 

Experts point out that one of the critical missing links in India’s green-job ecosystem is the absence of data on green jobs. This, in turn, is a result of gaps in demarcating the contours of the ecosystem and a lack of clarity on key definitions. 

Chandra Bhushan, founder and CEO of the think tank International Forum for Environment, Sustainability & Technology (iFOREST), says that environment is not recognised as an economic sector by the National Industrial Classification (NIC 2008), the classification system used by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to estimate jobs and the economic contributions of various sectors. “Therefore, we do not know how many people work in this sector, how many new jobs are needed to meet environmental challenges like the climate crisis, and what are the sector’s skill-gap and capacity-development needs.” 

According to experts, it is evident that to meet environmental goals like net zero, land degradation neutrality, and targets for renewable energy and air quality, there is a need for a large number of trained professionals. “Unfortunately, we are not producing enough of such professionals,” adds Bhushan. 

However, the definition of green jobs is itself in a state of flux. Rathish Balakrishnan, co-founder and managing partner, Sattva Consulting, which works in the areas of sustainability and CSR impact, says, “It is critical to understand the various types of new roles emerging, and existing ones that are evolving across traditional and green sectors.” 

Sattva Consulting, on its part, has over the last few months, been engaging with various stakeholders to get a better sense of the evolving green-job ecosystem. Its primary study, not yet made public, indicates that there is no singular understanding or definition of green jobs among stakeholders. 

The study finds that the requirements to create a skilled workforce for a green economy vary across: 
Traditional sectors, which produce high carbon emissions 
Emerging and green sectors, driven by clean or renewable energy, such as solar, wind, and electric 

There are inherent differences between these sectors, which is why the strategies to address them will also need to mature, the study indicated. The research highlighted that it is important to recognise that green jobs require a different set of skills, that vary from technical to sector-agnostic skills, such as entrepreneurial thinking and cross-functional competencies. 

The changing green-job scenario 
Pratap Raju, founding partner, Climate Collective, which supports early-stage clean-tech startups, has observed the emergence of green jobs from close quarters over the last five to six years, and offers some important insights. 

Till 2019, businesses were non-committal on their decarbonisation strategy, as they did not have a clear picture of their carbon footprint, or even their energy consumption map. It was only in the last three years that businesses – especially large ones – have put in place data layers through the use of technology to capture their energy consumption and resource-utilisation footprint. This has provided them with a picture of reducing their emission levels and carbon footprints over a period of time. 

Raju, however, points out that the industry’s net-zero efforts are still guided by profit maximising and cost-reduction considerations. “They are enjoying the low-hanging fruits as of now,” he says. This is reflected in the nature and scope of green jobs being created. 

India Inc is still biding its time when it comes to decarbonising its supply-chain ecosystem, which accounts for the bulk of its carbon emissions. As businesses go through that transition over the next few years, supply chains are where most of the green jobs would be generated, say experts. How the government facilitates the decarbonisation transition, especially among small and medium enterprises, through a mix of policy measures and incentives, would play a key role in creating new openings for green jobs. 

Most stakeholders in green jobs point out that there has been growing interest in green careers over the last two-three years. For instance, Climate Collective’s recent Climate Data Hackathon saw participation from 2,100 students. Most have shown interest in taking up a project related to climate action as part of their curriculum with a goal to build a startup, pointing out managers of the programme. 

Some of the grey areas 
However, questions remain in the mind of prospective candidates around career growth paths related to green jobs. Programme managers concede that awareness about sustainability-related jobs is just about building up. Most questions from candidates relate to the skill-set requirements for green jobs, and how to land one. 

Many students and young professionals who do not have the relevant background find it hard to switch to the sustainability sector, experts say. “The industry needs to create initiatives that let such interested youth learn about the sector and take a risk. Companies also need to meet them halfway — bet on dark horses to help such individuals,” says a student-mentor. 

Another hindrance that headhunters often encounter is that many candidates still relate green jobs to social-sector jobs. There is also a lot of misunderstanding around salaries, growth prospects, and job stability, adding a programme manager who has been part of several matchmaking exercises in the sustainability space. Internships – voluntary or paid – are the best bet for those starting fresh. 

Experts point out that it takes time for prospective job candidates to be ready for a career in green jobs. Take the case of Jaabili Tummala. The 25-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering graduated in 2019, and soon after started working as a software engineer. However, her passion for climate tech and environment protection made her enrol for a climate certificate course. 

Following that she secured an internship in a renewable-energy company. Having gained some work experience, and being convinced that she wanted to pursue a full-time green career, Tummala is currently pursuing a master's programme in sustainable resource management from an international university. 

"While urban areas will produce mostly salaried green jobs, rural areas will see the rise of the green micro-entrepreneur." 

— Ananth Aravamudan, sector lead - climate action, Villgro 

Krati Tak, 23, has always been enthusiastic about zero-waste living with a keen interest in building affordable sustainable living options for households. With a bachelor’s in agriculture technology, she decided to explore green jobs. After successfully completing a climate certificate course, she is now pursuing a master’s degree in sustainability management. 

“We see a natural interest from women to opt for careers in the circular-economy and waste-management segments. The percentage of women in this domain is also high,” says Raju. 

The rural-urban divide 
For Ananth Aravamudan, sector lead - climate action, at social-sector accelerator Villgro, green jobs are livelihood opportunities that either create climate-friendly products or adopt environmentally sustainable processes. 

His take is that a large number of green jobs in urban areas will come up in the solid-waste management and clean-transportation segments. In semi-urban areas, industrial clusters will see small and medium industries adopting cleaner practices and driving more green employment. 

However, Aravamudan believes that the bulk of green jobs will emerge in rural areas, largely related to the use of clean energy and management of agri-waste. “While urban areas will produce mostly salaried green jobs, rural areas will see the rise of the green micro-entrepreneur,” he adds. A farmer group implementing a solar-powered cold-storage unit at the farm gate, or a rural workshop operating a franchise to convert paddy straw to panelling material are instances of such businesses. 

The road ahead 
The Sattva Consulting study also acknowledges that to effectively bridge the green-talent gap, it is critical to address the systemic challenges around the unavailability of skilled talent. 

Three major systemic challenges that stakeholders need to urgently address include: 

Unavailability of skilled talent to match the expanding industry 
Complex and fragmented skilling ecosystem for green jobs 
Lack of inclusive and decent employment across sectors relevant to the green economy 

For collective industry action aimed at creating a green-talent pipeline, the study suggests the following measures: 

Increasing the awareness and attractiveness by making green career options aspirational 
Using digital platforms to identify existing talent relevant for green jobs 
Diversifying the talent pool towards inclusive employment by encouraging women’s participation in the workforce 
Leveraging the informal economy by formalising unskilled and semi-skilled workforce 
Creating a skilling infrastructure aligned with market needs 

Clearly, the message to those aspiring to join the green-job brigade is: Bring a climate lens to the job profile. 

25.2. More UK Misery as Economy Contracts in Q3 
ET, 12 Nov. 2022 

Britain’s economy shrank in the third quarter as inflation soars, official data showed Friday, likely confirming it is already in a recession, dealing a fresh blow to new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

ReutersFILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak walks outside Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 26, 2022. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay 

Britain's economy shrank in the third quarter as inflation soars, official data showed Friday, likely confirming it is already in a recession, dealing a fresh blow to new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

The Bank of England has said the UK economy would also contract in the current final quarter, meaning the economy was in a recession that it warned could last until mid-2024. 

Friday's data comes ahead of the Conservative government's crucial budget announcement next week aimed at bringing much-needed economic and political stability to Britain. 

Sunak, in charge for less than three weeks, has already faced questions over his political judgement after expressing regret on Wednesday for appointing a disgraced ally. 

Britain's Office for National Statistics on Friday said the nation's economy contracted 0.2 percent in the July-September period -- in part hit by businesses closing for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Output had grown modestly in the second quarter, the statistics office confirmed. 

- 'Tough road ahead' - 

Following Friday's data and ahead of his budget, finance minister Jeremy Hunt said he was "under no illusion that there is a tough road ahead -- one which will require extremely difficult decisions to restore confidence and economic stability". 

Preparing the country for tax hikes and spending cuts in Thursday's fiscal announcement, he added that the Tory government needed to "balance the books and get debt falling". 

"There is no other way," he said, if Britain was to "achieve long-term sustainable growth". 

Finance spokeswoman for the main opposition Labour party described the third-quarter GDP numbers as "extremely worrying". 

"We're already set to be near the bottom of global league tables on growth, but all the Tories offer yet again is austerity," Rachel Reeves added. 

As well as a recession, Britain is facing a cost-of-living crisis with UK inflation at a four-decade high above 10 percent. 

The country is on course for a winter of mass strikes, including by nurses, as workers in the public and private sectors demand pay increases to match inflation and shortfalls to wage rises seen in recent years. 

"The sharp rise in energy and other consumer prices has contributed to a squeeze on household finances, which is expected to have pushed the UK economy into a recession from the third quarter of this year," Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said following Friday's data. 

The technical definition of recession is two quarters of contraction in a row. 

GDP meanwhile contracted 0.6 percent in September, with output worsened by a public holiday for the queen's funeral. 

The month also saw the start of Liz Truss's incredibly short spell as prime minister. 

Hitting out over her time in office, former finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng on Thursday said he had warned the former prime minister to "slow down" on tax cuts that triggered economic turmoil and caused her downfall. 

Kwarteng, appointed chancellor of the exchequer after Truss succeeded Boris Johnson, made a series of unfunded tax cut announcements in late September. 

His budget panicked the markets, sent the pound crashing to an all-time low against the dollar and triggered emergency buying of UK government bonds by the Bank of England. 

Truss was forced to resign in mid-October after less than 50 days in office -- becoming the shortest-serving prime minister in Britain's history. 

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