Ashwani Narula – Furniture Prince of India
By Sushma Arora
NEW DELHI: We talk about a magic mantra for success with a young self made dynamic entrepreneur who has not only risen to fame from ground levels but has motivated and inspired several in the home decoration business.
Ashwani Narula of the brand – Benchcraft Concept, creates ripples in the décor business with his inimitable style and approach. Blessed with nerves made of Steel and a humour to match, Ashwani captures the imagination of his clients while spinning the magic yarn of colours shapes and style.
While we keep reading about India, emerging as a brand to reckon with, we wonder simultaneous about the key players tugging the success forward. While the industrialists of our country are inspiring global businesses, people like Ashwani have risen to fame thanks to their persistence, perseverance and sheer hard work and are a motivational force for the upcoming young entrepreneurs.
"I believe the only way to gain wealth and fame is to either earn it or inherit it." In his case it surely has been earned. Having lost his father early, the young lad with family responsibilities to shoulder Ashwani, decided to get in the furniture and furnishing business rolling with what ever resources he could muster.
He got his first contract from his maternal uncle to furnish the upcoming Canada Colony at the Napth Japhri project. There was no stopping him after that. Fearless, ruthless at work and practically no personal life were the few highlights of his early years.
In 1997, he launched his own firm, A.N. Enterprises. He began supplying furniture to big showrooms from his small factory in Kirti Nagar, a furniture hub in West Delhi, with one carpenter and one polisher. Today his firm employs 150 skilled people.
Of course, in the intervening period, Ashwani launched his own brand name "Benchcraft" in 2001 with his first showroom spread over 2,000 sq ft in upscale Ghitorni, Mehrauli Gurgaon Road, bordering Delhi and Gurgaon. End 2004, he opened another showroom spread over 25,000 sq ft in the same area. He reached the big league in mid-2006 with the launch of 65,000 sq ft showroom in the same area.
There was no looking back for him as he opened one show room after another. He launched his 7,500 sq ft showroom in Mumbai on September 3, 2006 in Raghuvanshi Mills, an interior and furniture hub for rich and famous.
In January this year, Benchcraft made inroads in Hyderabad. Soon he is launching another showroom at Grand Mall in Gurgaon. Next month is is launching another showpiece in Gurgaon which one can visit only on invitation.
Commenting on his firm, Ashwani says: A.N. Enterprises carries out the business of interior designing and manufacturing of all kinds of furnishing and allied accessories.
Needless to say, the firm is professionally managed with full time professionals, in-house employees and consultants.
"It is totally self sufficient in terms of designing turnkey execution and manufacturing of furniture and has a comprehensive setup in form of office as well as manufacturing unit," he adds.
Some of companies for whom he has done the turnkey projects include Pizza Corner, McKinsey, Unitech, Siemens, Hindustan Lever, Sukam, Flex Industries, Patni Computers, Hutch and three properties of Hotel Jukso in Pune, Gurgaon and Delhi.
Popularity of his furniture and furnishing can be gauged from the fact that it also travels to far off places in Australia, the US, the UK, Hungary, Dubai and Singapore.
In its endeavor to remain ahead of the competitors, Benchcraft as a brand caters to individual interior designing requirements of the clients. The firm is constantly engaged in providing the latest and the best designs.
A.N Enterprises has its own chain of competent fabricators having excellent facilities of carpentry and joining with specialized workers who work directly under the supervision of the firm through its representative for different projects, with a view to completing each project within the stipulated time and ensuring strict quality control.
His business travels have taken him to Italy, Dubai and Turkey.
Ashwani is single and lives with his mother and sister in Gurgaon, Haryana.
No hike in fares, freight charges in Rail Budget
NEW DELHI, Feb 24: The Railway Budget for 2010-11 has proposed no increase in passenger fares and freight rates while reducing the tariff by Rs 100 per wagon in transportation of foodgrains, kerosene and fertilisers to tackle the price rise.
The budget, presented by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, also proposed to reduce the maximum limit of service charge on e-booking of tickets to Rs 10 for sleeper class and Rs 20 for AC class. The present maximum charge is Rs 15 and Rs 40 respectively.
This is the seventh year in a row that passenger fares have not been raised.
Announcing a slew of concessions for passengers, Banerjee proposed free travel for cancer patients going for treatment in three-tier AC and sleeper class and continuance of concessions for students of madrassas and journalists.
The minister said 101 new suburban services will be introduced in Mumbai and more services will be launched in Kolkata and Chennai.
A special train 'Sanskriti Express' to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore will run across the country and also to Bangladesh.
Special tourist trains called 'Bharat Teerth' will be started on 16 routes while six long-distance non-stop Duronto Express and four short-distance Duronto day trains will be introduced, the Railway Minister said.
The budget estimates for 2010-11 pegs the freight loading target at 944 million tonnes, an increase of 54 million tones over current year's revised estimates. The passenger traffic is likely to grow by 5.3 percent.
Referring to hardships faced by people because of the high food prices, Banerjee said, "I understand their distress. Despite Railways' own tight resource position I announce reduction of Rs 100 per wagon in freight charges for foodgrains for domestic use and kerosene. This is a small gesture to express our concern."
While ladies special trains would be renamed 'Matribhoomi Specials', three unreserved trains named 'Karambhoomi specials' would be introduced along with new weekly express service 'Janmabhoomi Express' between Ahmedabad and Udhampur.
New services to be introduced include 54 trains, 28 new passenger services, nine MEMU and eight DEMU services. The routes of 21 trains will be extended and the frequency of 12 trains increased.
Other new projects include preliminary engineering-cum- traffic survey for north-south, east-west, east-south and south-south dedicated freight corridors.
Six high-speed passenger train corridors have been identified to be executed through public-private partnership mode and a national high-speed rail authority will be set up for planning, implementing and monitoring these projects.
The financial performance in 2009-10 shows that the loading target of 882 million tonnes is likely to be surpassed by eight million tonnes.
Gross traffic receipts for 2009-10 have been kept at Rs 88,356 crore -- an increase of 10.7 percent.
The full impact of sixth pay commission has been fully absorbed within the railway resources and the current dividend liability will be fully discharged. Annual plan has been kept at Rs 40,284 crore, Banerjee said.
The budget has provided for the highest-ever plan outlay for 2010-11 at Rs 41,426 crore, an increase of Rs 1,142 crore over 2009-10.
A provision of Rs 4,411 crore has been provided in the plan for new lines while passenger amenities get Rs 1,302 crore and metro projects Rs 1,001 crore.
The plan for next year also provides for acquisition of 18,000 wagons, while additional budgetary support of Rs 3,701 crore has been sought for 11 national projects.
Surveys for 114 socially desirable projects connecting backward areas will be taken up along with 54 surveys for new lines, two for gauge conversions, seven for doubling and five others to be taken up.
Under the new plan, 1021 km of new lines will be completed and nine new line projects would be taken up. Gauge conversion of 800 km and doubling of 700 km has been targeted.
Banerjee said economic viability and social responsibility will be the main consideration for taking up of projects in which inclusive growth and expansion of rail work will be given priority.
A special task force will be set up to clear proposals for investments within 100 days and a separate structure will be created for implementation of the business models.
The Railway Minister announced that as part of passenger amenities 94 stations will be upgraded as 'Adarsh' (model) stations and 10 more stations would be identified for conversion to world class stations.
The budget also contains proposals for multi-level parking and setting up of clean drinking water bottling plants in six places, including in Amethi, through PPP route and SMS updates of reservation status and punctuality of trains to passengers and movement of wagons to freight customers.
Safety and security proposals include introduction of automatic fire and smoke detection system on 20 long distance trains, manning of 13,000 unmanned level crossings and raising of 12 companies of women RPF personnel under 'Mahila Vahini'.
Infrastructure development includes modernisation and augmenting of the capacity of Chittaranjan Loco Works from 200 to 275 locomotives and setting up of a Diesel Multiple Unit factory in Sankrail in West Bengal.
A second unit of the Integral Coach Factory will be set up in Chennai, while a Wagon Repair Shop will be set up in Badnera near Amravati in Maharashtra.
The budget also proposes to set up a new Rail Axle Factory in New Jalpaiguri in PPP mode, centres of excellence in wagon prototyping in Kharagpur Workshop and a Design, Development and Testing Centre in Anara (Adra).
It also proposes setting up of five state-of-the-art wagon factories in Secunderabad, Bardhaman, Bhubaneshwar/Kalahandi, Guwahati and Haldia.
In freight business, a modified wagon investment scheme for high capacity general purpose and special purpose wagons will be introduced.
Private operators will be permitted to invest in infrastructure and run special freight trains. The Railways also propose to set up automobile and ancillary units at 10 locations.
The highlights of the proposals in the Rail budget
*Railway Minister appeals to business houses to join hands for building partnership with Railways.
* Indian Railways to be lead partner for Commonwealth Games
*Railways to set up mobile e-ticketing centres at hospitals, universities, courts, IITs, IIMs, district headquarters and village panchayats.
*All 13,000 unmanned level crossings to be manned in the next five years.
*Railway Protection Force to be strengthened through amendments in RPF Act; women's wing to be formed in RPF to ensure security of women.
*Ex-servicemen to be inducted in RPF.
*Railways to set up Rabindra Museum in Howrah and Geetanjali Museum in Bolpur -- both in West Bengal – to commemorate Rabindranath Tagore's 125th birth anniversary.
*Railways will provide houses to all its employees in the next 10 years in collaboration with the Urban Development Ministry.
*Railways to enhance contribution to central staff benefit fund.
*Centre for Railway Research to be set up at IIT-Kharagpur.
*Chittaranjan Locomotive Works capacity to be augmented from 200 to 275 engines a year.
*Work on Rae Bareli Coach Factory in Uttar Pradesh to start within a year.
*Wagon Repair Shop to be set up in Badnera near Amravati in Maharashtra.
*Integral Coach Factory in Chennai to be modernised and a new unit to be set up there.
*If land is available, Railways willing to set up a Diesel Multiple Unit factory in West Bengal, says Banerjee.
*No forcible acquisition of land for freight corridor project. One member of each family of land losers to be given employment in the freight corridor as also in the new projects, says Banerjee.
*Railways to develop ten automobile hubs.
*High-speed dedicated passenger corridors to be constructed; National High Speed Rail Authority to be set up.
*Revenue from non-core business of Railways to go up from Rs 150 crore to Rs 1,000 crore.
*Railways to have master plan for North Eastern region.
*Special train between India and Bangladesh to be started to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
*101 additional services to start on Mumbai suburban railways.
IFFCO hails nutrient-based subsidy policy
NEW DELHI, Feb 18: World’s largest producer and marketer of processed fertiliser, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), has welcomed the Government’s move to shift fertilizer subsidy to “nutrient based subsidy regime".
Welcoming the Government’s long awaited initiative Dr. U.S.Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO said that “the nutrient-based subsidy policy is very encouraging and would help bringing much needed succor to farmers as well as fertilizer sector.”
Dr Awasthi further added that apart from reducing the fertilizer Subsidy burden this move would help rejuvenate the soils thereby increasing farm productivity on sustainable basis so as to ensure food security for the Nation.
"The new policy shall assist in improving the soil health through balanced and integrated use of nutrients, including secondary and micro nutrients."
He said the new policy also provides incentive to fortify the fertilizers with micro nutrients to mitigate their deficiencies, thereby assist enhanced productivity. It also allows fertilizer manufacturers to fortify the fertilizers in adequate quantities which will promote the concept of balanced fertilizer use.
He said that because of widespread nutrients deficiency, attention is needed for application of secondary and micro nutrients along with major nutrients i.e. N, P & K.
Dr. Awasthi was of the firm opinion that to maintain soil health for sustainable agriculture fertiliser manufacturers should come forward and shoulder responsibility to educate farmers as well as sales point personnel on efficient use of nutrients. He said that the concept of fertigation should be promoted by using water soluble fertilizers to enhance both the efficiency of water and nutrients, particularly in high value crops.
Dr. Awasthi further added that the new policy would now be ‘fixed subsidy -floating price’ whereas earlier policy was ‘floating subsidy- fixed price.’ The new fertilizer policy would also attract investment in fertilizer sector, which has been almost stagnant over a decade. This would facilitate timely availability of fertilizer to the farmers and will reduce the fertilizer imports.
IFFCO being the farmers’ own cooperative Society, has been trying to draw attention of all concerned to the depleting soil health and need to restore the soil fertility through balanced application of nutrients. IFFCO has been advocating this cause and has presented papers on the status of different soils in the country.
Govt shifts to nutrient-based fert sops, hikes urea prices
NEW DELHI, Feb 18: The Cabinet has given its approval to the nutrient-based fertiliser subsidy plan, which is likely to come into effect from April 1.
The new fertiliser policy allows companies to fix retail prices. However, the caveat is that firms can fix only nutrient-based fertiliser prices. Under the new regime, the subsidy would remain fixed. The move will also help attract fresh investment. Fertiliser companies have assured to maintain price in line this year.
The Cabinet has cleared a 10% hike in urea prices from April 1. Prices are expected to rise by Rs 483 per tonne.
The government will ensure that non-urea based fertiliser prices remain stable. It still has retained its right to intervene to keep fertiliser prices stable.
Under the earlier regime, the government provides subsidy on a product basis -- subsidy on urea and di-ammonia phosphate fertilizer (DAP). It wanted to replace the current regime with nutrient-based subsidy. Now, sops will be given on the basis of nutrients like nitrogen phosphorus and potassium in the product.
Welcoming the government's move, Guruprasad Mahapatra, MD, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers (GNFC), says the Cabinet's decision is on expected lines. He feels the increase in urea prices will improve margins.
US Jha, CMD, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers, too says that margins will not be impacted on account of the increase in urea prices. "Subsidies may come by 10% post the hike in urea prices." He feels it is unlikely that phosphatic and potassic fertilisers prices will be decontrolled at once. "Some flexibility in maximum retail price (MRP) may be allowed in phosphatic and potassic fertilisers."
IFFCO’s foray into Potash & Gas and Oil exploration sectors
Acquires strategic interest in Canadian Companies -- Americas Petrogas, GrowMax
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Feb 10: World’s largest manufacturer and marketer of fertilizers in the cooperative sector, IFFCO has ventured into Potash as well as Gas & Oil Exploration sectors. IFFCO is the first Indian enterprise to make overseas investment in a Potash Project as a step towards backward integration to strengthen its Potash sourcing for the manufacturing of Phosphatic Fertilizers in India.
There are no deposits of Potash in India and country’s entire Potash requirement is imported.
IFFCO has become a Joint Venture Partner in the Canadian Company namely GrowMax Agri Corp. (GrowMax), which owns concessions over large Potash deposits covering about 820 square Kms area in its Bayovar Project in Peru.
GrowMax is a subsidiary of Americas Petrogas Inc. (Americas Petrogas), which is a Canadian Company in the Oil and Gas Sector, currently engaged in exploring on-shore Oil Wells in Argentina.
Americas Petrogas has already struck Oil and commenced trial production in its Medanito Sur concession in Neuquen Basin in central Argentina. Americas Petrogas already owns a large land base covering approximately 1.5 million acres and is negotiating for more such assets in Argentina.
Americas Petrogas is a publicly traded company on the TSX Venture Exchange in Canada and is trading under the symbol BOE.
IFFCO Group has a 20 per cent shareholding in GrowMax and about 10 per cent shareholding in Americas Petrogas with representation on the Board of Directors of GrowMax.
IFFCO will have an Off-take Agreement for 50 per cent of the Potash to be produced from the Bayovar Project in Peru.
The concession area of GrowMax in the Bayovar Project is adjacent to an existing development in that Region. GrowMax also intends to explore the possibility of Phosphates in its concession area in Sechura Desert in Peru. IFFCO is negotiating to have the right to offtake 50 per cent of any production of Rock Phosphate from the Bayovar Project.
Sharing these latest developments with the Media, Dr. U.S. Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO, said that having already diversified into sectors such as Insurance, Power, Rural Mobile Telephony, Agro Processing SEZ and Commodity Exchange, IFFCO has now entered into another important sectors of the economy namely Potash, Oil and Gas Exploration.
Dr Awasthi said that IFFCO is the first entity in India to have overseas investment in any Potash Project. It should be an extraordinarily unique potash project, involving relatively low risk and low capital expenditures combined with an ideal region for low-cost solar evaporation processing.
He said this investment coupled with the Off-take Agreement would play an important role in enabling IFFCO to ensure continuity in the supply of its Potash requirements for Phosphatic and Potassic Fertilizer production in India and also help in stabilizing the prices of Potash in the international market.
Referring to IFFCO’s decision to enter into Oil and Gas Exploration Sectors, Dr. Awasthi said “When we received the opportunity to make an investment in Americas Petrogas, we quickly grabbed it because oil and gas projects are the areas of business that we have been considering for a very long time.”
He added that the investment in these sectors offers an opportunity to IFFCO to set up a Gas based fertilizer Plant in the near future on discovery of Gas in the concession areas of Americas Petrogas in Argentina.
He further added that with this latest participation in Americas Petrogas and GrowMax, IFFCO will have its foot print across the Pacific Ocean from Latin America to Australia.
IFFCO already has overseas strategic investments in other countries namely, Oman, Senegal, Jordan, Australia and Dubai.
Mr. Barclay Hambrook, President & CEO of Americas Petrogas and GrowMax, said that Americas Group is extremely excited about IFFCO’s participation in GrowMax and Americas Petrogas.
He was confident that IFFCO’s Technical and Project Management expertise would be useful in ensuring Potash production in GrowMax’s Peru Project at the earliest possible time. An Off-take Agreement with IFFCO would also alleviate the market risk of the Project from Lenders’ perspective.
IFFCO is the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of fertilizer in the cooperative sector and is India’s largest fertilizer enterprise, with over 50 million farmers associated with it. IFFCO is primarily engaged in production and distribution of nitrogenous, phosphatic & potasssic fertilizers.
IFFCO has five state-of-the-art fertilizer units in India with a domestic annual production capacity of 4.3 million tonnes of phosphatic & potasssic fertilizers and 4.2 million tones of nitrogenous fertilizers.
During 2008-09, IFFCO marketed 11.3 Million Tonne of fertilizers with a turnover of USD 7.2 Billion.
GrowMax is a subsidiary of Americas Petrogas Inc., which owns 100% of Americas Potash Peru S.A. It has potash brine project in Bayovar, Peru. This potash brine project will utilize solar evaporation processing of mineral rich brines, given its unique location 6 degrees south of the equator in the Sechura Desert on the Pacific Ocean. This location provides the ideal amount of sun and wind for solar evaporation processing.
Relative to other potash projects, Americas believes that its surface brine potash project will involve low operating costs and low capital investment. The solar evaporation process involves a low carbon footprint. The proposed potash plant will serve fertilizer market demand within Peru and in surrounding countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil and has 2 nearby ports for export to markets such as India and China. More details about GrowMax are available on its website www.americaspetrogas.com
Americas Petrogas Inc. is a Canadian-based natural resources company currently focused on business opportunities in Latin America. Americas Petrogas is growing its oil and gas exploration and production in Argentina and, with GrowMax, is developing a potash fertilizer plant in Peru.
Finland’s cleantech trade with India to increase by 150 m euros in 3 years
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Feb 5: Finland is hoping to double its turnover to 300 million Euros in three years in cleantech technologies with India, according to Santtu Hulkkonen, Executive Director of Cleantech Finland.
Speaking to newsmen on the sidelines of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2010, Mr Hulkkonen said that top Finnish cleantech companies are already present in India and these companies do a turnover of around a 150 million Euros.
Top Finnish cleantech companies such as Nokia, Oilon, Outotec, Vaisala, Waterix, Wärtsilä and Pöyry were present at the Summit.
Addressing the press conference, Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen sought more collaboration between the two countries for clean and green technologies.
Mr Hulkkonen said Finnish environmental solution industry looking for business partnerships in India and there was a great potential in energy efficiency and water treatment.
He said India is one of the main market areas of Finnish cleantech companies and there is still huge business potential.
Finnish companies are looking for cleantech business opportunities and partnerships especially in the areas of energy efficiency, water treatment and bio energy. Finland has also world class know how in renewable energy, sustainable rural and urban development, comprehensive environmental measurement and monitoring solutions for air and water, air pollution control and water savings.
Debashish Mazumdar, Director, Wartsila, offered a quick cleantech solution to meet Delhi's power requirements for the Commonwealth Games.
Mazumdar said "we can set up four 50 MW power plants in Delhi in six months to meet the deadline of Commonwealth Games that are to be held in October this year. This way Delhi will also be able to meet the challenge of the Games."
Pöyry is a global consulting and engineering company dedicated to balanced sustainability. Pöyry offers integrated management consulting, total solutions for complex projects and efficient, best-in-class design and supervision. Pöyry has also been working for decades in waste management and by combining its water and environment and renewable energy know-how, Pöyry is able to find sustainable solutions for complex waste management issues.
Pöyry defines its vision to be "the global leader in engineering balanced sustainability in a complex world" and therefore the challenges India is facing relating to urbanization, transportation, water and wastewater issues and mitigating environmental impacts with new energy choices match to Pöyry's offering and experience, said Otto Von Ubisch, Senior Vice President, Pöyry.
Finland is a world leader in waste water treatment. In India water has been an issue. It has been argued that more attention should be given to programs for water collection and storage. Finnish companies are eager to take the challenge. Finland has developed the most sustainable water management level in the world - as ranked by the UN Water Poverty Index.
One of the major instruments in the water management is prevention of pollution in water systems. Recent innovative solutions for water management include also for instance ground water purification system to produce top quality drinking water without use of chemicals and simple cost-efficient solutions to reduce household’s water consumption.
Pöyry has technologies and services to ensure the quality and availability of clean water and sustainable solutions for the environment. Our offering focuses on water supply and sanitation, water resources management, geosciences, environmental services and consulting, added Otto Von Ubisch.
Waterix is Finland's largest manufacturer supplying aerators for natural bodies of water and market leader in waste stations' leachate water treatment. Waterix has experience from working with world's leading forest industry companies as well as companies like Coca Cola.
The distinctive characteristics of our devices are lower energy consumption than competing technologies, easy installation and servicing, as well as good controllability. With our systems can be achieved up to 30 to 40 per cent energy savings, said Heikki Tallgren, Managing Director of Waterix.
In India Waterix is looking for partnerships in building up a nationwide sales network and with local subcontractors in the areas of machinery and plastics.
Santtu Hulkkonen said Cleantech Finland is a collective of top Finnish cleantech companies. Cleantech means all those products, services, processes and technologies that prevent or reduce the impacts of harmful actions on environment. Cleantech stands for better quality, efficiency, progress, effectiveness, profitability and excitement.
Cleantech Finland gives clients, partners, investors and other stakeholders all over the world an easy access to key Finnish cleantech expertise. Cleantech Finland is a guarantee of cutting edge technologies and services and reliable and efficient business practices.
Finland’s achievements and expertise in the environmental sector are internationally acknowledged, he said. For example since year 2000, Finland has been ranked three times number one among 146 countries in environmental sustainability and performance in World Economic Forum’s ESI index.
Finnish cleantech companies are already global leaders in energy-efficiency, clean industrial processes and bioenergy. Other key areas are measuring, analysis and automation, renewable energy, waste management as well as water and waste water treatment and air protection.
Santtu Hulkkonen said the global environmental problems are not going to disappear. Investments in cleaner technologies pay for themselves through efficiency and a better standard of living.
According to the recent report of the International Energy Agency the world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major actions on global warming.
Finland has vast expertise of challenging conditions backed up by the fact that Finland has limited natural resources and an extremely challenging climate. Still Finland has coupled economic growth with sustainable development. This is the know-how that Cleantech Finland wants to offer to you.
Finpro is a network of experts operating globally, promoting the internationalization of Finnish companies. Finpro’s staff, consisting of over 300 professionals, works in 57 offices in more than 40 different countries.
Ilpo Sarikka, Head of Finpro in India, said Finpro offers its expertise and services throughout the various stages of companies’ internationalization. Expertise in various fields of business, market knowledge, efficient international and local networks, and the ability to identify and understand future business opportunities are the added value Finpro offers to Finnish industry and businesses to maintain and develop their competitiveness.
He said Cleantech Finland is one of Finpro’s most important initiatives to promote Finnish clean technology expertise.
China, India not 'competitive opponents': Chinese Premier
BEIJING, Jan 19: China and India were not "competitive opponents" but "cooperative partners", Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said, as he assured that Beijing will make efforts to narrow the bilateral trade deficit.
"Only if China and India achieve common development and prosperity could we have a real Asia century," Wen told Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma who called on him in Beijing on Tuesday.
Both China and India were large developing nations in Asia, and the total population of the two countries accounted for 40 percent of the world, Wen noted.
"We share broad common interests," he said.
China and India were not "competitive opponents" but "cooperative partners", Wen was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
Wen assured India that his government will make efforts to narrow the bilateral trade deficit which is currently in China's favour.
India ran a big trade gap with China in 2008-09, with imports exceeding exports by about USD 7 billion. For the year, China was India's largest trade partner.
The premier said his country would work with India to boost good neighbourly friendship, increase coordination in major international issues, and expand cooperation in trade, investment and other sectors in line with the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.
"This will help promote the continuous stable growth of China-India ties," Wen said.
"China would do its part in working towards this objective (reducing trade gap)," a statement by the Indian government quoting Wen, said.
Earlier, addressing the Joint Economic Group (JEG) meeting, held after a gap of four years, Sharma expressed India's desire to expand exports to China.
Sharma impressed on China to increase imports of IT and ITES to address the trade imbalance. India also asked for removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers to Indian power plant equipment.
Sharma also asked China to do away with restrictions on import of basmati rice, fruits and vegetables. He sought rights for Indian TV channels and import of more Indian films by the Chinese.
Procedural bottlenecks, including time consuming licensing procedures being faced by Indian drugs and pharmaceuticals also came up for discussions at the JEG.
An India-China agreement on Expansion of Trade and Economic Cooperation between the two countries was signed, which provides for the Chinese side to import as much of its requirement of value added goods from India.
The Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming requested India to facilitate the work of Chinese companies in India.
FICCI and China Chambers of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronics (CCCME) also signed an MoU for cooperation between the two industry bodies.
Catalyst launches North India's first Tier 3++ commercial Green data Center in Gurgaon
By Deepak Arora
GURGAON: Catalyst, an internationally renowed company, launched North India's first tier 3++ Green Data Center here on Tuesday. It will make World Class Technology and Business Applications more accessible and affordable for the Small-Medium Enterprise, said Anupam Awasthi, CEO, Catalyst.
It is a major step inline with Catalyst’s long-term vision of offering end to end IT service portfolio with minimum total cost of ownership for the customers.
A Data Center can be summarized as “A Server Farm”, which can securely house computer systems and associated components with uninterrupted access to applications through Internet and being run 24X7 by best of the breed certified resources.
Anupam Awasthi said that “We feel proud to announce the launch of this unique Tier 3++ Datacenter. We have now been able to progress ourselves to become a true “Glocal” - Global yet Local, Green IT Company with a fully functional and successful presence in 11 countries and four continents”.
Catalyst continues to expand its network and hold to be a market leader in the industry. “Catalyst Datacenter is our vision of making technology more affordable for the Small-Medium Enterprise”, added
Amol Awasthi, COO of Catalyst.
“This is the first data bridge extended from India to Africa creating competitive edge for smaller players reducing drastically the time to market for their services and product offerings at a fractional
cost”, Dr. Rabindra Chakraborty ,VP, Technology says.
Prosanta Kumar Ray, VP of Finance expresses, “As a major co-location provider and data centre builder, Catalyst provides savings on Capital and operational expenditure to the clients thus mitigating
cash flow challenges in this challenging Economy”.
Elaborating on the market needs, Jean Baptiste Blanc, VP sales comments, “Catalyst is a one stop shop for your IT infrastructure, On-Demand Oracle Solutions including Hyperion, Embedded
Technologies, Education, and Datacenter managed services”.
Educating us on Datacenter, Jay Kalra, VP Operations said, “Catalyst Datacenter used the industry leading technology framework that is specially built for managed services with the highest level of
security and instant fallback mechanism to offer highest SLAs for the Middle East, Africa and Asian markets. Compact space utilization and usage state of the art green technology demonstrate the
uniqueness of our datacenter”
Ehab Badr, VP Delivery states “With Catalyst, any customer can get a head start without waiting for long IT implementations and training timelines by utilizing Catalyst’s services and global resource
knowledge base consisting of French, Arabic & English proficiency. We honor that the customer should focus only on their core businesses”.
The Catalyst Data Center offers the following services:
@ Managed Services: Server management, Oracle and related Business Applications management, Education delivery, Disaster recovery & back-up for business continuity.
@ Hosting Services: Dedicated hosting, Shared hosting, Virtualized Private Servers.
@ Value Added Services: SaaS (Software as a Service), Offshore support, Helpdesk, Hosted web and email services, Digitization, Data-warehousing, Data-mining, Data Center Consulting.
Catalyst commenced humble operations with two offices in 2002 manned with five people, headed by Mr. Anupam Awasthi, CEO with head-quarters in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley in USA.
Win a luxury car and 5 small cars with Remit2India Cash and Car offer
MUMBAI, Jan 19: In the biggest sweepstake offer to be launched by an online remittance service provider, Remit2India has launched its Remit2India Cash and Car offer for Non Resident Indians (NRIs). In the first blockbuster offer of this New Year any NRI customer gets a chance to win a brand new luxury car, 5 small cars and an assured gift for sending money to friends and relatives back in India for a limited period only.
By participating in Remit2India ‘Cash and Car’ offer:
All new customers will receive US $ 10, added to their transfers on their 1st transaction.
Existing customers will receive US $ 15 gift voucher (GV) for the 1st transaction in the promo period.
All eligible customers automatically qualify for the bumper prize of one Maruti Suzuki SX4 and five Maruti Altos via sweepstake.
NRI customers can participate in the Remit2India ‘Cash and Car’ offer by visiting Remit2India’s website at www.remit2india.com. The winners will be announced on the website and intimated via mail at the end of the offer period. The bumper prizes will be delivered to the customer’s relatives in India while gift vouchers (e-vouchers) can be redeemed from anywhere in the world.
Elaborating on the Remit2india ‘Cash and Car’ offer Mr. Avijit Nanda, President TimesofMoney said, “this New Year, we would like to spread cheer amongst our customers and hence we thought of this exciting offer. Being the leader in online remittance services category, we are happy to bring another first of its kind offer wherein NRI customers get a chance to win a brand new luxury car, 5 small cars and a host of exciting prizes. Remit2India’s Cash and Car offer is the first amongst many exciting offers and initiatives planned for our NRI customers in 2010.”
Remit2India with its effort to reach out to NRIs across the globe, will host micro-contests on popular social networking site Facebook on its Remit2India Brand Page where all users can participate and win exciting prizes.
December exports surge to $14.6 bn on growth in key sectors: Anand Sharma
MUMBAI, Jan 11: The country’s exports in December have grown to $14.6 billion, up 9.4 per cent over November, on the back of a strong growth in pharma, engineering and auto components sectors, Commerce and Industry minister, Anand Sharma said on Monday.
“We have registered exports of $14.6 billion in December, which is a growth of 9.4 per cent over November.
Sectors which have contributed to the growth are pharma, engineering, automotive compo nets and chemicals,” Mr. Sharma told reporters at Bancon conference here.
Although the country’s exports have moved to a positive terrain in the past two months, the economy is yet to recover from the losses resulted from 13-months of continuous fall in exports, Mr. Sharma said, adding that export-growth is expected to maintain momentum moving ahead.
However, the Government cannot be complacent upon the positive numbers as this could be on account of base-effect, Mr. Sharma said.
“We have to see the overall scenario,” he said.
The minister, however, ruled out, importing wheat and rice in the immediate future.
Zooming food price-inflation remains as a major concern to the Government and in some cases there have been speculative build ups, Mr. Sharma said.
However, various measures taken by the policy makers are expected to yield results in the foreseeable future, he said.
Attributing the current surge in food inflation partly to high sugar prices, the minister said that the Government has taken a number of steps to ease the inflationary situation.
“It is true that we have shortage of pulses. This time sugar prices have also pushed up inflation. Measures taken will help ease the situation,” he said.
Also, given the ‘good prospects of Rabi crops’, the Government is hopeful is that food prices will come down in the near future, Mr. Sharma said.
Consumer price inflation increased to 15.65 per cent in November.
Vikram Raizada joins Tara Jewels Group Board as Director
MUMBAI, Jan 11: The Tara Jewels Group, a leading global jewelry group based in Mubai, New York and Hong Kong announced that Vikram Raizada has joined the Group as a full time Director on the Board and will take additional charge as Head of Marketing and Business Development. He will be reporting to the Chairman and Managing Director of the Tara Group, Rajeev Sheth.
Vikram needs no introduction in the world of Fashion, Media, Lifestyle and Advertising. His career of over 18 years in these fields has been marked by creativity, innovation, strategy and delivery.
As the erstwhile Vice President and Head of Fashion at IMG Fashion India, Vikram was responsible for promoting Indian fashion and integrating it with global fashion through the Lakme Fashion Week and was intensely involved with the rapidly evolving world of Indian fashion.
Prior to IMG Fashion, Vikram was the Marketing Head of the Murjani Group which launched a host of premium and luxury lifestyle brands in the Indian market, and was Vice President Marketing for MTV Networks India where he played a pivotal role in the successful development and positioning of MTV as the premier youth-centric music channel in the Indian market.
Rajeev Sheth, Chairman and Managing Director Tara Group said,” We are pleased to announce that Vikram Raizada has joined our group Board in a full time capacity. Vikram’s extensive experience across the Fashion, Media, Lifestyle and Advertising fields and his strong relationships in these industries will allow us to forge ahead on key local and international initiatives planned for 2010 and the following years.”
Tara Jewels is a diversified jewelry group with interests in the manufacture, designing, distribution, financing and marketing of precious jewelry globally.
The Tara Group has production facilities in India and China and sells through the best in the world. These include: Walmart USA where Tara has been the prime supplier and been awarded twice, Sterling Corporation who are the largest jewelers in the world, Zale Corporation who are the largest jewelers in the US, Warren Buffet’s Helzberg in the US, QVC, Zales in Canada, Signet who are the largest jewelers of the UK, Christ the largest in Switzerland, Angus & Coote in Australia, Nihongo in Japan and many more.
The Tara Group companies include Fabrikant Tara LLC in the US, Tara Ultimo, T-Two International and Rose International in India, Tara Hong Kong in China, Tara Duniya in the UK, Tara Japan in Japan, and representative offices in Germany and Australia.
Remit2India offers convenient way to remit funds for customers in UK
MUMBAI, Dec 17: TimesofMoney, India’s leading digital payment service provider, is now extending the ‘NetBanking Transfers’ offering to its existing and new customers in the United Kingdom from its brand Remit2India (R2I). This is in line with the company’s focus of introducing many ‘Industry Firsts’ so as to achieve excellence in the remittances sphere.
After the successful launch of this offering in Germany in June 2009, it is now being provided to TimesofMoney customers in the UK.
This new ‘NetBanking Transfers’ product offering enables R2I customers to directly remit the amount from his/her bank account to their desired bank account in India without exiting his current Remit2India interface and can complete the transaction in a single flow. NetBanking Transfers is a TUV certified sending option wherein the confidential customer information is not shared nor stored anywhere. This process is seamless and provides confirmation on a real time basis.
Elaborating on this new product offering for its UK customers, Mr. Avijit Nanda, President TimesofMoney said, “Through the ‘Net Banking Transfer’ service, we are providing our UK based NRI customers a convenient, hassle free and secure choice compared to traditional wire transfers, cheques and other remittance services. This service is in line with our commitment to provide our customers innovative services as we continue to strive for constant service improvement in the global remittance market. We invite the UK based NRIs to experience this cost-effective, seamless service platform.”
Remit2India, a flagship brand of TimesofMoney, facilitates money transfers to India for NRIs from around the world. It has been adjudged as the ‘World’s Number One Independent Online Money Transfer Portal for NRIs’ by AC Nielsen ORG Marg.
IFFCO bags first-ever dotCoop Global Award for Cooperative Excellence
Jakhar's re-election on ICA Board (Global);an amplification for Indian cooperative movement
By Deepak Arora
GENEVA, Nov 19: World’s largest producer and marketer of the processed fertilizer in cooperative sector, IFFCO, has bagged the first ever dotCoop Global Award for Cooperative Excellence, for providing its services to its cooperative members at a glittering opening ceremony of the general assembly of International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in Geneva.
IFFCO was adjudged best for its cooperative model of business and nurturing cooperative values at the grassroots level. The contest was hosted by dotCoop LLC, which own the .coop domain name.
On behalf of its over 40,000 member societies Surinder Kumar Jakhar, Chairman, IFFCO, received the Award, in presence of Dr. U.S. Awasthi, Managing Director, Dr. G N Saxena, Director (Cooperative Development) and many other Member on the Board of IFFCO.
Later in this general assembly, Surinder Kumar Jakhar, was elected for second time on Board (Global) of the prestigious institution International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
Mr Jakhar scored second highest votes among 804 votes polled. ICA Global Board has 23 members of its Board.
Founded in 1895, ICA is an independent non-Government Organization which has 220 members' organizations from 85 countries representing over one billion individuals’ world wide.
Dr. U.S. Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO, expressed his happiness for First ever dotCoop Global Award for Cooperative Excellence and asserted that this is a result of untiring service putting by IFFCO to its members.
Dr Awasthi also hailed Mr Jakhar's election on ICA Board Global. He termed it as a moment of pride for IFFCO and the entire Indian cooperative movement.
He said that has been working for the development of cooperatives at grassroot from its inception and continues to work for the betterment of farming community.
Mr Jakhar, an eminent farmer-cooperator, has been deeply involved in providing a fillip to Indian Cooperative movement for the last three decades.
A widely travelled person, Mr Jakhar carries with him rich and varied experience in the field of agriculture and cooperation. Under his dynamic leadership IFFCO has not only created a new records of Sales (112.58 Lakh MT) and Production ( 71.68 Lakh MT) of fertiliser in the year 2008-09 but has been rendering matchless service to farmers.
During his tenure, IFFCO successfully forayed into rural telecom sector by forming a company called as IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd., which is sending 5 free voice messages to its subscribers daily.
IFFCO formed Chhatisgarh Power Limited in Power sector and became the first company in India to make a SEZ for farmers as IFFCO Kisan SEZ.
IFFCO also ventured abroad like Legend International in Australia, Re-structured ICS Senegal and entered into a Joint Venture in Jordan and formed Jordan India Fertilizer Company (JIFCO) to provide Phosphoric Acid to India.
Indian Cooperatives provide immense possibilities for future development: Somnath
NEW DELHI, Nov 16: “Everything can wait but not agriculture”. These are the golden words former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee recalled of Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru while delivering 22nd Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial IFFCO Lecture. He stressed upon the synergy between the cooperative movement and agricultural transformation towards alleviating hunger and poverty.
Mr Chatterjee added that Pandit Nehru wanted to make the Cooperative movement a basic activity of India in every village as well as elsewhere and finally the need to make the Cooperative approach common thinking of India.
Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), the largest producer & marketer of processed fertilisers in the cooperative sector of the world organised 22nd Jawaharlal Nehru IFFCO Memorial Lecture and felicitated imminent cooperators in India who are constantly working for the development of Cooperatives.
The Lecture was delivered by Somnath Chatterjee, Former Speaker, Lok Sabha.
Awards for Cooperation i.e. IFFCO “Sahakarita Ratna Award” was presented to Bhikhabhai Zaverbhai Patel while IFFCO “Sahakarita Bandhu Award” was conferred on Kasturi Lal Makkar.
Appreciating the initiatives of IFFCO, Somnath Chatterjee said that the cooperative has been rendering countless services to the farmers of India and is concerned about the progress and development of agriculture, through supply of nursery inputs and other services for the growth of agriculture.
Chatterjee applauded the presence of Cooperatives which is now visible at all stages of the agricultural production chain – production, processing, marketing and credit.
He believes that the Indian Cooperatives provide immense possibilities for future development. It is now being recognised that in such situation the Cooperative system in India has the capacity and potentiality to neutralise the adverse effects emerging from the process of globalization.
He concluded that now a time has come when all sections of the people have to consider very seriously how a country like ours, with its great heritage and civilization, with the magnificent history of its freedom struggle and also with the great talent of our people, should come out of the present infirmities in the system and focus all our energies for effective democratic consolidation and to achieve all-round development at a faster pace.
Dr.U.S.Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO said that the Cooperatives can play an extremely useful role in various sectors like fertilizers, Dairy Farming and Agri-processed industries which will add value to the farmer and supply of other inputs & services to farmers.
Dr Awasthi added that the Cooperatives are playing a very important role and urged them to work for the overall development of the country.
The IFFCO Managing Director said that special emphasis needs to be given to the development and progress of the rural areas of India.
He urged the farmers present in the Lecture for making Cooperative movement more widespread and more effective. He assured them that being their own Society IFFCO shall continue to serve them and strengthen cooperative movement.
Bhikhabahi Zaverbhai Patel, populary known as “Chhote - Sardar” who was the recipient of IFFCO “Sahakarita Ratna Award” for the year 2008-09 is a leading cooperator, avid agriculturist, ardent educationist and social reformer from Gujarat State.
Patel is a captivating personality and has vision for Agriculture, Cooperation and overall growth of Society. His selfless Service to cooperatives and Society makes him a valuable asset to the Society.
Kasturi Lal Makkar, a veteran cooperator hailing from Punjab State was awarded with “Sahakarita Bandhu Award” for the year 2008-09. He held various positions in many cooperative institutions and led them to new heights. He was Director, National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation (NCCF); Delegate for Indian Tourism Cooperative (COOPTOUR). Presently he is Chairman, Abohar Fruit & Vegetable Marketing Cooperative.
Govt not to withdraw sops to exporters in near future: Sharma
NEW DELHI, Nov 9: The government would not withdraw stimulus package for exporters in the near future, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said on Monday hoping that exports would rebound from the last quarter of this fiscal.
"... for the present the time has not come. When we move to the positive territory then surely we will have a relook," Sharma told reporters on the margins of the India Economic Summit in New Delhi.
Addressing the same meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Manamohan Singh had said the fiscal stimulus would be phased out next year.
"Like other countries, we resorted to a significant stimulus and we will take appropriate action next year to wind this down," Dr Singh had said.
Sharma said the exporters need support as they continue to suffer due to demand slowdown in major economies.
He, however expressed hopes the exports would rebound from the January-March quarter of 2009-10.
"By the end of the last quarter of this ficsal hopefully exports will be in positve (zone)," Sharma said.
Exports, that are contracting since October 2008, dipped by 13.8 per cent in September.
The government had announced several sops like interest subsidy to help the exporters impacted due to demand slowdown in their traditional markets of the US and EU.
Govt approves 5 pc disinvestment in NTPC
NEW DELHI, Oct 19: Union Cabinet has decided to disinvest 5 percent in public sector Undertaking- National thermal Power Corporation while disinvestment of 10 percent will be made in another public sector company-- Satluj Vidyut Nigam Limited.
After this disinvestment, government's share in NTPC will remain 84.5 per cent. This was informed by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. He was briefing news persons after the meeting of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in New Delhi on Monday.
The government, at present, holds 89.5 per cent stake in NTPC.
At the present valuation, the government may be able to raise over Rs 8,000 crore by divesting five per cent stake in the company, which generates over 30,000 MW of power annually.
Its market capitalisation currently stands at Rs 1,72,000 crore.
10pc divestment in SJVN
Anand Sharma also informed that disinvestment of 10 percent will be made in another public sector company-- Satluj Vidyut Nigam Limited, the utility engaged in hydropower generation.
Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam is a joint venture between the Centre and the Himachal Pradesh government. The Centre holds 75 per cent stake in the JV, while the rest is owned by the state government.
Cabinet panel reviews prices of essential commodities
The government on Monday said it will ensure availability of rice, wheat, sugar and other essential commodities at reasonable prices, amid growing concerns about rising prices.
"The government is absolutely confident of ensuring availability of essential commodities at adequate prices," Anand Sharma said.
Food and agriculture ministries have been asked to issue a detailed note on the situation, he added.
Inflation data to be released monthly
The government on Monday approved a proposal to release wholesale prices-based inflation data on a monthly basis, instead of every week now, and changed the base year to 2004-05 from 1993-94.
However, data on primary and fuel items would continue to be released on weekly basis.
"The new series of WPI (Wholesale Price Index) inflation with 2004-05 as base year would be launched soon," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
RIL rejects Anil Ambani’s peace offer
MUMBAI, Oct 11: Refusing a peace treaty offered by industrialist Anil Ambani on Sunday, the Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) has stated it is not just a family matter, but one having “vital national interests.”
The RIL has always maintained that the “dispute under litigation is not merely a family matter, as Sri Anil Ambani’s statement once again tries to make out to be,” RIL stated late on Sunday night.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Anil Ambani decided to seek reconciliation with his elder brother Mukesh Ambani after visiting Kedarnath and Badrinath.
IFFCO’s JV 'Jordan India Fertiliser Company' to assure Phosphate input in India
By Deepak Arora
ESHIDIYA (Jordan), Oct 3: King Abdullah II, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, laid the Foundation stone of Phosphoric acid project worth US $ 625 million here on Saturday.
Present on the occasion were Dr. Amer Haddidi, Minister of Industry, Dr. Khaldoun Kutaishat, Minister of Energy & Resources, Walid Ismail Kurdi, Chairman, JPMC and JIFCO, R R Dash, Ambassador of India in Jordan and Dr U.S.Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO and Deputy Chairman, JIFCO and other high ranking officials of Jordan.
In its quest and to strengthen the adequate procurement of Phosphoric Acid for its Phosphatic fertilizer producing plants, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO), an acclaimed world leader in production and marketing of fertilizers, has incorporated a new joint venture company namely Jordan India Fertilizer Company (JIFCO) with Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC), Jordan to set up a phosphoric acid project in Jordan near the rock phosphate mines.
The joint venture is a strategic partnership between IFFCO and JPMC wherein JPMC will be supplying around 2 million tons rock phosphate to the Project from nearby mines in Jordan and IFFCO will be getting consistent supply of phosphoric acid to meet its requirement in India.
Walid Ismail Kurdi said that this project with an investment of USD 625 million will be a win-win situation for both the countries.
Jordan has abundant reserves of rock phosphate mineral and this project will boost their economy by way of direct and indirect employment.
And sourcing of materials and services from the local contractors and establishments will help earn the economy export earnings of around USD 300 million per year.
India, through IFFCO, shall be getting large quantity of Phosphoric acid from Jordan.
Dr U.S.Awasthi expressed his happiness and stated that “this foundation laying of JIFCO's Phosphoric Acid Project is one of the most remarkable milestones in the Indian fertilizer industry.”
Dr Awasthi further added that “this Joint Venture Project will provide assured supply of phosphate input to the Indian agriculture for sustenance in food grains production.”
He also said that JIFCO has been incorporated in March, 2008 as a joint venture of Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) to set up a phosphoric acid project.
He assured that the project will be completed in time and thanked His Majesty the King of Jordan and all concerned for their support to this project.
In order to meet the growing demand of fertilizers, IFFCO has also established joint ventures in Senegal, Oman and Australia for sourcing a part of its requirement of raw material and finished fertiliser.
With the focus on farmers’ needs, IFFCO has already diversified into Insurance, Power, Telecom and other sectors through various joint ventures.
Towards the upliftment of rural people in India, IFFCO has been undertaking projects in Farm Forestry, Cooperative & Rural Development and Agriculture services.