Booming and Blooming India-XXIX

A sluggish manufacturing sector pulled down economic growth to 8.9% in the second quarter of 2007-08 as compared to 10.2% during the corresponding period of the previous year, despite a good show by the agriculture and mining sectors. Rising rupee has affected manufacturing. But the fundamentals are strong. Inflation is within the limit set by RBI. Companies are investing and preparing to face the unavoidable. Confidence level is high. India must move to a GDP growth of 10% or more. It is under discussion. The foreign exchange reserve bulges to $272 billion. India may soon use some in interest of the nation.

RCom set for $5.6 bn order: Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) is getting ready to place what will be, at 70 million lines and an estimated value of $5.6 billion (Rs22, 288 crore), the biggest order ever by an Indian Telco.

Cement capacity: According to recent expansion plans, installed capacity is expected to increase to 186 mn.tpa by end FY2008, and 219 mn.tpa by end FY2009, and up to 241 mn.tpa by end of FY2010.

<b>Infosys climbs higher on FinTech 100 list: Infosys Technologies Ltd for the fourth consecutive year has been named to the FinTech 100, an international annual listing of the top 100 global application and service providers that derive more than one third of their revenue from the financial services industry. Infosys ranked 14 on the annual list by American Banker and Financial Insights, up from 18th position in 2006.

ITC plans to add 20,000 e-Choupals: ITC is looking at increasing its e-Choupal footprint to nine more states adding 20,000 more kiosks, and 10 million farmers to its network by 2010. Currently, ITC’s e-Choupal network operates in six states with 6,400 kiosks in 40,000 villages, covering 400,000 farmers and it will be expanded to include 1lakh villages in 15 states.

Three Indians in Fortune list: Ratan Tata has been named by global business magazine Fortune as one of the top 25 most powerful business heads, along with steel tycoon L N Mittal and PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi. The Fortune ranking closely follows a list by another global business publication Forbes, released earlier this month, that named India’s richie-rich led by Mittal and Ambanis.

US subprime crisis fails to crack Indian realty boom: There will be demand for over 24.3-million new dwellings for self-living in urban India, and over half of this will come from outside top 100 cities, according to ‘Housing Skyline of India 2007-08’, a study by Delhi-based research firm, Indicus Analytics. India’s booming real estate industry, growing at a scorching 30 per cent and estimated to touch $60 billion by 2010, has caught the fancy of global realtors and investors who have pumped in or are looking to invest heavily in the sector.

From London to Paris, they woo Indian investors: With India Inc emerging as a serious investor around the globe, various governments and cities, from London to Paris, are now courting Indian companies, seeking their investments.

Punjab potato farmer pioneers French fries: An agro-processing plant set up by local potato farmer Mandeep Singh is set to give Punjab’s Jalandhar district the tag of being the first to have an Indian company indigenously produce French fries in the country.

Rs31,000 cr plan on skills development in the pipeline: The Union government has proposed spending Rs31,000 crore on skills development over the next five years according to a draft of the 11th Plan, as against just Rs 350 crore allocation for skills development in the 10th Plan. India needs to expand vocational training from the present capacity of a mere two to three million to at least 15 million new entrants to the labour force.

Indian blue-chip cos create 3 times more wealth than US firms: India’s 30 blue-chip companies, part of the stock market benchmark Sensex, may be minnows compared to their US counterparts, but they have created nearly three times more wealth for their investors this year so far compared to the American giants.

Asia’s Young Entrepreneurs: John Hummelstad, regional director of emerging technology and venture capital in Asia-Pacific for Microsoft is impressed by the dynamism of entrepreneurial companies in India. “Before they were writing code for others, and now they’re developing their own code base and moving forward from there.”

IIMB students get foreign internships: For the first time, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) will have 110 students interning aboard. Of the 249 students who got internship offers, 68% accounted for investment banking followed by 17% for management consulting firms.

Carbon trade may prove another IT sector for India: The World Bank has said that with growing concerns for global warming and climate change, the carbon trade market, which is set to grow from the present level of 30 billion dollars annually to 100 billion dollars, can prove another IT sector for India.

India to have 20 million broadband: Connecting over six lakh villages with broadband connectivity will help introduce the power of IPTV as an enabling tool that could eventually bring BPOs to locate in India’s villages. Today the country has about 2.7 million connections. 2 Mbps and above connected needs are expected to be made free or should be charged only on the basis of usage of content.

Acquisitions continue: Gitanjali Gems has acquired US retail jewellery chain Rogers for $18.5 million to boost the company’s retail presence in abroad. Rogers revenues this year stood in the region of $80 million. Plethico Pharmaceuticals, a leading Indian herbal and nutraceutical (a combination of drug and food products) company, has agreed to acquire Natrol, a nutritional products company in the US, for $81 million (Rs 318 crore). Welspun India has turned around UK’s largest terry towel brand called Christy, which it had acquired it in July 2006. Nirma acquired the US-based natural soda ash producer Searles Valley Minerals (SVM). The acquisition, third in a row in three years will place the detergent maker among the world’s top seven producers of soda ash. Hindalco Industries, an Aditya Birla group company, is scouting for copper mines in Columbia, Peru and Argentina. Tata Steel signed a joint venture agreement with Australia’s Riversdale Mining Ltd to set up a special purpose vehicle to develop a hard coking and thermal coal project at Riversdale’s key coal exploration tenements in Mozambique. Indian Film Outfit Goes Hollywood: Prime Focus Group (PRFO) , a Mumbai-based postproduction house for films, TV shows, and advertisements, intends to pay $43 million for a pair of Los Angeles companies, Post Logic Studios and Frantic Films.

Indian BPOs move to Latin America: After making a splash in US, European and Japanese markets, Indian ITeS companies in the last two years have seen many of them set up shop in countries like Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. From TCS to Satyam, Evalueserve to 24/7, Indian companies have now opened development centres or acquired companies all across Latin America.

NRI creates mice resistant to cancer: An Indian-origin researcher at the University of Kentucky has led a team to create mice that are resistant to aggressive types of cancer.

Moser Baer to set up solar project in Rajasthan: The photovoltaic unit of optical media storage device maker Moser Baer (India) Ltd would invest about $25 million (approx Rs100 crore) to set up a solar power project with an estimated generation capacity of the project is 1-5 mw in Rajasthan.

Satellite technology to clear urban mess in Delhi: The government is planning to come up with a 3-dimensional geo-spatial data of land, buildings and underground utilities in the city using satellite and aerial photography. The new technology, “Delhi State Spatial Data Infrastructure”, which is supposed to be in place by February 2009, is expected to help government in a number of ways including detecting power theft, streamlining tax collection, helping courts in settling property disputes and managing traffic and relief operations during disasters.

Biometric ATM to Chhapraula village: Punjab National Bank has taken the initiative to install North India’s first biometric ATM at the Chhapraul that will help the illiterate and semi-literate customers by helping them to withdraw cash, make balance enquiry and get mini statement with the facility of voice guidance.

<b>Indians in US: India is in the top three of legal immigration in the country accounting for a little more than 1.7 million with nearly 39 per cent being US citizens, said the study released by Center for Immigration Studies. Indians in Santa Clara County, home of the Silicon Valley, have the highest median household income, own the most valuable homes, and are the best educated, according to a latest Census report. However, the brains are flocking back home too. Calcutta University (CU) recently received applications for an assistant professor’s post in the biochemistry department from more than 80 scholars working in US, UK and German.

And an achievement that every Indian can be proud of: “The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) entered into the exclusive club of nations capable of building cryogenic engines with a thunderous sound of a rocket test that lasted 12 long minutes.

Indian story is reaching everywhere and interests everyone who matters.

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