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Water scarcity: Why government must expand micro-irrigation coverage

The focus of the government has to be on expanding micro-irrigation coverage

India is home to 17.5% of the world’s population, but only 4% of its fresh water resources. Agriculture consumes some 78% of the country’s fresh-water supply. With increasing urbanisation and industrialisation, India will not only have to augment supply, but also use the same more efficiently.

Budget 2017 allocates R7,377 crore towards the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), a 42% jump over the revised estimates for the current fiscal. Further, finance minister Arun Jaitley has made a smart move in providing R20,000 crore as corpus for the Long Term Irrigation Fund, on top of R20,000 crore in FY17, to bring 7.6 million hectares of land under irrigation by fast-tracking the completion of 99 prioritised projects in the four years between 2016 and 2020. The corpus is to be created by Nabard through borrowings from the market; this will keep the government’s own fiscal deficit in control! Jaitley has created a dedicated Micro-Irrigation Fund with an initial corpus of R5,000 crore, again through Nabard on similar lines.

Within the allocation for PMKSY in this budget, R3,400 crore or 46% has been set aside for the ‘per drop more crop’ component—an increase of more than 70% over the FY17 allocation of R1,990 crore. In real terms, the budget allocation for micro-irrigation in FY18 works out to be 22% higher than the revised estimates of FY11, and nearly 57% more than that for FY16, as is shown in the accompanying graph.

Micro-irrigation has gradually expanded in the country and stands at around 8.73 million hectares in FY17. But, this is just 13% of the total coverage potential of 69.5 million hectares. Micro-irrigation systems deliver water savings of up to 40% over conventional flood irrigation methods, along with appreciable crop productivity increases, thanks to the application of water at the right place (root zone) and right time. Piped water facility connecting dams and micro-irrigation system in fields can help reduce water losses; they can ensure roughly 70% conveyance-efficiency and 90% overall water-use efficiency. There can be no better step towards bringing about sustainable water use in agriculture.

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A case in point is the impact of drip irrigation on sugarcane and cotton cultivation in the water-stressed Marathwada region. In FY15, Marathwada accounted for over a fifth of the sugarcane area in Maharashtra. Since this crop consumes about 2,000 litres of water for every kg of sugar produced, many experts have questioned whether it should be grown at all in areas such as Marathwada. But the fact is that Marathwada has prospered because of sugarcane, with the mills creating several thousand jobs both upstream and downstream. Farmers, too, are unlikely to go back to growing jowar or bajra. It suggests that adopting better water management through micro-irrigation may be what is really required.

Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, the world’s second-largest irrigation solutions company, has demonstrated that drip irrigation systems in sugarcane cultivation can save around 66% irrigation water as well as raise crop yields by a third. Water saved through drip irrigation in one hectare sugarcane area can bring some five hectares under cotton. Increased sugarcane yields from drip irrigation, coupled with higher returns from irrigated cotton crop, will thus help augment farmers’ incomes and, at the same time, promote sustainable agriculture.

At an estimated cost of R75,000 per hectare for installation of drip systems, R7,722 crore will be needed to bring Maharashtra’s entire sugarcane area under drip. But in FY16, the state’s budget allocation for micro-irrigation was a mere R176.75 crore. It basically shows how our priorities in irrigation are rather perverted. Nabard is raising R20,000 crore from the market for completion of major and medium schemes having a water-use efficiency of
35-40%, but only R5,000 crore for micro-irrigation where effciency is 85-90%! Why not float micro-irrigation bonds for R20,000 crore or more?

The future revolution in agriculture is going to come from precision farming. Micro-irrigation can be the stepping stone towards achieving the goal of making Indian farming sustainable, profitable and productive. Can we expect Jaitley and, of course, prime minister Narendra Modi to take bolder steps in this direction?

Source: financialexpress

As Global Trade Slows, India Needs to Start Firing on All Cylinders

An important paradigm shift is underway. Over the course of last century, global trade was growing faster than global GDP (read: income). However, post-2008, this trend is reversing. Presently, world trade is growing more slowly than world GDP. Recent estimates by OECD in 2015 indicate trade figures for the G-7 group of countries fell by 7.1 per cent while trade figures for major emerging economies including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa slumped by 9.5 per cent.

This trend is worrisome. The beneficial effect of trade in increasing productivity and income growth is well known. Economies such as South Korea, Taiwan, and much of the South East Asian nations catapulted to a higher growth trajectory through trade. In fact, as evidence from China suggests trade has been instrumental in lifting millions out of poverty.

Economists argue four important reasons as to why growth in global trade is slowing down. First, the financial crisis in the US, and more recently in Europe has slowed down world trade. These two regions account for more than half of world trade volumes, and a slowdown in these regions will naturally have an impact on global trade. Second, with an economic slowdown there will be a concomitant fall in investment across national boundaries, which means lower trade.

Demonstrate and sell product over three busy days

Third, a slower intra-industry trade, particularly, those associated with the international fragmentation of production. A fall in investment flow negatively affects trade in similar in commodities such as cars, computers, air conditioners, and refrigerators. Finally, in event of slower trade growth, individual countries turns protectionist. Protectionism is becoming evident in terms of an increase in applied tariffs (although, keeping them below the rates countries bound at WTO) and non-tariff barriers (NTBs), mainly in the form of anti-dumping measures, sanitary and phytosanitary sanctions, and even through the provisions granting subsidies to domestic producers.

In the event of this global scenario, India has a lot to worry about. Recent trade data for India (April-February 2015-16) suggests, in dollar terms, cumulative value of exports were at $238.4 billion as against $286.3 billion during corresponding period a year earlier, registering a negative growth of 16.7 per cent.

Pipe dream

Apparently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim to almost double goods and services exports to $900 billion in the next four years, and grabbing a 5 per cent share of global trade by 2020 (up from 1.7 per cent global exports share at present) seems overly ambitious. India’s largest export item, namely, refined petroleum products has fallen by 15 per cent, lowest in nine years. Interestingly, this fall is not only due to a fall in international crude price (as some experts would argue) but also because of declining export volumes. Growth of other important export items such as metal, electronics and machinery are also falling.

Interestingly, despite the Chinese economy slowing down, the export figures for China in 2014 was recorded at $2,342.3 billion in comparison to India’s $317.5 billion. If one takes into consideration items such as iron and steel, chemicals, machines and telecommunication equipment, textiles and clothing, where China and India compete with each other in international market, the former’s share in the world market is much higher.

Indian businesses are losing competitiveness due to high borrowing costs and because of country’s long-standing weaknesses such as bad infrastructure, red tape and corruption.

In this regard there are important lessons to be learnt from China. The relative success of China lies in its ability to provide better physical infrastructure and easy availability of cheap credit. Within infrastructure funding, the contribution of India’s private sector is only 36 per cent in comparison to China’s 48 per cent. This is notwithstanding the fact that China’s GDP is almost four times the size of India’s GDP.

In many instances, Indian exporters of edible items like rice, tea etc., find it difficult to ship their product from the nearest port of exit. For example, exporters in eastern India are forced to transport edible items by road to Kakinada – a port in Andhra Pradesh which offers mid water loading facilities – to avoid contamination. The congested Kolkata port handles export of iron ore and other metals scraps, items which cause pollution (read dust particles) and thereby expose edible items to the risk of contamination.

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The Chinese government offers other goodies as well. On top of cheaper credit, Chinese manufacturing units also avail cheaper power, water and land. Besides providing these indirect subsidies, the government also gave differential subsidy. For example, production of staple fibres, meant for domestic consumption, attract lesser subsidy as compared to when it is used as an input for making exportables, like, polyester yarn. The special economic zones (attracting zero tariffs) were built with the idea of making China the assembly hub of the world – where inputs were imported from neighbouring Asia, assembled in China and thereafter exported to the rest of the world. Coupled with these, a much larger scale of operation by lowering per unit cost of production, explains China’s much higher share of world exports.

Lower transaction costs have also given Chinese exports a much-needed competitive edge.  For example, it takes around 40 days to book a container for exports in India as compared to just one day in China. On the contrary, logistics costs in India are among the highest in the world at 13 percent of GDP. For instance, trucks in India have to pass through multiple checkpoints and stop at state borders to pay toll taxes and octroi, for inspections, etc. An estimate of the time taken at checkpoints shows that for a journey of 2,150 kilometres between Kolkata and Mumbai a truck had to stop at 26 checkpoints for as much as 32 hours. This torturous journey is likely to continue unless the government implements GST. With respect to ‘Trading Across Borders’, in 2013, India ranked 132 out of 189 countries, while Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka ranked 130, 177, 91, and 51, respectively.

Inadequate infrastructure is responsible for holding back GDP growth by roughly 2 per cent, or an annual hit of approximately $20 billion to economic progress.  The government, on its part, has set a huge target of doubling investment in infrastructure from Rs. 20.5 trillion ($0.33 trillion) to Rs. 40.9 trillion ($0.65 trillion) during the twelfth five year plan period (2012-2017). To achieve this target, the government will require investment from the private sector.

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Ease of doing business

Although reforms in India are taking place, they are far from complete. Companies face a maze of government orders, regulations, rules and procedures, which raise the cost of doing business in India. In its Doing Business Report-2015, the World Bank placed India in the 142nd position out of a sample of 189 countries, with a ranking that is worse than China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan when it comes to the convenience of doing business. The Doing Business Report-2016, saw India’s performance improved, moving up by 12 places to 130th position, mainly because Central government specifically stepped in to improve the ease of doing business in Delhi and Mumbai (as opposed to the rest of India) – the two cities where World Bank observers undertake surveys to examine the ease of doing business.

Even in terms of productivity and efficiency, India needs to improve. According to the APO Productivity Database 2014, average Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth in India rose from 2.0 per cent in 2000-05 to 4.7 per cent during 2005-10, but fell to 0.9 per cent in the following two years. However, for China average TFP growth was 3.9 per cent during 2000-05, rising to 4.2 per cent during 2005-10, and falling to 2.1 per cent over the next two years. During 2010-12, while TFP contributed 11 per cent to GDP growth in India, its share in China’s GDP growth was 26 per cent. Average TFP growth over the last four decades in India has been 1.4 per cent as compared to 3.1 per cent in China.

Equally important is to undertake a more effective stance at regional trading forums. The South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) has met with limited success. Negotiators from ASEAN regions accuse Indian policymakers of not willing to give them market access to items originating from ASEAN countries. Most of the tradable items are under negative lists (outside the purview of basic zero custom tariffs). India-Japan CEPA has resulted in limited gain for services involving movement of professionals such as nurse and yoga teachers, and trade in Indian generic pharmaceutical products. India policymakers need to indulge in more effective negotiation to sell our Mode 1 and Mode 4 services, areas where we have a comparative advantage.

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Source: thewire


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No More Deonar Fires, These Mumbai Teens Invent Device to Convert Dry Waste into Electricity!

Four bright young minds in Thane, Mumbai, have come up with an idea to use dry waste to generate electricity. Instead of dumping dry waste into a garbage bin and filling up landfills, this novel idea makes use of domestic waste that every household in India produces, and turns it into a sustainable form of energy. And it can prevent mishaps like the Deonar dumping ground fires, too.

Aged between 10 and 13, the girls have devised an instrument with two parts that converts dry waste into electricity.

The bottom part of the instrument burns dry waste. The heat generated from this is used to move the turbines attached in the top-most part of the furnace. These turbines help in creating electricity.

The girls, Pooja Ramdas, Nikita Dhamapurkar, Jovila D’souza and Sharanya Bhamble spent two weeks figuring out the minute details, researching and experimenting. They were inspired by the working of a pressure cooker.

Sharanya Bhamble explains the eco-friendly process: it starts off with segregating dry and wet waste. While the dry waste is burnt in the furnace, the wet waste is used for composting.

“The toxic fumes produced in the process (of burning dry waste) are filtered, making it pure and released in the environment,” she said. “Meanwhile, we put seawater in the top part of the two-part-furnace, which turns into steam when the waste is burning. This steam is then released on a set of turbines which rotate and produce electricity in the process.”

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To test the device, the girls used a cycle pump to create air pressure. This generated enough electricity to light up the bulbs that were fixed to the device.

In Mumbai, about two-thirds of its solid waste that is dumped into landfills is illegal and beyond the capacity of the landfill.

Repeated dumping, with no waste segregation, caused the massive Deonar fires in the months of January and February this year. Smoke from these fires covered the areas surrounding the dumping ground, forcing schools and colleges to shut, and people to fall ill.

Most of the waste that ends up in landfills are actually biodegradable or fit to be converted into energy. With waste segregation and municipal body support, sustainable waste management isn’t difficult.

While on a macro-level, the municipal solid waste-to-energy process requires installation of biogas plants, on an individual level, devices such as the one invented by the students can help reduce the negative impact on the environment.

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Source: thebetterindia


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JNCASR-CICS Fellowship Programme for Developing Countries in India, 2016

Applications are invited for JNCASR-CICS Fellowship Programme to encourage mobility of scientists from developing countries. The Fellowship provides an opportunity for young scientists, teachers and researchers from the developing countries (other than India) to undertake research studies in India. The fellowship covers short-term, participatory research studies in all major disciplines of science and technology including engineering and medical sciences at the Indian Centres of Excellence. Up to 10 Fellowships are provided annually for the duration of three months. The applications deadline is 31st October every year.

Study Subject(s): Fellowships are awarded in all major disciplines of science and technology including engineering and medical sciences at the Indian Centres of Excellence.
Course Level: Fellowships are available to undertake research studies (short-term, participatory research) in India.
Scholarship Provider: Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR ) Bangalore and the Centre for International Co-operation in Science(CICS) Chennai, India
Scholarship can be taken at: India

Eligibility: Applicant must be a scientist, teacher or a research scholar affiliated to a scientific or academic institution in a developing country in Asia (other than India), Africa, Latin America and Arab region. Applicant (other than Indian) possessing Doctorate or Master’s Degree in Science or equivalent degree in Engineering/ Medicine and allied disciplines, below 45 years of age affiliated to a scientific or academic institution in a developing country (Other than India).

Scholarship Open for International Students: Citizens of developing countries (other than India) Afghanistan, Gambia, Mozambique, Bangladesh, The Guinea, Myanmar, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Niger, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Cambodia, Korea, Dem Rep., Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Liberia, Tajikistan, Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Malawi, Togo, Congo, Dem. Rep, Eritrea, Mali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Albania, Indonesia, Samoa, Armenia, Sao Tome and Principe, Belize, Iraq, Senegal, Bhutan, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Bolivia, Kosovo, South Sudan, Cameroon, Laos, Sri Lanka, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Sudan, Congo, Rep., Marshall Islands, Swaziland, Ivory Coast, Micronesia, Federated States of Micronesia, Syrian Arab Republic, Djibouti, Moldova, Timor-Leste, Egypt, Arab Rep., Mongolia, Tonga, El Salvador, Morocco, Ukraine, Fiji, Nicaragua, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Nigeria, Vanuatu, Ghana, Pakistan, Vietnam, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, West Bank and Gaza, Guyana, Paraguay, Yemen, Rep., Honduras, Philippines, Zambia, Angola, Ecuador, Palau, Algeria, Gabon, Panama, American Samoa, Grenada, Peru, Antigua and Barbuda, Iran, Islamic Rep., Romania, Argentina, Jamaica, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Serbia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Seychelles, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia, South Africa, Botswana, Lebanon, St. Lucia, Brazil, Libya, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Suriname, Chile, Macedonia, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Tunisia, Colombia, Maldives, Turkey, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Mexico, Tuvalu, Dominica, Montenegro and Uruguay) are eligible for this fellowship.

Scholarship Description: This fellowship programme is jointly instituted by the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) Bangalore and the Centre for International Co-operation in Science(CICS), Chennai to encourage mobility of scientists from developing countries. The Fellowship covers short-term research, training or participatory research work in physical, chemical or biological sciences in reputed scientific institutions in India including JNCASR.

Number of award(s): About 10 Fellowships are provided annually.

Duration of award(s): The duration of the fellowship is for 3 months.

What does it cover? The Fellowship Applications will be scrutinized during November/December every year by a selection committee. The Fellowship covers return airfare from place of work in their home country to place of work in India, boarding and lodging at the affiliated institution/s, and an adequate allowance in Indian currency to cover incidental expenses. The CICS will facilitate the issuance of visa to the awardees. The awardees are allowed to choose the fellowship period mutually convenient to them and the host institute.

Selection Criteria: Not Known

Notification: Not Known

How to Apply: Completed application should be submitted by post. List of enclosures to accompany the application:-
-A detailed curriculum vitae containing the date of birth & age, applicant’s research interest and experience, publications (only those in referred journals), present position, scientific affiliations, awards and scholarships etc.
-A detailed write-up describing the proposed research work.
-Two passport size photographs
-Copy of degree certificate for highest qualification
-A letter of consent from Parent Institution
-Applications should be forwarded by an appropriate authority.
-Applicants should possess a valid passport.
-Selected candidates must obtain permission/leave from their parent institutions.
-Selected candidates must obtain Indian visa for the proposed period of work upon advice from CICS.

Application Form

Scholarship Application Deadline: The last date for receipt of the applications is 31st October every year.

Further Official Scholarship Information and Application

Source: scholarship-positions


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India must take the baton of African growth from China

The stage is perfectly set for India to take the baton of African growth, in the wake of deepening economic crisis in China, says Sujeet Sarkar, an international advisor in governance.

When the Chinese construction conglomerate, Shanghai Zendai, bought 4000 acres of land in the outskirts of Johannesburg in 2013, it promised to build the New York of Africa. The company pledged a whopping USD 7.8 billion to transform the sleepy district of Modderfontein into a metropolis, with a forest of skyscrapers along with an oasis of green space, hosting prime residences, business and entertainment centres, like never before in Africa. The planned city exemplifies and is a symbol of Chinas seemingly unbridled ambition across the African continent.

The iconic African (AU) headquarters at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, its tallest building, further represents Chinas growing engagement in Africa, and with most of the other 54 AU member states. This USD 200m towering complex funded by China, was a gift to the AU, but it enabled Beijing to strengthen its influence and grip over Africa.

In the last one decade, China gobbled up bulk of the commodities that Africa produced, surpassing the US to emerge as the continents single largest trading partnerwitnessing an exponential growth of over tenfold, in the last one decade. According to projections made by Standard Chartereds global research, Sino-African bilateral trade is poised to hit USD 385 billion by 2015.

In its quest to secure resources in Africa, China engages in commercial diplomacy that most other countries cannot match. Beijing pitches vast trade, aid, and investment deals to resource-rich countries, and retains an almost unparalleled ability to provide low-cost financing and cheap technicians for infrastructure projects. The African model of China has largely been to provide low-interest gigantic loans with low credit ratings, and in turn, receive favourable rights to develop its nascent oil, energy and mining sectors. Through the Chinese support, the African nations augment their revenues, create jobs and further address the crying energy and infrastructure needs of their respective countries. Unlike other rich nations that impose conditions before aid is given, Chinas relationship with African countries is strictly sans a business onebut in the capacity of a democracy and human rights advisory. This makes the African-China party a win-win situation for both.

As China is interested in Africas natural resources, it is in return investing heavily in African infrastructure development. Chinese companies are involved in hydropower projects in Zambia, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. China built a mega shopping mall in Zimbabwes capital Harare, laid a ring road and an airport in the capital of Mozambique, and invested billions in Nigerias newly refurbished Lagos-Kano rail line. China has also funded coal-power stations, roads and schools in Botswana, mines in Namibia, and in Malawi it provided funds for a new parliament, a university, hotels and conference centre. The red dragon supports housing projects in bulk of the African countries. The list is endless and even includes construction of sprawling bungalows for the president and also plush ministerial buildings in some countries to ease visa hurdles. This further helps them earn lucrative favour for advancing business interests. It is difficult to come across even one African city devoid of significant Chinese presence. Such has been the spread and influence of China in Africa, over the last one decade.

But with the Chinese economy melting, the pace and magnitude of China-Africa collaboration may lose its steam. As China grapples with a weak consumer and a bleeding stock market, the ongoing Sino-Afro big-ticket infra projects could be under considerable threat. A large number of ongoing infrastructures, mining and hydrocarbon projects in Africa are expected to slow down or get aborted as a result. Chinas ambitious future road map for Africa is likely to get significantly curtailed.

Most of the African countries have been drunk on Chinas growth. As the party is over, the hangover is likely to spill across Africa too. Like China they too heavily relied on the commodity market. Commodity prices have already fallen to a 16-year low, according to the Bloomberg Commodity Index, tracking 22 raw materials. Hence the China slowdown would exacerbate problems in African countries that depended on high commodity prices to balance their books. This would further paralyze the African nations ability to continue with the existing mining and hydrocarbon projects, let alone investing in any new exploration. Having burnt their fingers, African economies will learn to wean their extreme reliance on commodities as China is presently doing the same. As China re-balances, other commodity driven economies in Africa too needs to re-balance. This would not only see a significant spurt in the number of the Stressed Assets but also availability of future hydrocarbon and mining asset at a splendid premium, in Africa.

Despite the perceptible worries, it will be overblown to say that China will no longer be a major player in Africa. However the stage is perfectly set for India to take the baton of African growth, in the wake of deepening economic crisis in China.

India is lagging far behind China in Africa, with bilateral trade limping to clock a staggering USD 100 billion in 2015. Prime minster Modi needs to give a facelift to the relationship between India and Africa, and central to accomplishing that will be enhancing the economic ties with the African nations. It is imperative for India to ride the China slow-down and aggressively expand its economic footprints in Africa.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley should explore the possibility of shoring up the financial capacities of the PSU oil and energy majors, so that they can go for an extended shopping of stressed hydrocarbon assets and mining leases available at a premium now. The PSU giant can further bid for the newer ones with the Chinese resistance on the wane. India should spare part of its swelling foreign exchange reserve for the said purpose, if required. This would secure the long-term energy supplies needed to sustain Indias rapid industrialization and further support its aim to emerge as the global manufacturing hub for the World. Key players of the private sector should be encouraged to lock down favourable heavy infra projects like mass transit systems and power projects by creating an enabling environment, with desired political back up.

India has always suffered from myopic view when it comes to engaging with Africa. Indias inherent weakness in foreign policy lies in pursuing the entire Africa with one bloc-one strategy, despite the countries being so diverse in terms of their political and economic outlook and needs. This has shackled India to register an impressive growth in trade and bilateral ties. Like China, it is imperative for India to build a privileged relationship with African countries by comprehensively engaging with each of them independently, while respecting their larger identity in the AU. India should develop country specific road map and aid packages for the smaller African nations. This would provide the leeway to advance its political and business interest.

A few may argue the prudency of the strategy of doling out resources to others, when it has a never-ending list of problems, of its own. India will always have its share of problem, but that should not deter India from playing a broader international role, if it aims to be a global superpower. India is further blessed with a rather prosperous diaspora in bulk of the African nations. Unlike Middle East, the Indian diaspora in Africa enjoys tremendous political clout and influence due to its contribution in building local economy with successful commercial ventures. Like the US, the diaspora in Africa too can weave the same magic, if the South Block can carefully harness the untapped potential.

India must think beyond hosting the monotonous and magnanimous African summits, as it holds no value other than rubbing shoulders with the second rung African leaders of not much relevance. The event does not have the rigour and bite to dig deep in Africa and expand Indias political and commercial footprints in Africa. A comprehensive and progressive policy of pro-actively engaging with AU should be developed instead of a peripatetic posting at AU. The next driver of global growth is going to flow from Africa and India should not be lagging behind in the race. It is time to catch up in Africa, if Indian aspires to retain its global ambition.

(Sujeet Sarkar is an author and works as an international advisor on governance. He writes columns on international affairs)

Source: newkerala


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Dental Tourism – An emerging opportunity to make the world smile!

Efforts put into popularising dental tourism is slowly but steadily yielding results in India. The number of patients taking up dental treatment as part of dental tourism is on a rise. The acceptance rate amongst patients makes corporate dental chains in the country optimistic about the concept.

One tends to wonder if the tooth can be so important and if people would travel across countries to get their treatment done. People from the west do travel to get their dental treatment done in other parts of the word primarily because it saves 60 to 70% of their treatment costs. For example, a Root Canal Treatment which is done for $700 to $1500 can be done for Rs 4000 to Rs 6000 in India. Dental products like toothpastes which cost US$2 to US$2.5 costs around Rs 40 in India. In Europe it is the very long waiting period that encourages patients choose destinations outside Europe for dental treatment. A survey conducted in the UK said that 90 percentage of respondents wanted to go abroad for their dental treatment because they are cheaper outside. Also 17% wanted to take up treatment abroad citing long waiting period in UK. In South Asian and African countries it is the lack of infrastructure and technology that makes people come to India for dental treatment.

Popular destinations for dental tourism across the globe are Thailand, Singapore, Mexico, India, Hungary and Costa Rica. While each of these countries have what it takes to be a great destination for dental tourism, India firmly stands out as it has become a hub for a lot of corporate dental chains. The dental market globally is seeing a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 5%. The Asian market shows the highest growth rate of 10% followed by US which shows 5.5%.
The Indian dental market is vast with over 5000 dental labs and around 300 dental institutes which enhances the chances of it lead in the field of dentistry.Other factors favouring India are low cost treatment, availability of a large pool of skilled dental practitioners, high end technology, presence of tourist destinations and quality accommodations along its length and breadth. The cultural and geographic proximity for patients in the SAARC region is another big opportunity to the same.

The introduction of VISA on arrival for tourists from more than 40 other countries by the Indian Government makes it easier for patients to decide upon India as their destination. With the investment being spent in the Healthcare sector to likely go up from 1.04% to 2.5% of GDP by 2020 bettering the quality of services and the infrastructure encourages dental tourism. Also continuous measures taken by the Government for making India cleaner thereby instilling a very positive attitude in the minds of overseas patients, gaining international recognition to various tourist spots contributes to promoting dental tourism.

Promoting Brand India, introducing direct connectivity to India from different countries, making arrangements with different insurance companies overseas, all these together are sure to project India as ‘The destination’ for dental tourism.

Source: health.economictimes.indiatimes


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After water usage criticism, Coke chooses sustainability over costs

The man responsible for Coca-Cola’s water sustainability program told an Omaha business audience Tuesday that saving water has become a central part of the company’s long-term strategy.

But it wasn’t that way a decade ago, when the Atlanta-based company was forced to shut down a bottling plant in India after local communities complained about its use of water during a drought that dried up shallow wells nearby.

“We lost our social license to operate,” said Jonathan Radtke, a hydrogeologist hired by Coke to oversee sustainability soon after the India incident.

Years ago, the company used to argue almost automatically against any changes that would result in higher costs for water, Radtke told about 160 people at a breakfast held by the Omaha Business Ethics Alliance at the Holland Center.

Today, “We are willing to pay more for water if it’s going to be more sustainable,” he said, adding, “You can make profit and be a good environmental steward.”

Coke’s water struggles haven’t ended, he said. Bottlers in California are working to cut water usage in the midst of the drought there.

And an article by CorpWatch, a website that focuses on corporations and the environment, said local authorities in another city in India required Coke to shut down a bottling plant last year after similar complaints about its water usage.

In the case of the earlier shutdown in India, Radtke said, Coke was getting its water from a deep aquifer that was not related to the shallow wells that people used. Closing the bottling plant did not improve the water levels in the community’s wells.

But besides the direct cost of closing the bottling plant, activists persuaded some U.S. universities to drop Coca-Cola products, he said, and news stories spread the image of Coca-Cola as a company that wastes water.

“It became a billion-dollar issue because we didn’t handle it right,” he said.

The reaction to the incident in India made corporate leaders realize that the company’s use of water was a real issue that needed to be addressed, he said. They created a broad, long-range program designed to conserve water in many ways, not just at its 1,000 bottling plants, 120 of which are in the United States.

When a drought hit the Atlanta area, local government officials called on businesses to cut water usage by 20 percent. Radtke, who said he is “a little bit of a tree hugger,” said Coke’s Atlanta bottling plant had already gone through a water conservation program and had to look harder for more savings. The plant shifted from water-based lubricants for its production equipment to dry lubricants and used air instead of water to rinse containers.

The world will never run out of water, he said, but 97 percent of that water is in the oceans and isn’t drinkable. Desalination plants are expensive and produce highly concentrated brine, so it’s better to conserve existing fresh water.

Radtke said Coke’s water conservation efforts are wide-ranging and often not directly related to its packaged drink products.

For example, the company helps pay for a project by the Nature Conservancy to promote new technology that helps Nebraska farmers along the South Platte River irrigate cropland with less water.

One of the people attending Tuesday’s talk asked about Coke’s production of bottled water in plastic containers, saying that tap water is at least as good for human consumption and doesn’t create plastic waste.

Radtke said Coca-Cola has never said that tap water is bad but that bottled water is a growing product segment for Coke because consumers want it.

He said he drinks tap water at home and uses bottled water “for convenience” and when traveling. People should recycle plastic bottles, he said. “I think to each his own.”

Source: omaha


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Green Investment Bank to invest in projects in India, South Africa

Green Investment Bank (GIB) today announced a pilot project to fund overseas ventures in renewable energy sector to the tune of 200 million pounds (approximately Rs 1,800 crore) in India, South Africa and east African nations.

“GIB will initially target three regions East Africa, South Africa and India… (and) will focus on investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” the bank said in a statement.
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The pilot project will involve British Pound 200 million of investments, it said, adding the proposal would be in addition to GIB’s allocation of 3.8 billion pound for UK projects.

The bank will be investing in green projects on commercial terms and mobilising additional private sector capital, the statement said.

GIB, which submitted a written statement to the House of Commons in the morning, said that it will begin the process of finalising the programme details and identifying suitable investment opportunities.

“This important new pilot programme will see GIB investing outside the UK for the first time. I am confident that our unique business model, tried and tested in the UK, will have a very positive effect in developing countries, helping them to build vital new green energy infrastructure,” said Shaun Kingsbury, bank’s chief executive.

Source: Economic Times


 

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South Africa wants India to be top tourism source market by 2020

Mumbai, Feb 2 (PTI) South Africa is targeting five lakh Indian visitors by 2020 as the rainbow nation gives a big push to make the Asian country its biggest tourism source market through new programmes and aggressive marketing.

“We have substantially increased our marketing spend in India over the years to promote tourism. We are targeting India, which is globally the seventh source market for our country, to become the biggest by 2020, by when we are expecting five lakh travellers,” South African Tourism Country Head Hanneli Slabber told PTI here today.

In 2013, 1,12,672 Indian tourists visited the country located on the southern tip of African continent, while between January–March 2014, only 24,556 travelled there. South Africa’s top source market is the UK followed by the US and Germany, she said.

Last year, she said, there were several challenges like problems in issuing visas due to manpower issue and the Ebola outbreak (in West African countries, but no case was reported from South Africa), which hit tourist arrivals.

“In 2014, we saw a dip in tourist arrivals from India due to problem in visa issuance, which was due to manpower issues. Since then we have taken care of the problem. But the Ebola outbreak was a major setback as most people consider Africa as a country and not a continent. However, we feel that Indian market reacts fast and recovers fast as well. Therefore, we are expecting a double digit growth this year (about 12 per cent),” she added.

South African Tourism today launched a mega travel- trade engagement initiative here, which will be extended to three other cities – Ahmadabad, Bengaluru and New Delhi.

The national tourism agency is also planning ‘Learn South Africa’ – a training programme for Indian travel agents in 19 cities, including Lucknow and Patna, this year to educate them on the country’s offerings, Slabber said.

“Through the programme we are planning to tap the huge potential offered by tier II and III cities.”

The country, which caters to almost every tourism segment – from adventure to wildlife – is mainly focusing on travellers in the age group 25-45 years, be it families, couples or singles, she said.

“We are very strong on adventure and offer products for all age groups, so age is not really a hindrance to enjoy in South Africa,” she explained.

Besides leisure, meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) segment enjoys good response from India, she said.

Source: Niticentral


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Eco-Tourism Meets Sustainable Architecture

Earlier this year a team of students from the University of Technology in Trondheim designed a very sustainable hut as part of a design- and building workshop. They were assisted by Rintala Eggertsson Architects and several others. The international seminar that the workshop was part of was focused on the future of eco-tourism in the Western Ghats region in India. And the main purpose of it was to find sustainable solutions, which would benefit both the local population as well as help preserve the environment in the region.

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To solve this problem, the huts the design team proposed would be built using only locally sourced materials and renewable energy sources. This has the multi-faceted purpose of creating a small footprint, involving the community in the building efforts, simplifying the construction and ensuring that maintenance of the buildings is easy and feasible in the long run.

The placing of the huts follows the local building tradition, namely a cluster of houses placed around a central, shaded courtyard that serves as a gathering spot. There is room for a couple of more houses next to already existing dwellings, or more could be built to form another cluster of buildings with it’s own courtyard. Also, more than one of these houses can be added together and create an even more urban setting, situation and space permitting, of course.

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The hut proposed by the design team also makes it possible for the local population to take part in environmentally conscious tourism. By renting the huts out they will make a profit, but it will not interfere with their traditional culture and lifestyle, as much as a more modern hotel would.

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Each hut is designed to function completely off-the-grid. They are all fitted with roof-top mounted solar panels, which is capable of taking care of the occupants’ energy needs. There is also a composting latrine, which produces enough biogas for one household. The huts are located in Karnataka, India.

Source: Jeston Green


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