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High time to wage war against VBD P.21


Is the dawn real? P.33

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October 2016 I 3

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4 I October 2016

16 The gargantuan garbage mess

Jairam, and his wife routinely pick garbage from households from many housing societies in Sector 62 of Noida, billed as the most happening part of the satellite city of national capital, because of numerous educational institutions, thriving tech companies and more than three dozen housing societies. Its past noon, his cart full of garbage collected, he moves to a slightly isolated part of road a couple of hundred meters away from local shopping plaza, and empties his cart. Ask him if he realizes the implication of what he does, he nods in affirmation, knowing fully well that garbage littered just meters away from where people live, spews foul smell and breeds mosquitoes. But he says he just does not have any other place where he can throw garbage. The municipality has virtually non-existent system of waste collection and management, the result of which is that the largest vacant area of the sector, supposed to be developed as a park, has become the de facto garbage dump. There are half a dozen other spots where Jairam and his likes dump garbage.

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Budget 2016-17: Pragmatic and Prudent P.28


Net Neutrality P.42

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To solve garbage problem, start at home


e don’t get tired of complaining about how hard it is to go for a stroll in local park because of garbage which is feasted on by stray dogs and rats. We also hate when our children have to pass the big dump of waste, covering nose. And we also blame the municipality for stale water collected in waste polythene and breeding mosquitoes. What we invariably fail in, however, is to segregate garbage at our home between biodegradable and non biodegradable. We never enquire our garbage collector where he throws his load, we don’t throw garbage in designated spots or in designated bins, and we never say no to polythene bags. We also hardly bat an eyelid before throwing banana peels, or plastic covers on sides of roads, oblivious of the fact that these all contribute to the foul odor and unpleasant sight that we so hate. Today, the most common sight of any large city, after massive crowd, is the squalor of garbage and other waste strewn on lanes and bylanes. As a rapidly urbanizing nation with changing consumer behavior, we have started to generate lot of garbage, which, by the way, is not what modern life should be all about. Today, we produce about 1.5 lakh tonnes of waste everyday; not too much compared to global levels. What makes it dangerous though is the fact that we are unable to process, or treat more than a quarter of it. Barring a couple of states, most states’ municipalities are just dumping garbage in landfills, which are themselves almost always unscientifically developed and used in most careless manner. Substantial fraction of industrial and bio medical waste is going in the same landfill, which is even more disastrous. The byproduct of this untreated mess is pollution, groundwater pollution as well as air pollution. Today, one fifth of India’s methane generation is just because of garbage. Significant fraction of Mumbai’s air pollution is because of waste burning and swathes of east Delhi reek of foul smell because of the mountainous landfill in the area. Worse problems coexist with untreated waste. It is well documented that untreated garbage collects water which breeds dengue, chikungunia and other disease causing mosquitoes. Further, poisonous gases leaking from landfills also cause breathing problems. Government has put in place stringent rules about waste management and disposal. It even necessitates municipalities to segregate waste. But as is the case with most other rules, this too falls on barren landscape. And the result of non segregation is that whatever infrastructure has been put in place to treat waste and generate electricity out of it, is proving financially unremunerative. It is therefore necessary that the basic work of waste segregation be accorded highest priority. Households must be informed about the need to segregate waste, and encouraged and empowered to segregate. If need be, they should be even provided different colored bags to put different waste into. Commercial establishments can even be penalized for not separating their waste. As for treatment, options are available from composting the biodegradable, to converting waste to electricity. As we celebrate the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Oct 2nd, the most befitting tribute to his legacy would be to pledge that we would neither make our surrounding dirty nor would allow anyone else do the same. India needs it, our society needs it. Best regards

Ajit Sinha Editor-in-Chief

October 2016 I 7

THUS THEY SPOKE The operations by our Army (in PoK) were part of their responsibility in defending the unity, safety and security of the country... It is proved that the country is safe in the hands of Prime Minister Modi and Army. M Venkaiah Naidu I&B Minister, GoI Shivpal has been made SP state president by Mulayam to save son Akhliesh’s image after 2017 defeat, which is certain due to poor law and order situation in the state. This is a wellplanned strategy of Mulayam to divert attention of people from his ‘putra moh’ (love for son). Mayawati President, Bahujan Samaj Party It is Bihar, the land of Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavira and Chandragupta Maurya and Chanakya. It is the land of Aryabhatt who invented zero for the world and no one (Markandey Katju) has the right to speak such low for the state. Nitish Kumar Chief Minister, Bihar We have showed a mirror to the society through this film (Pink). After Baghban released, a person from London called Ravi Chopra and said after seeing film I went to see my father after 25 years. I think Pink is not a film, it is like a movement.

Amitabh Bachchan Actor, Bollywood I have never taken my handicap as an excuse, in fact it has become my strength. Disability has given my life focus and sports a direction. This whole journey of ability without disability has made me evolve as a better person, more inspired and more worthwhile a person who has given back to the nation by way of medals. Deepa Malik Silver Medalist, Rio Paralympics

There is war in Pakistan which the media doesn’t speak about. There are 207,000 Pakistani forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. This violence needs coverage and understanding, and needs to be stopped. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai President, Afghanistan 8 I October 2016


GST Council comes into effect

Railway budget scrapped

The Centre has formally notified the GST Council, which will decide on the tax rate, exempted goods and the threshold under the new taxation regime. The council is chaired by Union Finance Minister and have Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State Government as its member. Also Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance at the Centre would be a member. Earlier, the Union Cabinet had approved setting up of all powerful GST Council, which is expected to thrash out a decision on all major aspects of GST roll out by November 22. The council recently held some meetings to finalise the rules regarding registration, refunds and payment, and also take a view on exemption of goods under the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. The government is planning to introduce GST legislations in Winter Session of Parliament in November

Putting an end to the British-era practice, the Union Cabinet recently gave its nod to merge the railway budget with the general budget from next year, following the recommendations of a two-member committee comprising Niti Aayog members Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai. The development is significant as in recent years, particularly since coalition governments post-1996, political heavyweights have used the railway budget to hand out goodies and for their own image building. With the railway portfolio often held by regional biggies, the budget reflected political priorities of the incumbent. The railway bureaucracy has also dug in its heels in the past. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s readiness to give up the limelight is a break from the past as BJP seems in a position to dump the railway budget as its solid majority in Lok Sabha enabled it to retain the portfolio rather than handing it to an ally.

Satellites to monitor construction of rural roads In yet another anti-corruption exercise, the Centre will do geo-satellite monitoring of the entire process of construction of rural roads in the country. Recently, a pilot project in this regard was carried out by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The four-month pilot project was conducted in five states- Odisha, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Assam. It found that nearly one-third (31 per cent) of the village roads in 10 districts across India were shorter than the sanctioned length. According to reports, the Rural Development Ministry will sign an MoU with the National Remote Sensing Agency for geo-satellite monitoring of the construction of rural roads and also the roads which have been constructed. More than 4.81 lakh km of roads connecting 1.192 lakh habitations across the country were constructed under the PMGSY till June 30.

October 2016 I 9


Higher education financing agency gets Cabinet nod

Government to shut down 15 lossmaking PSUs

The Union Cabinet has cleared the setting up of Higher Education Financing Agency to provide funds up to Rs 20,000 crore for building research-oriented infrastructure at IITs, IIMs and other higher education institutes. Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar recently said that the agency would be jointly promoted by an identified promoter and his ministry with an authorised capital of Rs 2,000 crore of which government equity would be Rs 1,000 crore. The minister stated that HEFA will be formed as a Special Project Vehicle (SPV) with a PSU bank/government-owned Non-bank financial company as promoter and it would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs 20,000 crore for funding infrastructure projects and development of world class laboratories in institutions like IITs, IIMs and NITs etc. The agency would also mobilise corporate social responsibility funds from PSUs and corporates for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.

The Centre has decided to shut down 15 loss-making public sector units, of which at least five have been cleared by the cabinet, while opting to go against internal advice and revive three state-run companies. According to reports, there were another half-adozen sick public sector companies, which had been identified by NITI Aayog for closure, but their fate remained uncertain amid hectic lobbying by ministries, which want to keep them alive in what may be an effort to protect their turf. The petroleum ministry has opposed shutting down of HPCL Biofuels, while the textiles ministry has managed to elevate the issue of closure of ailing British India Corporation and Elgin Mills to the level of PMO. At least three pharma PSUs were referred to a panel of ministers, which has so far opted to not to close down Hindustan Antibiotics. The NITI Aayog, tasked with preparing a roadmap for ailing PSUs, had submitted two separate lists of sick and lossmaking PSUs.

NHAI’s first hybrid annuity model project gets financial closure The National Highways Authority of India recently achieved the first financial closure under the hybrid annuity model, with the Delhi-Meerut expressway earlier awarded to Welspun Enterprises Ltd. Under the hybrid annuity model, risks are split between the developer and the government wherein it’s the private partner who bears the construction and maintenance risks. In return, the project financing risk is shared between the government and the road developer in the ratio of 40:60. Also, the developer is protected from any revenue or inflation risk. NHAI will fund 40% of the Rs 841.50 crore project cost in five instalments based on the milestone achieved. The balance 60% will be arranged by the concessionaire through a debtequity ratio of 48:12, wherein equity will be borne by Welspun. The foundation stone of the 74km-long Delhi-Dasna-Meerut 14-lane expressway was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31 last year. Experts believe that Delhi-Meerut expressway’s financial closure will encourage more banks to come forward and fund hybrid annuity projects. 10 I October 2016


Shipping ministry mulls policy to help port firms A monopoly policy that restricts private port operators from bidding for second terminal at major ports administered by the Centre is likely to go as it has come under the review of the shipping ministry. The ministry has written to the chiefs of all 12 major ports seeking their views on whether the policy needs to be continued when the government is encouraging private sector investment in the port sector in the face of large investments made by private sector in this field. Moreover, the share of private sector in handling the country’s port traffic has steadily grown. As per the monopoly policy, an existing private operator cannot bid for the next terminal at the same port for handling similar cargo. This is aimed at preventing monopoly of a private terminal at major ports. The government has, however, now realised that the policy has lost its meaning and it needs to be scrapped to foster competition.

Record 93,000 public grievances resolved in one month A record over 93,000 public grievances against various government departments have been disposed off by the Centre within a month’s time. Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh recently said a total of 1,00,903 grievances were received in August alone and of these 93,379 — or 93 per cent — have been resolved. The government’s efforts is to minimise the pendency and to ensure quick disposal of complaints from the citizens. Singh said the number of grievances being received had multiplied in the last two years, thus depicting the faith of citizens in the redressal mechanism of the central government. A total of 8,81,132 public grievances were received last year as against 2,70,255 in 2014. During 2012, a total of 1,76,126 such grievances were received as against 2,09,637 in 2013, according to an official data. Singh said that he has asked all the departments to ensure that public grievances are resolved within a maximum of two months’ time.

BSE partners with Twitter for live updates In a unique collaboration between a stock exchange and a social media platform, the Bombay Stock Exchange has tied up with Twitter to provide live updates of S&P BSE Sensex levels, stock prices and opening and closing figures of Sensex companies to millions of investors. Both Twitter and BSE stated the partnership is a move towards democratising financial information by enabling millions of Indian investors to easily access stock market and stock-related information through a digital platform. While BSE has been running a Twitter handle since 2012, there was no real time feed available on social media to investors. Meanwhile, Twitter has activated four new features to allow people to follow the markets through hourly tweets, auto-responder tweets for Sensex 30 stock prices, auto direct messages for opening and closing figures of Sensex 30, and a live display photo that will change every two minutes to project the Sensex figure.

October 2016 I 11


Isro milestone: PSLV puts 8 satellites in two different orbits Indian Space Research Organisation recently successfully placed advanced weather satellite SCATSAT-1 and seven other satellites in orbits in its longest ever launch mission, which spanned over two hours and 15 minutes. It is for the first time that satellites were placed in two different orbits with a single rocket. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C35) carrying the eight satellites took off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on September 25. SCATSAT-1, which will provide weather forecast including cyclone detection and tracking, will succeed the now defunct Oceansat-2 satellite launched in 2009. According to Isro Chairman AS Kiran Kumar, SCATSAT-1 would be a stop gap arrangement between Oceansat-1 and Oceansat-2. The mission had many complexities planning and execution, power management and thermal management. PSLV now has the flexibility to suit customer demands.

India tops South Asia in global university rankings India topped the list in South Asia in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17, marking a new high for the country but also reflecting the strides it needs to take in the globally competitive sector. The highly regarded Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, is India’s top institution among the 31 in the list, and featured in the 201-250 group in the overall list of 980 institutions. The University of Oxford topped the list for the first time. India, with a large student population, is seen among potentially the most productive areas in the higher education sector. It has also considerably increased investment in the sector in recent years, with private universities reaching new heights. Overall, 289 Asian universities from 24 countries made the overall list and an elite group of 19 are in the top 200, up from 15 last year.

Apps for PF, pension withdrawal likely soon The cumbersome procedure to withdraw provident fund or pension will likely come to an end soon, with the EPFO developing two new softwares (apps) to make the entire process digital. One of the softwares will be for PF subscribers and the other, for pensioners. The government is also planning to get all the regional offices on board with its new system, to make sure that PF and pension subscribers no longer have to go to the offices to get details and updates about PF. The app will also let you apply for a loan with the EPFO and the entire process will be possible without visiting the regional office. The EPFO expects to roll out the apps in the next two months. Under the current system, to withdraw the PF, it is necessary to fill the form 10 c and Form 19. The entire procedure takes about 15 days, longer, if any details are amiss.

12 I October 2016


CBSE issues circular to make bags lighter

Tamil film ‘Visaranai’ is India’s official entry to Oscars

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is trying to take the load off students’ backs. In a recent set of guidelines issued to all affiliated schools, the board has suggested that teachers should not penalise students in any way for not bringing textbooks or workbooks. The guidelines list different measures for schools, teachers and parents to ensure that school bags are of manageable weight. The board has said that students of Classes I and II should not be required to carry homework or use school bags, recommended alternative methods of teaching based on information technology, and called for random checks of bags to ensure that they are not too heavy. The circular says safe drinking water should be provided so that students do not need to carry heavy water bottles. It adds that the teachers and the principal should have the same water, on which regular quality checks should be carried out.

Tamil film Visaranai, directed by Vetrimaran and produced by Dhanush, is India’s official entry for Academy Awards 2017 in the Foreign Language Film category. The film had earlier won three National Awards including best Tamil film. The critically-acclaimed film is based on police brutality and is adapted from M Chandrakumar’s novel Lock Up. This choice has for the second year in running bucked the trend of choosing Hindi language films for the prestigious awards. Earlier Tamil films such as Jeans, Indian, Kurithipunal, Devar Magan, Anjali, Nayagan, Deiva Magan were chosen as India’s official entries for Oscar awards. Based on lives of four migrant workers who are accused of a crime they never committed, Visaranai shows these migrant workers from Tamil Nadu being picked on by the police in Guntur. This leads to them being enmeshed in a web of crime and politics and they are finally killed in an encounter. The movie has similarities to some real-life events.

HC extends abortion right to live-in relationships The Bombay High Court has extended to live-in relationships a pro-choice right which only married women have enjoyed so far in law. The HC held that a provision under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, which currently doesn’t apply to live-in relationships, should be understood to be applicable also to couples who live in the nature of a marriage. A 45-year-old law that governs and grants women the right to abort spelled out how a married woman, who may have conceived by accident despite using birth control devices, could be permitted to terminate such pregnancy till 20 weeks, if unwanted, on the ground that its continuation would cause her mental trauma. Since the law specified “married woman”, the HC while dealing with the rights of women in prison to medical termination, said law in today’s scenario of live-in relations would extend to even such women, who though not married, live in with their partner.

October 2016 I 13


Turkey clamps down on media outlets Turkey has closed down 20 television and radio stations, on charges that they spread “terrorist propaganda.” These include a Kurdish language children cartoon channel and a folk music channel. President Tayyip Erdogan has said he wants a three-month state of emergency, imposed after a failed coup attempt in July, to be prolonged past October so authorities can eradicate the threat posed by a religious movement blamed for the attempt, as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency. However, many analysts say that the clamp down has nothing to do with the coup and that emergency rule is being used to stifle the media. Erdogan however, argues the state of emergency is helping authorities swiftly root out supporters of the military uprising. Turkey had blamed U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen for masterminding the coup in which 240 soldiers, police and civilians were killed. Since then, about 32,000 have been put in jail under charges of links with the coup.

China says countering Dalai Lama top ethnic priority According to Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party boss of Tibet, China will make countering the Dalai Lama’s influence the “highest priority” in its work on ethnic affairs in the region. He vowed to uproot the monk’s “separatist and subversive” activities. The 80-year-old, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Buddhist monk, however, has maintained that he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland. China’s Foreign Ministry recently expressed anger after Dalai Lama spoke at the European Parliament in France. “We must thoroughly expose the reactionary nature of the fourteenth Dalai Lama, crack down on separatist and subversive activities, and strive to eliminate at their roots harmful elements that damage ethnic unity,” Wu said. Tibetans, one of China’s 56 officially recognized minority groups, are guaranteed legal protection for their languages and cultures. However, they have been thoroughly marginalized and are treated with suspicion by Beijing, which views them as potential separatists.

Saudis rethink US alliance The relations of Saudi Arabia with the US is likely to see further decline as the US Congress has approved Jasta, or the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which will allow relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any suspected role in the plot. The Congress overrode the Presidential Veto on the issue. Saudis responded to the passage of the bill with a mix of anger and disappointment. Saudi diplomats, including Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister and former Saudi ambassador to Washington, had lobbied hard against the bill. But that failed to persuade enough lawmakers to vote against the bill. In a statement released on Thursday, the Saudi government said the act “is of great concern to the community of nations that object to the erosion of the principle of sovereign immunity, which has governed international relations for hundreds of years.”

14 I October 2016


Destroying cultural antiquities is a war crime For the first time, the world’s highest criminal court ruled this week that destroying cultural antiquities is a war crime. International Criminal Court in The Hague, has sentenced Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, a member of a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda, to nine years in prison for organizing the destruction of centuries-old Muslim shrines in Timbuktu, Mali. The case was unique in that it brought to light the risk to historic sites in places controlled by Islamic extremists. It is worth remembering that Taliban had blown massive Buddha statues in Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan. Also, the Islamic State has raged many museums and antiquities, including those in Mosul and Palmyra. The Timbuktu shrines, brick and mud structures, were built from the 15th to 17th centuries atop the graves of Muslim scholars. However, the scope of interventions by International Criminal Court is limited because of multiple reasons which range from resources to the membership issues and jurisdictions.

China warns against THAAD deployment on South Korea China has warned the US against deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti missile system in South Korea. This came after Washington released a statement that it is going to deploy the system “as soon as possible.” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing that China will pay close attention to relevant developments, and consider taking necessary actions to protect national strategic security and the regional strategic balance. North Korea has been threatening to strike both its southern neighbor and the US base in Guam in protest against the South’s decision to deploy the THAAD antimissile system. Incidentally, US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel, speaking to House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, cited the ever-increasing threats from North Korea, including the recent missile tests as reasons for urgent action. He further added that the deployment was a defensive measure aimed not at China, but at North Korea.

Hubble finds water plumes from Jupiter’s moon Hubble space telescope of NASA has observed water vapor above the cold south polar region of Jupiter’s moon Europa, making it the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon’s surface. However, researchers are not yet fully certain whether the detected water vapor is generated by erupting water plumes on the surface, even though they feel it could be the most likely explanation. Previous findings have already pointed to the existence of an ocean located under Europa’s icy crust. This discovery makes Europa the second moon in solar system known to have water vapor plumes. Back in 2005, NASA’s Cassini orbiter had detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The Hubble team also found that the intensity of the Europa plumes, like those at Enceladus, varieed with Europa’s orbital position. Active jets have only been seen when the moon is farthest from Jupiter. The researchers could not detect any sign of venting when Europa is closer to Jupiter.

October 2016 I 15


The gargantuan garbage mess Anand Mishra


airam, and his wife routinely pick garbage from households from many housing societies in Sector 62 of Noida, billed as the most happening part of the satellite city of national capital, because of numerous educational institutions, thriving tech companies and more than three dozen housing societies. Its past noon, his cart full of garbage collected, he moves to a slightly isolated part of road a couple of hundred meters away from local shopping plaza, and empties his cart. Ask him if he realizes the implication of what he does, he nods in affirmation, knowing fully well that garbage littered just

16 I October 2016

meters away from where people live, spews foul smell and breeds mosquitoes. But he says he just does not have any other place where he can throw garbage. The municipality has virtually non-existent system of waste collection and management, the result of which is that the largest vacant area of the sector, supposed to be developed as a park, has become the de facto garbage dump. There are half a dozen other spots where Jairam and his likes dump garbage. Change the name of garbage collector, name of locality, or city, or town, or municipality, story remains

same. Couple of years after Swachh Bharat was launched with much fanfare, and hope, to clean India of its garbage mess, things have only deteriorated with nearly every large city, and even Tier II and Tier III cities grappling with the question of how to manage its waste. As urbanization gathers pace and lifestyles change even in rural areas and more and more non bio degradable materials like plastics and e-waste is being thrown out by households, urban planners and municipalities are proving just incapable to deal with the challenge, most not even aware of the scale of the problem. Resultantly, our exploding cities are

sitting on a possible health calamity of unimaginable proportion. Only recently, the Supreme Court accepted a PIL on the piling up of garbage in Delhi and the breeding of mosquitoes due to filth. Delhi’s three municipalities have repeatedly asked for land to dump garbage which authorities have not been able to provide. Each of the city state’s four landfills has exceeded limits but more is being dumped at each anyways, and each emits hazardous gasses in air and toxic elements in soil that are killing people living nearby. But life goes as usual as nobody has a clue about what is to be done. Elsewhere, Mumbai literally raised stink a few months ago when the dumping ground at Deonar caught fire, engulfing the city in smoke. Bangalore has repeatedly seen landfills being closed under pressure of public residing nearby and has been forced to send mixed

waste to processing units which are themselves on deathbed because of non-payment from municipality. City after city, the problem is getting bigger and municipalities, mostly poorly financed, are throwing up their hands, unable to do much. It is not wrong to say as a country, we are fast becoming a big garbage dump. Not that there are no solutions; there are many pilot projects that are doing great work in isolation, technology exists to put waste to good use, examples exist globally on how to manage the problem, but the buck stops at municipalities’ capability, willingness, and the political will to take tough measures, to discipline themselves, and the society.

Problem of waste management According to a report prepared by Central Pollution Control Board

(CPCB) for National Green Tribunal (NGT), total of 1,43,449 tonnes per day (TPD) of waste was generated in all states and union territories of India as on Feb 2015, of which 1,17,644 TOD was collected and just 32,871 TPD was treated, which meant less than 23 per cent of the garbage generated is being treated. Maharashtra was the biggest garbage generator with 26,820 TPD followed by UP at 19,180 TPD and Tamil Nadu at 14,532 TPD. Fifteen cities generated more than 500 tonnes of garbage everyday. What is worth noting is the massive disparity in treatment rate. On one hand, Andhra Praesh and Goa treated over 90 per cent of their garbage generation, but on the other hand, prosperous Punjab treated less than one per cent. Even more complicated part is the ratio of garbage collection to generation. Leaving out laggards, states like Gujarat and Haryana are collecting

October 2016 I 17

Entire waste collected from households in the country is unsegregated

nearly all of the garbage generated, but are both treating less than a fifth of the same. In totality, three facts emerge from the report. First, garbage collection is being done up to a moderate level of success. Second, there is huge disparity between garbage generation and treatment in large majority of states. Finally, and most disturbing, even most prosperous states are doing hopelessly badly in terms of waste management. Needless to say, if sound policies for waste management are not put in place, the untreated waste would pose calamitous impact on the overall health of citizenry. The CPCB report underscored some of the most fundamental aspects of waste management. Lamenting that local bodies have not developed action plan for their cities, it said that requirement are worked-out on day-to-day or annual basis. The report further stated almost entire waste collected is dumped and only in selected cities, waste is processed biologically or thermally. On logistics side, it categorically stated that even in bigger cities, waste collection and transportation services are not effective and as a result, the entire area is littered. Often, community bins set up were not maintained and attracted stray cattle. Most basic of the problem is the fact that segregation of garbage is 18 I October 2016

less than one per cent of the garbage generated by homes into landfills, rest is either converted to power, or is recycled or composted. Even more appalling aspect, as brought out by the CPCB report, is that bio-medical, slaughter house and other wastes get mixed with household waste at dust bins and finally at landfill sites. Even though landfills are the most basic and important part of waste management system of the country, these are not scientifically maintained at all. Technically, landfilling should be done only for inorganic wastes and the rejects after processing, but all types of stuff are dumped because of no segregation. Secondly, the landfilled waste needs to be compacted and

DECENTRALIZING WASTE SEPARATION Saahas Zero Waste, promoted by Wilma Rodrigues, a German language translator and former journalist, provides waste management solutions to waste generators, such as corporate and housing complexes. It sets up recycling centers on behalf of clients, and puts us facilities like biogas plants and compost plants to take care of the various types of garbage. It has also partnered with packaging companies and e-Waste producers to implement a reverse logistics mechanism which collects different types of waste stream from multiple collection partners, aggregates and dispatches the same to various recyclers. Saahas also is involved in collecting and separating of e-waste. not done at source level, particularly at individual resident level. As per the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, which came into force in 2000, every municipal authority is responsible for infrastructure development for segregation and treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW) or garbage. Experts say that without segregation, treatment is not effective and that segregation can best be done at domestic level. But in India, segregation of garbage is an alien concept at household level which complicates the task for municipalities who are themselves lackadaisical at best in their job. Resultantly, we have not crossed even 25 per cent treatment level. It is because of the low treatment level that one fifth of India’s methane emission comes from landfills. Compared to this, Sweden dumps

put under soil cover daily so that there is no fear of pollution. Since that does not happen, methane produced by garbage often comes in contact with air resulting in deadly smoke plumes. Further, landfills have been found to pollute groundwater with leachate, the liquid residue that forms as water seeps through contaminated areas and mixes with surface and groundwater. Because landfills are not maintained well, they are major source of diseases to local residents.

Epidemic and poor waste management According to World Health Organization, 22 types of diseases can be prevented or controlled by improving solid waste management in India. Needless to say, improper waste management causes public

health and environmental hazards like climate change, air and water pollution, soil contamination, foul odors and disease. It breeds vermin including flies, mosquitoes, rats, dogs and monkeys that in turn spread more disease. Wet waste decomposes to unhygienic conditions and thereby gives rise to health problems. The main diseases caused by unattended garbage include gastrointestinal, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, cholera, skin diseases and respiratory allergies. Worst of the garbage is the domestic organic waste because it ferments, harboring conditions favorable for generation and growth of microbial pathogens. Another way in which garbage causes health menace is by obstructing water runoff, resulting in the stagnant water bodies that become the breeding ground of disease. Furthermore, garbage dumped near a water source like river contaminates the water body and the ground water source which causes multiple diseases to those using such water. Very often in Indian cities, wastes from hospital and other medical waste are mixed with household garbage and dumped in the same landfill. Waste generated from the hospitals, healthcare centres and medical laboratories contain infectious and hazardous materials such as discarded syringe needles, bandages, swabs and plasters etc. which need proper incineration. Such waste cause even more health problems. Of all population segments, those at maximum risk are children, followed by those who are directly handling the garbage; rag pickers, who again have large number of children and young adults. Such people risk various types of infectious and chronic diseases. More generally, according to Dr Gupta, a physician at a leading government hospital in east Delhi, all those people living or working in areas where there is no proper waste disposal method are at high risk. Other high-risk groups include those living close to a waste dump and those whose water supply

LEARNING FROM THE BEST Realizing that the most important aspect of a successful waste management program is to segregate different types of waste and treat them separately, many innovative methods have been adopted globally. Some of the European countries have taken much pain to empower and encourage households, and put in place infrastructure, to segregate garbage. For example, Swedish households separate their newspapers, plastic, metal, glass, electric appliances, light bulbs and batteries from biodegradable. At broader level, many countries are going for pneumatic waste collection system. Users deposit their refuse into waste collection points which are located outdoors or indoors depending on user concentration and are accessible round the clock. Each waste collection point has different waste inlets for different types of waste, such as mixed waste, organic waste and paper. The waste is temporarily stored by the waste inlets until the next emptying cycle. From inlets, the waste is transported along the pipelines into containers at the waste station. When full, the containers are sent away for further processing using various mode of transport, including underground railway network. The automated system, in addition to reducing personnel vehicle and fuel costs, benefits environment by vastly reducing CO2 emissions. On the disposal side, waste to energy has been efficiently used in many countries. Sweden, for example, has revolutionized the waste to energy concept. It recycles more than 99 per cent of all household waste compared to only 38 per cent in 1975. Today, it imports a little more than half a million tonnes of waste from other countries as it has virtually run out of garbage and other countries pay Sweden for the same. Operationally, the incineration is very advanced and the smoke from these plants has 99.9 per cent non-toxic carbon dioxide and water.

has become contaminated either due to waste dumping or leakage from landfill sites. Gupta cites the example of people living near Ghazipur dump in east Delhi, among whom, the cases of respiratory tract infection is a lot higher than elsewhere, thanks to poisonous gas leaks from the landfill. But that’s not all. Garbage also caused major air pollution when burned openly and waste burning is one of the largest sources of air pollution in Indian cities. According

to estimates, it accounts for one fifth of total air pollution of Mumbai, and consists of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Trash fires also emit more than 10,000 gram TEQ toxic equivalents of carcinogenic dioxins/ furans every year in the city.

What needs to be done So far, waste management in the country has been limited to just collection and dumping. Most effort October 2016 I 19

CITIES UNDER WASTE WEIGHT Mumbai: 11,000 TPD Rules say residents must segregate, but BMC has no treatment center and dumps all garbage mixed at Deonar, Mulund and Kanjur Marg landfills. Not more than 10 per cent waste treated.

Delhi: 8,390 TPD Waste collected dumped at four non engineered Bawana, Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa landfills. Less than 50 per cent is treated even though half of the garbage can be composted and 30 per cent ercyclable.

Chennai: 4,800 TPD Waste dumped in two landfills: Koundugaiyur and Perungudi, both are partly covered under debris. First waste to energy plant installed earlier this year. Uses shredded thin plastic for road construction.

Kolkata: 4,000 TPD Controlled dumping at two landfills: Dhapa and Garden Reach. Third landfill site to come up in Rajarhat. Waste segregation done in seven out of 144 wards. One compost plant at Dhapa landfill.

Bengaluru: 4,000 TPD Most of its landfills shut because of local unrest. 40 per cent of waste sent for treatment is treated. of municipalities have been to be able to be able to do just that, besides finding new landfills whenever old ones become unusable. Processing of waste is still not popular. There are many waste-to-power stations installed but they are often reduced to showpieces, because of two basic reasons: first, the municipalities are not rich enough to run them; and secondly and more importantly, non segregated waste does not generate enough calorific value to justify the expense. And that is what it all boils down to. The waste has to be segregated, and earlier it is segregated in the garbage processing chain, the better. It is the job of municipalities to segregate waste, wet and dry, compostable and recyclable. It can encourage households to do so, or do it on its own. The basic idea is to collect different types of waste separately and process each accordingly. The CPCB report to NGT recommended that local (municipal) bodies should at its own level undertake segregation 20 I October 2016

of waste and transport the same to waste processing and disposal sites which should be developed at appropriate locations. It supported cluster–based approach for waste processing which is adopted by Punjab and Gujarat. It also recommended that bigger cities generating more waste than 1,000 TPD, should adopt combination of waste processing technologies including composting of organic waste, refuse derived fuel (RDF) and waste-to-energy plants. Smaller towns (500-1,000 TPD) can go for composting and RDF. Even smaller towns, where waste generation is less than 100-500 tonnes per day, can compost, and produce RDF for the common facilities for power generation. This integrated approach is the best way to handle waste in an organized way. However that requires massive planning, investment in infrastructure and coordination among municipalities in a particular state. In the meanwhile, ingenious ways need to be adopted and there

are examples which can be replicated at multiple locations. For example, Panaji municipal authorities collect household waste on different days for different waste streams, thus ensuring separation. It imposes penalties for non-segregated waste and encourages local processing. For commercial establishments, it has put in place bag-marking system to catch non compliance. Elsewhere, in Alappuzha district of Kerala, municipality accepts only the nonbiodegradable waste, forcing people to compose biodegradables and use as manure. Charging for waste generation is another solution that experts suggest. Called ‘pay as you throw’ (PAYT), residents are charged based on the bulk of waste generated by them. Many countries like Finland and Austria are doing so. In South Korea, some municipalities require residents to pay for garbage bags, while others have put in place RadioFrequency Identification (RFID) based centralized bins that weigh how much waste each household dumps, and bill residents accordingly. But at the most fundamental level, what is required is the change of habits at domestic level. We have virtually no sense of either environment, or of the collective health of the society. Most of the problems of waste management will disappear as soon as we start segregating biodegradable waste from non biodegradables. Nothing prevents us from coming together to compost the biodegradables at local level, which could help in growing plants or vegetables in our own backyard. If communities can come together to shut landfills, they can surely do so to pressure municipalities to collect bio nondegradables and send for processing. Least of all, we can start taking bags to marketplace and say no to plastic bags. We can agree at community level to not litter garbage in open or near water bodies. Even these small steps can go a long way in creating a conducive environment for alleviating the garbage mess we have landed our country into.


High time to wage war against vector-borne diseases India must take a lead from its successful polio eradication program to eliminate the viral disease against all odds Ramesh Kumar Raja


t’s dÊjà vu all over again in India. From Delhi to Kolkata and Mumbai to Chennai, large swathes of the country have been laid low by vector-borne diseases, thanks to political apathy and administrative recklessness to contain them. Although diseases like malaria, filariasis and kalaazar are no longer fatal like they used to be and their incidence has also decreased significantly, new vector-borne infections like dengue,

chikungunya and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) are on the rise and claiming lives like never before. As vector species rage across the country, killing and incapacitating thousands, the crisis has exposed the poor preparedness of the civic authorities and fragilities of the health system in the country of over 1.2 billion population. What could be worse than a health service infrastructure crippled by lack of hospital beds and massive short supply of doctors and paramedics? Definitely, a pathetic situation for

the nation aspiring to achieve an eight per cent growth rate. Forget other parts of the country. New Delhi, the national capital, peculiarly, is the worst hit, where there seems to be no let-up from the viral onslaught. Dengue claimed over 20 lives in the city with the total number of cases going up to 1,692 this year. August alone accounted for 652 cases whereas 921 cases were registered in September. However, many experts say real numbers are much more than official ones. Last year, October 2016 I 21

Lack of beds and insufficient number of doctors in hospitals shows the pathetic situation of India’s healthcare system

the city saw a staggering 15,867 dengue cases – the worst in two decades – with the disease claiming 60 lives, as per municipal reports. In 1996, a severe outbreak of dengue had occurred in Delhi when about 10,252 cases and 423 deaths were reported. While dengue cases have gone mild this year, chikungunya cases in this city of 18.6 million have spiralled up to over 2,600 with 1,568 of them being recorded in the second week of September, according to a municipal report, marking a massive rise of nearly 150 percent from the previous count. So far, chikungunya has claimed over 15 lives in the city (though many say government figures are falsified to underreport fatalities) turning on its head conventional medical knowledge that the disease is not fatal. There’s also a mystery fever going around with symptoms akin to dengue. Recently, when a 30-yearold person succumbed to malaria, the city recorded its first death from the disease in five years. The rest of the country is not getting on any better. According to data released by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Program, around 12,255 cases of chikungunya 22 I October 2016

had been reported across India as of August 31 this year, when the census was last done. Karnataka in southern India tops the list with over 9,000 cases, while Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh recorded 839 and 492 cases respectively. According to Dr Navin Khanna, a dengue researcher at governmentrun International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi, India is today the epicentre of the global epidemic of dengue, sheltering the largest number of dengue infections in the world. Dengue, as per Khanna, had become hyper-endemic in the country, whose incidence had increased 30 fold in the past five decades. Over 99,000 dengue cases were reported all over the country last year. The disease is stretching the already strained healthcare system year after year. Some of the inconsistencies in data could be due to the fact that the government records only laboratory confirmed cases as dengue, with a very large majority of cases going unreported, and seen as routine viral infections. The underreporting has major impact on the way dengue is treated, since

repeat infections, usually due to a different strain of the virus, can be far more devastating as compared to the primary infection. Sheer numbers make it imperative that public health measures aimed at controlling the breeding of mosquitoes are adopted. There is no way a hospital system can be designed to cater to such gigantic numbers. WHO experts warn that dengue is the fastest growing vector-borne disease in the world and climate change will only aggravate the situation. One of the most disturbing trends in India relates to AES, commonly known as Japanese encephalitis (JE), which has become rampant since 2005. The health ministry has documented over 4,400 cases of JE and 786 JE-linked deaths between 2013 and 2015, most of the cases clustered in Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. This year, until August 31, Bengal reported 91 cases and 18 deaths, while Bihar reported 43 cases and nine deaths. While the JE virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, the diagnosis of the encephalitis has been challenging because of simultaneous outbreaks of what public health experts

call acute encephalitis syndrome in these states. AES is a group of neurological diseases, also called brain fever, caused by wide range of viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, chemicals and toxins. Despite introduction of vaccination for Japanese encephalitis virus, the cases of JE have not decreased significantly. One of the principal causes for failure of the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP), which the government had launched in 2003, is that it has not been fully utilising the planned budget for the control of vectorborne diseases, even as the budget allocated by the Centre to the states and Union Territories for VBD has declined by 14 per cent since last year. The budget allocated in 201415 was Rs 541 crore where as Rs 463 crore is allocated in 2015-16

Drinking Water and Sanitation is required to ensure clean habitation and water for consumption. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has to work for awareness among students. Research agencies involved need to find causes of the diseases and solutions. However, most ministries and government departments work separately, missing an all-inclusive methodology to reduce VBDs. The NVBDCP must concentrate on building cooperation and also try to understand the changing trend in VBDs to formulate better strategies. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs paint a rather grim picture of a country already struggling with various other medical miseries. As per, a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit organization, millions of Indians cannot access India’s overburdened

to eradicate malaria. When our neighbours could succeed in preventing this annual outbreak of gloom, why can’t we? India needs to readjust its healthcare urgencies and lay emphasis on preventive measures, in order to realise its goal. Since a vigorous public health system acts as the first line of defense by averting outbreaks, the nation’s approach to healthcare needs to take a comprehensive view and pay more attention to wider elements of health such as sanitation and safe drinking water. Generating finance should not be an issue now as India has a standalone Swachh Bharat cess to raise resources for sanitation. What India lacks is vision and accountability. Beyond putting catchy slogans, the governments lack the determination to act instead of simply passing the buck from one party to another. Only

Simple fumigation can’t do wonder when public awareness campaigns are limited, and often disappointing

for VBD control. To prevent a large scale dengue epidemic, like the one in Delhi last year, the NVBDCP should be well-funded and well implemented. Moreover, there is no cooperation between different government ministries and departments. The program, formed under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, works to coordinate with other government agencies to reduce VBDs in India, besides providing healthcare services. The Union Ministry of

hospitals and inadequate medical facilities. The country remains nearly 500,000 doctors short of reaching the WHO norm of one doctor per 1,000 citizens. What’s more, the successive governments seem to have done little to upgrade primary health amenities. Public awareness campaigns are limited, and often disappointing. The attention remains mostly on fumigation. While health systems across Indian states is under huge pressure, Sri Lanka just joined Maldives as the second South Asian country

recently, Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government and the Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung were at odds with each other during the denguechikungunya controversy. We must take a lead from India’s successful polio eradication program how we eliminated the viral disease against all odds. We can repeat the success story again if government leaders, small and big, at the central, state and district levels cooperate on fight against the vector-borne diseases.

October 2016 I 23



24 I October 2016

Canada has traditionally been among India’s most significant international partners, and the economic and people to people relations between the two countries have been always on upswing. As India improves its economic standing among Asian countries and Canada realizes that its future prosperity is linked to that of Asia, the relation between Canada and Asia in general and Canada and India in particular are going to be important. And in this regard, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is playing a crucial role by acting as a catalyst for Canada’s engagement with Asia and working as Asia’s bridge to Canada. Stewart Beck, President and CEO of the foundation and a former Ambassador of Canada to India, in a conversation with Anand Mishra, Editor, and Rajesh Mehta, Consulting Editor, Governance Today, elucidates about the work of the foundation and his own experience in India. EDITED EXCERPTS:

What are the opportunities for Canada that have risen due to rise of Asia? Could you tell readers about the “Building Block for Canada Asia Strategy”? Canada’s future economic prosperity and security are inextricably linked with Asia, where there is an incredible transformation underway. The growth of India, the resurgence of China, exciting developments within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, these all provide new opportunities for a country like Canada. It is important to remember that while Canada is rich in natural resources, it also has the quality goods and services to support Asia’s evolving economies, expanding middle classes, and the vast infrastructure requirements that are going to reshape and redefine the region in the coming decades. Canada is ideally placed to benefit from the Asian transformation, and to serve as a bridge between Asia and the rest of the world. But first we need to strengthen our partnerships and deepen our engagement with Asia. We need a constructive and sustainable Asia strategy. I believe the Government of Canada has an opportunity to articulate a more targeted and strategic approach to Asia that both advances Canadian national interests and contributes to the sustainable development and growth of Asia. My foundation’s Building Blocks for a Canada-Asia Strategy released

October 2016 I 25

earlier this year is a non-partisan strategy paper that outlines a series of recommendations for the Government of Canada to consider as it formulates its response to the rise of Asia as a global economic power and political force. The document proposes a series of recommendations, or ‘building blocks,’ that can serve as the foundation for the government’s Canada-Asia strategy, and outlines four key objectives: 1) position Canada as a relevant and important partner to Asia; 2) ensure that Canada benefits from Asia’s development and growth through improving market access and trade opportunities in competitive sectors; 3) leverage Canada’s strengths to support a secure and sustainable Asia region; and 4) build Canada’s Asia competence by improving Canadians’ related skills and knowledge.

Could you share with our readers the mandate of The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and its major focus areas? Headquartered in the Pacific port city of Vancouver, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada was established in 1984 by an act of Parliament. Our mission is to be Canada’s catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia’s bridge to Canada. The Foundation’s research and policy work focuses on promoting trade, investment, innovation, and expanding Canada’s role in providing solutions to Asia’s climate change, energy and natural resource challenges. Much of our work is also currently focused on building Asia skills and competencies amongst Canadian youth and students so they are better prepared to participate in the global economy of tomorrow. Throughout everything we do, we seek to promote knowledge and understanding of current developments in Asia. 26 I October 2016

You have been one of the most successful High Commissioners of Canada to India. How do you rate your experience here? Being the High Commissioner to India was the highlight of a marvelous 32-year career in the Canadian foreign service. I have been fortunate to serve in the two largest populated countries in the world and the two most significant global players in the 21st century. India is completely different from China in many ways, but the most significant is the political system and how it impacts the nature of relationships you develop at senior levels of government. As India is a true democracy, political leaders and senior bureaucrats are more accessible to the diplomatic community and the ability to engage key stakeholders is made easier. Over the four years I spent in India, I saw significant, positive changes in Canada’s relations with India and I believe this is a result of the ability to build trust through communication, access, and mutual understanding.

The India Canada relations have been on an upswing for last couple of years. How do you see the momentum under new administration in Ottawa? When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in Canada last April for a three-city tour, the excitement was palpable. PM Modi’s was the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM in over four decades and it happened within Modi’s first year of office. It provided a platform to showcase the multi-dimensional aspects of our country-to-country relationship in a multitude of areas, including

economics, geo-politics, culture, higher education, and peopleto-people connections. Canada’s Indian diaspora communities, particularly in Ontario and British Columbia, were instrumental in mobilizing government, business and Canadian youth around the visit. Building on that momentum, both the federal government and many of our provincial governments are turning their attention to India like never before. Trade missions proliferate, summits and conferences are being planned, and of course, PM Trudeau accepted an invitation from PM Modi to visit India during the first formal meeting between the two prime ministers at the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. in April. And as many of your readers may not know, India is identified by Global Affairs Canada as a priority market for Canada, and features prominently in our federal government’s Global Markets Action Plan.

In your opinion, what are the areas of common interest in which India and Canada can cooperate for mutual benefit? Following China’s earlier path, India is now pushing for exportled growth, positioning itself as the world’s next manufacturing hub. With a projected GDP of US$9.6 trillion by 2020, India is expected to overtake Japan as the world’s third-largest economy. In order to support this economic transformation, India will need to quickly develop its key infrastructure, including water and electricity supply, transport options, sanitation solutions, affordable housing and vital IT connectivity. There are a lot of new opportunities for Canadian companies to provide their knowhow, services and technology

to support further economic development in India. Another area of opportunity for Canadian business is the Smart Cities Initiative that’s being rolled out in several Indian cities in the coming years. From water management and transportation, to smart grid technologies, IT know-how and services to government and business, Canadian companies can participate in many projects of the Smart Cities initiative. Canadian companies have a strong track record internationally of supplying forward-thinking solutions to the infrastructure development needs of urbanization, expertise they can bring to India.

Canada is a prominent member of important trading blocs like APEC and TPP. India is also trying to get into APEC. How can Canada facilitate India’s entry in these groups? India needs to demonstrate an interest in wanting to belong to groups like APEC and the TPP, which means demonstrating they are flexible in areas like trade policy and other areas where a demonstrable willingness to participant would be advantageous. Canada can support India as it begins to work from the outside inward, participating on the margins to begin with before coming full members of some of these established organizations. Take APEC, for instance. India’s Department of Foreign Affairs could approach the APEC Business Advisory Council, or ABAC, to see if one or two India CEOs could audit an ABAC meeting. Start slowly, get comfortable with contributing, realize the value . . . these are some of the steps toward fullfledged membership.

Building skills and competencies is a broad theme of APF Canada.

India has launched initiatives like Digital India and Skill India. How do you think these initiatives can be made successful? Digital connectivity and the Internet are transforming old domestic and traditional market economies into new global and digital ones. In Asia, M-commerce, or e-commerce conducted on mobile phones, is increasingly popular, particularly in India, which is one of the fastest growers in e- and m-commerce. By 2021, its market will amount to an estimated US$90 billion. All that to say, the world is

From water management and transportation, to smart grid technologies, IT know-how and services to government and business, Canadian companies can participate in many projects of the Smart Cities initiative changing at a rapid pace, and highquality instruction and education that responds to these changing labour market demands has vastly outpaced supply. Because of this widening demand-supply gap, we see more and more Indian parents sending their children overseas for higher education, primarily to English-speaking Western countries like Canada. Canada has an opportunity to benefit from these new demands. Sure, we can open our high schools and post-secondary schools to

international students, but really, we should be promoting our education products and services in India in support of programs like Digital India and Skill India. This will require the synchronization of government policies, business initiatives, and public support — these last two rely heavily on the existence of Asia-competent Canadians, particularly young Canadians who will compete and hopefully thrive in this new global marketplace alongside their Indian counterparts.

Canada is home to one of the largest Indian communities abroad. How do you see this group contributing to Canada’s economy and society? There are over a million Canadians who trace their roots to India. Over the last two generations, they have come of age participating in every walk of Canadian life —business, academia, social activism, philanthropy and politics, where you will find South Asians occupying key roles from municipal and provincial governments to the prime minister’s inner cabinet circle. Consider some of the leading CEOs like Prem Watsa, Pavi Binning and Bharat Masrani; academic leaders such as Vivek Goel (VP, Research at the University of Toronto), Usha George (VP, Research at Ryerson); politicians such as Navdeep Bains (federal), Indira-Naidoo Harris (Ontario), Ms Ratna Omidvar (Senator), Ujjal Dossanjh (former B.C. Premier); celebrated writers like Rohinton Mistry and M.G. Vassanji; Ms Lata Pada, Founder and Artistic Director of Sampradaya Dance Academy and recipient of the “Pravasi Samman Award,” India’s highest award to a diaspora figure; and, well-known comedians, like Shaun Majumdar and Russell Peters.

October 2016 I 27


More cities make the cut

The new induction in the list of Smart Cities will provide a boost to the realty sector Ramesh Kumar Raja


he Ministry of Urban Development led by M Venkaiah Naidu recently announced the third set from the 98 listed regions which are to be developed as smart cities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Smart Cities Mission. The competition at this platform is tough as all the regions are being picked on a strict numbering basis where they have to pass through a lot of parameters and being marked for the same. Basis these marks, the top ones are selected for list to be announced. Compared to the previous counts of 20 in the first list and 13 in the second list, the count was very high this time, making it to 27 inclusions in the current list. The current list notably features five regions from Maharashtra, four from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, three from Uttar Pradesh, two each from Punjab, Rajasthan and

28 I October 2016

Madhya Pradesh along with one each from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Sikkim and Nagaland. With the list now totalling to 60 regions, the proposed investment has risen to INR 1,44,742crore. The real estate fraternity has also been very hopeful with the announcement of the Smart Cities Mission and Housing for All in 2015. This will not only boost development across the entire nation, it will also allow tertiary development of several regions which have remained untouched for quite long. Sharing his views on the same, Ashok Gupta, CMD, Ajnara India Ltd. says,“The complete list of 98 cities boasts of some of the most strategically located regions in the entire country. Due to unorganised developments, proper attention could not be given to these regions even though they had huge potential. Now with the government at centre recognising the importance of developing these

regions and bringing them at par with the prominent Tier 1 cities, the Smart Cities Mission will hold key. Several key regions such as Agra, Kanpur and Gwalior have made their way into this list which in turn will help create a ripple effect in their neighbouring regions reaping the fruits of development.” Along with the development that it brings, the kind of finances involved and the huge cash flow will mean a boost to the economy of the region and allow it to compete with other economically strong regions. Also, the infrastructure thus achieved will not only be rigid but sustainable at the same time. All these developments will happen in the direct coordination of the state and central government which would again mean direct involvement of both ensuring compulsive participation. Explaining further on this, Kushagr Ansal, Director, Ansal Housing says, “With more and more regions

being added to the list of regions being selected to be developed as Smart Cities, a lot of planning and execution will be witnessed in the upcoming 3 – 5 years. This will mean a lot of infrastructural developments in these regions which in turn will provide space for employment and economy revival. As has already been disclosed, a total of INR 48,000 crores would be pumped through the central government during the course of the entire project along with the respective state governments putting in their contributions.” The developments would not only mean rooftops to millions but also employment opportunities to numerous individuals. Improved infrastructure is sure to attract industries and funnel technological growth along with it. “The declared cities in future will be well equipped with basic infrastructure, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity and

e-governance mechanisms. The standards of living will be enhanced drastically which will promote sustainable development as well. The government must now work diligently for upbringing of the private sector through important decisions in the Union Budget such as, Industry Status, Single window clearance and execution of RERA for the realty sector”, avers VikasBhasin, MD, Saya Group. The Smart City and AMRUT projects will draw Rs. 48,000 crores and Rs. 50,000 crores respectively, in central grants over the next five years. Housing for all by 2022 plan will see a government expenditure of about Rs. 3 lakh crores during the next seven years which is aimed at constructing 2 crore affordable houses in urban areas for slum dwellers and people falling under Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Lower income Groups (LIG). Under the housing scheme, interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on

housing loans with tenure up to 15 years will be provided to EWS and LIGs, offering them a benefit of about Rs. 2.3 lakhs. For AMRUT, 500 cities having a population of 1 lakh or more will be chosen for this project. Summarising his thoughts on this new list, Deepak Kapoor, President CREDAI-Western U.P. & Director, Gulshan Homz said, “With the list now reaching up to 60 from the shortlisted 98 regions, it sets the tone right straight from the central government which was always doubted to perform on the much hyped Smart Cities Mission. This accompanied with the mission of Housing for All by 2022 is sure to do wonders for the real estate sector of the country. Major developments would also be seen on infrastructural fronts which will mean a completely changed landscape of the country.”

October 2016 I 29



Indians constitute one percent of American population, are the highest earning expat community in the country and most Indian Americans are in high end professions. Indiaspora, a non profit entity set up by M.R. Rangaswami, works to leverage this strength to further the interest and influence of Indian community in the US. Rangaswami, a software engineer by training, is an investor, entrepreneur, corporate eco-strategy expert, community builder and philanthropist. In 1997, he co-founded Sand Hill Group, one of the earliest Angel investment firms and was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. He was also listed on the Forbes “Midas� list of investors. In 2012, Rangaswami founded Indiaspora to unite Indian Americans and to transform their success into meaningful impact in India and on the global stage. Rajesh Mehta, Consulting Editor, Governance Today, spoke to Rangaswami, to find out more about what made him set up Indiaspora and the work that this entity is doing to fulfill its mission. EDITED EXCERPTS: 30 I October 2016

Please let us know about Indiaspora. What is its mandate and how is it playing an important role in enhancing Indo US relations? One hears all the statistics about Indian Americans - 3 million strong, one per cent of the US population, highest earning demographic and so on. My question a few years ago was “What is our political clout and social significance?” For instance, Jewish Americans are only 2 per cent of the population but have enormous influence. Could we at least have half of their clout? So as an entrepreneur, I met with dozens of Indian American leaders across the country and got their perspective and opinions. The reasons became clear - we are a new group of immigrants, we are dispersed across the country and we belong to many professions and backgrounds. Indian Americans have organized around professions (doctors, lawyers, techies etc.) or by ethnicity (Gujaratis, Tamilians etc.) This is our strength and weakness. How do we harness the power of the community? We felt that a new “Uber” organization that represented all communities, professions and geographies would be what we needed. From that Indiaspora arose. We convened our first leadership forum in 2012 to test out our hypothesis and it was a success. The energy, networking and ideas that came out were truly amazing. People wanted to work on raising the awareness and visibility of the community, they wanted to work on issues dealing with US & India, and most importantly, they wanted a focus on philanthropy! If you recall, President Obama went to India for the Republic Day parade in 2015. We were asked to bring along a delegation

of Indian American leaders for a people-to-people exchange on the sidelines of this historic visit. That was Indiaspora’s start of what we call “Mission 2022”. Inspired by the “India @ 75” initiative, we set up a program to help achieve India’s aspirations of what it wants to be when it turns 75. We have held meetings in conjunction with every Security and Commercial Dialogue between the US and India since then.

Could you please tell us about the high level US delegation you took to India a few weeks back and what was its major impact? We had a very high-powered group of 17 leaders come to India to meet their counterparts from the Indian side. We had CEOs, VCs, entrepreneurs and NGO heads who held candid discussions. We discussed issues where the Diaspora can help, such as innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and renewable energy, among other things/issues. We had briefings from US Government officials, and hosted a reception at the US Ambassador’s residence. We also visited with Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who won the prize for focusing on child labor. There was a lot of interest in learning best practices around innovation and entrepreneurship, so we have planned follow up activities. We visited a primary healthcare clinic set up by one of our participants to see how it can be done effectively by using innovative technology. So all in all, a very productive meeting. Our plans are to keep these going until 2022 to achieve long lasting impact.

What is your impression of the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue that was held recently

in Delhi? What are the major takeaways from the same? The US-India relations have come a long way in a very short time. A lot of credit goes to President Obama and Prime Minister Modi. We view the S&CD as part of a process that keeps the two countries deeply engaged. Indiaspora hopes that the US-India partnership will be the defining one for the 21st century.

Could you please tell the readers about Corporate Eco Forum which you started a few years back? I was at a cross roads in 2007 when I had sold my previous business that had made a big impact in the tech industry. I had two young daughters and I wanted to be a role model for them. A lot of my friends recommended that I look at doing something in the “Cleantech” space. So I started as an entrepreneur would, by talking to customers. This led to interviewing 60 plus senior executives in the Fortune 500. We asked them about their sustainability goals and challenges and what could be done to help them. The outcome was starting the Corporate Eco Forum. It is an invitation-only membership organization for large companies that demonstrate a serious commitment to sustainability as a business strategy issue. For 10 years our mission has been to help accelerate sustainable business innovation by creating the best neutral space for senior business leaders to strategize and exchange best-practice actionable insights. Members represent 20 industries and have combined revenues exceeding $3 trillion. Our senior advisor was Dr CK Prahalad with whom I had the privilege to co-author a HBR cover article on Sustainability. When he passed away we instituted the CK October 2016 I 31

Prahalad Leadership award that recognizes exceptional, globally significant private-sector action that exemplifies the fundamental connection between sustainability, innovation and long-term business success in a globalizing world. Recipients have included the CEOs of Coca Cola, Siemens and Unilever among others. India is at a critical juncture - it has to start implementation of the COP 21 agreement soon My belief is that only by working together can we make change happen and preserve the world’s resources we cherish so much.

Over the last couple of years, many Americans of Indian origin have been appointed at very high places in the American government and diplomacy. How has this change come about in your opinion and how would it impact the dynamics of US India relations moving forward? Who would believe that an Indian American, Rich Verma, would be sent as the US Ambassador to India! This shows how we have made a mark in government and public service. We had a reception last year for all Indian Americans in DC who worked in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill. There were over 250 of them! Many next-gen Indian Americans are now inspired to do public service and we want to inspire and encourage them. The Hillary Clinton team also has numerous Indian Americans and now Donald Trump has also set up a group to do the same. This bodes well for our community in the years to come.

Could you please tell the readers the complete 32 I October 2016

story behind the Diwali Stamp? What was the role of Indiaspora? This was a 15-year journey. We got involved in 2014, when community leaders approached Indiaspora. We made a commitment to making the Diwali stamp a reality. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- NY) introduced a resolution in the House. Senate India Caucus co-chairs Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Cornyn (RTX) introduced a Senate resolution calling for a Diwali Stamp in the U.S. Indiaspora’s community engagement resulted in over 10,000 letters and postcards being mailed to the USPS, urging them to create and release a Diwali Stamp. Indiaspora also launched an online campaign encouraging IndianAmericans to call and write their elected officials on this subject. Indiaspora’s blog, social media and newsletters kept up the drumbeat. In 2015, in conjunction with our partners at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Indiaspora volunteers walked the halls of Congress, meeting with elected officials and staff members at several hundred congressional offices, and convinced dozens of them to sign on to the congressional resolutions supporting the Diwali Stamp. In conjunction with HAF and other organizations, Indiaspora also hosted a huge Diwali celebration in 2015 at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, where more than 50 Senators and Congressmen mingled with over 1,200 influential Indian-Americans. The hard work of the community resulted in the introduction of the Diwali Stamp. We hope this success will lead to other active community engagements in the future. Perhaps a Diwali holiday in the US?

You were the founder of the earliest ‘’angel’’ investment firm in

the US. How do you compare the start-up and innovation ecosystem in Silicon Valley and India? I started investing in 1996 when people did not know the term “angel investing”. As a pioneer I do have a lot of arrows on my back. During all this time I have been calling for India to expand from an IT services powerhouse to a leader in software products. I have been working with Nasscom on a pro-bono basis to nurture a great eco-system in India. I have been co-hosting the Nasscom Product Conclave in Bangalore for almost the past decade where we bring Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, CEOs and VCs to do bootcamps, workshops and deliver inspirations talks. This event has grown from a few hundred people to over 2,000 last year. We hope this has played a small role in helping India. This year it will be held Oct 26-27. The theme for this year is “Navigating through turbulent times”.

What do you think about the Indian Software Industry currently? What are it’s opportunities and challenges? The industry has been funded a lot over the past decade and there needs to be a correction to move forward. In the past we have witnessed too many copycat companies that try to take a US model and Indianize it. We now see some great breakthrough ideas coming out in Mobile, Big Data and the like. Besides India being a fast growing market - Indian companies have a unique opportunity to market in the US but also in emerging markets. Entrepreneurship and failures are now part of life and lore in India. We need to see more regulatory reform and some companies going public to take this to the next stage.

Is the dawn real?


The recent statements about improvement in bad loans’ situation in public sector banks need to be taken with a pinch of salt

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a meeting to review the performance of PSBs

Anand Mishra


ven though Raghuram Rajan is much discussed as a leading banker and financial guru in popular media, as is his dogged commitment to curb inflation, you ask any banker about the most direct impact of Rajan’s stint as RBI Governor, he is most likely to single out the tightening screws on the issue of bad loans and its reporting under the new directives of the central bank. Never before was central bank so strict in forcing banks to come clean on the health of the outstanding loans. The result of this focus was that banks’ financial reports started to look terrible suddenly. Recently, however, there are indications that the banking sector could be turning around the corner and that the bad loan problem could be on way to easing. In a report released in third week of September, Moody’s Investors Service said that India’s banking system is moving past the worst of its asset quality down cycle, supporting its stable outlook for the sector over the next 12-18 months. A senior Moody’s official, commenting on the report said that the pace of new impaired loan formation should be lower than what it has been over the last few years. What is notable is that the indications are of a deceleration of NPA creation not the decline in NPAs. In the report titled “Banking System Outlook – India Bottoming Asset Cycle, Strong Liquidity Support Stable Outlook,” the rating major based its “stable” outlook on assessment of five drivers; Operating Environment, Asset Risk and Capital, Funding and Liquidity, Profitability, and Government Support. It found the condition stable on all these factors.

October 2016 I 33


There has been sustained deterioration in asset quality, especially in PSBs

Detailing on each of these parameters, the report mentioned that stabilizing economy, which it expected to grow at around 7.4 per cent per year for next two years, is supporting the operating environment for banks. It also mentioned that the funding and liquidity remains a bright spot for the system supported by a relatively subdued loan growth. A couple of issues still are bugging the sector, though. Asset quality remains a negative driver of the credit profiles of most Indian banks, but the pace of deterioration is expected to slow, according to the report. Aside from legacy issues for some banks, the underlying asset trend for Indian banks is expected to remain stable. Capital levels remained a key weakness for state-owned banks, the report said adding that the announced capital infusion plans of the government fall short of the amount required for their full capitalization. It is to be noted that the Finance Minister had only recently stated that the government was pressed for resources as far as capitalization of banks is concerned. Rs 25,000 crores are earmarked for bank capitalization this year. According to the official of Moody’s, the state-owned banks will require significant capital over the next three years with limited access to the capital markets, while 34 I October 2016

In a recent meeting with PSBs, Finance Minister drove home the point that the bad loan burden of PSBs remained challenging. The Gross NPA of PSBs had risen to 9.32 per cent of advances at the end of FY16 from 5.43 per cent in the year before, thanks to the stringent provisioning norms imposed by the central bank the private banks benefit from solid capitalization and good profitability. The rating major felt that the capital shortfall could be managed with a low single digit loan growth over next few years. Moody’s assessment echoes the comments of SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya the gist of which was that NPAs were expected to decline on higher capacity utilization in domestic industry. “NPAs will start coming down as the

demand comes back in the economy and then you see more and more capacity utilization, which is still suboptimal. Be it manufacturing units or power plants, most of them are running at around 60 to 65 per cent of their capacity,” according to Ms Bhattacharya who further added in a recent media interaction that “When this (capacity utilization) comes up to 80 to 85 per cent capacity, you will definitely see NPAs coming down.” This view is supported by many economists who assert that as overall demand ratchets up, banking sector would see a general revival. However, not all everyone is as sanguine as Moody’s and SBI Chief. In a recent meeting with public sector banks, Finance Minister drove home the point that the bad loan burden of PSBs remained challenging. The Gross NPA of PSBs had risen to 9.32 per cent of advances at the end of FY16 from 5.43 per cent in the year before, thanks to the stringent provisioning norms imposed by the central bank. The latest data from the finance ministry also showed that the gross NPAs of 27 PSBs had doubled to Rs 5.97 lakh crore at the end of June 30, 2016, from the year ago period, after the RBI started the process of asset quality review (AQR) from Q3FY16 to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017. The fresh slippage of PSBs during the first quarter of the current fiscal year remained high at around Rs 1 lakh crore. The gross


PSBs and Foreign Banks have shown maximum rise in NPA formation


domestic NPAs of PSBs rose to 11.24 per cent of gross domestic advances as on June 30, 2016, from 9.84 per cent as on March 31, 2016. The good part is that according to the Finance Minister, the full extent of NPAs had been recognized and that there was nothing that remained hidden from view. To alleviate the crippling problem of NPAs, the government and the RBI are both trying to find ways of late. In the meeting with PSBs, the Finance Minister tries to impress upon banks to augment their efforts to find alternative promoters or managers for straying businesses. Where there are multiple banks involved with a particular debtor, the lead banker with the support of the department of financial services, if so necessary, would do the coordination for finding buyers for stresses assets, the FM said in the meeting. This, along with the “de-provisioning” of certain NPAs with revival of economy, could allow banks to lend more. On its part, the RBI has advocated “creative search” for new management teams to work on stressed assets. Bad debts are like cancer for any banking system. They reduce the ability of banks to lend more, and force them to make costly provisioning. For long, easy approach of the central bank allowed the public sector banks to gloss over the problem and report erroneous picture of the problem, misleading the investors and public alike. But the new approach of the RBI forced them to reveal real picture which, even though showed PSBs’ financials in an awful light, was the necessary first step towards addressing the curse. The recent zeal of certain banks in recovering dues from big defaulters is only a byproduct of this stringent approach. Needless to say, the pain of strengthening the financials of PSBs will be felt in government circles as well by industry which is facing fund crunch, but this pain is nothing compared to the possible collapse of a few big banks would inflict on the financial system as a whole.

October 2016 I 35

36 I October 2016

October 2016 I 37


WE MUST ABANDON RESISTANCE TO CELEBRATE, ADMIRE AND RESPECT FAILURES India is fast emerging as a leading start-up country and as every other start-up ecosystems, India is also full of opportunities and challenges. KiwiTech is at a unique position in this environment: it strengthens the Indian start-up ecosystem by providing various crucial support inputs to start-ups and entrepreneurs, including finance and mentoring. Rajesh Mehta, Consulting Editor, Governance Today, spoke to Mohsin Syed, Executive Vice President of the organization to talk about the start-up ecosystem of the country, challenges and opportunities it offers and how KiwiTech is supporting this environment. EDITED EXCERPTS:

2015 was the year with maximum funding flowing into Indian startups. Also, India emerged as the third largest startup country. How do you see the recent growth of Indian start-up scenario? It is definitely encouraging to see the stride that our country has made in the start-up world. Our numbers and rankings have sieged the attention of the entire world. True to the religion of cricket that binds this country, it will be only be fair to compare our blitzkrieg startup ecosystem start to an invention that we could safely pride for monetizing in gargantuan fashion: 20-20 Cricket. However, the world economy is a much longer and more challenging format. True test of India’s start-up ecosystem’s character will be in its longer version and more specifically in its ability to win in tough overseas conditions. Today’s start-ups are about global impact, relevance and sustenance so the same would be expected of our start-ups, investors 38 I October 2016

and other key stakeholders that make up this community. We need to be disciplined, focused and committed to succeed not only on friendly yet pitch-cracking home conditions but also prove to be worthy contenders globally.

What are the strengths and weakness of Indian Start-up ecosystem compared with mature ecosystems such as Silicon Valley, New York, London or Tel Aviv? As a society, we are known far and wide to be voluminous creators of intelligent, enterprising, resilient, business-savvy, adaptable, coachable and hard-working individuals. But mature start-up ecosystems like the cities that you mentioned are not about individuals with a bunch of superhuman abilities. It’s about a community that has made a strong, long and hard commitment to foster, train, support, critique, fund and forgive individuals or a group of freaks who posses an intense passion to create value for a larger group or purpose that is beyond the ordinary. A mature start-up ecosystem builds its premises with walls of trust, a transparent glass roof that enables its experiments to be viewed by the moon-walkers, doors and windows that objectively open to new creative ideas and close to ones that fail to continuously innovate and stay pertinent. And more importantly for the hungry dwellers in this all-inclusive abode, the right ecosystem stocks a kitchen full of capital that can serve a-la-carte style, gourmet menu depending upon the stage of business and the speed of its growth. Creating this model home will require all of us aspiring to live in it, shed some of our heavy baggage due to very basic cultural, social, political, economical lineage that is deep rooted, and staying lean and mean with principles will be

essential to grow and thrive as an ecosystem that aims to get benchmarked. One such important, mustabandon trait that will go a long way is our vehement resistance to celebrate, admire and respect failures. Our blindly competitive, got-to-be victorious all-time and any-time attitude has eroded the society of super talents and in many cases ended young lives to fatal life-ending events. A start-up’s life is all about finding moments of glory amidst a lifeline of despair. Hence the most enduring support system that we provide as a family, friend, partner, mentor, investor or government in this scenario will be called for duty during the longer lasting tougher times so the moments of sparkle continue to consistently evolve into aggregated sunshine.

Angel or seed investment is still a largely unattended segment in India with most investors preferring to invest in existing start-ups? Why is it so and how can this be changed? I feel that this is a good problem to have at this stage of our startup evolution. We very well know that the state of VC investments in existing start-ups is precarious. Even if one were to evaluate it from an altruistic mindset, it will be pretentious not to agree that there is an acute realization deficit across multiple, relevant and quantifiable metrics with the big money pour over the last couple of years. First half of 2016’s dip is a clear indication of “wish we were not in a check-happy writing mode” in 2015 and 2014. In this backdrop, It’s not surprising to me that the early stage or seed investments has seen a 75per cent increase in 2016 over 2015. This is a positive trend mathematically; however there is an abundance of effort pending

to build this crucial layer of the ecosystem. What also needs to be realized is that Angel or Seed Investors are a different breed and thankfully so. They operate usually with dynamic interest levels and ambitions very distinct to the VCs. They love to play in the earlier stages of funding bearing a higher risk and hence truly deserve better return multipliers. Their due-diligence is at best at times, a pure gut feeling. All of these leave them with the same skin type as an early stage start-up entrepreneur. These strikingly similar traits call for a unique mindset and offcourse, a different type of bank balance. The problem is not just native to us. Across all mature start-up ecosystems, the angel investment scene is still highly fragmented and incoherent. So, let’s utilize this phase of ours as a learning curve and adopt a “mentor the investor” model when it comes to strategic angel investments. Smartness calls for not re-inventing the wheel of angel investing but building best practices and learning form the misery that mature start-up communities have painstakingly endured. I prefer Angel Investors or Seed Investment Groups that are ex-industry stalwarts who can spot a high-value gem out of a pile of debris since they have years of grey matter and handson experience understanding and solving real, expensive and expansive problems that have crippled their respective industry segments. This gives them the tact to help a startup strategically by identifying revenue streams, training the art of team building and mentoring them with relationship management to further the business roadmap. Honestly, this breed of specialist investors come with Smart Money that is much more in value than a check with 5+ zeroes from our old school definition of a rich man. October 2016 I 39

Angel Investors are pivotal for a start-up ecosystem because they are at the bedrock of this food chain. Every healthy living object above is built of the bones and tissues and muscles from the feed provided and nurtured by this bottom layer of the pyramid during the most fragile stage of infancy. I can hold my neck to the altar to state that a strong, inclusive angel investment community solves the present problems of a start-up and at a much earlier stage than the Institutional behemoths and their suave executives who fine-dine in exotic locales, work out of movie-style office spaces and glib talk to slip a sleuth of negative covenants packaged in expensive legal jargons that best serve to pseudo-resolve issues of a later stage business for an insane amount of spend: capital and dilution.

Please tell readers about KiwiTech and it’s plans for India? KiwiTech is the second entrepreneurial venture of an Indian-origin sibling team from Washington DC. The 4-member founder team scaled their first start-up that was founded in 1989 to become one of the world’s largest tech services company in content and publishing: Aptara. KiwiTech enjoys this founder group’s experience of building a single digit start-up into a 5K+ employee organization accomplishing several business feats along the way enduring a ton of grueling, hard-learned lessons as firsttime entrepreneurs. Aptara’s ascendancy in its field was largely due to path-breaking disruption in a very old school, tech and change-averse industry. The initial growth path of KiwiTech after it’s formation in 2009 was to build a worldclass engineering team that would build bespoke end-to-end enterprise-class applications in 40 I October 2016

web and mobile for a variety of industry segments. Thanks to the wealth of expertise in dealing with complex, multi-formatted content around critical business use cases, KiwiTech soon became the go-to technology partner for businesses whose revenue model centered on monetization of content and business process transformation through digital assets. We invested heavily in creating a niche for providing best in class UI/UX solutions that could deliver any form of content in a ubiquitous, user-delightful mode. Around 2012, after scaling to a 200+ tech team with 700 plus award-winning projects and 100s of marque clients under our belt, we started looking at innovation as the next strategic cornerstone to build our future. We started analyzing the opportunities in the start-up ecosystems that provided abundance of innovation and innovators who were solving problems through technology in the most inimitable manner hitherto known to mankind. Therein stepped our deepest admiration for tech start-ups and its entrepreneurial leadership. Soon we saw ourselves building their products as their strategic technology partner, raising capital for their business growth through our investor network, investing funds from our own investment arm, mentoring and coaching them to solve their business issues, conceptualizing and executing go-to market strategies. These truly define our start-up program today – “One as an ecosystem of support services for start-ups”. This organic growth of innovation within us through our start-up portfolio has transformed us into a soughtafter innovation platform for large enterprises looking for strategically vested tech experts who can not only find them innovation in their industry segment but also help build the customization required to absorb and utilize it. With over $15M of strategic investments in over 75+ start-ups

based in US till date, we are presently raising a significantly larger fund that would make seed-stage investments between $250K to $2M per start-up. We will continue to stay vertical agnostic as it is tremendously rewarding to be part of disruption covering all spheres of our lives. We are looking at the Indian market closely to see the evolving trends. Presently, we are in active-watch mode looking for the right partners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who will ride the next wave of change here. We are extremely optimistic about the growth of the startup culture. However we inhale healthy air of caution as we wait to witness this ecosystem’s holistic evolution to take on the best in the world. The leadership of PM Modi has revitalized and rejuvenated hope across foreign, economic and industry policies with a strong focus to uplift homegrown start-ups. We greatly admire the initiatives; however the results would depend upon the quality of start-ups and entrepreneurs arising out of it.

Which are the tech and business areas in which you see increased action moving forward? With our industry agnostic approach, we are open to and strongly advocate disruption across all industry verticals. Having said that, India is peculiar in its framework and culture thus enabling our society to present the largest set of problems thanks to its vivacious diversity. In this framework, we could not be more fortunate to look at these problem sets and come to a conclusion that we are blessed with a rare opportunity to beat every other nation for the highest number of possible business solutions. Thanks to our ever-burgeoning population, each problem set is home to a massive number of benefactors.

If innovators find a niche to develop a value-driven solution for one problem out of the many that’s part of this framework, it’s a multi-billion dollar business in the making provided they do it right. World Tech scene is currently grappling with data, content, context, artificial intelligence and machine learning. I can’t think of any other nation that could be bigger and better than us in terms of use, users, and knowledge centers covering those fields. The fundamental need is to utilize all of these opportunities to solve problems locally for the locals with a global outlook. We would love to see start-ups and entrepreneurs impact social, grass-root level change through technology. Education, HealthCare, Infrastructure, Energy are a few segments to name that could benefit from out-ofthe box solutions to fast-track development and bring about endearing, enduring change for our society.

Over last couple of years, many Indian start-ups have made Singapore their home, including Flipkart and InMobi. What are the reasons for the same and how can this tide be stopped? With specific to Flipkart, I believe that India does not allow FDI in multi-brand retail. I’m not sure if it has changed now. That deprives the organization in seeking foreign investments. To get out of this situation, Flipkart could’ve chosen to register as a Singaporean company and hence seek investments in the Singapore arm. However, the question is interesting at many levels to look at an ecosystem that we should try to emulate. Despite

no natural resources of its own, Singapore is probably the world’s largest commodity hub in the world. Reasons are pretty crystal clear. Singapore over the years has made a conscientious effort to be the standard for ease of doing business, regulatory transparency, legal and financial stability, openness, business integrity and cosmopolitanism. They have stability, security and are neutral. The ease of doing business helps. But more than that, the enthusiasm about Singapore flows from the 9-year old CECA safeguarding investments and the definitive DTA treaty. These have far more clarity than the one with Mauritius. Indian firms find it easy to route complex cross border acquisitions through a Singapore entity that doubles up as an international holding company. Another praise I hear

schemes of the current government?

often about them is about their legal system. India and Singapore both have common English law. In fact, we exported the legal system to Singapore and they have done a much better job with implementing it. The legal system is tech-integrated, driven to save time, costs and has a worldwide credibility stamp to the decisions granted. In Picasso’s words – Good artists copy, Great artist steal. With more than 200 flights every week to this wealthy city out of our shores, we should be able to take pride in adopting some of their best practices.

principles, government policies, contracts, etc. It’s a huge culture shift to run a successful start-up and it needs a holy ecosystem that can see failures as the definitive measure of embracing future success. This ecosystem needs to cultivate highvalue mentors who can help the start-ups with years of experiential learning that will turn great ideas into impactful, profitable, purposedriven businesses. Our Government and our nation has a legitimate shot in being the start-up model for rest of the world but it will take all of our best qualities working relentlessly to maximum effect to stay relevant, connected and inspired. KiwiTech will love and deem it as a privilege to be part of it.

What do you think about the “Start-up India” and “Standup India”

As I mentioned earlier, the schemes are very encouraging, visionary with a lot of conviction and commitment to change and growth. The challenge ahead is all about the execution and the executioners who are entrusted with it. Business Integrity is one of the key drivers for investors like us when we review start-up entrepreneurs. We at KiwiTech value it much higher than the other BI that we all know: Business Intelligence. Indian start-up entrepreneurs along with the present Government have a daunting task ahead of them to fervidly break away from the shackles of some of their predecessors who tainted Jugaad by integrating it into their accounting books, business

October 2016 I 41



In the age of globalization and economic integration, each nation has tried to boost international trade and opened domestic borders to foreign products. But at times, trade hurts domestic players and in such situations, remedial measures comprising of anti dumping, anti subsidy and safeguard measures are taken. Trade remedy system is utilized to protect the domestic industry against practices that may be considered unfair. The use of anti-dumping, countervailing measures and safeguard measures has spread very quickly in the past few decades. TPM Consultants is a leading Indian entity assisting industry in seeking recourse in cases of dumping from foreign players which cause damage to domestic players. Ramesh Kumar Raja spoke to A.K. Gupta, the Managing Director of TPM, to find more about the situation of dumping in India, remedies available to domestic players and the services of TPM. EDITED EXCERPTS:

The issue of antidumping is not much understood. Could you throw some light on what anti-dumping is and how it impacts the economy? Dumping means selling a product below its normal price. Every low priced import is not a dumped import. Nor dumping implies selling some sub-standard or discarded products. Dumping occurs when a product is exported to India at a price which is less than 42 I October 2016

its normal value in the domestic market of the exporting country. Normal value is the price at which like article is sold in the domestic market of the exporting country. However, such domestic price must be a comparable price and must be in the ordinary course of trade. Exporting a product below full cost of sales may imply dumping. In case of no domestic sales in the exporting country, dumping may be determined considering the price at which the goods are exported to third countries or full cost of production, including selling, general & administrative expenses

and reasonable profit. Since dumping implies imports at a low price, dumped imports normally occur at a price below the prices prevailing in the importing country, which causes domestic industry of the importing country to lose a potential sales opportunity. The domestic industry in such situation may react either of the two ways – either they offer lower price to the consumer and dissuade the consumer from importing the product or, the domestic industry decides to maintain the price (and allows the consumer to use the imported

product). In a situation where the domestic industry reduces the price and prevents imports, the foreign producer may react to this price reduction by the domestic industry and may further reduce the prices. The process of price war may continue between the two suppliers. In the short run, the consumer is beneficiary. However, in the medium and long run, the domestic industry starts getting adversely impacted either in the terms of selling the product at unreasonably low prices (where its viability is threatened), or, the domestic industry losses significant sales in the Indian market. In a situation where domestic industry reacts to the prices and offers lower prices, the profitability and consequently cash flow from operations relating to the product and return on the investment in the product deteriorates. In a situation where domestic industry holds the prices, gradually import volume increase and take away the market of the domestic industry. The domestic industry starts facing piling up of inventories which consequently adversely impacts production and capacity utilisation. In medium to long run period, the price war leads to deteriorated performance in respect of either factors such as production, sales volumes, capacity utilisation, market share, inventories; or factors such as profits, return on investment, cash flows. Even parameters such as employment, wages paid to employees or labour productivity may suffer. The domestic industry may start facing problems in raising fresh capital for investment/expansion. Should such dumping be allowed to persist, it gradually leads to a situation where the viability of domestic industry would be greatly jeopardised and domestic industry eventually may die.

market. How does that impact the Indian producers?

We often hear US and Chinese dumping many products in Indian

If the Indian industry finds that dumping is adversely impacting performance of their product, they can file an application seeking imposition of anti dumping

While most of the dumping cases in India or even globally are against imports from China, dumping from USA is not so prominent. In general, the Country dumping the material is not so important as the act of dumping itself. This is for the reason that whether dumping is from China or any other country, the effect of dumping as domestic industry is concerned is more or less similar. In fact, the damage to Indian industry is normally assessed by considering cumulative effect of imports from various countries. The only difference could be that most often Chinese producers/exporters are found far more aggressive in pricing as compared to other countries.

What are the most exposed sectors that are dealing with the dumping of foreign goods in India? How has it impacted these sectors? Could you give some examples? Chemical and petrochemical sector is most widely affected by dumping. However, dumping has been found in number of sectors which include organic & inorganic chemicals, petrochemicals, textiles, steel, paper boards, synthetic rubber, etc. The table (on next page) shows sector wise number of products wherein dumping investigations have been conducted by India. The trend globally is somewhat similar.

What are the steps that governments take to deal with the problem?

duty. Such application is filed before Designated Authority in the Directorate General of Anti Dumping & Allied Duties, Ministry of Commerce & Industry. While Anti-dumping provision permits ex-officio or suo-moto initiation of investigation, a written application by or on behalf of affected domestic industry is desirable and is normally insisted by the Govt. The application must contain sufficient evidence that dumping of the product is causing injury to the domestic industry in India. The petition is entertained only if the petition satisfies minimum legal threshold with regard to its representativity, which implies that the petitioning industry should command atleast “a major proportion� in Indian production. By practice, it has been interpreted to imply that the applicant domestic industry must command at least 25 per cent of Indian production and it should be supported by those domestic producers whose collective output constitute more than 50 per cent of Indian production by those producers who are expressing their opinion in support or in opposition. The Designated Authority is a quasi-judicial authority and conducts an elaborate investigation, where Designated Authority calls information from all parties who are likely to be affected, provides them an opportunity to defend their interests, calls information in the prescribed formats from the interested parties, provides opportunity to interested parties to participate in a public hearing, conducts an elaborate investigation (including verification at the premises of the parties concerned) and thereafter records its detailed determination. The process is quite elaborate and provides sufficient opportunity to all interested parties to defend their interests. Determination made by the Designated Authority is recommendatory in nature and the Ministry of Finance enjoys full discretion to decide whether to impose anti-dumping duty. An October 2016 I 43





Products of the chemical or allied industries



Plastics and articles thereof, rubber and articles thereof



Base metal & articles of base metal



Machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts thereof; sound recorders and reproducers, television image and sound recorders and reproducers, and parts and accessories of such articles



Textile & textile articles



Articles of stone, plaster, cement, asbestos, mica or similar materials; ceramic products; glass and glassware



Mineral products



Pulp of wood or of other fibrous cellulosic material; recovered (waste and scrap) paper or paperboard; paper and paperboard & articles thereof



Wood and articles of wood; wood charcoal; cork and articles of cork; manufactures of straw, of esparto or of other plaiting materials; basketware and wickerwork.



Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, precision, medical or surgical instruments and apparatus; clocks and watches; musical instruments; parts and accessories thereof



Prepared food stuffs, beverages, spirits and vinegar, tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes



Vehicles; aircraft; vessels & associated transport equipment



Footwear, headgear, umbrellas, sun umbrellas, walking-sticks, seat-sticks, whips, riding-crops and parts thereof, prepared feathers and articles made therewith; artificial flowers; articles of human hair



Live animals, animal products


Grand Total aggrieved party can file appeal before CESTAT.

Are there provisions to deal with the issue in WTO or these are dealt at bilateral level only? Customs Tariff Act and Rules made thereunder contain necessary legal mandate for imposition of anti dumping duty. 44 I October 2016


These provisions are required to be fully consistent with the WTO Agreement on Anti Dumping, and its possible inconsistency is liable to be challenged before WTO Dispute Settlement Body. There are no formal provisions for addressing issues bi-laterally. However, if the affected country wishes to challenge the imposition of anti-dumping duty, they have to first hold consultation with the country concerned and only when

consultation fails, a dispute can be filed.

How can individual players deal with the problem of dumping from foreign players? What avenues he has? An individual producer cannot seek remedy against dumping, unless its production constitutes a major proportion in Indian production. The only avenue available to a domestic producer or an industry is to file an application before the Designated Authority in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

Could you let our readers know what types of services you are providing and how they can use them to their benefit? TPM is a legal consulting firm and is engaged in doing complete handholding of Indian domestic industry in seeking rederessal against dumping of the product in the country. Since its inception in 1999, TPM has been number one firm in the country, dedicated largely to the cause of Indian manufacturers facing problem of dumping. With more than 500 cases at its command, the firm possibly holds the unique distinction of having been involved in largest number of cases globally. The firm is fully equipped with legal, accounting, technical and economic professionals to do complete handholding of the domestic industry from the stage of deciding what information to collect, the source of such information, compilation of information in desired formats, filing of application, representation of the cases before the authorities and upto defending the cases before CESTAT, High Court, Supreme Court; and, if need be, upto WTO.

October 2016 I 45



It requires a rare courage for an individual to change the lives of others, especially when the beneficiaries belong to the marginalized section of the society. Meet Siddhartha Upadhyay, the founder and Secretary General of STAIRS (Society for Transformation, Inclusion and Recognition through Sports) who for over a decade has been relentlessly helping young children and professional sports persons across urban and rural India to discover their untapped potential, enabling them to gain a foothold in the social mainstream and the confidence to compete and excel. The New Delhi-headquartered sports NGO recently bagged the coveted ‘Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2016’ award from President Pranab Mukherjee in recognition of its contribution towards the ‘Identification and Nurturing of Budding and Young Talent’ in India. Acknowledging its efforts, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has included STAIRS in the steering committee for development of football in the country. Ramesh Kumar Raja had a conversation with Upadhyay about his journey to make it big in sports charity and the policies that guide sporting spirit in India. EDITED EXCERPTS:

46 I October 2016

Your struggle to promote sports among the children of disadvantaged section of society finally paid off with Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2016 in your kitty. How do you look at this achievement? I and my team believe that awards and recognition are the by-products of what we do. We cannot measure our success on the basis of them. Hence, I would not say that the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar marks a ‘paying off’ of our efforts. The efforts pay off when we see that the objective of all our programs is being met. For instance, about a decade ago, we had a vision of creating sporting opportunities for at least one lakh kids across the country. We struggled in creating that environment, paving way for the needed opportunities, and building a sporting culture at the grassroots. Today, STAIRS takes pride in claiming that at this point there are nearly three lakh children (three times of our expected number) who are the direct beneficiaries of our interventions – that is the actual achievement for the team. Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Award is a great milestone for us and recognition at that level has undoubtedly added more to our confidence.

STAIRS is now a name to reckon with. What’s your plan going forward? The obvious answer to this question will be that we want to

‘sustain’ as well as ‘scale up’. The plan is quite simple: a) reach out to as many more children possible in as many nooks and corners of the country; b) enable each one of them to exercise their ‘right to play’; c) ensure that the deserving one gets a chance to showcase their talent on higher and larger platforms; and d) ensure that each child associated with us has a better prospect from the socio-economic point of view and ultimately becomes a worthy citizen of the country.

Kindly tell us about your success story. How did you begin your journey in an arena where only a few dare to enter? While we have been able to remain afloat and contribute to the cause without any break in the journey, I feel we are yet far from calling it a success. Real success will be to see India as a sports playing nation, engaging majority of our population directly or indirectly in this religion called sports. The story of STAIRS is out there in public domain. I started in an unorganized manner because of my individual interest in sports. I would go to the rural areas, meet disadvantaged kids and give them sports equipment so that they could engage with sports in their free time. The village/community elders too were roped in to supervise the kids when they played. The impact of this simple activity was tremendous, and unexpectedly so. The children who were playing in rural areas and slums started showing better results academically, the overall health graph of the entire community became better, and more importantly, the children’s vulnerability to petty crimes, drug abuse and other such

activity decreased. Moreover, I also realized that some children had discovered their talent to become professional sportsmen. In the last few years, many children who associated with us as young kids have been representing India and have won medals at international competitions. This makes for our success story. The story would have been incomplete had I not got support of likeminded individuals and organizations who supported me and helped in the formation of STAIRS. They helped give shape to the concept that has now become a most-talked-about case study for promotion of sports at the grassroots.

Since your NGO primarily caters to the sporting need of economically poor children, how did you initially convince their parents?

Interestingly, you do not really have to convince parents to allow their children to play. If you go to the grassroots and meet the families, you will realize that they really want their children to engage in some activity so they can positively channelize their energies. You mostly hear of complaints about lack of playgrounds, minimal or no facilities and infrastructure in schools, and absence of guidance for the kids... When STAIRS enters a new territory and introduces kids tosports, many parents themselves come forward to help us and encourage other parents to send their kids to play. Yes, there are a few parents who wish to see their kids excel in academics and put some restrictions on their kids’ play time, but they are a minority. Interestingly, the call to parents

from the honorable Prime Minister to engage more and more children in sports has also encouraged many parents at the grassroots and we are seeing an overwhelming response.

How many STAIRS training centres are there presently and how have they changed the lives of children coming from economically weaker section?

There are more than 350 centres across eight states wherein over three lakh children engage in sports on an everyday basis. These are more of engagement centres and we are now in the process of opening training centres of our own. Interesting part is our engagement with over 4,000 villages of the country which is now increasing almost on a monthly basis. As for changing their lives, I will not like to make any sensational statement. All we say is that these children are getting to exercise their fundamental ‘right to play’ and are engaging in sports. The benefits of playing at a young age are visible in each child’s overall growth as a better individual, a team player, a healthier citizen and an achiever in whatever field s/he chooses.

India bagged just two medals at the recent Rio Olympics. How do you look at the very poor show of the country that has a billion-plus population? Olympics is not about winning, it’s about participating. If you look at it the other way, this year’s contingent was the biggest ever

October 2016 I 47

from India. This means that the number of players who ‘qualified’ for the event was the highest this year. Another development this year were the victories of women athletes, which has inspired many girls across India to take up sports. Also, when we talk about a billion-plus population, my question is: how many of them play? How many of us get an opportunity to pursue a prospective career in sports at a young age? How many athletes under the age of 12 years get a chance to showcase their talent to the right selectors or mentors? Hence, the need is to expand opportunities at the grassroots –opportunities for young children to just explore a few games and discover their love and talent for one game. STAIRS is doing its bit towards developing the needed environment and is open to partnerships and associations to scale up our programs. The Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs has already acknowledged our efforts and have included STAIRS in the steering committee for development of football in the country. Likewise, several corporate groups are in talks with us to help us scale up through their CSR funds. All these efforts will materialize in the next few years and we’ll certainly see a better performance from India in not just Olympics but more such international events as well.

Where are we lacking – sports culture or sports administration?

First you build a culture and then develop a system to administer that culture and give it a distinct shape. At this point, the need is to build and expand the sporting culture at the grassroots. At the top, there is a very active ministry and professional administrators and decision makers who are working hard to build the needed culture – converting India from being a sports-watching nation into a sports-playing nation. Hence, administration is not a

48 I October 2016

Siddhartha Upadhyay receiving ‘Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2016’ from President Pranab Mukherjee

major issue. Yes, like it is in other countries, I have personally noticed corruption at certain levels, which thankfully is getting addressed in the current regime and will hopefully not exist in the next few years – and sports at the grassroots is sure toflourish.

show, Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed a task force to plan for the next three Olympics. Do you think it will yield results?

Sports administration in India is mostly a political affair. How can this be minimized?

In India, we are accustomed to a certain mindset. The moment a committee or a task force is formed, the media and the so-called opinion leaders or opinion filterers start making assumptions and write critically about it even before it starts work. Looking at the objective of the task force and considering it is reporting directly to the Prime Minister’s office, which has apparently become a professional taskmaster, I believe we’ll see some positive outcomes. When the top minds of the country have come together with the right intent, it is bound to yield some good results. The task force cannot change the entire scenario in a day; it will take its time in conceptualizing and implementing initiatives. On our part, we must wait and watch and intervene when needed.

As I just said, the administration is not much of a problem. The problem is corruption at certain levels and that hampers growth. This problem, as I see it, is being addressed steadily and soon we’ll see a turnaround. Inclusion of passionate organizations in the system is one step that can help in strengthening the system. And that step has already been taken by the government by recognizing organizations like STAIRS and including them in certain decisionmaking processes.

After the dismal Rio


Namaste France! The two-and-a-half month long festival to showcase India’s cultural prowess in France Ramesh Kumar Raja


ringing India closer to France, the Embassy of India in Paris, in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi is organising Namaste France cultural festival from September 15 to November 30 this year. The carnival, which will serve as a window into Indian traditional arts, music, dance, theatre, literature, cinema and fashion, is being organised as per the Indo-French joint statement issued on the occasion of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India as the chief guest of Republic Day celebrations on January 26 this year. The two-and-a-half month long Indian festival was inaugurated by Dr Mohan Kumar, India’s Ambassador to France, at the prestigious La Villette in Paris. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, along with his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, and Kathak exponent Kumudini Lakhia and her troupe left the audience spellbound with their outstanding performances at the inaugural

Kumudini Lakhia and her troupe during a kathak recital at the festival

ceremony. Prof Sunaina Singh, vice president of ICCR, representatives of French government, senators, deputies, and eminent personalities from public life and other friends of India attended the grand opening concert having a crowd capacity of 2,000 people.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kumar said, “No two countries share such a special cultural relationship as France and India. While both the countries are proud of their culture, they are also open to the appreciation of other cultures. Namaste France is a wonderful

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash performing at the inauguration of Namaste France festival

October 2016 I 49

for the people of France to view and understand India’s historically rich cultural traditions. These cultural events will be organised in prestigious venues, including La Villette, Opera Bastille, Hotel de Ville, Petit Palais, Musee Guimet, Philharmonie, Palais du Tokyo, Theatre du Soleil, Cinematheque Francais in Paris as well as at important places like Cite de la musique in Marseilles, Musee des Arts Asiatiques in Nice, Maison Folie Hospice d’ Havre in Tourcoing etc. Internationally renowned Indian artists like Santoor virtuoso Pandit Bhajan Sopori, Sitar maestro Pandit Kushal Das, noted contemporary Indian dance choreographer Astad Deboo, fashion designer Rahul Mishra, painter Anju Chaudhuri, Kuttiyattam artists from Kerala Kalamandalam and Michelin star chef Vineet Bhatia will be presenting their art at the festival. In addition, several French artists trained by ICCR in India are also participating

leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is also expected to grace the festival. Earlier, addressing the curtain raiser event in New Delhi, Ambassador of France to India Alexandre Ziegler said, “Culture is probably the most efficient weapon to fight against (the terrorism). Namaste France is a wonderful opportunity to boost the vitality of our cultural exchanges. Culture, fashion and art are strongly related to the images of both France and India, and these areas are the best to enhance what I call a strong ‘partnership from the heart’ between our two countries.” Highlighting the longstanding historical ties between France and India, Ziegler said the two countries share a great friendship, which is reflected in excellent bilateral relationship. A similar festival of France – Bonjour India – will be organised in India next year, the French ambassador said. Namaste France

Dr Mohan Kumar, ambassador of India to France addressing the gathering at the La Villette in Paris

opportunity to boost the vitality of our cultural exchanges. It is a reflection of the growing partnership between the two countries.” During the festival, 70 events representing India’s rich civilizational and cultural heritage will be organised in various major cities of France including Paris, Strasbourg, Nice, Nantes, Marseilles, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Tropez, Tourcoing etc. and in the French overseas territories like Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and the Reunion Island. These events will showcase Indian culture in the fields of music, dance, theatre, cinema, art exhibitions, cuisine, spirituality, yoga and Ayurveda etc. reflecting the Indian ethos that are deep rooted in its traditions. The events and the scale of the festival will reflect the transformations taking place in India which has seen rapid modernisation in recent years while not losing its cultural roots. Namaste France festival will act as platform 50 I October 2016

A packed hall at the inaugural event of Namaste France festival

in the festival. The mega cultural fiesta during which two major Indian festivals – Navratri and Diwali –would be celebrated with the performance of Violin maestro L. Subramaniam and legendary Kuchipudi dancer couple Raja and Radha Reddy in Philharmonie in Paris on November 30. Spiritual

and Bonjour India, he added, will enable a whole new generation of youths in both countries to discover the common vision that they share of the world and novel ways of expressing it.

October 2016 I 51

52 I October 2016

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