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INDIA NEWSLETTER Indian Embassy, Vienna

Published by the Embassy of India, Vienna Year 6 • Issue 62 • February 2016

MAKE IN INDIA LEATHER India Newsletter • 1


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The Digital India programme is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen

Governance and Services on Demand

Digital Empowerment of Citizens

www.digitalindia.gov.in 2 • India Newsletter


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The new Government has prepared a five pillar strategy to drive India’s growth, which offer multiple avenues of collaboration and investments

■■ Infrastructure Development

■■ Manufacturing Growth

■■ Skill Development

■■ Energy Sufficiency

■■ Improved Business Environment

www.makeinindia.com India Newsletter • 3


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Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the ‘Startup India, Standup India’ initiative in his Independence Day address last year. Last January 16th, PM Modi unveiled the action plan for startups in the country. He announced a self-certification scheme in respect of nine labour and environment laws and said there will be no inspection during the first three years of launch of the venture. Addressing the first conference of start-up entrepreneurs, Modi announced an action plan to boost such ventures which are seen as key to employment generation and wealth creation. Around 40 top CEOs and startup founders and investors from Silicon Valley attended the event. Here are the top takeaways from the prime minister’s speech.

■■ 1. Compliance regime based on self certification The objective of compliance regime based on self certification is to reduce the regulatory burden on startups. This self-certification will apply to laws like payment of gratuity, contract labour, employees provident fund, water and air pollution acts. ■■ 2. Startup India hub A startup India hub will be created as a single point of contact for the entire startup ecosystem to enable knowledge exchange and access to funding. ■■ 3. Simplifying the startup process A startup will be to able to set up by just filling up a short form through a mobile app and online portal. A mobile app will be launched on April 1 through which startups can be registered in a day. There will also be 4 • India Newsletter

a portal for clearances, approvals and registrations

■■ 4. Patent protection The government is also working on a legal support for fast-tracking patent examination at lower costs. It will promote awareness and adoption of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) by startups and help them protect and commercialise IPRs. ■■ 5. Funds of funds with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore In order to provide funding support to startups, the government will set up a fund with an initial corpus of Rs 2,500 crore and a total corpus of Rs 10,000 crore over four years. The fund would be managed by private professionals drawn from the industry while LIC will be a co-investor in the fund. The credit guarantee fund for start-ups would help flow of venture debt from the banking system to start-ups by standing guarantee against risks. ■■ 6. Credit Guarantee Fund A National Credit Guarantee Trust Company is being envisaged with a budgetary allocation of Rs 500 crore per year for the next four years. ■■ 7. Exemption from Capital Gains Tax Currently, investments by venture capital funds in startups are exempt from this law. Now, the same is being extended to investments made by incubators in startups. ■■ 8. Tax exemption for startups Income tax exemption to startups announced for three years ■■ 9. Tax exemption on investments above Fair Market Value

■■ 10. Startup fests Innovation core programs for students in 5 lakh schools. There will also be an annual incubator grand challenge to create world class incubators ■■ 11. Launch of Atal Innovation Mission Atal Innovation Mission started to give an impetus to innovation and encourage the talent among the people ■■ 12. Setting up of 35 new incubators in institutions PPP model being considered for 35 new incubators, 31 innovation centres at national institutes ■■ 13. Setting up of 7 new research parks Government shall set up seven new research parks - six in IITs, one in IISc with an initial investment of Rs 100 crore each. ■■ 14. Promote entrepreneurship in biotechnology Five new bio clusters, 50 new bio incubators, 150 technology transfer offices and 20 bio connect offices will be established. ■■ 15. Innovation focused programmes for students There will be innovation core programs for students in 5 lakh schools. ■■ 16. Panel of facilitators to provide legal support and assist in filing of patent application ■■ 17. 80 per cent rebate on filing patent applications by startups ■■ 18. Relaxed norms of public procurement for startups ■■ 19. Faster exits for startups


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NEWS FLASHES

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India’s urban infrastructure sector offers investment opportunity of Rs 73 lakh crore (US$ 1.08 trillion) over the next fifteen years, as per Mr Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development.

The Indian a u t o m o b i l e industry is being driven by the compact segment of subfour metre vehicles, which contribute about 70 per cent to the total volume of the industry.

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Electronic filing or e-filing of Income Tax Return (ITR) has increased by 27 per cent to 30.9 million returns filed electronically during April to December 2015 over the same period last year: Income-Tax Department.

Indian domestic air traffic is expected to cross 100 million passengers by FY2017, compared to 81 million passengers in 2015: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

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India has surpassed the US in terms of active unique smartphone users in 2015, crossing 220 million during the year, thus becoming the second largest smartphone market in the world: Counterpoint Research.

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Indian equity mutual fund managers invested Rs 70 million (US$ 1.03 billion), the highest amount in past four months, in Indian equity markets during January 2016.

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The total area sown under Rabi crops during current season has reached 59.15 million hectares as on January 28, 2016 with the maximum 49 per cent area under wheat at 29.25 million hectares: Ministry of Agriculture.

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India’s food retail market is expected to reach Rs 61 lakh crore (US$ 900 billion) by 2020 from Rs 25 lakh crore (US$ 369 billion) in 2014: ‘India Food Report 2016’ by Images Group.

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Advertising expenditure in India is expected to grow by 15.5 per cent in 2016, the highest growth rate in past six years, to reach a size of Rs 57,486 crore (US$ 8.4 billion): GroupM.

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Tourists arrival in India through the online visa scheme registered a growth of 1,040.4 per cent in 2015 reaching a total of 445,300 tourists, led by introduction of e-tourist visa for 113 countries: Ministry of Tourism.

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Indian renewable energy sector is expected to receive around Rs 1 lakh crore (US$ 14.94 billion) from Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) to refinance their loans.

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India’s top seven cities absorbed 38 million square feet of prime office space in 2015, which is the highest till date, and 18 per cent higher compared to 2014: CBRE.

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India will adopt the toughest emission standards of BS-VI, the Indian equivalent of Euro Stage VI, from the current standard BS-IV by 2020, as per a joint decision taken by Ministers of Transportation, Heavy Industries, Environment and Oil.

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45 Indians and people of Indian origin have been selected by Forbes in its annual list of the achievers under the age of 30, as compared to only 11 Indians five years ago.

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The quarterly average assets under management (AUM) of the Indian Mutual Fund (MF) industry rose by 21 per cent in the quarter ending December 2015: Crisil Research. India Newsletter • 5


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NEWS ARTICLES India enjoying robust growth: IMF Observing that countries like India and Mexico are enjoying a robust growth, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde today said a new economic reality has slowly emerged as nations have developed and grown richer. Observing that countries like India and Mexico are enjoying a robust growth, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said a new economic reality has slowly emerged as nations have developed and grown richer. “A new economic reality has slowly emerged as countries have developed and grown richer. And now that some of these countries experience difficulties after many years of strong growth, we are affected by it, too,” Lagarde said in her address at University of Maryland. “This is not something to fear, but it does require us to be aware and think a bit differently, a bit more multilaterally,” she said. Sharing her views on the growing importance of emerging market economies, she said it is a group of about 30-50 countries that are in a transition phase not too rich, not too poor, and not too closed to foreign capital, with regulatory and financial systems that have yet to fully mature. “These countries are incredibly diverse culturally, geographically, and even economically. Right now, for example, Brazil and Russia are in recession, while India and Mexico are enjoying robust growth. So it would be a mistake to think of these countries as a homogenous bloc,” Lagarde said. “At the same time, all these countries are eager to catch up with their richer peers. As I explained, however, the current difficult economic context makes catching up much harder which brings me to the key 6 • India Newsletter

challenges,” she said. China, she said, has embarked on an ambitious rebalancing of its economy from industry to services, from exports to domestic markets, and from investment to consumption. It is also moving towards a more market-oriented financial system. “These reforms are a necessary process that, in the long run, will lead to more sustainable growth and benefit both China and the world. In the short run, however, it will lead to slower growth, and this slowdown creates spillover effects through trade and lower demand for commodities, and amplified by financial markets,” she added. Lagarde said faced with modest growth prospects, advanced economies need to continue to support demand through accommodative monetary policies. But they should use a more balanced policy mix. “Countries with budgetary room for maneuver should also use fiscal policy to stimulate their economies for example, by funding much-needed upgrades of public infrastructure,” she said. At the same time, the US has a special responsibility as it normalises its monetary policy because this can be a source of global spillovers and spillbacks. So it is important that the Federal Reserve continue to do this in a prudent and wellcommunicated manner, Lagarde said.

India is a role model for Global economy; not China: Greece Ex-PM The Indian model of democracy is the right path to become the world leader and not the political system prevalent in China, feels George Papandreou, former prime minister of Greece. He also says that nationalism has

become an illusion in a globalised world and all countries need to function as one entity in a global village. Delivering a lecture at the 9th D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas on ‘Intercultural dialogue for humanising globalisation’, the former prime minister of Greece felt that India has a bigger role to play in the process. “India is a role model for the whole world due to the kind of democracy it practices, which needs to be protected and nurtured to become a global player in the world economy”, felt Papandreou. Besides having the whole country together in spite of having varied cultures and languages, he said your country has a long long tradition of non-violence, even beyond Mahatma Gandhi, back in the history. “India has lots to contribute in the inter-cultural dialogue for humanising globalisation, not only because of its population, but because the country has a tradition and culture of democracy”, he observed. The president of the Socialist International also wondered whether China is a real model to progress in the world economy. “When I talk to the people world over about democracy, they feel the real model is Chinese because they are progressing very fast. But I don’t know how long the Chinese model would be viable”, he said. Papandreou however did not deny the fact that democracies have its own difficulties and challenges. But more deep the democratic process is and the more you engage the citizens in the developmental process, he felt the problems are solved in a better way in the long run.


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The president of the newly founded party ‘Movement of Democratic Socialists’ also pointed out that democracy is not mere election but much more than that. He does not deny that tyrants can also come to power through democratic elections, but cannot survive for long if there is no continuous participation of the people in the developmental process. “If you don’t participate, you become a private person. In Greece we call such people idiots, who have no capacity and no obligation. You can’t succeed by imposing things on the people. The real path to success is through dialogues, deliberations and integration”, said Papandreou. Linking this whole democratic method of governance to the global economy, the former prime minister said the real path to the success of a Global Village is to adopt democracy as the path of governance and develop the whole world through participative process. In this background, said Papandreou, , who was named one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2010: “Nationalism thus becomes an illusion in a time of globalisation.” This is what Europe has experimented successfully and now is the time to make it a success at the international level, breaking the walls of identities and nationalities, said the leader of global organisation of progressive political parties.

India Is Now Second Largest Smartphone Market In The World India has overtaken the U.S. to become the second largest smartphone market in the world. According to Counterpoint Research, smartphone shipments in India grew by 15 percent during Q4 2015. The overall smartphone shipment in 2015 grew by 23 percent year-overyear. Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at

Counterpoint Research, says the smartphone user base in India grew to 220 million by the end of 2015, surpassing the U.S. for the first time ever. “This speaks volumes for the scale India market provides for any player in the mobile connected ecosystem. India still has a long way to go as the smartphone penetration of the total potential population is still below 30 percent,” says Pathak. Samsung dominated the Indian smartphone market in 2015 with a share of 25.7 percent. Indian handset makers Micromax and Intex are at the second and third positions with market shares of 16.1 percent and 10.4 percent. Lenovo and Lava occupied the fourth and the fifth spots. Although Samsung has the biggest market share of the Indian smartphone market, almost half of mobile phones sold in India during Q4 2015 were “Made in India.” More than 20 mobile phone companies are assembling their handsets in India. iPhones have been very popular in India, but the high launch price of the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus deterred many users. Low sales of the latest iPhones in India also resulted in Apple slashing prices of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus about a month after its official launch in the country. However, Apple still managed to sell more than 2 million smartphones, including previous generation iPhones during 2015 for the first time in India. Counterpoint Research also highlighted that more than 40 percent of all mobile phones sold in Q4 2015 in India were smartphones. It’s also interesting to note that one in every three smartphones sold in India were from online channels. In December, the International Data Corporation had suggested that the total global smartphone shipment in 2015 would be 1.43 billion units. Later in August, the IDC forecasted that global growth of smartphones in 2015 would be in single digit, but

growth in India would be in two digits. “IDC expects India to maintain a double-digit growth rate in the smartphone market over the next few years as people switch to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G smartphones as well,” said IDC. The IDC had predicted that India will overtake the U.S. as the second largest smartphone market globally by 2017, but it has happened about a year earlier.

India enters prestigious European research body India has signed an agreement to become an associate member-state of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) - a body of more than 1,700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The move will make the researchers working in India eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities. Indian scientists can now also apply to EMBO’s programmes, such as long-term fellowships for post-doctoral researchers, short-term fellowships, courses and workshops, as well as the EMBO Young Investigator Programme. “At the same time, Europe will benefit from networking with the top-level scientists in India’s research community”, said the ministry of science and technology in a statement. Scientific presentations were made by Nobel Laureates Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Ada E Yonath to mark the occasion. Now India is the second country outside Europe to become an associate member of the EMBO, after Singapore. EMBO director Professor Maria Leptin said, “For the past five years, we have been promoting international interactions beyond Europe, and India is one of our prime partners... Many European researchers have established scientific connections in India. No doubt these will be India Newsletter • 7


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strengthened further once more tools and formal opportunities for interactions are available.” Professor K Vijay Raghavan, secretary of the department of biotechnology, who signed the agreement, said, “India is rapidly growing to a position where we are making extraordinary demands on ourselves. India can only succeed if we partner with the best everywhere to bring the best here”. He said, “Through EMBO, we will not only have the excellent joint programmes that benefit India and Europe, but we hope to be a magnet that attracts bright young people to science from in and outside India.”

“Of business threats, 81 percent stated availability of key skills, 79 percent stated speed of technological change, 78 percent stated bribery and corruption,” the survey said. “With India as the fastest growing large economy in the world, it offers one of the best opportunities for both Indian and global companies in a world that is still coming to terms with a slower growth paradigm and increasing geopolitical uncertainty,” Kapoor added. “Against this tide of pessimism, CEOs in India (64 percent), Spain (54 percent) and Romania (50 percent) stand out as more optimistic,” it said.

India among top 5 promising markets for businesses globally: Survey

India in a Sweet Spot; Private Investment Uptick Soon: Kochhar

India is one of the most promising markets for businesses globally, according to the annual global CEO survey of consultancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd (PwC) released at the World Economic Forum (EWF) annual meeting. The top five markets considered as most important for overall growth prospects by the respondents are USA, China, Germany, the UK and India. The survey has covered 1,409 CEOs spread across 83 countries. “India, which has continued to do well under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-business government, is now among CEOs’ five most promising overseas markets,” the survey said. PwC India Chairman Deepak Kapoor noted that the recent policy reforms and a consequent pick up in investment and the government’s aim to boost infrastructure are playing a role in boosting CEO confidence India. According to Kapoor, India has given a strong indication of general uplift in sentiments by showing much more confidence than their global counterparts when it comes to revenue growth for their companies.

Expecting Indian economy to continue to improve, top banker Chanda Kochhar today said India is in a “sweet spot” amid the global economy witnessing a low-growth and low-inflation environment. She said private investments are expected to soon witness an uptick but strengthening the institutional framework is also important to support stable and sustained high growth in the economy. “In this regard, measures like GST and Bankruptcy Law are important steps,” Kochhar told PTI in an interview here at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting. Asked about her outlook for Indian economy, especially in the wake of continuing problems in China and other global headwinds including from low commodity prices, the ICICI Bank Managing Director and CEO said, “I expect the Indian economy to continue to improve, building on the macro-economic stability that we have achieved and the various policy initiatives of the government which will drive new growth opportunities”. She further said the world economy is experiencing “a low growth low inflation environment”.

8 • India Newsletter

“India’s fiscal situation has improved due to reduction of fuel subsidies on account of lower oil prices. Lower commodity prices have led to an improvement in the current account deficit and also reduced inflation levels in the economy,” Kochhar noted. According to her, there also exists considerable potential for investment in infrastructure and other sectors and the government has increased its capital spending to improve the investment cycle in the economy. “Government reforms are being implemented to attract capital and support economic growth. And finally, India enjoys strong demographic dividend to be harnessed and also provides a large domestic market,” Kochhar said. As implementation of reform measures and the various initiatives announced by the government begin to take root, it will lead to rapid growth and also have a multiplier impact on new investment opportunities and consumption in the economy, she added. When asked about comments from IMF, World Bank and the top government leaders that India is the bright spot in a gloomy global economy, Kochhar said she agrees with those views. “Yes, I agree that India is in a sweet spot today. India’s macroeconomic parameters indicate a strengthened external position and improving domestic economic conditions. However, to strengthen this position further, the domestic investment cycle should pick up,” she said.

International auto-part firms eye India The growth potential in the underserved Indian automobile market and the consequent demand for auto components has drawn a lot of interest from foreign manufacturers who attended the Auto ExpoComponent Show in the capital. A total of 600 international component firms showed a range


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of automobile components and solutions to tap into the rising domestic market, especially the passenger vehicle segment. In the previous edition of the Component Show in 2014, 450 foreign exhibitors had participated. The total number of exhibitors, including domestic ones, has grown to 1,500 now against 1,200 in the previous edition. Vinnie Mehta, director-general of Automotive Component Manufacturers Association, a local body, said there was rising interest in international manufacturers to understand trends in India. Bajaj entry-level bike Bajaj Auto launched a new variant of its entry-level motorcycle CT100 priced at Rs 30,990 (ex-showroom Delhi). The new variant, CT100B, delivers a fuel economy of 99.1 kmpl (kilometre per litre) and comes with a two-year warranty, the company said in a statement. 79,000 visit Auto Expo A total of 79,000 visitors came to the Auto Expo as it opened to the public on Friday. The first day of last Expo in 2014 had seen 75,000 visitors. The Expo ends on Tuesday. Siam (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) expects a total footfall of 700,000 at the Expo against 560,000 a year ago. The Expo at Pragati Maidan has eight dedicated international pavilions — China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Canada, the UK, France and Germany. The French and South Korean pavilions are an addition over the last Expo. A representative of the South Korean delegation said there was keenness among industry players to work with the Indian automobile industry. A total of 11 South Korean players are displaying components, especially electronic auto components, where the dependence on imports is significantly high. Manufacturers from the UK are participating under the aegis of SMMF, the British counterpart of

ACMA, to explore opportunities in Indian automotive manufacturing. British companies want to invest in India, put up manufacturing facilities for electric cars and also collaborate in R&D for efficient fuel solutions. Arvind Balaji, ACMA president and joint managing director of component maker Lucas-TVS, said, “This is the second year when the Component Show is being organised separately from the Motor Show. It has given us more space and attracts focused visitors. We have had a record 1,500 participations this time. This shows that India is a market of the future. Everybody wants to establish a position in the country.” The rising focus of international players means greater competition for quality and market share for the domestic players, many of which have a tie up with foreign companies. Another highlight of the show is the Innovation Pavilion, spread over 100 square metres, and created to draw attention to the latest innovations which auto component companies have indigenously designed, developed, tested and validated in India. Companies such as Sona Koyo, Lucas-TVS and Brakes India showcased their innovations. ACMA has chosen ‘Make Quality & Technology in India’ as its theme this year. The component industry also made efforts to raise awareness about counterfeit products being sold in the replacement market through its ‘Asli-Naqli’ pavilion. The $38.5-billion component industry gets almost 30 per cent of its revenue from exports. The Automotive Mission Plan (AMP 2026), unveiled by the government last year, has set a target of a turnover of $223 billion by 2026 for the auto components sector, backed by strong exports ranging between $80-100 billion, from the current $11.2 billion.

TCS rated world’s most powerful brand in IT services, as per Brand

Finance’s 2016 annual report Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS), one of the top multinational information technology (IT) firms in India, has been rated as the world’s most powerful brand in IT services sector by Brand Finance, a leading global brand valuation firm. Brand Finance’s 2016 annual report ranks TCS as the IT services industry’s most powerful brand with a score of 78.3 points and a rating of AA+. According to the report, TCS is also the fastest growing brand within the IT industry over the past six years, as its overall brand value has increased from US$ 2.34 billion in 2010 to US$ 9.4 billion in 2016. To arrive at the brand value, Brand Finance evaluated the world’s top brands by scoring them on a wide variety of measures such as familiarity, loyalty, staff satisfaction and corporate reputation, in order to determine the most powerful and the most valuable brands globally. The report also rates Disney as the most powerful brand and Apple as the most valuable brand for 2016.

India tops global confidence index India topped Nielsen’s global consumer confidence index for the fourth quarter in a row in 2015. But the catch was that it continued to show signs of a recessionary sentiment for the third straight quarter. Nielsen’s report showed that India’s consumer confidence index for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 131, ahead of the Philippines (117), Indonesia (115) and Thailand (114). But 50 per cent of the people polled said India was still in an economic recession, implying recessionary sentiment was strong. While this was lower than the 54 per cent reported in the third quarter of 2015, it was equal to the figure reported in the second quarter and higher by six percentage points to the figure reported in the first quarter. Nielsen said this was a sign of India Newsletter • 9


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weakness due to external factors. Nonetheless, most key global economies appeared to be pessimistic in the fourth quarter, pointing to depressed market conditions. China’s confidence index for the fourth quarter, for instance, was 107, up one point only from the third quarter. Countries such as the UK, the US, Germany and Japan showed quarteron-quarter decline in confidence, indicating the consumer’s state of mind. UK’s confidence index was 101, USA’s 100, Germany’s 98, and Japan’s 79 for the quarter under review. Nielsen said Indians remained the most optimistic in the world about job prospects and personal finances, with 80 per cent and 82 per cent respondents, respectively, saying they were confident of these attributes. But job security and state of the economy were top concerns for Indians in the fourth quarter, Nielsen said. On spending habits, 65 per cent of Indians said it was a good time for purchases, while 63 per cent said they would prefer to save money. Seventy-nine per cent of the respondents said they had changed their spending habits to save on household expenses and 44 per cent said they would spend less on clothes.

India ranks 4th in number of thinktanks, after US, China and UK India ranks fourth on the list of nations with the most number of thinktanks, with nearly 100 new ones taking the country’s total to 280 in 2015. Last year, India ranked fifth with 192 thinktanks. The US tops the list for 2015 with 1,835 thinktanks, followed by China and the United Kingdom with 435 and 288, respectively, according to the ‘Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (GGTTI) 2015’ released last 10 • India Newsletter

month. Among the 6,486 thinktanks worldwide, the US-based Brookings Institution emerged on the top for the eighth consecutive year. Six Indian thinktanks figure in the global top 175 list—Centre for Civil Society (CCS, rank 79), Institute For Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA, 104), Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (109), The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI, 111), Observer Research Foundation (ORF, 118) and Development Alternatives (136). If the lists of thinktanks in the US are excluded, then four more Indian thinktanks make it to the top 175 list (nonUS)—Brookings India, Gateway House-Indian Council on Global Relations, United Service Institution of India and Vivekananda International Foundation. The report classifies and ranks think tanks in various ways, including by region, area of specialisation and even on aspects such as use of social media. Thinktanks to watch out for are those who have done excellent research in the past 24 months and six Indian organisations made it to this list—ORF (10), IDSA (13), Vivekananda Institute of Technology (20), Gateway House (38), Council on Energy, Environment and Water (54) and Centre for Land Warfare Studies (69). The annual rankings are compiled under the auspices of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania. “Flows of information for rich policy analysis and research today are often disparate and fractured, which leads to a vital need for resources that highlight the best policy research out there,” said James McGann, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s TTCSP in a statement. “The independent index is designed to help users of information and policy analysis identify the leading centres of excellence in public policy research around the world,” he added.

Foreign firms rush to India’s online marketplace India’s booming online marketplace business has attracted a new wave of merchants and sellers from countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and the US. In fact, thousands of sellers are getting into tie-ups with Indian e-commerce players to kick-start operations in the country. According to industry insiders, around 50,000 sellers from China, South Korea and Singapore are planning to enter India through online marketplace players. “In business-to-business (B2B) segment, there is no online organised player in the country right now. The market is being created for the online businesses,” said Sanjay Sethi, co-founder and CEO of Shopclues. The company has brought in DHgate, the second largest player in China after Alibaba, on to its platform. It’s also getting 25,000 South Korean merchants on board. Tie-ups are also in process with Singapore Traders Association to enable them to sell on Shopclues. American retail major Walmart is also exploring ways to tie up with leading e-commerce companies in India, including Flipkart, Snapdeal, ShopClues, Grofers and Bigbasket. It is learnt that German wholesale giant Metro Cash and Carry is also in talks with e-commerce marketplace players to sell its products online. Meanwhile, e-commerce giant Alibaba is looking to make a big bang entry into India’s marketplace via One97 Communications-owned Paytm. Alibaba is expected to be the support behind Paytm’s China product portfolio. With that in place, Paytm will aim to become the biggest Indian player insofar as the number of sellers on the platform is concerned. With eight million sellers, Alibaba has the widest seller range as well as product portfolio. This is not for the first time that Paytm is planning to sell Alibaba’s product range. During Diwali last


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year, Paytm had the whole product catalogue sourced from Alibaba and merchants from China were directly shipping products to customers in India, saving Paytm the hassle of finding warehouses. As for the second top player in China, DHgate, online B2B would be a gateway into India and an opportunity to get connected to 350,000 sellers through the Shopclues portal. DHgate plans to list its products across categories, including electronics, accessories, beauty products and sports. “From China we are getting around 10,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) listed. It is not a retail business and the target audience for this business are other businesses in India,” said Sethi. The foreign investment rules vary across retail platforms and companies often resort to complex structuring to bypass policy. While foreign direct investment (FDI) is capped at 51 per cent in multi-brand retail with states having the last say on whether international players would be permitted to operate or not, there’s no limit of foreign investment in single-brand and business-tobusiness or cash and carry. In e-commerce, however, FDI is not permitted. But, e-commerce players are mostly run with foreign money by operating marketplace platforms, where rules have not been framed yet.

FDI quality improves substantially with PM Narendra Modi’s Make in India push

when global capital markets have become volatile, FDI flows reduce uncertainty about foreign capital outflows and, consequently, currency volatility.”

The quality of foreign direct investment (FDI) coming into the country has improved substantially, according to Reserve Bank of India data.

The surge in FDI in India is significant given that investment across the world has fallen by 16%, said Amitabh Kant, secretary at the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, at a recent event.

Much of this FDI materialised in the September 2014-November 2015 period after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Make in India campaign and bettered portfolio inflows during the preceding 15 months. Gross FDI inflows amounted to $62.6 billion, 31% higher than $47.6 billion in the preceding 15 months. This is more than triple the amount of net portfolio inflows of $14.3 billion in the same period. An analysis of the monthly trend in foreign investment inflows shows that in most months stable long-term FDI has been more than portfolio inflows, which have been more volatile in the period. Economists say the surge in FDI is largely due to several initiatives by the government to attract investment in the manufacturing sector. “FDI and portfolio flows over the past year-and-a-half suggest that conscious efforts of the government to encourage more stable direct investments are yielding results,” said Saugata Bhattacharya, chief economist at Axis Bank. “At a time

Though a sizeable amount is estimated to have gone to the manufacturing sector, including consumer goods and food processing, among others, a section of the market feels that a portion of the FDI inflows could have come through the private equity route. This seldom finds its way into greenfield projects but at the same time provide an important source of finance for entrepreneurs. “A significant part of the higher FDI has come in as PE and VC funding, which helps finance entrepreneurs,” said Bhattacharya. Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative is aimed at turning the country into a global manufacturing hub to generate jobs, raise incomes and drive growth. The government has been seeking to drum up investment as part of this effort. India’s growth is being driven by public spending and consumption with private investment yet to kick in substantially.

INDIAN EMBASSY LIBRARY ■■ The Embassy’s library is opened daily from 10am to 1pm without appointment. ■■ Our collection contains more than 2000 titles in dozens of categories. ■■ For appointments outside the opening hours or other inquiries, please contact us under info.vienna@mea.gov.in or 015058666 33 ■■ Download our latest catalog of books under indianembassy.at/pdf/ EmbassyLibrary.pdf India Newsletter • 11


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MAKE IN INDIA Summary ■■ USD 12 Billion industry. ■■ 10% of the world’s leather

LEATHER

production. ■■ 24% growth projected in the next five years. ■■ 55% of workforce below 35. ■■ India is the second largest producer of footwear and leather garments in the world.

Reasons to Invest ■■ The total production of the Indian leather industry stands at over USD 12 Billion with great potential

Growth Drivers

for exports and a huge domestic

■■ High growth potential on exports, the ready availability of leather, the abundance of essential raw materials and rapid strides in the areas of capacity modernisation and expansion, skill development and environment management, coupled with a favourable investment climate has made the Indian leather industry a favourable investment destination.

market. ■■ Exports are projected to grow at 24% per annum over the next five years. ■■ The domestic market is expected to double in the next five years. ■■ Comparative advantages in cost of production and labour costs.

Statistics ■■ A strong base for raw materials – India is endowed with 21% of the world’s cattle and buffalo and 11% of the world’s goat and sheep population. ■■ India produces 2 Billion sq. feet of leather, accounting for 10% of the world leather requirements. ■■ There is no import duty on the import of raw hides and skins, semiprocessed leathers like wet blue, crust leather or finished leather. ■■ Imported leather too is now available

to

the

competitive prices. 12 • India Newsletter

industry

at

■■ With 55% of the workforce below the age of 35, the Indian leather industry has one of the youngest and most productive workforces. ■■ The Indian government has put in place an array of measures for skill development and skill upgradation of the workforce. ■■ Under the National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme of the National Skill Development Corporation, financial assistance is given for the training and certification of both the existing workforce and new workers in the leather industry. 20,000 workers

have been enrolled under this scheme for training and certification, as of August, 2013. ■■ The Human Resources Development sub-scheme under the Indian Leather Development Programme (ILDP) implemented by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, aims to provide skill development training to the unemployed for placement in the leather industry while upgrading skills of the existing workforce at the shop floor level and imparting training to trainers. ■■ More than 50,000 youth have already been trained and placed in the industry in the last 100 days with 1,44,000 more expected to be trained annually. ■■ The Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) has established itself as the premier training institute for the provision of skilled manpower in the leather industry. It has 55 training centres across the country including eight branches. Another four branches are being set up.


Indian Embassy, Vienna

FDI Policy ■■ 100% Foreign Direct Investment is permitted through the automatic route.

Sector Policy ■■ The Integrated Development of Leather Sector (IDLS) sub-scheme implemented as part of the ILDP has significantly contributed to capacity modernisation and technological upgradation of the leather sector. ■■ Capital goods (machinery) required by the industry can be imported without import duty under the Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) Scheme of Foreign Trade Policy, subject to meeting the export obligation of six times the duty saved in six years. ■■ Excise duty on footwear with leather uppers and having retail price more than Rs.1000 reduced to 6%. ■■ The tanning industry has adopted Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems to meet environmental regulations. ■■ Under leather technology, innovation and environment

issues, a sub-scheme of the Indian Leather Development Programme (ILDP), assistance is provided for technology benchmarking and environment management for the upgradation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs), for Solid Waste Management and for holding environmental workshops. State governments have a single window clearance system in place to fast-track clearances for the establishment of production units.

Financial Support ■■ The entire leather product sector is de-licensed, facilitating expansion on modern lines with state-of-theart machinery and equipment. ■■ Under the IDLS sub-scheme of ILDP, 30% grant is provided on the cost of plant and machinery for Micro and Small units and 20% for other units, with a ceiling of INR 20 Million for each product line. ■■ Under the MLC sub-scheme of ILDP, 50% grant with a ceiling of INR 1.25 Billion based on size is provided for the establishment of Mega Leather Clusters to boost

infrastructure facility and support services for production and export. ■■ Under the Leather Technology, Innovative and Environmental Issues sub-scheme of ILDP, assistance is provided for up to 50% of the project cost with a ceiling of INR 500 Million for upgradation/installation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) to address environmental pollution caused by leather units.

Investment Opportunities ■■ The National Manufacturing Policy identifies leather as a special focus sector, for growth and employment generation.

Foreign Investors ■■ Apache Group (Taiwan) ■■ Feng Tay Shoes (Taiwan) ■■ Itares (Italy)

Agencies ■■ Footwear Design and Development Agency (FDDI) ■■ Council for Leather Exports (CLE) ■■ Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI)

INDIA PERSPECTIVES MAGAZINE ONLINE

www.magzter.com/publishers/meaindia

India Newsletter • 13


Indian Embassy, Vienna

PERSPECTIVES ON INDIA TrulyMadly Made in India…..for India Mr Sachin Bathia, Co-fouder and CEO, TrulyMadly It is heartening to see a bunch of consumer facing internet and tech businesses that are built keeping in mind the Indian consumer and our unique needs and expectations. Zomato, Oyo Rooms, ZipDial etc are made specifically for India and in India. When we first thought of TrulyMadly, we realised that while girls and boys in both cities and smaller towns, were open to dating online, they were looking for a safe way to do so and more importantly meet new people based on interests, mutual likes and common aspirations vs just looks and location. With this insight in mind, we built a verification layer to ensure that only bonafide singles get on the app and we match based on a unique compatibility algorithm that we built keeping Indian nuances in mind. This unique proposition has helped us become the No 1 dating app in the country, with over 2M downloads and the ‘go to’ app to discover, chat and meet new people. Building something for India means listening to what our members have to say and keeping them at the centre of the product and communication. We regularly organise sessions with prospective users called ‘Dhabay Pe Charcha’, at campuses and BPOs to gain consumer insights, bounce of new product ideas and communication cues. Product features like Social Endorsement for verification, Profile Sharing by girls were ideas that came from these sessions. Similarly, Boy Browsing, UnSingle, Man Parade were thoughts gleaned after talking 14 • India Newsletter

to members. Unlike the US, India is not a homogenous society and therefore most ideas don’t catch like wildfire throughout the country. Therefore execution and communication has to be nuanced, cultural and social context for each state / geography has to be taken into account. This makes a national rollout both complex and challenging. Our Unsingle Mixers do extremely well in some parts of the country, while the UnSingle Comedy Tour does better in other parts. But yes, the core product features built around safety and privacy, especially for women, resonate across cities and towns. Another aspect of ‘Made in India’ that excites us is building something in India that can be launched in other countries. We have always accepted international products, be it Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp and not created products of our own. The opportunity now, especially with increasing mobile penetration is to create India specific apps and products, which will also find global adoption. We feel that our focus on verification and compatibility will resonate well globally, especially in S.E Asia. That seems to be the next frontier for us.

India’s passenger vehicle market: Fastest growing among leading economies Mr Ravi Capoor, CEO, IBEF The domestic passenger vehicle (PV) industry has registered strong growth as compared to its global peers. The domestic PV market (cars, vans and utility vehicles) grew 7.6 per cent in January-November 2015, according to the recently released data from Society of Indian

Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). This growth rate is higher than in France, Britain, Germany and China while Japan, the US and Brazil are on a decline. Even in terms of absolute numbers, growth in number of vehicles sold in India (approximately 180,000 units more in Jan-Nov 2015) was higher compared to Germany (151,000 units), Britain (143,000 units) and France (101,000 units). In all of calendar year 2015, India sold 202,000 more vehicles compared to 2014 and grew 7.9 per cent to 2.77 million units. New launches, declining fuel prices and lower interest rates are few primary reasons that experts have attributed to this growth. In fact, growth coming from the Indian market is helping multinational automobile makers with an Indian operation to cushion the decline in other markets. A low vehicle penetration, rising disposable income and increasing road infrastructure are some factors that are expected to further boost growth in the Indian passenger car industry as compared to the other leading markets. By 2026, passenger vehicles are expected to increase between 9.4 - 13.4 million units. On a broader level, Indian automotive industry to grow 3.5 to 4 times of the current value of US$ 74 billion to US$ 260 billion to 300 billion with the country becoming one of the top three automotive industries in the world, according to the Automotive Mission Plan 20162026. India is already on a strong footing in passenger vehicles and other segment of the automobile industry and the coming times can only be expected to further improve its position in the global automobile market.


Indian Embassy, Vienna

India: An infrastructure opportunity Mr Ravi Capoor, CEO, IBEF Infrastructure sector is a key driver for the Indian economy. The sector is often considered the backbone for propelling India’s overall development and enjoys intense focus from the Government of India for initiating policies that would ensure time-bound creation of world class infrastructure in the country. Market experts agree that development of strong and future-ready infrastructure has the potential to unleash India’s true market potential for both global and domestic investors. Market segments of the infrastructure sector like power, construction, bridges, dams and roads offer a strong investment opportunity for global developers. In fact, according to a recently released white paper from ASSOCHAM and CRISIL, India will require close to Rs 31 trillion (US$ 465 billion) for infrastructure development, around 70 per cent of which is expected to go into power, roads and urban infrastructure segment. “To provide uninterrupted power supply to homes and factories, and improve roads, telecom, transport and other urban infrastructure, the country would need an investment of more than Rs 6 lakh crore of every year or around Rs 1,700 crore every day from April 2015 to March 2020,” the white paper further said. The paper also put the spotlight on financing of these capital intensive projects. The ideal mode

for financing infrastructure projects will be for banks to focus on funding up to the pre-commissioning stage of projects, the white paper said adding that later, when the project has attained stability after commissioning, banks can look at refinancing the debt through bonds to long-term investors. India has received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth US$ 24.09 billion in construction development sector alone from April 2000 to June 2015. The overall investment required by the Indian infrastructure sector directly translates into a very promising opportunity for infrastructure companies. In fact, with the government backing the sector and providing the required impetus, it is expected that an increasing number of global and domestic infrastructure companies will drive the infrastructure sector going forward.

Start-up India initiative: Ordinary Indians, Extraordinary Enterprise Mr Ravi Capoor, CEO, IBEF The formal launch of the Start-up India initiative by the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi held in New Delhi on January 16, 2016 amidst much fanfare is expected to provide a boost to the Indian start-ups. The launch was attended by the founders of around top 1500 startups operating in the country along with investors and policy-makers. Names like Mr Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber, SoftBank Founder Mr Masayoshi Son and founders of

most of the Indian unicorns were present at Vigyan Bhawan. The Start-up Action Plan included announcements like a dedicated Start-up fund worth INR 10,000 crore (US$ 1.48 billion), Start-ups being exempt from paying income tax on their profit for the first three years, tax exemption on capital gains, an eighty per cent exemption in patent fee for Start-up businesses and a self-certification based compliance system for nine labour and environment laws. In fact, other initiatives like a simple exit policy for Start-ups, fast-tracking of Startup patent applications and Atal Innovation Mission to give a boost to innovation that are expected to be launched in coming months will further provide impetus to Indian youth to become an entrepreneur. India is already the third largest and the fastest growing startup ecosystem in the world and stands third in technology driven product start-ups just after US and UK respectively. Experts believe that the recent steps announced by the Government of India are in the right direction and will further increase the number of start-ups in the country. Many of the steps announced during the formal launch of the initiative would form a part of the Union Budget expected to be announced next month. The Start-up India initiative has already been hailed by the entrepreneurs and investor community alike and is expected to further boost the entrepreneurial revolution in the country.

India Newsletter • 15


Indian Embassy, Vienna

INDIAN STATE ECONOMIC PROFILE MAHARASHTRA Maharashtra’s gross state domestic product (GSDP) accounted for 12.98 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014-15, the highest among all states. The GSDP grew at a CAGR of around 11.1 per cent from 2004-05 to 2014-15. ■■ The Government of Maharashtra has several policies in place to set up the right kind of business climate in the state. These policies aim to motivate investors to invest into various sectors in the state, thereby contributing to the overall development of the economy. Total foreign direct investment (FDI) in the state stood at US$ 73.12 billion from April 2000 to March 2015, the highest among all states in India. ■■ Maharashtra is the most industrialised state in India and has maintained the leading position in the industrial sector in the country. The state is a pioneer in small scale industries and boasts of the largest

16 • India Newsletter

number of special export promotion zones. ■■ The following are some of the major initiatives taken by the government to promote Maharashtra as an investment destination: ■■ The Government of Maharashtra is promoting the development of several special economic zones (SEZs) across Maharashtra for sectors such as IT/ITeS, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, textile, automotive & auto-components, gems & jewellery and food processing. As of 2014-15, the state had 9 operational SEZs, out of which majority are contributed by engineering and electronics segment. ■■ The Government is setting up the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a mega infrastructure project of total cost US$ 90 billion, with the help of the Government of Japan, which has agreed to lend US$ 4.5 billion for this project. Seven nodes are in the development stage

for the Phase-1 of the project, which is expected to greatly boost India’s manufacturing sector. ■■ The Maharashtra government has set up an international biotech park in Hinjewadi, 10 km from Pune. This is the first public-private biotechnology park initiative in the state. ■■ Textile parks, aimed to provide world-class infrastructural components for the textile sector and enhance productive capacity, are being set up in Maharashtra to maintain its leadership position in textile exports and production. ■■ The state government announced plans to invest US$ 1,658.2 million for the development of railways infrastructure. ■■ As a part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the state government in planning to come up with an electronics policy for companies interested to invest in this sector in Maharashtra.


Indian Embassy, Vienna

INDIAN TRADE FAIRS INTERESTED IN VISITING A TRADE SHOW IN INDIA? In case your company is interested in visiting a tradeshow/B2B event in India, be it one listed here or another one that came to your attention, get in contact with us via maoffice.vienna@mea.gov.in to get more information about possible assistance/subsidies.

India Newsletter • 17


Indian Embassy, Vienna

18 • India Newsletter


Indian Embassy, Vienna

T

he Council for Leather Exports (CLE), India is pleased to invite you to the 19th International Technical Footwear Congress of the International Union of Shoe Industry Technicians (UITIC) to be held during February 3rd to 5th 2016 in Chennai, India. The UITIC has been a pioneer in the dissemination of technical developments and knowledge in the footwear industry by facilitating information exchanges between its members. UITIC’s main activity is to organize an International Technical Footwear Congress which addresses the latest technical issues and problems. The Council for Leather Exports (CLE)-India is the Apex body for the international promotion and overall development of the Indian

Leather & Footwear sectors, and will host the 19th UITIC Congress. The Congress will be held in Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu State which is home to some of the leading footwear clusters of India. The Theme of the 19th Technical Footwear Congress is “Future Footwear Factory”. Advances in technology, design and information sciences have enabled the modernization of factories for producing footwear with advanced properties, making optimum use of resources. However there remains the perennial challenge of changing consumer demands and market vagaries. Also, today’s instantlyconnected world has ushered in a plethora of opportunities and challenges. Footwear factories have to adapt and improvise to

stay ahead in this dynamic scenario. The 19th UITIC Congress aims to bring together technical experts, manufacturers, and stake holders of the Footwear industry, for a period of intense deliberations on the theme. The long running and well-known India International Leather Fair (IILF), Chennai will take place on contiguous dates during January 31 – February 3 2016; adding further value to participation in the UITIC Congress. The 19th UITIC Congress, Chennai is now open for Delegate Registrations We also invite papers of Technical Merit and relevant to the Theme of the Congress for selection for Oral and Visual presentations at the Congress.

INDIA IT SHOW 2016

India Newsletter • 19


Indian Embassy, Vienna

INVEST INDIA Federation House, Tansen Marg New Delhi—110 001 0091-11-23765085, 23487278 investindia@ficci.com www.investindia.gov.in

I

policy and Promotion, Ministry INVESTMENT of Commerce & Industry) and State Governments of India (0.5% The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund(NIIF)

■■ Objective: ■■ To maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both Greenfield and Brownfield, including stalled projects. ■■ Other nationally important projects in manufacturing, if viable commercially ■■ Structure: ■■ The NIIF will be established as one or more Alternate Investment Funds (AIF). It refers to any fund established or incorporated in Indian in the form of a Trust or a Company or a LLP or a body corporate. AIF shall raise funds only through private placement 20 • India Newsletter

nvest India is the country’s official agency dedicated to investment promotion and facilitation. Set up as a joint venture between FICCI (51% and cannot accept from any equity), DIPP (35%funds equity held investor (Indian or Foreign) whose by the Department of Industrial value is less than 1 crore Indian Rupees and is prohibited from making application to public for subscription to its securities. AIF can be of three categories; ■■ Category I: Investment in Start-ups, SMEs, infrastructure or social ventures ■■ Category II: Investment in private equity and debt funds

■■ Category III: Primarily for hedge funds, which use complex strategies or leverage to invest in unlisted derivaties and trade with a view to make short-term returns

each), its mandate is to become the first reference point for the global investment community. It provides granulated, sectorspecific and state-specific information to a foreign investor, assists in expediting regulatory approvals, and offers hand-holding services. Its mandate also includes assisting Indian investors make informed choices about investment opportunities overseas.


Indian Embassy, Vienna

TOURISM Dunes Village by Hugh & Colleen Gantzer. In the crisp chill of the desert dawn, we stood outside our hut, absorbing the stillness. Light drifted down like a silver feather from the sky, touched the crests of the dunes. We breathed in the sounds of silence. A whisper of a breeze touched the sand, brushed the surface of the small lake rippling it like blue velvet stroked the wrong way. From out of the glow of the sky a flock of grey rock pigeons materialized, settled at the edge of the lake, and began their formal cooing-bobbingpouting ritual like a group of grey, polite, monks. The light brightened, plated the lake with a metallic glint, gilded the dunes. An explosion of boisterous parrots burst in, scattering the pigeons in an indignant rustle of wings and feathers, fluttering away. The barging band of parrots settled in to indulge themselves in a riot of squabbling and spray-bathing. The light had touched the far dunes in our lake-centred hollow. The tiny figure of the shepherd-in-residence, his red turban bobbing like a beacon, trudged across, opened the gate of the sheep-pen, stood back as a white, woolly wave of rams, ewes and lambs burst out, bustled down to the waters edge, dipped their heads in their reflections and tanked up for a day of grazing. The parrots took off with harsh screeches of anger, and sped away in a squadron, heading for the nearest fields. The shepherd gathered his flock, herded them over the dunes till they disappeared like puffs of windblown cotton wool. Stillness descended briefly. Our neighbour, a German with a professorial look, was standing outside his hut. He nodded to us, smiled, and said “That was a wonderful dawn overture.” He thought a while, then added “It is so

serene, here. Nowhere in the world have I experienced such serenity…” We agreed. Yesterday, we had driven into Khimsar fort, past the princely crest on the great gates, down an avenue of resplendently cascading bougainvilleas. We had had lunch with Kunwar Gajendra Singh, scion of the Khimsar family and the State’s Minister of Energy. Then we had opted for his Dunes Village and a desert safari in a 4x4. It had been a fascinating excursion. All deserts, particularly scrub deserts, host a rich web of life. In the soft sand our driver pointed out the embroidered tracks of Whip Tailed Lizards. These curious creatures, some biologists say, are only female and yet the reproduce. A large stretch of rasping desert shrubs was honeycombed with burrows. We waited. Twitching noses and beady eyes appeared. Desert rats scamper around at dawn and dusk, hunting for grass-seeds, tender shoots, insects. Retire into the comfort of their deep, interlinked, warrens, in the heat of the day. A family of fat partridges, disturbed by our passage, waddled away like desperate dowagers and then, when they felt safe, stretched their necks and went kateetar-kateetar broadcasting our presence. Alerted, a flock of quails exploded like a scatter of bird-shot and shot out over the scrub. They’d reassemble again when their feathered scouts found the safest grazing area. Our driver stopped and pointed: “Blackbuck!” We couldn’t spot them at first: their dun-coloured bodies merged perfectly with the dusty, khaki, landscape. Then their stately lord-and-master appeared, holding his black, horned head high. Very slowly, very carefully, he began to manoeuvre his harem into the safety of the thorn trees. We followed them for a while, but when a second and a third jeep tried to join us, we veered off and threaded our way to the top

of a bush-dotted hillock. There we were surprised to spot a small herd of heavy, slate- grey, nilghai. With no dark areas to hide them, they stood out clearly but they were unafraid. “They have no natural enemies here”, our driver said. That is probably why they stared at us with a certain eyeball-to-eyeball arrogance. The old myth that wild animals back away from the fixed gaze of a human is just that: a myth. It was fairly late afternoon when we drove away from desert safari and to the bottom of a high dune crowned by a gazebo. We scrambled up the hillock of soft sand, stumbling and slipping, before we reached the top. There, a number of visitors, mostly foreigners, were sitting on chairs, looking over the static sand-waves of the dunes, waiting for the grand spectacle of sunset flaring over the desert. We had enjoyed this spectacle many times in many places so we sipped sweet, hot, coffee, munched on biscuits and spoke to British honeymooners Jason and Ellora Coupe. Her parents had chosen her name after a memorable visit to India and she and Jason had followed in her father and mother’s footsteps, had enjoyed their first visit and had decided to return. We slid and sand-surfed down the dune, climbed into our 4x4,drove a bit and then boarded a waiting camel cart for the last fifteen minutes of our trip. Our bearded cameleer, Sher Singh, looked like a benign brigand but he was as caring as a solicitous flight attendant. When all was to his entire satisfaction we rumbledsqueaked- galumphed away. Near the end of the 15 minute journey we entered a narrow passage at the top of a dune and then a gem of an oasis opened before us. This was the Khimsar Dune Village. In the centre of a broad valley in the dunes, a little blue lake sparkled, dotted with geese and ducks. In the middle of the lake was a tiny island India Newsletter • 21


Indian Embassy, Vienna

supporting a single tree. Around the lake, and rising up the gentle dunes, were more trees shading single huts, clusters of them, a sheep-pen protected by a thorn fence, and some large tents which, we learnt, were for dining, entertainment, and service facilities. We hopped off our cart, and strode across to our hut. It was a mud-plastered and charming in its rustic simplicity. Behind the bed, glass pieces inserted in the plaster shimmered in decorative mirror- work, glittered on the ceiling like captive constellations. But for all its authentic folksiness, an airconditioner hummed softly to itself, there was a bowl of fruit on the coffee table and the bathroom was as modern as any in a starred hotel. While we look forward to authentic experiences when we travel, we do like to return to comfort at the end of the day. So clearly did our fellow guests. We met Ozzies and Brits and French at the bar set up on a camel cart, at the edge of the lake and under the stars. In the dining tent , we assured a fastidious Belgian that Kabuli Channa was, indeed Chick Peas. And when the Kalbelia dancers began to swirl in the Entertainment Tent, an American woman wondered if they were related to the gypsies. It was all summed up by a tour leader. She said “Nowhere else in the world have we experienced such stillness and peace in such a beautifully exotic setting…” That was yesterday. Now the other guests have begun to move out of their huts and onto the camel carts. Soon, there will be only us and the German and the ineffable peace of our Village in the Dunes… QUICK FACTS GETTING THERE: Air or Rail to Jodhpur and then 91 kms. by road to Khimsar Fort and a further 7 kms. to the Dunes Village. ACCOMMODATION: Khimsar Dunes Village – e-mail: welcom@ndf.vsnl. net.in 22 • India Newsletter


Indian Embassy, Vienna

OVERSEAS INDIANS

India Newsletter • 23


Indian Embassy, Vienna

INDIAN MOVIE EVENING AT THE EMBASSY Due to limited capacity, seats will be given on a first come, first served basis. Therefore, you are highly encouraged to reserve your seats online at www.indianembassy.at, via email under marketingofficer@ indianembassy.at

26th February, 17:30

18th March, 17:30

Seat reservation and further Infos: www.indianembassy.at Indian Embassy Business Centre/Library Kärntner Ring 2, 1. Stock, 1010 Wien

24 • India Newsletter


Indian Embassy, Vienna

NOTICE BOARD EMBASSY’S LIBRARY ■■ The EMBASSY’S library is opened DAILY from 10am to 1pm without appointment. ■■ For a complete list of books available in our library, visit our website www.indianembassy.at ■■ For scheduling an appointment outside the opening hours, please contact the information assistant under info.vienna@mea.gov.in or 01 505 8666 33

BUSINESS CENTRE ■■ The EMBASSY’S Business Centre is opened DAILY from 10am to 1pm. ■■ For scheduling an appointment outside the opening hours, please contact the commercial wing under the contacts given below. ■■ Marketing Officer: maoffice.vienna@mea.gov.in or 01 505 8666 30 ■■ Marketing Assistant: comm.vienna@mea.gov.in or 01 505 8666 31

STUDENTS WELFARE OFFICER ■■ Mr. Brijesh Kumar, Second Secretary (Press, Info. & Protocol) in this Embassy has been designated as Officer to look after welfare of Indian Students in Austria and Montenegro. ■■ His contact details are: 0043 1 505 866 17 and culture.vienna@mea.gov.in

MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS GOES MOBILE ■■ Avail services : passport, visa, consular assistance ■■ Ask your Minister : on the go, anytime, anywhere ■■ Follow your PM : on his visits abroad ■■ Find the nearest Indian Mission/Post : for emergency consular assistance ■■ Be informed : about India’s Foreign Relations on the move and form your own opinions ■■ Know more : about how to undertake Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and Haj Pilgrimage ■■ Download and watch : pictures & documentaries on India ■■ Play and Personalize : what you need, when you need ■■ Share and contribute : your views, pics & suggestions

Ministry of External Affairs proudly presents “MEAIndia” – an integrated smart app for mobile and other hand held devices ‘MEAIndia’ is now available for download on App Store and Google Play Store..

FACEBOOK & TWITTER ■■ Our Facebook and Twitter pages target the India-Austria community and covers subjects such as Business, Culture, Embassy News, India-related events and programmes in Austria, and much more. ■■ We have reached the 9000 followers mark on Facebook! ■■ ‘Like’ our facebook page and be the first to know!

www.facebook.com/IndiaInAustria www.twitter.com/IndiaInAustria India Newsletter • 25

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