Logistics Gets Infra Status

The government has granted infrastructure status to the logistics sector, making it easier for companies operating cold chains, industrial parks and warehousing facilities to raise long-term credit from banks and other financial institutions at low rates, and attract foreign investment.

The department of economic affairs through a notification has expanded the category of infrastructure sub-sectors to include transport and logistics, moving them from earlier sub-head of transport. The definition of logistics, according to the notification, includes industrial parks, warehouses, cold storages and transportation.

High logistics cost has always been a worry for India as it impacts prices of goods in the country and price competitiveness of exporters.

According to the government notification, multimodal logistics parks comprising inland container depot with minimum investment of ₹50 crore and minimum area of 10 acre come under logistics infrastructure. Also, a cold chain facility having an investment of at least ₹15 crore as well as warehousing facility with investment of minimum ₹25 crore would come under logistics infrastructure. In both cases, facilities should have a minimum required area.

The government has planned to set up 34 mega logistics parks across the country at investments of more than ₹1 lakh crore. The Centre will take up projects in partnership with state governments and private companies. Trunk infrastructure and last-mile connectivity would be provided by National Highways Authority of India.

Other than transport and logistics, the list of infrastructure subsectors comprises energy, water and sanitation, roads, shipping, waterways, airports, rail tracks, communication, social and commercial infrastructure.

Leading logistics players have welcomed the government’s decision saying the move will help them raise funds at a lower cost which in turn will help reduce the overall transportation cost.

The industry expects the move to lead to a 50bps gain for logistics players in terms of cost.

Manushi Chhillar crowned Miss World 2017

India’s Manushi Chhillar was crowned as Miss World 2017 at a grand event held in Sanya in China.

The 20-year-old medical student from Haryana had won Femina Miss India World 2017 in May this year.

Manushi had made it to the top 5 along with contestants from England, France, Kenya and Mexico.

The first and the second runners-up were Miss England Stephanie Hill and Miss Mexico Andrea Meza.

The coveted title was last won by Priyanka Chopra for India in 2000, a year after Yukta Mookhey had made the country proud.

In 1997, Diana Hayden had bagged the title, while Aishwarya Rai had the honours in 1994.

Reita Faria was the first Indian to win the crown in the 1966.

Manushi Chhillar, 20, is the sixth Indian winner of the prestigious competition, following in the footsteps of Bollywood actresses Priyanka Chopra and Aishwarya Rai.

Her win means that India is now level with Venezuela as they both hold six victories over the course of the pageant’s 67 years.

Nilekanis to donate half their wealth

Infosys co-founder and tech billionaire Nandan Nilekani and his wife Rohini have joined The Giving Pledge, an elite network of the world’s wealthiest individuals committing half their wealth to philanthropy.

The Giving Pledge website uploaded Nilekanis’ letter signing up for the cause.

The letter said, “We thank Bill and Melinda for creating this unique opportunity to realise a moral aspiration inspired by the Bhagwad Gita.

“We have a right to do our duty, but no automatic right to the fruits from the doing. It is critical that we do not slip into inaction fearing that we may not be able to reap direct reward. It is to this ideal that we pledge,” it added.

Later, Bill Gates tweeted about Nilekanis’ pledge on Monday. “I’m amazed by how @NandanNilekani has lent his entrepreneurial passion to philanthropy. I’m delighted to welcome him and his wife Rohini to The Giving Pledge,” Gates tweeted.

The Giving Pledge was created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett in August 2010 following a series of conversations with philanthropists around the world about how they could collectively set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy. It is an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.

The Nilekanis are the fourth Indians after Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Biocon chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Sobha Developers chairman emeritus P N C Menon to sign up for The Giving Pledge.

Talking about their initiatives as EkStep, Nilekanis’ letter said “We are excited by our initial experimentation with societal platforms in early education and see immense potential for scaling up diverse solutions.

They also said their philanthropic efforts would be directed at societal platforms, which are open, technologyenabled ecosystems or nurturing networks.

“Our philanthropic journey of two decades has been led by Rohini’s passion and commitment!” Nilekani tweeted. Nilekani recently returned to Infosys as non-executive chairman after the exit of Sikka as Infosys CEO.

Sikka quit following a long-standing feud between board and founders, especially N R Narayana Murthy, who had raised concern over falling corporate governance practices at Infosys. Rohini is also founder of Arghyam, an initiative for safe and sustainable water. 

Somewhere in Uttarakhand....

In a bizarre discovery that has baffled experts, a well-preserved skeleton of a ‘dinosaur-like’ creature was found under a pile of junk in a store room at an electric sub-station in Uttarakhand. The room was opened on Sunday for the first time in 35 years by an electrician to clean it

Link Aadhaar to mobile from home

The Unique Identification Authority of India has simplified the process for linking mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar. The move will particularly help senior citizens and the differently abled, who need not go to service providers but will be able to do the linking from home.

The UIDAI has issued fresh directives for generating a one time password either through the service provider’s website or through its Interactive Voice Response services to facilitate the linking, also known as re-verification.

The UIDAI had found the earlier approved system of generating the OTP with a mere SMS unsafe. The only catch in the new method is that a user needs to have the mobile number registered with Aadhaar or would have to first update the mobile number in the Aadhaar records by going to the Aadhaar updation centres — either post offices or government offices. A user can reverify a mobile number on the web portal of the service provider, for which the latter will provide an OTP. Once the OTP is entered, the user will see a consent message displayed on the website. The user can enter the Aadhaar number after checking the consent box.

The UIDAI has also specified that the service providers need to ensure that they have internal robust security measures to protect the Aadhaar information. For the IVR re-verification method, a user has to put in a call through the mobile number that needs to be linked. The interactive voice recorder plays the consent message and the user provides the Aadhaar number, following which an OTP request is sent. The reverification message is finally issued on the IVR.


Of Floating solar panels @ Ujjani Dam....

In order to prevent mass-scale evaporation of water, the Maharashtra state government has given a nod to a proposal that involves setting up floating solar panels on Ujjani Dam that covers a huge area across Pune, Solapur and Ahmednagar districts.

Every year, the dam loses over 1.5 TMC water owing to evaporation. Therefore, the state water resources department and the Department of Energy, New and Renewable Energy have tied up with Chennai-based Tech-Federal to set up an energy plant. The solar panels will be set up on a water surface of 4,640 acres. With this project, the state government aims to generate 1,000 MW electricity. This will be first-of-its-kind plant in India and one of the largest in the world.

The solar plant will be set afloat on water to generate power. These panels will be connected to each other to multiply power generation. The power generated through the floating solar panels will be linked with the state power grid owned by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Limited. The Ujjani Dam is the one of the largest water reservoirs in the state and it fulfils the need of irrigation and drinking water in Pune, Baramati, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Osmanabad and Beed districts. The dam is also known for export of fresh water fish all over the country.

The officer continued, “Tech-Federal is expected to invest Rs.6,300 crore for the project. The project will run for the next 25 years and generate power as well as save over 1.5 TMC water. This will also generate employment for over 5,000 people. As of now, there is a need to acquire land at the bank of the dam. However, the cost will be borne by the company itself.”

As per the memorandum of understanding signed with the company, it will sell power at the rate of Rs.3.25 per unit.

Vision Tamil Nadu --2023

Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam said the government will work towards making the state an attractive investment destination, which would have an infrastructure investment of $250 billion by 2023 in the “Vision Tamil Nadu --2023” document.

TN's per capita income is expected to reach that of upper middle income countries by 2023, said Panneerselvam on the sidelines of the 2nd United Economic Forum’s Trade Summit.

Panneerselvam said the investment commitments of ₹71,750 crore and MoUs to the tune of ₹2,600 crore is proof of the burgeoning investment climate in the state. “It is significant that the UEF is promoting investments through Sovereign Wealth Funds, Private Equity Funds, and Sharia funds. We have established, the Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Fund, which is the first Category Alternative Investment Fund established by any state government under SEBI regulations,” he added.

“Tamil Nadu, which attracts the third highest FDI in the country, will work towards a more inclusive growth pattern, which provides more opportunities for gainful and productive employment for all, and care for the disadvantaged, vulnerable, and destitute. In 1991, the per capita income of the state was lower than the national average, and today, we are more than 80%, above the national average,” said the deputy CM.

On the government's New Industrial Policy, launched in 2014, the deputy CM said, “We are reworking elements of the policy to keep in tune with the latest developments, including the introduction of GST. The effort is to not only retain Tamil Nadu’s lead in the sectors that it is strong in, but also make a breakthrough, in emerging and sunrise sectors.”