Amazon Alexa to hit the business market

Amazon’s Alexa is your new assistant at work. The device takes your command with the help of your voice. The increasing popularity has made the device to enter office spaces. Amazon is on a mission to give Alexa much more power by competing with Apple or Google.
The question that ponders is not the purchasing of Alexa but whether the businesses and conference rooms may trust the device with sensitive information. “Without a doubt, privacy and security is the number one issue,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst, CCS Insight.” Arguably that is more important than the functionality.” he adds.
To start off and understand the effectiveness, Alexa would be used for mundane and basic office activities like printing papers before doing anything confidential. Alexa is expected to turn tables with the new Amazon’s product. Its cloud computing software will allow businesses to create customised skills for the device. Specific business related questions, directions, travel and expenses for corporate offices include some of them.
A device like Echo is supposedly told to reduce the stress and overload of tedious tasks at work like, managing calenders, handling conference calls, checking availability of meeting rooms and so on. Alexa sell out has been 11 million already within a year after its launch. Reaching office spaces is the next logical step for the device, as Blaber says.



Pune to host India’s maiden Innompic Games

This year, Pune will be hosting the first ever ‘Innompic Games’ from September 15 to September 18. The event is a collective initiative of the Global Innompic Organising Committee, Science and Technology Park, Pune, Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Parks and Business Incubators Association and College of Engineering, Pune; and the winners will receive an amount of US $3 million as seed fund for setting up a business.

The focus of this event is to promote innovative ideas and practical business solutions for social challenges. Addressing a press meet on Tuesday, Rajendra Jagdale, Chairman of the first Innompic Organising Committee said “Innovations have a huge potential to change day-to-day-life of human beings. Thus, to promote and encourage innovations all across the globe, we thought of Innompic Games just like the Olympic Games in sports.”

The event will see participants from 11 countries including India, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, USA, and Yemen. Out of the four teams taking part, two are from India. The homegrown teams will comprise of experts from the incubator ecosystem and the other team will consist of international students studying in India.


Sources: TOI, Sakal

RBI Annual Report FY 2016-17 – An Overview

Reserve Bank of India in its annual report stated that fiscal consolidation may come under threat both at the central and state level due to the immediate effects of the goods and service tax (GST), loan waivers and pay revisions, putting pressure on the overall growth matrix.



According to the report, public administration, defense, and other services mainly stifled the growth number. PADO added 2.2% points to the growth of real GVA in the services sector and 1.4 % points to the growth of overall GVA of 6.6% during the year.

In terms of production, agriculture and other allied activities recovered sharply in 2016-17. This was mainly facilitated by adequate monsoons as well as a considerable amount of increase in pulses’ minimum support prices (MSPs) that augmented the sector’s growth.

RBI said that there were uncertainties in regard to revenue mobilization, subsequent to the implementation of the goods and services tax along with increasing committed liabilities of states could led to a possible breach of fiscal deficit targets.

“In the fiscal sphere, while the gains in growth, efficiency and tax buoyancy over the medium term from the recent implementation of GST are unequivocally recognised, near-term uncertainties with regard to revenue mobilization therefrom – which could impact fiscal consolidation at both centre and state levels – cannot be ruled out as this fundamental reform gains pan-India traction,” RBI said in its annual report

The State finances have also deteriorated on account of the UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme aimed at reviving poor power distribution companies (discoms) and revenue falling short despite cutbacks in capital expenses. Additionally, four state governments – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Karnataka — are likely to face challenges as the farm loan waiver could derail the fiscal discipline.


Infrastructure saw many firsts

Stalled projects declined by 40% in terms of value and 37% in terms of number, according to the RBI’s annual report.
The financial year saw the highest ever awarding and construction of national highways. Also, capacity addition in all the major ports was also the highest during this year. India for the first time turned from a net importer to a net exporter of electricity.


Aggregate Demand Suffered

During the financial year 2016-17, GDP weakened due to the slowdown in Gross capital formation (Net increase in physical assets in the financial year) as a result of sluggish business confidence and lowering in the entrepreneurial spirit took a toll on the new investment.Gross fixed capital formation contributed barely 0.7 percentage points to the real GDP growth of 7.1% in FY17, despite accounting for around one-third of real GDP.
RBI’s assessment reflects the real GDP growth was largely sustained by private and public spending. In fact, in the absence of factors like the 7th Central Pay Commission hikes and the one-rank-one-pension for defense services, real GDP growth would have been lower by 2 percentage points, the regulator noted.

The RBI said Private consumption spending alone contributed two-thirds of the growth in aggregate demand.

On Demonetisation

The RBI reported that 632.6 crore notes of Rs 1,000 denomination in circulation, 8.9 crores have not been returned post the note ban on 8th November 2016. Thus, only 1.3% of Rs 1000 notes didn’t return after the demonetization exercise. The printing cost of new notes doubled to Rs 7,965 cr in the financial year 2017 from Rs 3,421 cr in the financial year 2016 on account of new currency printing post note ban.

Source – RBI Annual Report

Economic Times-

Image source- Financial Express

African countries invite Indian inventors

In a seminar organised by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in Coimbatore, several African countries have invited Indian industrialists to invest in a number of sectors.

Representatives from countries –Mali, Seychelles, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Botswana, expressed their interest in investing in sectors like textiles, food and agro-processing, agriculture, leather and leather garments, renewable energy, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and education.

Seychelles representative has invited India to help in the promotion of tourism in their country as the country is known for tourism. High Commissioner Philippe Le Gall said. “The pillar of our economy is tourism and we see about 3lakh people visiting Seychelles every year. We want to take that up to 5lakh. We want restaurateurs to set up outlets for North Indian, South Indian, Bengali, Punjabi, Mughlai and Goan cuisines”.

Gemma Mbegabolawe, Director of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre has said that their country needs investment in tanneries, hide collection, leather product designing and manufacturing, Information and Communication Technology and cargo and logistics areas. She also mentioned that the country shares a good bond with India in the diamond sector.

Margaret Kedisi, Minister-counsellor to the Uganda high commission said “As much as 30% of our pharmaceutical import is from India. At the same time, the most preferred destination of treatment is India. So investment in pharma and healthcare industry has potential in Uganda”.

The ambassador from Mali, Niankoro Yeah Samake has said that their country is interested in textile, gold, education and hospitality management while Gemma Mbegabolawe, Botswana representative said they are interested in the development of leather product manufacturing industry as the country has more population of cattle than people.

Sources: The Hindu, TOI

Image Source: The Covai Post

Haldiram trumps McDonald’s, Unilever with Rs 4000 cr revenue

The business of Haldiram, a snack manufacturer, grew 13 per cent clocking a combined revenue of more than Rs 4,000 crore in FY16. This business venture, which had a humble beginning in a small shop in Rajasthan’s Bikaner is also the market leader in traditional snacks.

“The Indian snack major is now twice the size of Hindustan Unilever’s packaged food division or Nestle Maggi and larger than the India turnover of the two American fast food rivals Domino’s and McDonald’s put together,” stated Economic Times.

Kamal Agarwal, who is a member of Haldiram’s founding family, said, “We understand Indian palate well and that comes handy while launching new products. We have increased our reach and developed products in-house that ensure quality control.”

Haldiram’s, said to be worth Rs 5000 crore, is the second largest Indian food brand after Parle and the leader in traditional snacks market, dominating five of its rivals — Bikanervala, Balaji Wafers, Prataap Snacks, Bikaji Foods and DFM Foods.

The company sells its products across three branches – for the northern region: Haldiram Snacks and Ethnic Foods, the Nagpur-based Haldiram Foods International for the western and southern markets, and for the eastern market: Haldiram Bhujiawala.

News Source: Hindustan Times, Khaleej Times

Image Source: Money Control

India ranked third on the business optimism index: Thornton

As per the recent Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), India ranked third on the scale of business optimism index for the June 2016 quarter, reported the Business Standard.

After remaining on top for two quarters, the IBR report states that India’s rank has now dropped due to “Delays in key reforms like GST, non-resolution of tax disputes, banking issues due to NPAs and need for significant recapitalisation of public sector banks”  the report said. The aforementioned issues are the major concern with corporate India, and therefore, have affected the business confidence for the overall business optimism in the country.

“This is a clear signal that while there is optimism in the market and great business opportunity in India, the issue that is bothering investors is the slow progress on key reforms, simplification of tedious government processes and regulatory uncertainties which is impacting India’s ranking,” Harish HV, Partner – India Leadership team, Grant Thornton India LLP said in a statement, as reported by Money Control.

While the business confidence in India has gone down, there has been a rise in the optimism for an increase in exports. 35 per cent of respondents in the survey expect a rise in exports in comparison to 13 per cent which was the case in 2015. India also continues to be in the second position in citing regulations and corruption as a constraint on growth previous quarters.


Sources: Business Standard, Money Control, India Today

India at 97th position on Forbes list of best countries for business

Out of 144 countries on Forbes’ annual list of best countries for business in 2015, India ranked a low 97 (this is behind Kazakhstan and Ghana.) India scored poorly when it came to metrics like trade and monetary freedom. Challenges like tackling corruption and violence also paved way for India to stay behind at the 97thposition.

The list was topped by Denmark followed by New Zealand on the second spot and Norway on the third. The picture was not very bright for the financial capital of the world, the U.S. as it slid four spots to 22 scoring po

India at 97 on Forbes list of best countries for business. Image Source: The Hindu
India at 97 on Forbes list of best countries for business.
Image Source: The Hindu

orly on monetary freedom and bureaucracy. This has been the six-year continuous descent for the country since 2009 when it had secured the second spot.

Forbes said that though India is developing into an open-market economy, traces of its “past autarkic policies” remain. The outlook for the country’s growth on a long term basis is moderately positive due to young population and low dependency ratio. Healthy savings, investment rates and increasing integration into the global economy add to India’s growth.

The publication also added that India as a country also faceschallenges like high spending and poorly-targeted subsidies, inadequate availability of quality basic and higher education, and accommodating rural-to-urban migration.

While talking about India’s growth in the last one year, Forbes emphasized that the growth fell to a decade low, as the economic leaders struggled to improve the wide fiscal and current account deficits.

Forbes also spoke of India performing moderately well on certain factors; ranking eighth on investor protection, 41st on innovation, 57th on personal freedom and 61st on property rights. The fall came from ranking 125th on trade freedom and 139th on monetary freedom. On technology it ranked 120th, 77th on corruption and 123rd on red tape.

The UK and Japan both moved up by three spots by ranking number 10 and 23 respectively. The extreme bottom of this Forbes list features quite a few emerging markets restrained by high levels of corruption and little freedom.