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Monday, 25 August 2014

Indians have the Wings of UAVs to destroy ourselves!

Indians have the Wings of UAVs to destroy ourselves!

New breed of Moneybags divest Indian retail business and it is drone e commerce all over deregulated!
Palash Biswas
US drone attacks on Indian retail market intensified as we Indians have the wings of UAVs to destroy ourselves.New breed of moneybagas divest Indian retail business and it is drone e commerce all over deregulated.Indian textiles lose ground once again as Textile major Arvind's Lifestyle Brands arm has tied up with the US iconic retailer Gap Inc. to franchise its apparels in India through retail format.

On the other hand,during Clegg's visit, it is expected the UK will strongly raise the issue of British telecom giant Vodafone's Rs 11,217-crore tax dispute when it acquired Hutchison Whampoa's India unit. This has become a significant irritant in bilateral business ties.Clegg, leader of the UK coalition partner Liberal Democrats, will be leading a 50-strong trade delegation to promote investment in three key focus sectors of education, food and retail, and defence and aerospace.  British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that will visit India for three days from August 25, 2014.

Mind you,the new government has made its stand clear that it will not allow foreign direct investment in multibrand retail trading but it has not clearly spelt out what will be its stance on the pending proposals.However E tailing is in violent vogue and Amozen, Filpcart and Walmart have already taken over the indigenous retail sector in the digital biometric nation.

With increasing number of people preferring to shop online, the retail category penetration has increased to 65% and has grown to 53.4 million visitors a month, an overall growth of 15% annually, according to a report.

However, against the unprecedented boom boom etailing by global retail players the official stance seems to be misleading as Financial Express reports:Several e-commerce firms that operate in the B2C (business-to-consumer) space but whose affiliates in the B2B space have foreign direct investment are likely to be in trouble going by a statement made by commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The latest retail war scenerio tells a different story as business because reports, the biggest e-commerce companies have stepped up their hiring of MBAs, as they gear up for rapid expansion in an industry that observers say is poised to boom in the coming years.
Indian’s e-retail market is forecast to enjoy sales of $32 billion by 2020, which would rival China, the biggest e-commerce player by sales growth this year. India’s internet users are also predicted to surge to 600 million in numbers in the same period, creating a huge customer base.

The big e-commerce giants have raised substantial funds to tap into this emerging industry, and are poised to fight for market share.

Fipkart, founded by two IIT graduates, last month raised $1 billion in new equity for expansion and improvements. A day later, Amazon, which launched in India last year, announced that it had raised another $2 billion to invest in the country. eBay-backed Snapdeal, another e-commerce upstart, is expected to raise funds in the coming months to remain competitive.

As such, rapid expansion will open up huge job opportunities, agrees Professor Deepa Mani from the information systems group at the Indian School of Business.

“Hiring by e-commerce firms and start-ups have seen a rapid increase over the last couple of years,” he said. “Companies are seeking MBAs who can integrate cutting edge technologies with traditional business functions such as marketing and finance,” he added.

Smaller e-commerce firms have also raised capital or received investment to expand. Jabong.com raised $100 million in February this year, and Pepperfry.com raised $15 million in May.

Professor Deepa added that e-commerce start-ups had increased hiring at the business school by 50% compared to a year earlier. But Technopak, a New-Delhi-based retail consultancy, said that funding for start-ups has dried up in the past year, with investors focusing on larger companies.

But there are also thought to be job opportunities in technology consulting, which dominated 40% of total consulting positions taken by ISB’s MBA class.

India’s e-commerce industry is smaller than China, which has seen 64% growth in sales this year, but sales of goods over the internet, currently at $2.3 billion, is projected to grow rapidly, according Technopak.

It is thought that India’s expensive real estate prices are giving e-commerce firms an advantage over traditional retailers, and home deliveries have grown in popularity within India’s congested urban centres. Flipkart and Snapdeal say the proportion of customers accessing their sites via mobiles has increased from less than 10% last year to more than 50% today.

There are already signs that hiring at these large firms has started to increase. ISB said that 300 job offers were made by 53 technology companies – the biggest hiring sector – last year, led by Amazon and Apple. About 345 of the MBA’s 741 total employment offers were for jobs based in India.

The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore – the country’s third highest-ranked business school – announced that it saw major e-commerce companies hire their 2014 graduating class.

Amazon made 11 job offers and led the technology recruiting, the school said, while Flipkart, Jabong and Yepme were the biggest hirers in the e-commerce space.

E-commerce companies also stepped up their recruitment for the school’s summer internship season. The latest figures show that big players took on MBAs, including Amazon with 12 job offers, while Flipkart made 10 offers for a range of different positions.

At the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad it was a similar story. The leading business school said students showed a keen interest in taking up positions in e-commerce companies, which hired about 7% of the class.

These companies were particularly keen to hire MBAs for sales and marketing roles. The school said: “E-commerce was represented by a variety of companies such as Flipkart, Ebay, Valyoo, and first time recruiters such as CommonFloor.”

About 27% of the class accepted summer internships in e-commerce and IT firms.

E-commerce companies have also stepped up hiring across Europe. At Oxford’s Saïd Business School, the firm is the top recruiter, and at London Business School last year, Amazon recruited more students than any of the big investment banks.

In this year’s career outlook report, HEC Paris, the leading French business school, said: “Amazon has been a significant recruiter from the program since 2011, and is likely to be our top recruiter for the graduating class of 2014.”

Specialist e-commerce firms are not the only ones targeting India’s emerging market.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, launched a pilot e-commerce platform last month. The American giant operates in 20 stores in India, and is testing the e-commerce pilot in Lucknow and Hyderabad.

It is reported that large Indian conglomerates involved in traditional retailing are planning to go viral to expand, including Reliance Industries and Tata Group.

Miriam Park, Amazon's director of university recruiting, said that the company plans to hire hundreds of MBAs this year, building on an increase every year for the past five years.

“We recruit top talent wherever it may be around the world,” Miriam said, and added that MBAs are able to move across Amazon’s businesses throughout their career.

An 11 to 12 week internship program is also offered to MBAs at the world’s largest e-commerce group, which seeds its campus hiring.

“We see MBAs thriving at Amazon because they love taking ownership of big projects and solving hard problems for our customers,” said Miriam.

“We don’t disclose specific numbers, but hire in the hundreds globally. We see them adding long-term value across Amazon,” she added.

“FDI is banned in multi-brand retail and the same applies to e-commerce also,” she said at the Indian Express Group’s Idea Exchange programme. The minister’s clarification comes at a time when authorities suspect that many e-commerce firms have structured their business in such a way that foreign capital coming to their wholesale business indirectly supports the retail e-commerce business. Recent reports said some of the leading e-commerce companies are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged violations of foreign exchange regulations.

India permits 100% FDI in B2B e-commerce activities (as in wholesale trade) but foreign investment is not allowed in B2C e-commerce companies. But some foreign firms are present in the country through what is called the marketplace model. Under this model, they do not retail any products but offers a platform for consumers to place orders, which are then retailed by domestic retailers. This is perfectly legal.
However, there are some domestic B2C e-commerce companies that also operate through the marketplace model but allegedly use their other FDI-funded ventures in the B2B space for retail sales. The minister’s reiteration of the policy would mean that such companies would now face the music.

On the ongoing review of free trade agreements (FTAs), Sitharaman said this was not being done with a view to scrap them but to ensure that Indian manufacturers optimally benefit from these pacts.

Stating that India’s FTA partner countries may be benefiting more from these pacts than India, she said the government was therefore looking at some “remedial measures”, which could lead to correcting inverted duties as in the recent Union Budget. The reviews could also allow more careful formulation of future FTAs.

The FTAs under review are those with Asean, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

India is also planning comprehensive bilateral trade and investment pacts with many countries and blocs including Canada, the European Union and Australia.
Portals such as snapdeal.com, yebhi.com, myntra.com, jabong.com, firstcry.com and lenskart.com are among the major players in India's roughly $12-billion e-commerce industry that is growing at about 34% a year. According to an investment tracking agency, capital flow into India's e-commerce firms rose 258% to $805 million in 2013-14 from $224.85 million a year ago, indicating

Apparel, health, home furnishings, fragrances and cosmetics are the few categories which have shown growth in the last 12 years, with apparel being the strongest with 66% followed by fragrances and cosmetics at 12% growth, according to a report by Assocham and comScore, titled 'State of E-commerce in India'.

The report said that Flipkart group of websites (including recently acquired Myntra) are the most visited retail sites with over 26 million unique visitors for the month of July 2014 (excluding visitors using mobile internet and mobile apps). It was followed by Jabong (with 23.5 million unique visitors), Amazon (with 16.9 million unique visitors).

It also found that the travel category has also been growing overall and the growth has come from all the sub-categories including car rentals, online travel agents, airlines as well as hotels and travel information sites.

"Indian Railways is among the most visited sites in India with over 15 million unique visitors a month. MakeMyTrip, Yatra and Cleartrip individually reach over 8.9%, 7.6% and 3.5% of total online users respectively," it said.

According to the report, age group of 15-24 years has been the fastest growing age segment online with user growth being contributed by the both male and female segments.

The top 5 popular categories accessed online are social networking, portal, search, entertainment and new sites, according to the report.

"E-Commerce is increasingly emerging as the fundamental sales channel for growing number of businesses. The internet user base is expanding fast and e-Commerce has opened up a big window of opportunity for businesses to expand to new markets with ease and at low cost," Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

The report said that India has third fastest share in retail marketing adding over 7 million internet users among the BRIC nations.

"India, Brazil and Russia are quite close to each other but China has been surging ahead in retail. The China continues on the growth path with over 103 retail million internet users by the end of June 2014. The Russian Federation has also surged ahead with a very high growth rate of 32%," it said.

It added close to 13 million users in the retail category. Brazil is also growing in double digits at 13% and added 6 million unique visitors in the last year.

"The growth has come across all retail categories and most of them show promising transactions and conversion rates along with growth in visitors," the report said.

"We will open about 40 Gap stores to franchise its apparels across the country starting with Mumbai and Delhi early 2015," Arvind chairman Sanjay Lalbhai said in a statement here Friday.

Arvind, which has been a Gap vendor for long, is extending the partnership to retail for adding the latter's portfolio of brands to retain its leadership in the growing Indian apparel market.

As the world's second most populous country, India represents an important platform for Gap to bring its casual style to the upwardly mobile Indian consumers.

"India is an emerging, vibrant market and an important next step in our global expansion strategy," Gap's global president Steve Sunnucks said on the occasion.

Gap will ship its summer 2015 collection for adults, kids and babies to promote its well-known brands in the Indian market.

With more than half of the country's 1.2-billion people being under 25 years and the younger generation embracing fashion as never before, Gap plans to cash in on its brand awareness.

"We look forward to understanding the Indian market place and consumer needs to create our brand experience among the local consumers," Gap global franchise vice-president Ismail Seyis said in the statement.

As Gap has a huge recall in India and being a favourite among Bollywood stars, Arvind plans to leverage the former's brand awareness to scale up and expand its franchise business.

The $16-billion Gap, which has about 230 stores across Asia, plans to open an additional 110 stores in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan this year.

mazon Vs. Flipkart: Stacking The Two Leading Online Retailers In India
Abhishek BaxiAug 23, 2014, 09.30 AM IST

Unabashedly modelled on Amazon.com, Flipkart.com was launched in India in 2007, many years ago before the US ecommerce major arrived in the country. After a great initial run and some major acquisitions, the company enjoyed the maturing market riding on the mobile revolution establishing Flipkart.com as the leading online retailer in the country.

Of course, as was expected, Amazon.in entered the market to spoil the party. The brand reputation carried over across the seas, even to a first time buyer in India, a unique advantage which is uncommon for new players.

In this piece, I avoid comparing delivery quality, seller confidence, and customer service since the mileage varies for different individuals. The general consensus looks like that while Flipkart was a darling for many for quite long, Amazon is garnering lot of fans with quicker deliveries and overall experience in recent times. It's a huge market, and the competence and deep pockets of either cannot be debated. So, I'll avoid the crystal ball gazing and look at how the two stack against each other right now in terms of few, nifty features they offer.

Fulfilled by Amazon

A lot of users I've talked to, and even me in most cases, prefer to avoid products from third-party sellers and place trust in Amazon and Flipkart to undertake the order. The assumption here, based on the trust in the brand, is fair pricing, better delivery, and quick resolution in case of an issue.

At Flipkart, all products sold by the seller - WS Retail - are the ones that are fulfilled by Flipkart, WSRetail being the company's subsidiary. At Amazon, a 'Fulfilled by Amazon' label assures you of the same.

A nifty feature at Amazon though is pretty handy. While browsing through products, one of the filters is 'Fulfilled by Amazon'. Once selected, only Amazon-shipped products will be listed. Unfortunately, on Flipkart, there's no way to set a filter like that, and you'll have to go to individual product listing to check the seller, and make your decision.

Exclusives

A new trend in the Indian e-commerce market, exclusive partnerships, has been attempted by almost every major players worth its salt. However, Flipkart got all the eyeballs (and of course a huge revenue) with popular and sell out tie-ups with Motorola, Asus, and Xiaomi. Without a doubt, Flipkart was at an advantage here.

Amazon managed to pull back some mindshare with the exclusive deal with Microsoft for the Xbox One, and looks like both the retailers will see this an important way to 'force' online buying and expect to inculcate that as a habit.

Flipkart First

Amazon.com offers a prime subscription which allows customers better shipping deals, exclusive offers, and free access to digital content from its library. However, the company hasn't launched a similar program in India as yet.

Flipkart launched Flipkart First a few months ago, and walked away with the early mover advantage. Available at ₹500 for an annual subscription, the membership brings free one-day delivery, discounted in-a-day delivery, and some exclusive offers along the way. However, there's no digital content, and not much incentive yet, and I don't see many people interested in subscribing to the service.

Customer reviews

Again, worldwide, Amazon is a great source of reading reviews for a product even if you were buying it elsewhere. In India, the same can be said about Flipkart. It's been there since a while, and for most products in popular categories, you'll see a lot of customer reviews giving you a fair idea of the product helping you make a purchase decision.
Amazon.in only been there for a year, and you'll find a lot of products without any or only a few reviews. The e-tailer cleverly integrates reviews for some of its products, but those of course miss the Indian context.

Packaging/Delivery

One of the highlights of the Amazon experience worldwide has been their packaging and delivery. Apart from the Kindle devices, Amazon doesn't sell products in India, so we don't get to see much of those legendary no-tape, flip-to-open boxes.

Nevertheless, Amazon has a huge focus on packaging as part of its customer experience. Apart from the product and seller review as is at Flipkart, Amazon also allows you to share your feedback on the packaging/delivery of the product. Pretty cool.
(Image: Thinkstock)
http://www.gizmodo.in/indiamodo/Amazon-vs-Flipkart-Stacking-The-Two-Leading-Online-Retailers-In-India/articleshow/40738675.cms
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Aug 22 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)
On the Wings of UAVs



Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are making an impact across sectors and market. The market size for them is expected to reach $33.5 million (`203 crore) by 2019. In India, a number of startups focussing on this new age technology have set up shop. ET's Malavika Murali takes a look at a few of the upcoming players in the country
EDALL SYSTEMS WHAT IT DOES The Bangalore-based company conducts training sessions on design and development of UAVs for students and builds parts for National Aerospace Labs and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.INVESTMENTS The startup is in talks with MNCs and NRI. It was contacted by the French Trade Commission (UBIFRANCE) last month for potential collaborations with European drone makers LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ­It is 3D printing parts, such as battery compartments, camera housing, electronic wiring connectors and structural elements. Signed deal with Karnataka-based Adhiamman College of Engineering to set up a drone research and manufacturing facility.
AIRPIX WHAT IT DOES A Mumbai-based company that does affordable aerial drone photography and gives `recommendations' to businesses and industries through analysis of the aerial data. Clients include K Raheja Corp, Reliance Energy, Kalpataru and APM Terminals.INVESTMENTS The startup is looking to raise venture investments this year.LATEST DEVELOPMENTS The drones are now custom-made and include a range of fixed wing and multirotor UAVs and can carry different payloads.
ATOMS & BYTES WHAT IT DOES Custom-made drones, make-your-own-drone kits and drone accessories are sold both online and offline by this Chennai-based startup for `11,000 to `5 lakh. Clients mainly comprise drone enthusiasts, hobbyists, students and also certain local army units.INVESTMENTS Indian film and television technology company Real Image Media Technologies invested `20 lakh. The company is in talks with angel investors from Bahrain and Dubai and is looking to raise investments in about four weeks' time.LATEST DEVELOPMENTS The company is now looking to introduce drones into the film industry. It is launching two types of drones in the next two weeks.
PIXELISM WHAT IT DOES A Hyderabad-based photography and advertising company that has used drones for aerial photography and videography.INVESTMENTS The founders are in talks with individual investors and are hoping to raise a `30 lakh investment by October this year.LATEST DEVELOPMENTS The startup is looking to expand its base to Bangalore and Visakhapatnam by the end of this fiscal.
GARUDA ROBOTICS WHAT IT DOES Singapore-based Garuda Robotics set up by 21-yearold Indian Pulkit Jaiswal sells drone software.INVESTMENTS The startup has raised venture funding since last year and is in talks with investors for potential investments.LATEST DEVELOPMENTS Is looking to introduce agricultural drones by the end of the year. The systems will track the chlorophyll levels of crops in the air.
IDEAFORGE Has built Nethra UAV in collaboration with DRDO and has the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force and the police forces of about three states as customers.















Aug 22 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Seen an iPhone Queue? E-Commerce's is Bigger
Radhika P Nair & Madhav Chanchani
Bangalore | Mumbai: likes to miss the bus a s


PE funds, hedge funds & even brick-and-mortar cos rush to invest
No one likes to miss the bus a second time. Investors who missed out on the ecommerce boom in the country that began earlier this decade are keen to make amends this time round.
These investors, ranging from private equity and venture funds to international hedge funds and brick-and-mortar retailers, are currently evaluating a number of online companies, especially niche single-category retailers in segments such as web-only fashion, babycare and eyewear. “We are very aggressively looking at investing in ecommerce, especially something with local connect or an offline presence,“ said Manas Tandon, principal at TPG Growth India, which has not invested in a consumer Internet company in India so far.“We have seen some interesting businesses,“ said Tandon, whose fund has backed businesses such as accommodation listings provider Airbnb and messaging app Viber globally.
Tandon declined to reveal the names of the companies that his fund is in talks with.
Recently, Hong Kong hedge fund Steadview Capital made its India entry by investing in music streaming service Saavn, furniture site Urban Ladder and taxi ser vice OlaCabs, the back-toback deals indication of the seriousness with which it views the India market.
The internet sector's scorching pace of growth, and highprofile deals are fuelling the intense interest. The online retail industry, which was valued at $1 billion two years ago, is expected to reach $32 billion (Rs 1.9 lakh crore) in 2020, according to retail advisory firm Technopak. This year has already seen a flurry of deals--Investors have pumped in over $1.6 billion (Rs 9,700 crore) across 24 deals so far this year, compared with $553 million (over Rs 3,300 crore) last year across 36 deals, according to research firm Venture Intelligence.
Multiples Alternate Asset Management, a private equity fund founded by former ICICI Venture head Renuka Ram nath, is also trying to cash in.The Mumbai-based fund has been watching ecommerce from “time to time,“ managing director Prakash Nene said. “We don't invest in early stage, but when business models get proven and there is runaway growth with a good management team we would like to invest,“ he said.
Supam Maheshwari, cofounder and chief executive of online babycare company Firstcry , said his company is an object of interest for potential newbies. Several have “reached out“ to him less than eight months after his firm raised over Rs 90 crore. He declined to reveal names of these investors. “Those who have never invested in internet or those who have not invested in ecommerce in India are now reaching out,“ he said.
Large fundraises by indus try leaders, such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, and the entry of investors like Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC have boosted investor confidence.
“There is a lot of interest now,“ said Manish Chopra, chief executive of web-only fashion brand Zovi, which is in talks with investors to raise about $25 million (Rs 150 crore). The company, backed by SAIF Partners and Tiger Global, has raised about $25.5 million (Rs 153 crore) so far.
It is the phenomenal rise in valuation of holdings of early investors that has led to this increasing excitement. For instance, Flipkart was valued around Rs 1,000 crore in 2011, according to industry sources. After its most recent fundraise, it is estimated to be worth around Rs 42,000 crore.
“Privately some PE firms do regret not making investments in the space in 2011-12,“ said Sanjeev Krishan, leader of private equity and transaction services at advisory firm PricewaterhouseCoopers India.
Also intervals between fundraises are shrinking. “This time, the inbound interest from investors was tremendous,“ said Ashish Goel, chief executive of two-year-old Urban Ladder which recently raised $20 million (about Rs 120 crore) within seven months of its previous round.
Brick-and-mortar retailers who do not want to be left behind are among those making a bid be a part of the ecommerce party. Arvind Mills this week announced setting up its online brand Creyate while others could make their presence felt in the form of investments in online retail sites.

Aug 22 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Singh Orders Doctrine to Wipe Out Naxal Menace
Aman.Sharma @timesgroup.com
New Delhi:
PTI


SOME GROUND-RULES No talks unless Maoists lay down arms, going after top leadership, pushing in more security forces & political commitment to eradicate Left-wing terror
Aiming to wipe out Leftwing extremism in the next three years, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has ordered the preparation of a new `anti-Maoist doctrine' to codify government's policy for tackling the menace. The consent of all Maoist-affected states and the Union Cabinet will be sought on the same.
This comes after Singh was told at a recent presentation by the Intelligence Bureau that though Maoists were on the back-foot and violence levels were down, there were concerns about lack of success in Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, necessitating a uniform approach now towards the fight.
The doctrine aims to set some ground-rules -like no talks with Maoists unless in a bleak scenario where they lay down arms, going after the top Maoist leadership by dedicated security teams, pushing in more security forces into worst-affected areas like Bastar and political commitment from all Maoist-affected states to eradicate the Left-wing extremism.
A senior IB official told ET that the anti-Maoist doctrine will soon be circulated to all Maoist-affected states by the ministry for their comments and consent and subsequently an “in-principle approval“ of the same will be sought from the Cabinet. “Once the doctrine is in place, any wavering from it by any state will mean costs ­ in terms of funds being sent to the state to fight Maoists being curtailed,“ a home ministry official said. BJP had earlier criticised the UPA government for not having a uniform anti-Maoist policy . Bihar has lately differed with the Centre's stance against Maoists.
The IB official said Singh has wished for an aggressive approach to eradicate Maoists after a recent presentation to him that said the violence levels were lowest in the last 14 years and Maoists were facing serious challeng es like “decline of their base, loss of leadership, ideological dilution, increased desertions and weakening of urban movement“. The presentation put the strength of CPI (Maoist) at 6,000 armed cadres and 36,000 Jan Militia and said they held 4,000 regular and 6,000 country-made weapons. It also pointed out that Sukma and Bijapur in Chhattisgarh and Gadhchirolli in Maharashtra were the worst-affected and the main hub of CPI (Maoist) and needed to be targeted. South Chhattisgarh is the “fountain-head“ of Maoism with presence of large Maoist armed formations and location of the top leadership, it added.
The presentation said the operations had yielded improved results “only in“ Maharashtra and Odisha and that Bihar and Jharkhand had a “poor performance“. Among other concerns flagged off to the home minister were “movement of large groups of armed Maoist cadres, massive collection of funds through extortion, inability of the security forces to take on large armed groups, heavy security force casualties in IED blasts and administrative vacuum in large areas.“
Singh was also told that Maoists were planning to intensify guerilla and mine warfare against security forces, develop a second line of leadership and focus on issues of “Jal, Jungle and Zameen.“ He was told Maoists planned more abductions -followed by short negotiations and killings of abductees if demands were not met.
Rs 1-Cr Maha Bounty on Ultra Boss Ganapathy
NEW DELHI: Maharashtra government has announced a reward of `1 crore to anyone giving information leading to arrest of chief of CPI (Maoist) Muppala Lakshman Rao, alias Ganapathy.

Aug 22 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
COMMITTEE OF SECRETARIES TO MEET SOON - Consumer is King, says BJP-led Govt
Rajesh.Ramachandran @timesgroup.com
New Delhi


Plans Inter-Ministerial Group on Consumer Advocacy to focus on public grievances
Apart from mega scandals, consumer dissatisfaction, particularly among the middle and lower middle classes, over issues of price rise and inefficient delivery was one of the big reasons for BJP's return to power. Now to address its voters, the BJP government is turning its focus on consumer grievances across the country in a big way , planning an Inter-Ministerial Group on Consumer Advocacy (IMGCA).
The government has realised that the Department of Consumer Affairs can't do much when, “the response apparatus is fragmented across several line departments.Price monitoring and interventions to moderate market forces to stabilise prices in commodities of common consumption is a case in point“. A note was circulated last week for the Committee of Secretaries, which will soon meet to set up the IMGCA.
The attempt is to make the govern ment responsive to ers' concerns and not wards consumers' concerns and not dump the myriad issues with DCA.The government has identified six key sectors -agriculture, food, healthcare, housing, financial services and transport -and will bring the secretaries of the concerned departments together in IMGCA to ensure a “consumer-centric focus“.
The civil aviation and railway sectors may also be brought into IMGCA 's ambit, but there is no immediate proposal. Code of conduct for ethical behaviour for companies, standardising contracts to ensure they are not unfair to consumers, simple, speedy and affordable grievance redress window and consumer awareness are some of the tools envisaged in the strategy .
The Cabinet Secretary will chair the group and the Consumer Affairs Secretary will be its member secretary. “The terms of reference of the committee will be to facilitate policy coherence and coordinated action on consumer advocacy for the six key sectors,“ says the note.

Aug 22 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)
Okhla: Capital's E-commerce Hub



In 2010, e-commerce firm Snapdeal's cofounders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal decided to rent an office floor in Okhla Phase-III, then home to Luxor and MapmyIndia. A daily deals site then, loads of boxes with discounted sunglasses and clothes could be seen arriving at their lone office floor, which then would get dispatched to deal buyers.
Within three years, Snapdeal has changed its model to an online marketplace. With its success, it has become the largest occupant of the area with five buildings. It has tripled its headcount to over 1,200 in Okhla. Snapdeal's success has inspired newer startups such as Sequioa-funded Akosha and Nexus Venture Partners funded-Unicommerce to move to the prime Delhi territory. Another startup Valyoo Technologies, which runs portals such as Lenskart, Jewelskart and Watchkart, started out in 2010 from phase-II of Okhla with eight employees. It has now grown to a 450 people company. Of Okhla's three phases, the third is the most plush with services companies, while the first two are largely housed by entrepreneurs from manufacturing sector. “Presence of lots of vendors nearby makes it an attractive location for ecommerce companies. Despite rent being on the higher side, when compared to Noida and Gurgaon, we chose to setup office here,“ said Ankit Pruthi, CEO of Unicommerce, a software platform for online sellers. “With metro connectivity to all parts of Delhi and a scalable infrastructure, Okhla has proven conducive to Snapdeal's fast growth,“ said a spokesperson for Snapdeal, which is targetting to cross $1 billion in gross merchandise sales this year. MapmyIndia, which provides GPS based software solutions, moved here six years ago. It has rented a building space of 20,000 square feet. The company employs 750 people, a large part work out of Okhla. “The lacunae here is the lack of restaurants where people can network. Every startup has to invest in building a cafeteria,“ said Rakesh Verma, managing director of MapmyIndia.
OKHLA ANCHOR COMPANY:
Snapdeal STARTUPS IN THE REGION: Unicommerce, Akosha, MapmyIndia, Lenskart, MeritNation PROS: Presence of Nehru Place Asia's largest IT hardware sellers hub, textile and readymade garments manufacturers CONS: Real Estate expensive compared to Noida, Gurgaon COMPETING HUBS: Noida, Gurgaon