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Artifical Intelligence: Policy, IPR and law in India and other countries worldwide

The conflict which arises between AI and copyright is that if the creative work produced by the machine is not brought under the ambit of copyright or is not allowed to attain copyright, the copyright system will be perceived as a system which encourages human creativity over machine creativity

Ramit Rana & Apurva Bhutani

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In today’s tech savvy world artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining substantial amount of recognition and prevalence. Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a digital computer or computer controlled robots to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. AI systems are capable of handling complex tasks with minimal or no human intervention.

 “Stephen Hawkin articulated that there is no deep difference between what can be achieved by a biological brain and what can be achieved by a computer.” It therefore, follows that computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence and exceed it. Hence, AI systems are creative, autonomous, and capable of learning and they can mimic human perception and cognitive abilities. Also, they can take in data, process that data, learn from it and make decisions on the basis of the learnings. This system is capable of creating layers of knowledge that did not exist before.

Furthermore, World Intellectual Property Organisation has defined intellectual property rights (IPR) as referring to the unique value creations of human intellect that result from human resourcefulness, creativity and inventiveness. Intellectual Property is basically a property which is the creation of human intellect. In simple words Intellectual Property Rights are specific legal rights which are aimed to protect the creations of the intellect.

Artificial intelligence encounters Intellectual Property Rights in several forms or ways. Firstly AI can assist intellectual property rights with its management. Secondly Intellectual property rights being a legal system can protect AI. It is pertinent to note that the fundamental goal of IP systems have always been to encourage creative innovations and new technologies, therefore Intellectual Property laws can be used to reward AI generated innovations. As also, the deployment and use of AI technologies will have implications both for intellectual property law and policy and the administration of IP systems around the world.

AI AND COPYRIGHT

Copyright is an exclusive right granted to creators for their creative works such as literary work, artistic work etc. The conflict which arises between AI and copyright is that if the creative work produced by the machines are not brought under the ambit of copyright or are not allowed to attain copyright, the copyright system will be perceived as a system which encourages human creativity over machine creativity whereas if copyright protection will be accorded to the AI generated machines, it would be tend to be seen as a system which places equal value on human creativity and machine creativity. Correspondingly, it is observed that since 1970s computer generated art works have attracted a lot of attention. The vast majority of these computer produced artworks are depended vigorously on the programmer who gives the contribution to production of the work. Notwithstanding, with innovative progression, AI has developed to the degree that it is fit for understanding and creating outputs without any human interference. Earlier ownership of copyright for computer generated work was not in picture because computer was just a tool to assist the creative process but with the latest AI systems, machines or computers are not just a tool of assistance rather are capable of taking many decisions involved in creative process without human intervention. This problem is being dealt in most of the countries by attributing the authorship or ownership of such works to the creator of such machines. Laws of most of the countries provide copyright to work created only by a human being. The US court in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Company [499 U.S. 340 1991] held that the copyright law only protects the fruits of intellectual labour that are founded in the creative powers of the mind.

 In an another case before US circuit court, Naruto v Slater No. 16-15469 [9th Cir. 2018], the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of copyright infringement claims brought by a monkey over selfies he took on a wildlife photographer’s unattended camera. Naruto, a crested macaque, took several photos of himself on the camera, and the photographer and Wildlife Personalities subsequently published the Monkey Selfies in a book. PETA filed suit as next friend to Naruto, alleging copyright infringement. Naruto was the author and owner of the photographs and had suffered concrete and particularized economic harms but the panel held that Naruto lacked statutory standing because the Copyright Act did not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits.

 In US Court in Bleistein v. Donaldson Lithographing [188 U.S. 239], described the uniqueness of human personality and specified the same to be a prerequisite to grant a copyright whereas in Alfred Bell & Co. v. Catalda Fine Arts [191 F. 2d 99 (2d Cir. 1951), the Court lowered the standard for originality and held that it must not be copied from any other artistic work of similar character in order for it to be original. This judgment came out to be favourable for claiming copyrights for AI generated works, since such works were obviously not copied, but derived through programming and algorithms. However, the lack of a definitive perspective on these matters continues to affect the prospective right holders.

In an Australian case, Acohs Pty Ltd v Ucorp Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 16], court declared that a work generated with the intervention of a computer could not be protected by copyright because it was not produced by a human. Similarly in Europe the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has also declared on various occasions, particularly in its landmark Infopaq decision (C-5/08 Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagbaldes Forening), that copyright only applies to original works, and that originality must reflect the “author’s own intellectual creation.” This is usually understood as meaning that an original work must reflect the author’s personality, which clearly means that a human author is necessary for a copyright work to exist.

In the English case of Nova Productions v Mazooma Games[2007] EWCA Civ 219, the Court of Appeal had to decide on the authorship of a computer game, and declared that a player’s input “is not artistic in nature and he has contributed no skill or labour of an artistic kind”. So considering user action case by case could be one possible solution to the problem. Therefore, UK has taken a pragmatic position, it has expanded its copyright laws to recognize computer generated works and they have assigned authorship of computer generated works to the individuals by whom the arrangement necessary for the creation of work was undertaken.

AI AND PATENT

Patents are the exclusive rights granted over inventions-product or process, that provides a new way of doing something and which is not obvious and unique in nature. The relation between AI and patent arises from the fact that inventions today can be autonomously generated by AI. It must be kept in mind that patents invention that have to do with AI have been claimed by the humans increasingly and is now becoming a question of morality whether it should be continued to allow that to happen, should humans claim these inventions and be able to exploit them. Consequently, computerassisted inventions and their treatment under patent laws has been the subject of lengthy discussions in many countries around the world.

The UK Court seeks to follow decisions of the European Patent Office’s Boards of Appeal. The EPO has of late included specific guidance on AI to its Guidelines. As in other key jurisdictions (e.g. China, Japan, Korea and the USA), algorithms fundamentally face impressive difficulties to patentability. The EPO adopts the strategy that AI computational models and algorithms are avoided from patentability, unless they amount to a computer program having a “further technical effect” going past the “normal” physical interactions between the program and the computer on which it is run. For the time being, both the EPO and the UK Intellectual Property Office, in practice, require human inventors to be named as part of the patent application process, yet this necessity isn’t upheld up by penalties for bogus or false proclamations (unlike in the US system), and there is no obligation to disclose the role of any inventive AI engaged in the creation of an invention.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has decided that AI frameworks can’t be credited as a creator or inventor in a patent. Among the USPTO’s contentions is the fact that US patent law more than once alludes to innovators utilizing humanlike terms, for example, “whoever” and pronouns like “himself ” and “herself. The group behind the applications had contended that the law’s references to a creator as an “individual” could be applied to a machine; however the USPTO said this translation was excessively wide. “Under current law, only natural persons may be named as an inventor in a patent application”.

The Supreme Court of United States in Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981) held that patent claims that are directed to abstract ideas (e.g. a mathematical algorithm), natural phenomena or laws of nature are not eligible for patent protection, the court further explained that “they are the basic tools of scientific and technological work,” and that granting monopolies on those tools through patent rights might impede innovation. The Supreme Court, in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International [134 S. Ct. 2347], recently made it more challenging for applicants to obtain patents on software or “computer-implemented inventions”

 Many have argued that patents provide incentives for innovation, investment and invention and that awarding patent rights to software can encourage investment in softwarerelated research and further promote innovation. Some have also suggested that patents should not be awarded to any software.

AI AND TRADEMARK

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights. Till date, there is only one proper case regarding the interaction between AI and trademarks. In the case of Cosmetic Warriors and Lush v Amazon.co.uk and Amazon EU ([2014] EWHC 181 (Ch), the court has reprimanded the Amazon for infringing upon the Lush trademarks. Amazon brought the keyword Lush from the Google through bidding process. And when the word “Lush” is searched on the Google search engine, Google redirects the link of the Amazon website based on the key word. Even if the Lush word is searched on the Amazon’s website, the AI of the website is suggesting the similar products rather the Lush products. Though there is no sale of Lush products on the website but AI product system is suggesting the similar products based on the keyword search on the website which is a clear indication of infringement. And court held that Amazon is liable for the infringement. Such litigations are bound to rise once AI becomes a consumer.

AI is likely to pose enormous number of challenges but the foundation of trademark is strong and cannot be shake easily as long as there exists an emotional connect between brands and the consumers.

IPR AND AI IN INDIA

Artificial intelligence is such a technology that has gained traction in India in recent times — it has evolved in ways that far exceed its original conception. From start-ups to the Indian government, AI has been used to a great extent, making lives of Indians better. Now, even the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has approved the implementation of AI as a subject for students of classes 8th, 9th, and 10th.

In June 2018, the Indian government defined a national policy on AI in a working paper titled, “National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence #AIforAll.” The NITI Aayog paper identifies five focus areas where AI development could enable both growth and greater inclusion: healthcare, agriculture, education, urban-/ smart-city infrastructure, and transportation and mobility.

The existing Indian copyright law is not exhaustive to give rights to AI for creation of work. India has focused on requirement of human interference for a copyright protection. Moreover creating AI as a separate identity still seems sceptical in India. If we rely on Section 13 of Indian Copyright Act,1957 which clearly defines that for a work to be eligible for literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, the said work must be an original work. For AI to attain copyright over any such work, it must pass the test of originality. The problem arises because the question whether AI can create original work is debatable. It is perceived that AI produces the compilation of already existing information. Also another problem which is faced is that if AI will be accepted as an owner of the work then who will be held liable for any infringement. Since AI lacks any legal status, this will become dreadfully challenging unless proper acts can be established for AI.

FUTURE OF AI

There can come a time in the near future when computers will have about the same capacity as humans and may perhaps even exceeded it. We have already started to see snippets of it and undoubtedly it will emerge at a great pace.

Karl Marx, in his ‘The Fragment on Machines’, predicted a scenario where AI would take over the production process leaving people with increasingly more free time to engage in artistic and scientific activities and thus, making wealth creation relatively independent of labour time spent.

 By providing economic reward for innovation and creativity IP encourages the innovators and creators to continue to expand the fields of technology and creativity in future. AI is the best possible technological advancement and innovations which can be backed by intellectual property laws and help them evolve more in the future, the future of AI is bright.

 For example- if a person builds a house, he is the owner of the house, he has all the rights on that house, he can determine who can enter in his house, who can stay in his house, the point here is that when a person finds a product out of his intellect, the law allows him to control what happens to his product and enable him to create economic value out of it. At the heart of technology the developments we have seen in the past years have been owed to a significant extent to intellectual property laws. The reason behind this is that knowledge is such that once it becomes accessible to people it’s difficult to stop them from using it, and if there will be no way of protecting this knowledge, there will also be absolutely no way of rewarding the person who invested all his energy, knowledge, resources to build that technology, this is where intellectual property law come in and provide exclusivity to the person’s product, technology or his innovation.

One major challenge which all the countries are facing is that who will be held responsible for AI inventions. These inventions require a lot of time, mental energy, resources and efforts for their creation. However these AI machines once created can carry out a lot of functions on their own without human intervention, now who is to be given credit for those tasks or functions. The main question which arises is whether work done or produced by AI is capable of affording special status under IPR like any other work produced by a human being.

CONCLUSION

The current scenario of AI and IPR is challenging and discomfited, technology is moving incredibly fast whereas creating legislations is pretty deliberate. AI developers are victims of their own success. AI and IPR together do pose some challenges; things will most likely become more complex as artificial intelligence becomes more widespread. With the increase in AI machines, they will also get better gradually at producing creative works, further blurring the distinction between work that is done by a machine and that done by a human.

AI’s productivity and creativity have gone beyond the reach of traditional laws. They are not able to cope with it anymore. The lawmakers need to revisit the laws as regards the latest developments in AI technology. Uniformity must be brought across jurisdictions because the world has become smaller and IP alongside AI has a global impact.

Adv. Ramit Rana is founding partner at Next Step Legal, he practices at the Delhi High Court. Co-Author Apurva Bhutani pursuing internship at Next Step Legal.

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Policy & Politics

PIYUSH GOYAL CALLS UPON STARTUPS TO LEVERAGE ‘DEEP TECH’

Goyal says start ups to build solutions for local & global markets: AI, IoT, Big Data, etc.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal today called upon the Indian industry to aim for raising 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th anniversary of Independence next year.

“We have added 43 unicorns added in 45 weeks, since the start of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ on 12th March, 2021. Let us aim for atleast 75 unicorns in this 75 week period to 75thAnniversary of Independence,” he said, while releasing the NASSCOM Tech Start-up Report 2022.

Goyal said Startup India started a revolution six years ago and today ‘Startup’ has become a common household term. Indian Startups are fast becoming the champions of India Inc’s growth story, he added.

“India has now become the hallmark of a trailblazer & is leaving its mark on global startup landscape. Investments received by Indian startups overshadowed pre-pandemic highs. 2021 will be remembered as the year Indian start-ups delivered on their promise, – fearlessly chasing opportunities across verticals – Edtech, HealthTech & AgriTech amongst others,” he said.

Goyal lauded the ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) industry including the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector for the record Services exports during the last year. “Services Export for Apr-Dec 2021 reached more than $178 bn despite the Covid19 pandemic when the Travel, Hospitality & Tourism sectors were significantly down,” he said.

• “Let us aim for at least 75 unicorns in the 75 weeks to the 75th Anniversary of Independence”: Piyush Goyal

• Goyal lauds the ITES industry including the BPO sector for the record Services exports during the last year despite the pandemic

•  Piyush Goyal says the PM’s interaction with Startups a week ago has supercharged our innovators

• The next “UPI moment” will be the ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) – Goyal

• New India is today being led by new troika of Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship (ITE), ‘India at 100’ will be renowned as a Startup nation: Goyal

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Subhas Chandra Bose statue to be installed in India Gate, announced PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Friday that a grand statue of iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will be installed at India Gate. This announcement came ahead of the 125th anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his statue will be installed at India Gate to honor his contribution to the independence movement.

The Prime Minister further said that Bose’s grand statue will be made of granite and will be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him. “Till the grand statue of Netaji Bose is completed, a hologram statue of his would be present at the same place. I will unveil the hologram statue on 23rd January, Netaji’s birth anniversary” PM Modi tweeted

“At a time when the entire nation is marking the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, I am glad to share that his grand statue, made of granite, will be installed at India Gate,” PM Modi tweeted on Friday. “This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him.”

The statue will be installed under the grand canopy near which the Amar Jawan Jyothi flickers in remembrance of India’s martyrs. The eternal flame, which has not been extinguished for 50 years, will be put off on Friday, as it will be merged with the flame at the National War Memorial.

The canopy, which was built along with the rest of the grand monument in the 1930s by Sir Edwin Lutyens, once housed a statue of the former king of England George V. The statue was later moved to Coronation Park in Central Delhi in the mid-1960s.

The announcement was hailed by many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, Union ministers and civil society members.

“Great news for the entire nation as PM @narendramodi Ji has today announced that a grand statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, will be installed at the iconic India Gate, New Delhi. This is a befitting tribute to the legendary Netaji, who gave everything for India’s freedom.” Amit Shah tweeted.

“Netaji is an epitome of India’s true strength & resolve. Congress has left no stone unturned to forget the immortal contributions of India’s brave son. PM @narendramodi’s decision to install Netaji’s statue at India Gate on his 125th Jayanti will inspire our generations to come.” Amit Shah added in his tweet.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will unveil a 216-foot statue of Ramanujacharya, a 11th century saint and a social reformer, in Hyderabad on February 5. The statue described as the ‘Statue of Equality is located in a 45-acre complex at Shamshabad on the outskirts of the city.

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‘US, India should set bold goals to attain $500bn target’, said Keshap

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Having achieved a huge success in their bilateral relations, two of the world’s greatest democracies – India and the United States of America should opt in favour of setting bold goals in order to take their relationship to a new high thereby achieving the ambitious target of $500 billion in bilateral trade echoes retired American Diplomat Atul Keshap, who recently became the new president of the US India Business Council (USIBC).

“I think it’s vitally important that we show that democracies can deliver; that the United States and India can be a driver of global growth and a model for prosperity and development in the 21st century,” Keshap said.

During his illustrious career, the veteran diplomat has served in various capacities with the US State Department. He has been the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives and has also served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

In 2021, he took over as the Chargé d’affaires of the United States mission to India and has been instrumental in shaping the US-India ties under the Joe Biden administration.

“I feel it’s critically important that we show that open societies powered by a free enterprise can be relevant for their people and can help power the world out of this pandemic. I tend to agree entirely with President Biden and PM Narendra Modi that the US India Partnership is a force for global good and it’s going to have a huge impact on economic growth,” he said.

Keshap feels that USIBC is the podium where he can give his best and help the people from both countries. “We need to move forward on the global trade agenda. We need to ensure the prosperity of the future, especially after this pandemic,” he said.

The 50-year-old diplomat reflected on the vision set by Biden, about potentially having a $500 billion trade in goods and services between the US and India. “That’s a very ambitious number and I believe in it. It is a great idea to try to have ambitious targets, else we are on a standstill” he said.

Having donned the new role recently, Keshap said he wants to help meet that $500 billion bilateral trade goal. “This is where the government and the private sector have to work together hand-in-hand,” he said.

“We have to articulate the benefits and have to convince all our stakeholders that there is value in lowering trade barriers, in creating strong standards and in creating positive ecosystems. There is value in dealing with small technical issues that might be creating a blockage to greater prosperity between our countries,” Keshap said.

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Coal crisis: How private sector can power India’s growth

Tarun Nangia

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India has been reeling under a coal shortage crisis and the situation got aggravated in October 2021 leading to a lot of concern amongst various stakeholders including government bodies, thermal power plants, industry and investors. The shortages, triggered by global factors, of course with Indian peculiarities, threatened supplies to thermal-based power plants, leading to an alarm.

Recovering from Covid-19-induced reverses, the global economy has rebounded and gathered steam. This was one of the prime reasons why there was an acute shortage of coal and sources of energy, worldwide. Global coal prices have risen by 40 per cent.

Port based Indian power plants normally rely on imports. Given the global conditions, and the sharp rise in coal prices internationally, the power plants are now almost solely dependent on Indian coal. It’s in this context that the coal crisis has been amplified by various stakeholders.

While global factors did contribute, did we fail to take necessary action, over a period of time? To highlight one prominent factor: Why should the Coal India Limited have monopoly over coal mining / supplies? Consider the CIL performance in the last few years: Its output was 606 MT in 2018-2019, 602 MT in 2019-2020, and 596 MT in 2020-2021. Contrast this with various governments’ efforts to ramp up Coal production in the 1992-2010 period.

So, why did Coal India Limited fail to expand capacity? This is one big question that must be debated. It can therefore be argued that CIL’s monopoly on coal extraction and supplies (till very recently) is one of the prime reasons why India’s thermal power plants faced a coal crisis.

India has the world’s fourth-largest coal reserve, with around 300 billion tonnes of coal. But it is also true that it imports approximately 250 million tonnes of coal. This is because we don’t mine enough and use our resources optimally.

CIL supplies 80 per cent of India’s coal needs. The demand for coal in India is nearly a billion tonnes a year, and the supply is below 800 million tonnes.

Unfortunately, based on then CAG Vinod Rai’s miscalculations and the Notional Loss theory, the Supreme Court cancelled 214 coal blocks in September 2014. Private players were not given a patient hearing on the issue. Rather than encouraging them, the private sector got punished unfairly for its efforts to strengthen the economy through coal mining. If 100 out of 214 of those mines were functional and each one was producing, say, 4 mtpa of Coal, India today would be a net exporter, not importer, of Coal.

Rai’s theory and the Supreme Court judgment had devastating consequences. The coal production in the country took a hit. The country’s GDP declined by almost 1 per cent. Millions of jobs were lost. NPAs of banks with exposure to power, steel and mining sector rose exponentially. Such is Rai’s credibility that he recently tendered an apology to a Congress leader, who, Rai claimed in his book, “requested him to remove then PM Manmohan Singh’s name from the coal scam”. Taking a cue, if someone sues Rai for his Coal Scam theory and numbers, would he be able to defend his report in court?

Against the recommendations of CAG of incentivizing good performers who produce coal, the Supreme Court imposed an additional levy of 295 rupees per ton on the coal extracted from operational mines retrospectively from 1993. The private miners were directed to deposit more than Rs. 9000 crore as penalty.

The stagnating CIL coal output should be seen in this background. Being a monopoly, CIL could have been a saviour for the nation. CIL however neither ramped up production nor invested in technology or expansion of new mines.

In 2020, in a bold and much welcome development, the Union Government opened up commercial coal mining, thus ending Coal India’s monopoly. PM Modi said that he wanted India to be a net exporter of coal, as he set ambitious targets.

A lesson from the recent crisis is this – the CIL monopoly, along with the no-entry sign for the private sector, harmed the country.

There are lessons to be drawn from the opening up of the aviation sector for the recent coal crisis episode. With a series of measures, the aviation sector was opened up, with the Air India privatisation being the latest example. The economy, the nation and consumer benefitted. When sectors as diverse as Steel, Infrastructure and Healthcare were unshackled, the end consumer, the economy and the nation benefitted.

Similarly, if the private sector in coal mining would have been encouraged consistently, and ill-advised measures like cancellation of coal blocks not taken, the coal situation would not have come to such a pass. In 2014, the private sector was said to be accounting for 90 million tons of coal – a substantial figure. Instead of getting encouraged, the private sector had to fight protracted court cases and spend its time wastefully.

There’s a consensus that Coal would continue to power economic growth for a country like India for the next two decades. It’s important that this abundantly-available natural resource is used optimally. The Private Sector can play a key role here.

The Government has shown intent and commitment. It’s time for all the stakeholders to ensure that the country faces no shortage of Coal hereafter. It’s time we all learnt our lessons and ensure that Coal and Mining booms and fires India’s growth march.

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eGrocers seize the day as orders rise 40% amid third wave

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In the ongoing third wave of Covid-19 one industry tops it all with high revenue generation based on more than enough orders to double their size of operation. eGrocers are riding the Corona wave high with record number of orders rising in the third wave and inevitably increasing the rate of their operations. Since December the online grocer Blinkit has added 200 “dark stores” that are designed only for deliveries in ten minutes.The company now plans to take the number to 1000 by March. Reliance owned MilkBasket is more than doubling its warehousing capacity to almost 350,000 sq ft in NCR to cater to 1,50,000 orders a day, double the current order size. In the midst of the growing Covid-19 cases while the brick and mortar retailers and dine-in restaurants are holding out on their expansion plans, online grocers like Blinkit and MilkBasket are going all out on aggressively pushing to take advantage of the growing demand for quick online deliveries. Even at the time of the first and second wave the online grocers had been in the works to expand their operations as millions of Indians gravitated to digital commerce. However the ongoing third wave has made the push on market capitalisation more aggressive and ambitious. “One thing has changed in this wave that our pace of expansion has doubled,” said Rohit Sharma head of supply chain at Blinkit.

The main rival of Blinkit, Tata owned BigBasket is planning to launch BB Now, its express delivery service of delivering products in 10-20 minutes, joining the growing space of quick commerce. Currently Blinkit, Swiggy’s Instamart, Dunzo and Zepto are active in that space. T K Balakumar, chief operating officer at Big Basket said his company is planning to increase its existing warehousing capacity by 40%. They are also planning to open more than 300 dark stores in the coming financial year starting April.

During the ongoing Covid wave the orders in various cities have gone up by 30-40%, said the online grocers. Milkbasket is currently catering to about 70,000 orders per day in the NCR. Its new 150,000 sq ft warehouse in the region will be ready by next month. “There is excess demand. They are already running 110% of capacity,” said a person familiar with MilkBaskets’ plans. MilkBasket operates in Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai and is set to enter Jaipur later this month.

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Policy & Politics

India-assisted projects launched for Mauritius by PMs Modi and Jugnauth

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During a virtual event on January 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Mauritius counterpart Pravind Kumar Jugnauth jointly opened an India-assisted social housing project in Mauritius. The two leaders also opened a civil service college and an 8-MW solar power project in Mauritius, both of which are being funded by India, as per the external affairs ministry. According to the ministry, a bilateral agreement for the implementation of modest development projects was exchanged, as well as an agreement to grant a $190 million line of credit from India to Mauritius for the Metro Express Project and other infrastructure projects. The news follows Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s tour to Indian Ocean countries like Sri Lanka, Comoros, and the Maldives, during which the Chinese side disclosed a number of business initiatives. Mauritius is an important aspect of India’s “Neighbourhood First” strategy, with New Delhi supporting a variety of projects in the African island nation. India supplied immunizations and medical supplies to Mauritius during the initial stages of the Covid-19 outbreak.. Last February, India, and Mauritius signed a free trade agreement aimed at making the island nation a regional center for Indian investments, and New Delhi offered a $100 million line of credit to cover defense gear purchases. Both governments decided to lease a Dornier plane and a Dhruv advanced light chopper to monitor Mauritius’ exclusive economic zone at the time.The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Pact (CECPA) between India and Mauritius was the country’s first free trade agreement with an African nation.

METRO EXPRESS PROJECT

PM Modi and his Mauritian counterpart Jugnauth jointly launched phase-I of the rail transportation line between India and Mauritius in 2019. The Light Rail Transit System Project represents a watershed moment in Indo-Mauritian ties, delivering significant economic benefits to both countries. In addition, the project provided engineering and technical skill development possibilities for the island nation. According to Rajeev Jyoti, Chief Executive of L&T, the construction company that won the contract from the Government of Mauritius, the large-scale investment also established India’s credibility in the international railway market. The first phase comprised the construction of a 26-kilometer railway with 19 stations connecting Curepipe and Immigration Square in Port Louis. Two of the stations were described as cutting-edge. Three major bus interchanges are included in the alignment, making it a multi-modal urban transit system. The bilateral flagship program was expanded in June 2021 with the start of phase-II, which runs from Rose Hill to the Quatre Bornes sector. PM Modi and PM Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the Metro Express corridor, “providing a safe, secure, dependable, and efficient method of transit in Mauritius,” according to the Indian embassy in Mauritius. Three major bus interchanges are included in the alignment, making it a multi-modal urban transit system. The bilateral flagship program was expanded in June 2021 with the start of phase-II, which runs from Rose Hill to the Quatre Bornes sector. PM Modi and PM Jugnauth jointly inaugurated the Metro Express corridor, “providing a safe, secure, dependable, and efficient method of transit in Mauritius,” according to the Indian embassy in Mauritius.

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