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China & the international law

China joined the UN in 1971, later negotiated the UNCLOS from 1973 to 1982, and finally ratified the UNCLOS in 1996. China has vague and revisionist claims in the South China Sea, based on a line called the Nine-dash line, which otherwise is devoid of any legal or historical sanctity. Incidentally, even in geometry, dashes do not constitute a line. These recent claims based on the Nine-dash line have put China in conflict with many countries as Beijing forcibly occupied islands and commenced construction activities, mainly military-oriented.

Major Nirvikar Singh (Retd)

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China has an interesting association with the international law. After years of rejecting the international law on various reasons such as being prejudiced, the international global order being West-dominated or the treaties being ‘unequal’, China has now adopted a unique approach. It uses the international law whenever it suits them, and rejects it at the times of unfavourable decisions, while paying lip service at other times. In short, it manipulates the international law.

Few examples are in order before we analyse the reasons for this approach. The global rules regarding the oceans and the seas are primarily based on the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The convention is also referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty. UNCLOS, as a law of the sea came into operation and became effective from November 16, 1982. UNCLOS is the bedrock of all international nautical laws. Among other aspects, it covers the legal rights of a nation to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

China joined the UN in 1971, later negotiated the UNCLOS from 1973 to 1982, and finally ratified the UNCLOS in 1996. China has vague and revisionist claims in the South China Sea, based on a line called the Nine-dash line, which otherwise is devoid of any legal or historical sanctity. Incidentally, even in geometry, dashes do not constitute a line. These recent claims based on the Nine-Dash line have put China in conflict with many countries as China forcibly occupied islands and commenced construction activities, mainly military oriented. This led to a legal dispute, and finally an independent arbitral tribunal established under the UNCLOS published a clear and binding ruling on China’s claims vis-à-vis the Philippines in the South China Sea on July 12, 2016. The tribunal rejected all claims of China, and upheld the rights of Philippines. Predictably, China dismissed the ruling as “nothing more than a piece of waste paper”.

The second example is closer home, moving from the contested seas to the high Himalayas. In 1913 and 1914, the representatives of the Republic of China, Tibet and Great Britain gathered at the Viceregal Lodge in Simla to negotiate a treaty regarding the status of Tibet. This was called the Simla Convention and resulted in a treaty. The draft convention was initialled by all three countries on April 27, 1914. Among other things, the convention with its annexes defined the boundary between Tibet and China proper and that between Tibet and British India, the latter to be known as the McMahon Line, named after British colonial administrator and chief negotiator Sir Henry McMahon who proposed it at the convention.

The British began using the McMahon Line on Survey of India maps in 1937, and the Simla Convention was officially published in 1938. Post-Independence India regarded the McMahon Line as the legal national border, but China rejected the Simla Accord and the McMahon Line, contending that Tibet was not a sovereign state and therefore did not have the power to conclude treaties. This was the beginning of the complex and long-outstanding India-China border dispute.

However, the Chinese stance is selective. The same McMahon Line extended into Burma (now Myanmar), and China has de facto recognised this line with Burma. China settled its outstanding boundary issues with Burma in 1960, and in the Burmese sector of the McMahon Line, the settlement in physical terms is an adoption of the McMohan Line. To put it simply, according to the Chinese, the same line, inherited from the same convention and the same map, is legal with one country and illegal with another. This is because the Chinese intend to keep the border dispute simmering with India, with a larger aim of preventing the growth of a rival nation in power dynamics of Asia.

Another commonly used principle of international law regarding demarcation of land boundaries also comes into play here. The McMahon Line followed the Watershed Principle of map making and, to the extent possible, ran along the highest ridges of these eastern Himalayan ranges. This is the normal principle of division of boundary in the mountains. In the 1960 Sino-Nepalese Treaty of Peace and Friendship, China settled the boundary with Nepal including dividing the Mount Everest by the watershed principle. While Watershed Principle is acceptable with one country (Nepal), but not acceptable with another (India), seems to be the Chinese mantra.

However, no treaty with China is safe and this year China made claims on the Mount Everest as well wherein China Global Television Network (CGTN) Tweeted on May 2, 2020 that “An extraordinary sun halo was spotted Friday in the skies over Mount Qomolangma, also known as Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak located in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.’’ China has now claimed Mount Everest. This tweet also brings to fore another unique feature of Chinese manipulation – assigning Chinese names to places in other countries. In fact, Chinese expansionism starts with calling the geographical features with chauvinistic names and recognising them as parts of Chinese territory. Resultantly, Mount Everest to the world and Sagarmatha to the Nepalese becomes ‘Mount Qomolangma’, Arunachal Pradesh in India becomes ‘South Tibet’, and the Senkaku Islands of Japan become ‘Diaoyu Islands’ for China.

Let us briefly examine the reasons for such a cavalier and manipulative approach by China towards the international law. The approach is well thought-out and planned, and is based on ‘lawfare’, or short for Chinese legal warfare. Chinese writings often refer to the “Three Warfares” (san zhan) which consist of public opinion warfare, psychological warfare, and legal warfare. Among these three forms of warfares, lawfare is considered to be an offensive weapon capable of hamstringing opponents and seizing the political initiative. According to Chinese thinkers, lawfare raises doubts among adversary and neutral military and civilian authorities, as well as the broader population, about the legality of adversary actions, thereby diminishing political will and support and thereby potentially retarding military activity. Selective acceptance of treaties while denouncing the others as ‘unequal’ is a key part of lawfare.

Terming treaties and conventions as illegal or unequal is another typically Chinese feature. In rest of the world, treaties are the primary legal instruments for governing and regulating relations between the nation states. Legal hawks like me pore and debate over each line, comma and full stop. Later, once a treaty is in force, its provisions are binding between parties and its objectives must be performed in good faith. However, China significantly deviates from the international law by terming some treaties as unequal. The term ‘Unequal treaties’ has been coined by China to refer to a group of treaties through which she was supposedly coerced to concede certain territorial rights to Western powers during the heydays of imperialism. China has a long list of such unequal treaties – Nanking, Whampoa, Aigun and Shimonoseki. Within China, such treaties are linked to the ‘Century of Humiliation’ (1839-1949) and used to whip up public sentiments for nationalistic causes.

Of late, though China has not termed it as an ‘unequal’ yet, China is displaying no or little regard for the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984 and aimed at smoothing the transition of Hong Kong when the territory was handed back to China in 1997. The 1984 Declaration stipulated the sovereign and administrative arrangement of Hong Kong after July 1, 1997, when the lease of the New Territories was set to expire, and provided significantly autonomy to Hong Kong. However, China has steadily chipped away the autonomy, and has recently introduced a harsh security law on Hong Kong, which is a serious violation of its treaty with Britain. This draconian security law is in direct conflict with the Hong Kong’s Basic Law (its mini-constitution), and threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration. The international community is already regarding Hong Kong as a lost cause.

Digging deeper, the scant regard for the international law by China is not merely a manifestation of lawfare, or an indirect form of warfare. It goes back in the Chinese history, wherein the Chinese emperors and mandarins have always aspired to rewrite the history. The Chinese claims in land and maritime domains essentially flow from its revanchist view of the past. China adopts a careful but shifting standpoint that distorts history, and thereby helps to legitimize claims to the territories long held by other countries.

China is unique in many ways and the law is no exception. The People Liberation Army (PLA) is not an Army of the people or the Chinese government, but of the Communist Party of China. Further, as China does not apply the rule of law at home, it does not recognize its value or sanctity in the international affairs. The Chinese citizens have hardly any political and economic rights. Enforcing business claims are a nightmare in China. Arbitration is complex. Shifting the capital out of China is practically impossible. Human rights are another joke in China, as exemplified by the massive detention of helpless Uighurs in Xinjiang, or the continued oppression of the Tibetans. Therefore, to expect China to adhere to the international law is unrealistic.

International laws and treaties are just a piece of paper for the Chinese, only helping them to ‘Hide your strength, bide your time’ till an appropriate time, when they shall be discarded. Nevertheless, the international laws like UNCLOS are a cornerstone of international peace and security, providing a neutral mechanism to allocate the world’s maritime resources. There are persistent efforts by China to overturn such established laws, deploying military might to negate the legal (and inalienable) rights given to the relatively smaller countries. These unilateral actions by China do not bode well for the international peace, security and the rule of law. As China grows in military and economic might, among others, the law is a victim.

The author is a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India.

International laws and treaties are just a piece of paper for the Chinese, only helping them to ‘hide your strength, bide your time’ till an appropriate time, when they shall be discarded. Nevertheless, the international laws like UNCLOS are a cornerstone of international peace and security, providing a neutral mechanism to allocate the world’s maritime resources. There are persistent efforts by China to overturn such established laws, deploying military might to negate the legal (and inalienable) rights given to the relatively smaller countries.

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Policy & Politics

India’s merchandise trade: Preliminary data, February 2021

The country’s merchandise imports in February 2021were $40.55 billion, as compared to $37.90 billion in February 2020, an increase of 6.98%.

Tarun Nangia

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India’s merchandise exports in February 2021 were USD 27.67 billion as compared to USD 27.74 billion in February 2020, a decrease of 0.25%. Exports during April-February 2020-21 were USD 255.92 billion, as compared to USD 291.87 billion during the same period of last year, exhibiting a negative growth of 12.32%.

 India’s merchandise imports in February 2021were USD 40.55 billion, as compared to USD 37.90 billion in February 2020, an increase of 6.98%. Merchandise imports during April-February 2020-21 were USD 340.88 billion, as compared to USD 443.24 billion during the same period of last year, exhibiting a negative growth of 23.09%.

India is thus a net importer in February 2021, with a trade deficit of USD 12.88 billion, as compared to trade deficit of USD 10.16 billion in February 2020, improvement by 26.74%.

In February 2021, the value of non-petroleum exports was USD 25.16 billion, registering a positive growth of 3.55% over February 2020. The value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in February 2021 was USD 22.48 billion as compared to USD 21.28 billion in February 2020, registering a positivegrowth of 5.65%. The cumulative value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in April-February2020-21 was USD 211.25 billion, as compared to USD 219.22 billion for the corresponding period in 2019-20, exhibiting a decrease of 3.63%.

In February 2021, Oil imports were USD 8.99 billion, as compared to USD 10.78 billion in February 2020, a decline by 16.63%. Oil imports in April-February2020-21 were USD 72.08 billion, as compared to USD 120.50 billion, showing a decline of 40.18%. 

Non-oil imports in February 2021 were estimated at USD 31.56 billion, as compared to USD 27.12 billion in February 2020, showing an increase of 16.37%. Non-oil imports in April-February2020-21 were USD 268.78 billion, as compared to USD 322.74billion, registering a decline of 16.73% during the same period of the last year.

Non-oil, non-GJ (gold, silver &Precious metals) imports were USD 23.85 billion in February 2021, recording a positive growth of 7.40%, as compared to non-oil and non-GJ imports of USD 22.21 billion in February 2020. Non-oil and non-GJ imports were USD 225.49 billion in April-February 2020-21, recording a negative growth of 17.11%, as compared to non-oil and non-GJ imports of USD 272.05 billion in April-February 2019-20.

Major commodities of export which have recorded positive growth during February 2021 vis-à-vis February 2020 are: Other cereals (542.06.62%), Oil meals  (244.12%), Iron ore (167.79%), Jute mfg. Including floor covering (45.4%),Rice (30.1%), Cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed item (26.68%), Meat, dairy and poultry products (26.43%),Carpet  (19.4%), Spices  (18.46%), Drugs and pharmaceuticals (14.58%), Handicrafts excl. Hand-made carpet (13.14%), Ceramic products and glassware (10.8%), Cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc. (9.34%), Tobacco (7.69%), Plastic and linoleum  (3.03%), Mica, coal and other ores, minerals including process (2.33%), and Organic and Inorganic Chemicals (1.16%).

Major commodities of export which have recorded negative growth during February 2021 vis-à-vis February 2020 are Petroleum products  (-27.13%), Oil Seeds (-25.45%), Leather and leather manufactures (-21.62%), Cashew (-18.6%), Gems and Jewellery (-11.18%), RMG of All Textiles (-8.5%), Electronic Goods (-5.8%), Fruits and vegetables (-4.01%), Man-made yarn/fabrics/made-ups etc. (4.0%), Engineering goods  (-2.56%), Tea (-2.49%),Coffee  (-0.73%), and Marine products  (-0.25%).

 Major commodity groups of import showing positive growth in February 2021 over the corresponding month of last year are: Sulphur & Unroasted Iron Pyrites (235.96%), Gold (123.95%), Dyeing/tanning/colouring materials (46.38%), Chemical material & products (45.51%), Electronic goods (37.77%), Organic & Inorganic Chemicals (37.61%), Metaliferrous ores & other minerals (29.52%), Artificial resins, plastic materials, etc. (25.07%), Iron & Steel (23.41%), Textile yarn Fabric, made-up articles (21.43%), Wood &  Wood products (18.56%), Medcnl. & Pharmaceutical products (15.38%), %), and Non-ferrous metals (12.39%).

Major commodity groups of import showing negative growth in February 2021 over the corresponding month of last year are: Silver (-91.55%), Newsprint (-80.76%), Fertilisers, Crude & manufactured (-46.01%), Coal, Coke & Briquettes, etc. (-28.09%), Leather & leather products (-26.75%), Transport equipment (-23.0%), Petroleum, Crude & products (-16.63%), Project Goods (-12.56%), Pulses (-11.6%), Machine tools (-6.35%), Cotton Raw & Waste (-5.08%), Machinery, electrical & non-electrical (-4.85%), Professional instrument, Optical goods, etc. (-3.17%), Pulp and Waste paper (-2.8%), Pearls, precious & Semi-precious stones (-1.42%),Fruits & vegetables (-0.88%), and Vegetable Oil (-0.56%).

• India’s merchandise exports in February 2021 was $27.67 billion as compared to $27.74 billion in February 2020, a decrease of 0.25%.

• India’s merchandise imports in February 2021 were $40.55 billion as compared to $37.90 billion in February 2020, an increase of 6.98%.

• India is thus a net importer in February 2021 with a trade deficit of $12.88 billion as compared to trade deficit of $10.16 billion in February 2020, increase of 25.84%.

• Value of non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports in February 2021 was $22.48 billion as compared to $21.28 billion in February 2020, a positive growth of 5.65%.

•  Non-oil, non-GJ (gold, silver & Precious metals) imports were $23.85 billion in February 2021 as compared to non-oil and non-GJ imports of $22.21 billion in February 2020, a positive growth of 7.40%.

•  Top 5 commodity groups of export which recorded positive growth during February 2021 vis-à-vis February 2020 are: Other Cereals (542.06%), Oil meals (244.12%), Iron Ore (167.79%), Jute manufacturing including floor covering (45.40%), and Rice (30.10%).

•  Top 5 commodity groups of import showing a fall in February 2021vis-à-vis February 2020 are: Silver (-91.55%), Newsprint (-80.76%), Fertilisers, Crude & manufactured (-46.01), Coal, Coke & Briquettes, etc. (-28.09%), and Leather & leather products (-26.75).

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Rising global demand for copper, zinc, other non-ferrous metals helps engineering exports: EEPC India

Tarun Nangia

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A sharp rise in global demand for non-ferrous metals like copper, aluminium and zinc along with their products , has greatly helped the Indian engineering exports brave through the Covid-19 pandemic hit world trade, an EEPC India analysis has shown.

A near 16 per cent increase in overall engineering exports during January,2021 over the same month last year was influenced by a sharp rise of 66.66 per cent in shipments of copper/products to USD 138.50 million from USD 83.10 million. Likewise, zinc and products witnessed a rise of 39 per cent in shipments to USD 72.17 million from USD 52 million. Exports of aluminium and products went up by 21 per cent to USD 512 million from 423 million for the month, on annualised basis.

‘’The non -ferrous metals are in great demand in the international market thanks to their usage in electric vehicles and their batteries as the world moves towards cleaner energy, “ EEPC India Chairman Mr Mahesh Desai said.

Malaysia,South Korea,China, the US and Singapore are the top destinations for export of non-ferrous metals from India.

Iron and steel, the largest contributor to the country’s engineering exports, too saw an impressive increase of 17.47 per cent in shipments during the month under review on Y on Y basis. These shipments went up to USD 847 million from USD 721 million for the month.

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INDIA’S WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT MARKET LIKELY TO REACH $4.3 BILLION BY 2025: AMITABH KANT

Tarun Nangia

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Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog on Monday said that India’s wastewater treatment plants market stood at $2.4 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $4.3 billion by 2025 owing to increasing demand for municipal water as well as sewage water treatment plants across the country. “There will be a huge gap of investments in this market and the private sector can fill this gap in terms of technology selection, fund rotation and implementation,” he added.

Kant said that climate change along with rapid population and economic growth is resulting in an increased demand for water and food, potentially leading to over stressing not only for our present resources but also jeopardizing the resources for future generations. “Therefore, a move towards a circular economy is critical for ensuring the economic and social stability of not only four economy but for the world economy as a whole,” he added while addressing the valedictory session ‘6th Edition of India Industry Water Conclave & 8th Edition of FICCI Water Awards’,

Kant said that to encourage circular economy, there is a need to develop an enabling framework that uses smart regulations, market-based instruments, research and innovation, incentives, information exchange for voluntary approaches. “To implement the circular economy and achieve sustainable industrial renaissance we should rely on proactive businesses and consumers with a special focus on small and medium sized enterprises implementing circular economy solutions,” he added.

Kant said that in circular economy innovations, our goals should be to design ways through the value chain rather than relying on the solutions at the end of the product life. This, he said can be achieved by reducing the quantity of water required to deliver services, reducing the use of energy in production, creating a market for secondary raw materials, incentivising and supporting waste reduction and high-quality separation by consumers along with facilitating the clustering of activities to prevent by-products from becoming waste. “Exploring and accessing alternate water sources is highly required,” he added.

Kant further stated that there is a need for rationalization in freshwater allocation for drinking in urban and rural areas with due proportion to industry. “Efficient use of water in agriculture should also be encouraged by adopting micro irrigation methods. All these uses should be interdependent for recycling and reuse of wastewater,” he noted.

To achieve the SDG 6.3 targets significant investments will be required in new infrastructure, grey and green and locally appropriate combinations along with appropriate technologies to increase the treatment in use of water. Inadequate sanitation resulting in poor hygienic practice leads to huge economic and social losses for the country, he said.

Collection, treatment, and reuse of municipal wastewater provides an opportunity for not only environmental rehabilitation but also meeting the increasing water needs of different economic sectors, added Mr Kant.

Rajendra Singh, Water Man of India said that for the country to become water sufficient nation, we have to ensure to use retreat, recycle and reuse the C-class water category. We must focus on using the B-class water for agriculture and A-class which comprises of fresh water should be kept separated from other classes of water. He also stated that in agriculture we must focus on reducing the use of water through new technology and skill development. “We need to link the crop pattern with rain pattern to ensure efficiency,” he added.

Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, DG, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti said that we are trying to develop a national framework for reuse of treated wastewater, and we are also working on developing national sludge management framework. “The government is not only developing policy but also supporting programs and we want to bring more private sector under these programs. Partnership is the key and does not only include public private partnership, but it should be public, private and people at large,” he added.

Naina Lal Kidwai, Chair, FICCI Water Mission and Past President, FICCI said that many state policies have come up for recycle and reuse of water, however a comprehensive policy which integrates all policies which exists in various ministries should be brought out which focusses on resource recovery model and not just on recycle and reuse of water. “There is also a need to develop a central water regulatory authority to cater these water issues,” she added.

Kidwai stated that Champions should be present in every city from both the private and public sector to create awareness related to water issues along with mobilization of community in addressing them is the need of the hour. She also noted that the potential of wastewater management in India is huge and this is an area for the industry to explore. “Water sector, if, made investor friendly by equitable sharing of risks between the investor, technology provider and Government, can bring in more private sectors investments in water projects,” she said.

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Policy & Politics

GST TAX BASE & ITS REVENUE CAN INCREASE MANIFOLD: CAIT TO FM SITHARAMAN

Tarun Nangia

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In a communication sent to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) candidly accepted that over almost 4 years of GST implementation in India, the current registration of dealers under GST is almost 1.30 crore is much less than the volume of people engaged in business activities pertaining to goods & services whereas the current accrued revenue of Rs 1.15 lakh crore per month through GST is also highly insufficient. These figures of both tax base and revenue can be increased substantially provided both Central & State Governments should work closely to provide ease of doing business and widening the tax base and earning more revenue .

CAIT National President B C Bhartia & Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal in communication to Mrs Sitharaman said that there are about 8 crore traders, 1 crore transporters and 1.25 crore small Industries in the Country beside having a large corporate structure and large number of service providers engaged in business activities pertaining to sale & purchase of goods & services in the Country and large number of other sectors providing taxable services in India. Under such a vast spectrum of trade, industry and services that exists as on today, it is strange that so far only 1.30 crore people have obtain GST Registration. Even if it assumed that might be half of this huge number might be under the prescribed threshold limit, yet there exists quite huge number which should come under ambit of GST.

Both Mr Bhartia & Mr Khandelwal said that over last 4 years of GST implementation in the Country, the tax base should have been at leat 2.5 crore and the accrued revenue should be above Rs 2 lakh crore per month. Therefore, a serious discussion should be held between stakeholders and the Government that whether there are genuine roadblocks in adopting GST as a taxation system and what are the core areas where large number of people are avoiding registration under GST.

Mr Bhartia & Mr Khandelwal said that though traders and people of other vertical of trade & industry etc are more willing to join the ambit of GST because of its nature which is giving every trader in the system to avail facility of input credit. However, no step was taken in last 4 years to launch neither a statewide nor a nationwide drive to enroll people in GST and any awakening drive and in the meantime, the system has become complicated.

The CAIT has suggested that the GST Council should take assistance of more than 40 thousand trade organisation of trading community in widening the tax base and generation of more substantial revenue to both Central & State Governments but the Government and GST Council will have to take an initiative.

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Policy & Politics

Making it Happen: Genome Valley, the biotech hub of India

The story of the Genome Valley began two decades ago in a sleepy village of Shameerpet Mandal called Turkapally, about 30 km from Hyderabad. An intrepid NRI scientist Dr Krishna Ella decided to return to India and set up his biotech industry (Bharat Biotech) in 1996, little realising then that his would be the anchor industry in the global biotech hub.

Anil Swarup

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A world class life science cluster in the outskirts of Hyderabad would have gone unnoticed but for COVID. This is the place where, led by Bharat Biotech, 4 out of 6 home grown vaccines are being developed (some already developed and being manufactured). Genome valley has about a third of world’s vaccine manufacturing capacity and is bound to play a major role in the months to come to control the pandemic. All this did not happen overnight.

The story of the Genome Valley began two decades ago in a sleepy village of Shameerpet mandal called Turkapally, about 30 kms from Hyderabad. An intrepid NRI scientist Dr Krishna Ella decided to return to India and set up his biotech industry (Bharat Biotech) in 1996, little realizing then that his would be the anchor industry in the global biotech hub.

It was around this time that an IAS Officer, B P Acharya made a fortuitous entry into the scene in his capacity as Secretary, Industries and Commerce. Despite being a trifle apprehensive, he gave his best shot. Meanwhile, the ICICI Knowledge Park, the first R&D park of the country, had come up in May 2000, near Bharat Biotech and about 150 acres of Government land was earmarked next to it to develop as Biotech park on the new-fangled Public- Private partnership mode. Draft biotech policy of the State was ready and Ernst & Young was chosen as Consultants to guide the State in this sector. A biotech advisory committee headed by eminent scientist Dr D Balasubramanian (former Director, CCMB) was also set up to ensure industry- academia-government interface.

For the next 4-5 years, team Genome Valley, led by B P Acharya worked as men (and women) possessed to build up the cluster bit by bit, brick by brick.

The first task was to get the Biotech policy of the State finalized. Utkarsh and Vishal of E&Y helped immensely to finalize the document called “Beyond Tomorrow” (BT) that provided the basis to attract investments to the State in this sector. This sowed the seeds of the Genome Valley Project. Competition came from Karnataka. The Project was road-showed at BIO, San Diego. World renowned personalities in bio-tech like Dr Clause Plate of Germany and Dr Robert Naismith of the USA became its supporters.

The team was quick to realize that promotion without actual development on ground won’t take them far. Hence, each of the elements that could make the cluster viable was considered. The first step was to finalize the developer of the Biotech park under the PPP mode. Shapoorji Pallonji (SP), then headed by Cyrus Mistry, came around after several rounds of discussions. They finally agreed to build, operate and market what was known then as SP biotech park over 150 acres allotted to them adjacent to the ICICI Knowledge Park (now called IKP).

As this was the first of its kind Biotech cluster in India, attempt was made to bench mark it against the best in the world. Research Triangle Park in North Carolina was visited in 2002. By this time, the first of the allottees in Biotech Park started their manufacturing units.

These included the one set up by Dr Ella’s Bharat Biotech in what was to become a vibrant Life Sciences cluster in a few years. But there were issues like water supply, pollution control, fire station, cafeteria, housing etc, that had to be addressed. The whole area was declared as pollution free zone to make it suitable for Life science sector. Fortunately, B P Acharya utilized his subsequent assignment (MD, HMWS&SB) in 2004-5. It enabled him to complete the project to draw water from a distance of about 20 kms (Alwal reservoir of Water Board). A felt need of the cluster was met. This paved the way for its growth and expansion in the years to come. Meanwhile, it was felt necessary to hold a regular event to show case Genome Valley. That is how Bio Asia (which has grown to be one the major global shows over the years) and FABA (Federation of Asian Biotech Associations) were born.

Soon the area allotted for biotech park was fully occupied and there was a need to plan for its expansion. When Acharya came back to Industry sector again in 2005, this time as MD, APIIC, he could earmark 100 acres of land next to ICICI KP in Lalgadi Malakpet , as Biotech Park Phase 2 ( partly notified as SEZ) and later 150 acres in the nearby village of Karkapatla for Phase 3. This is now fully occupied and search is on for identifying land for the next phase.

In Phase 2, a major vaccine manufacturing facility was set up by Biological E. This is now collaborating with Johnson & Johnson for their Covid vaccine. In Phase 3, Indian Immunologicals has also set up a major vaccine manufacturing unit and is also involved with another Covid vaccine candidate. In Phase 2, 100 acres were allotted by State government to ICMR for setting up the National Animal Research Facility (NARF), the largest of its kind in India, that will be a big boon for the Biopharma industry for pre-clinical trials etc.

Thus, over the last two decades, the Genome Valley has emerged as a truly global life sciences hub, the only one its kind in India. Today it hosts over 300 companies, including major international players. It provides employment to over 20,000 persons, either directly or indirectly.

It is indeed a proud moment for all those involved in this venture since its inception. The initiative taken almost a couple of decades ago is in the forefront of the battle against the pandemic. The story of the Genome Valley is also an example of building a viable ecosystem for a successful industrial cluster. It entailed careful planning and implementing each of the elements essential for its growth and meticulously placing bits and pieces of this big jigsaw puzzle together. B P Acharya and his committed team demonstrated that officers can make-it-happen

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

The first task was to get the biotech policy of the state finalised. Utkarsh and Vishal of E&Y helped immensely to finalise the document called “Beyond Tomorrow” that provided the basis to attract investments to the state in this sector. This sowed the seeds of the Genome Valley Project. Competition came from Karnataka. The project was road-showed at BIO, San Diego. World-renowned personalities in biotech like Dr Clause Plate of Germany and Dr Robert Naismith of the US became its supporters.

The whole area was declared pollution-free zone to make it suitable for the life science sector. Fortunately, B P Acharya utilised his subsequent assignment (MD, HMWS&SB) in 2004-5. It enabled him to complete the project to draw water from a distance of about 20 km (Alwal reservoir of Water Board).

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Policy & Politics

Indian apparels should target Colombia’s fashion industry: Ambassador Sanjiv Ranjan

B2B meeting held between Indian apparel exporters and Colombian buyers.

Tarun Nangia

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Indian Ambassador to Colombia Sanjiv Ranjan said that there is a huge potential for Indian apparel exporters in Colombia, particularly in its “resilient and innovative” fashion industry with domestic sales of about $7 billion.Speaking at ‘India-Colombia Synergies in Apparel and Textiles’, a virtual B2B meeting organized by Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) and Embassy of India, Bogota, Colombia, on Monday evening, Mr Ranjan said that the readymade garment exports from India were limited to around $21 million in 2019.

“India’s apparel exports to Colombia is just 3% of its global imports. This does not really reflect the strength of what our sector stands for. We have a huge untapped potential in this sector which requires to be explored and utilized by our exporters,” he said.

Highlighting the growing popularity of Indian apparels in Colombia, Ranjan said that the apparel exporters should focus on Colombia’s fashion industry that accounts for 9.4% of the country’s industrial GDP and employs about 600,000 people. The annual household expenditure on fashion in Columbia is roughly 24.3 trillion Columbian peso.

“It is one of the most vibrant sectors of the region. Columbia has a robust network of almost 14,000 companies in the fashion industry, mostly in the small and medium sized categories. Even during the peak of the pandemic in June 2020, clothing accounted for nearly 57% of the total fashion spending followed by jewelry. While the government is trying at its level, the private sector should find out how to contribute to this resilient and innovative sector,” the ambassador said.

Ranjan congratulated AEPC for setting up a virtual exhibition platform to showcase Indian apparels to overseas buyers at a time when physical presence is restricted.

“I am sure that this virtual, 24×7 platform offers more experience at one place, with the flexibility for importers to zoom in and look at the various products on offer. This will go a long way in further energizing our bilateral engagement in the apparel sector,” he said.

AEPC Chairman Dr A Sakthivel informed the attending Colombian brands and buyers that AEPC through its virtual platform will work as a bridge between the Indian apparel exporters and Colombian apparel importers. About 320 apparel exporters have already put up their products for exhibition on the platform, he said.

“On our request, the government has come out with a production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for manmade fibre (MMF) based garments. We do 85% cotton garments and only 15% MMF garments, while the global apparel demand is exactly the opposite. Very soon we will see a rise in exports of MMF garments from India,” Dr Sakthivel said.

Sudhir Sekhri, Chairman (Export Promotion), AEPC, said, “Of the top 10 apparel imports from India to Colombia, only two are in the MMF category and the rest are cotton garments. Perhaps this is where Bangladesh and Vietnam are scoring ahead of us. This is one area that we are trying to address very quickly along with the help from the government.”

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