COVID-19 vaccination phase II begins in Bengaluru, BBMP officials vaccinated - The Daily Guardian
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COVID-19 vaccination phase II begins in Bengaluru, BBMP officials vaccinated

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 10 (ANI): The second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive for frontline workers under BBMP limits was flagged off by BBMP Administrator Gaurav Gupta and Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad by getting vaccinated at the Raj Kumar Glass House at BBMP head office premises on Tuesday.
Special commissioners Rajendra Cholan, J Manjunath, Randeep, Chief Health Officer Dr. Vijendra and others were present.
The administrator said that the second phase of vaccination is for all the frontline workers. He said it is essential that everyone get the vaccine to fight COVID-19. Awareness must be raised among people regarding the vaccine. In order to encourage everyone to get vaccinated, he, along with the commissioner, and special commissioners are getting the vaccine, he added.
There are several doubts regarding the COVID-19 vaccination among the people, and in this regard, flex boards have been installed at many places to raise awareness. He assured that there are no side effects from the vaccine. Information on what to do/ what not to do when vaccinated will be given to people, he added.
Misconceptions regarding the vaccination must be cleared, and people must be vaccinated, said the Administrator. Without paying heed to the rumours, the Palike staff must get vaccinated and contribute towards making Covid-free.
Speaking at a video conference regarding identifying illegal religious buildings, the Commissioner said that COVID-19 can be controlled when the city has 70 per cent antibody development. COVID-19 cases have reduced from 6,000 to 73. The antibody development process will speed up with the COVID-19 vaccine, he said. Hence, all the senior, junior officers and paurakarmikas must take the vaccine, raise awareness about the vaccine and encourage others too, he added. (ANI)

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Amid speculations of change in leadership in Uttarakhand, CM Rawat meets JP Nadda

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Amid speculations about a leadership change in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat late on Monday met with Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda at the latter’s residence here.
However, Uttarakhand BJP MLA Munna Singh Chauhan said that a wrong impression is being given about unhappiness over Rawat as Chief Minister.
“Trivendra Singh Rawat continues to be the Chief Minister as we speak,” Chauhan said adding that the Chief Minister will return to Dehradun on Tuesday.
He also refuted reports about a BJP legislature party meeting to be held on Tuesday at Chief Minister Residence in Dehradun. “No official meeting of legislature party meet has been called,” Chauhan said.
Earlier in the day, Union Minister Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and BL Santhosh attended a meeting to discuss the current situation in the state in the Parliament building.
The BJP general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand, Dushyant Kumar Gautam and Raman Singh sent to Dehradun on Saturday to access the situation in the state have submitted their report to the BJP’s high command on Monday, according to sources.
Last week, BJP Uttarakhand held an emergency core group meeting which was attended by observer Raman Singh, Dushyant Gautam, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Ajay Bhatt, Naresh Bansal, Mala Rajya Laxmi and others.
There are speculations about the leadership change in Uttarakhand as several ministers and around twenty MLAs have complained against the working style of Rawat.
According to sources, several MLAs and some ministers complained about the Chief Minister to the party leadership. Later, the BJP central high command sent Raman Singh as party observer for the emergency core group meeting, which was attended by Dushyant Gautam, general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand BJP.
After the core group meeting party, Raman Singh and Dushyant Gautam submitted their report, the party high command summoned Trivendra Singh Rawat to Delhi. (ANI)

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Congress polarised Assam’s poll by aligning with AIUDF, says Himanta Biswa Sarma

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Guwahati (Assam) [India], March 9 (ANI): Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday alleged the Congress has communally polarised the atmosphere in the polls bound state by joining hands with Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF).
Speaking to media here, Sarma said, “By forging an alliance with communal party Congress has polarised the election. Had Congress contested separately, polls would have been fought on development issues. But by aligning with AIUDF, Congress has made this poll a conflict of civilizations.”
The convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Sarma further said had Congress contested separately, the three-phase assembly polls would have been fought on the plank of development.
“But the opposition party has made this poll into a conflict of civilisation by aligning with the AIUDF,” said the BJP leader.
While reacting to question on the possible impact of the Congress-AIUDF alliance, Sarma said, “It will positively impact us and lead to complete polarisation because people of Assam will not vote for the AIUDF. So, by forming an alliance with a communal party, Congress has polarised the elections completely.”
The BJP’s campaign for the assembly polls in Assam will focus on ”surakshya” (security), ”sabhayata” (civilisation) and ”vikas” (development), he said adding “We talk about ‘surakshya’ all along because the composite Assamese culture is under threat.”
The state’s Finance, Health and Education Minister said, “We talk about civilisation because it is under threat. Then we have to talk about development. These will be the three pillars of our campaign.”
When asked if Citizenship (Amendment) Act will be an issue during the polls, Sarma said, “nobody is concerned about it “as it lost traction after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and the world.
“Neither am I speaking for it nor against it. People have gone beyond that. Already Parliament has passed a law. It is a fait accompli. People have seen many things over the last one year. They are talking about something else now. The focus has shifted from CAA to Ajmal,” he said.
The term of the 14th legislative assembly of Assam ends on May 31 and polls for the 126-Assembly will be held in three phases starting from March 27.
The first phase of notification is March 2 and 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls.
The last date of nomination March 9 and the date of poll is March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to the polls on April 1.
A total of 41 constituencies in 12 districts will go to the polls on April 6. (ANI)

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6 labourers killed after wall falls on them in Bihar’s Khagaria

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Patna (Bihar) [India], March 9 (ANI): At least six labourers were killed and several others injured on Monday after a boundary wall collapsed on them in Bihar’s Khagaria district, police said.
The incident took place when the labourers were engaged in digging a drain at Chandi Tola village under Maheshkhunt police station.
The rescue operation is underway as many feared trapped under the debris.
Further details are awaited. (ANI

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Startup is all about scaling up: Supreme Incubator co-founder

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New Delhi: Disha Singla, co-founder of Supreme Incubator, recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of its special series NewsX India A-list. In the exclusive interview, Disha spoke about the inception of Supreme Incubator, the functioning of a startup incubator, future of startups in India and how her organisation is paving the way for young entrepreneurs to lead a change.

Speaking about the inception of Supreme Incubators, Disha said, “A couple of years ago, I went to a business school in the USA to pursue my degree with a major in entrepreneurship. I spent a lot of time around startups there. In fact, my own startup was incubated by my university. I got connected with mentors and potential investors over there while working with other startups who were at the same initial stages. All of this inspired me to further pursue my passion. When I came back to India, I hosted some events here and received a great response. We started receiving applications from all over the country and connected those startups to potential investors and mentors and received a phenomenal feedback from them. It has been two years now since the inception of Supreme Incubator and it’s going great. We are focussing on Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, we uplift the startups by connecting them with potential investors, experts, and specific mentors so that they can grow in a short period.”

Giving an insight into the functioning of an incubator, she said, “An incubator takes action towards creating an adept ecosystem by connecting them with experts and advisors. These mentors are expert in their domains and have led their own successful ventures. They are leading large corporations so they know how to run large organisations. We have mentors from different fields, some mentors are experts in business and technology while many of them are experts in artificial intelligence.”

Further emphasising how her organisation is different from others, Disha expressed, “We focus more on a personalised approach. Every startup which is accepted in our cohort gets personalised assistance and guidance as per their industry type. We provide industry-specific mentors to them so that they receive mentorship and guidance throughout their tenure which will help them to move in the right direction in the least possible time.”

When asked about her views on the start-up ecosystem in India and how it has changed and evolved over the years, she replied, “The startup ecosystem has definitely developed at a very fast pace over the last 10 years, especially over the past five years. When I was in high school, I used to keep up a lot with news-related to business. Earlier, when we used to hear the word ‘startup’, we had to understand what it is but now everyone seems to say that they want to get into the startup ecosystem. Startup is all about scaling up. There are a lot of challenges and the success ratio of startups are very low. Yet everyone is excited about this term ‘startup’. We have also seen a lot of companies coming in India with so many success stories. Everyone gets motivated to pursue the field that they are passionate about.”

On a concluding note, Disha shared her vision of the company and expressed that they are looking forward to work with startups that offer different niches and are determined towards uplifting and volunteering for a social cause. “At this point in time, as an incubator, we accept startup applications from different industries. In the coming years, we want to get into different niche segments and connect to those startups which are focussed on non-profit ventures and doing some social cause,” she stated.

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Changing image from poor man’s timber to wise man’s timber

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New Delhi: Yogesh Shinde, the founder of Bamboo India, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive chat as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. In an exclusive interview, Shinde talked at length about the necessity to reduce plastic which could be possible only by the advent of bamboo. 

Bamboo India has been manufacturing locally grown bamboo which can be the most effective solution to reduce the usage of plastic. “To contribute something to India’s economy brought me back. In any time in the future, when the history will be written, I will be known as a contributor, not as a spectator,” exclaimed Shinde, who has been a part of the corporate culture but decided to walk on the path of social entrepreneurship owing to his growing concern over increasing pollution in India. 

Tracing the journey of the inception of Bamboo India, he said, “The inception of Bamboo India occurred with the vision of ‘Brush, Collosion, Awake’. The motto behind the establishment of the company has been reduction of plastic with bamboo. India is the second largest bamboo growing country but is not contributing to the bamboo world market. We are not even in the top 10 list to import the products. On top of that, we are the world largest bamboo importer. That made me very scared and I thought that we must do something about it. Our target is simple, we want to reduce plastic waste from our mother earth.” 

Interestingly, Bamboo India is also known to make innovative products, one of them being the bamboo toothbrush. Emphasising on the need to reduce plastic and shift from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo ones, Shinde stated, “Plastic toothbrushes are one of the leading pollution contents in the world. As every one of us have been talking about the increasing global warming, I, as an individual, thought of manufacturing bamboo toothbrushes in India. We are one of the first companies to have started manufacturing bamboo toothbrushes with locally grown bamboo.” He believes that the usage of sustainable products will be a long-term affair. Applauding those individuals for their effort in promoting the principles of sustainability on social media and playing an important role in the reduction of plastic, Shinde calls them ‘the real superheroes’. 

Commenting on the journey of Bamboo India so far, he said, “To convert bamboo’s perception of poor man’s timber to wise man’s timber is what our journey is all about.”

When asked about the challenges of running a social entrepreneurship enterprise, Shinde said, “The first challenge is fundraising. As bamboo is not a traditional business in India, we faced difficulties in terms of financing. None of the companies offered us a loan as they did not understand the potential of bamboo and that is not the end of the world for us. We get funds from friends and family.”

Sharing his vision of the company, he said, “In the next five years, all our products will be available at local medical stores. Till the last four years, we have been a small startup. We have reduced 14 kg of plastic with our own initiative. Once the media starts showing interest in the venture, it will be a wildfire and more plastic would be reduced. Bamboo toothbrushes would be available in the supermarkets across India by end of this year and maybe the next year this product will be available all across the globe.”

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HOW INDIA CAN BECOME A GLOBAL HUB FOR MANUFACTURING & RESILIENT SUPPLY CHAINS

For India to capture the global market, it must focus on boosting technologies and digitalisation, supporting labour, strengthening infrastructure and utilities, environmental laws, taxation and business reforms.

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India has a golden shot to embark on global supply chains. Covid-19 has caused huge disruption across demand and supply. Corporations are relocating their geographic base from susceptible market origins to more credible and economical kernels. Precisely, companies are trying to diversify their production base from China to other stable countries. With strong macroeconomic fundamentals, demographic dividend, highly-skilled English-speaking workforce, ease of doing business, cheap labor costs, enormous resource accesses, and an expanding market of 1.3 billion people, India has an exclusive chance to be the favorable investment destination across the globe.

Southeast Asian countries including Vietnam, Indonesia are attracting many American and Japanese countries for diversification. Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) as a trilateral approach by Japan to trade with India and Australia (with ASEAN probable to join) is an initiative to diversify the supply chains. With South Asia steadied for a growth liftoff, economic integration of South Asian countries becomes crucial. Substantially India is being seen as the hub for emerging supply chains.

To ameliorate US-China trade war fallouts, Apple Inc with a budgetary outlay of Rs 200 billion is set to shift its iPad manufacturing assembly to India. Elon Musk-led Tesla registered its subsidiary Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Ltd. Tesla also plans to set up an electric vehicle manufacturing division in Karnataka. On the heels of this statement, Starlink under SpaceX—the super-fast Internet venture—opened its pre-booking in India for $99. Amazon declared its Fire TV stick device manufacturing – its first production line in India via a subsidiary of its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group. Swedish retailer IKEA having bought a 48,000-square-metre plot in Noida also proposed to launch its first shopping centre in India—being among the world’s largest sites.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat outlining economy, infrastructure, system, demography, and demand is an endeavor to become self-sufficient. Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme attempts to accelerate domestic production and invite foreign direct investments. India’s Look East policy encourages economic and strategic relations with Southeast Asian countries to strengthen its importance as a regional power. The Indo-Pacific region is home to the fastest and growing economies and military powers in the world.

While India rises to be a desirable preference for investors, the questions that need to be addressed are: “How competitive are India’s policies to attain a resilient supply chain?” “Are they enough to obtain a prime stance in the global economy?” It appears that Indian value chains are bedeviled with inefficiencies sinking it below international standards.

Logistics costs incurred in the Indian supply chain networks account for 14 percent of the GDP compared to the global average of 8 percent. This brings a competitive gap of $180 billion for India, likely to rise to $500 billion by 2030. India ranked 44 in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index lagging behind the US and China. India has a poor-quality infrastructure. Despite having the second-largest road network globally, national highways contribute less than 2.7 percent to the total network. Having one of the largest rail networks, the speed of the freight train is 24-25 kmph compared to 38-40 kmph in the US and China. The unbalanced logistics model mix of India further proliferates transportation costs. Despite broken transportation infrastructure facilities, India is heavily dependent on its road networks. It’s rail and sea-networks remain underutilised. These high costs act as a barrier to entry for greenfield manufacturing.

India still lags in technology adoption in its value chain processes. This heightens inventory costs due to mismanagement amounting to $120 billion to $180 billion of total logistic expenses. India lacks warehouse shortages. As of 2019, India had a cold storehouse facility of 226.7 lakh tons (lt), against the needed capacity of 350 lt. According to the Indian Council of Food and Agriculture, 30 percent of agricultural produce gets destroyed. India also suffers because of fragmented logistics and an uneven channel mix of domestic retail and FMCG sales.

India needs to make bold changes in its supply chain system to be the prime player. Integrating technology with physical networks is a prerequisite. Embracing geo-tagging, auto-capture, and big data will enable cooperation, forecasting, and traceability across chains. The omnichannel retail operation must be considered to streamline businesses. Building rationale infrastructure remains the crux of development. Logistics models must be benchmarked. Flexible networks will require optimising highways, delivery systems to lessen product loss. Shifting from an experience-based system to an analytical-based risk management system is imperative.

Government involvement is necessary to change the manufacturing landscape. India must welcome foreign investments—investors that bring capital, technology, and market with greenfield projects and private equity to finance the growing Indian start-up culture. Building on existing initiatives, India needs to boost exports to integrate with global supply chains. Indian states have high reservation percentages which clog growth. India must eliminate such structural bottlenecks to intensify its fraction in world trade. India should speed up its Free Trade Agreement (FTAs) authorisations with the UK and the EU. Promoting the ASEAN-India FTA may add the required fuel to trade flow. India should also focus on sensitive lists, non-tariff measures, and customs cooperation. Besides, re-skilling and upskilling measures are significant. Erecting a strong foundation of research and development (R&D) and entrepreneurship base is vital from a global standpoint. Key sectors of interventions must be tourism and hospitality, auto industry, retail & e-commerce, and food processing.

The pandemic is being viewed as a historic opportunity to evolve out better. Indian supply chains need to be smarter, prompt, agile and technically viable. As the realm steps towards the new normal world, it has generated an opportunity to re-invest uniquely—an investment aligned towards more sustainable companies. For India to capture the global market, it must focus upon boosting technologies and digitalisation, supporting labour, strengthening infrastructure and utilities, environmental laws, taxation and business reforms, investment and trade promotion. To catapult to economic prosperity, India not only needs to think bigger but also act better now.

Rajesh Mehta is a leading international consultant & columnist working on Market Entry, Innovation & Public Policy. Diksha Mittal is a public policy researcher working closely with Rajesh Mehta. Views expressed are personal.

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