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Golden opportunity awaits India in Golden Triangle

During these difficult Covid-19 times, the Latin American and Caribbean countries would look to source affordable products and services. This provides India with an opportunity and access to the market of these distant countries and also help the latter reduce their dependence on China.

Rajesh Mehta and Prathamesh Karmarkar

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File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazil’s President Jair Messias Bolsonaro at the Hyderabad House, in New Delhi in January this year.

Traditionally, India’s engagement with Latin American countries has been according to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), apart from being facilitated by the ‘Global South’, which still has some resonance in Latin America. India till now has not utilised the full potential of being a trade and FDI partner for Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. India’s relationship with the US has improved in the last few years and now, even more with the latest India-China trade rift. The LAC countries have been a trade and investment ally of the US for several years. Given the LAC-US agreements, India can make a headway in both the markets by establishing diplomatic relations with people on the ground in these countries. During these difficult and sensitive times, the LAC would look to source affordable and inexpensive products and services. This provides India with a huge opportunity and access to the LAC market and LAC to reduce its dependability on China. This is a moment for India to strengthen the relationship and take an advantage of golden triangle.

LAC has trade relations with a few countries in Europe and South Africa. This is what can be defined as a Golden Triangle. The European Parliament passed the EU-Latin America Trade resolution on 13 September 2017. The EU has concluded association with 27 of the 33 countries in the LAC region. Mexico and South Africa signed a series of economic agreements in 2014. Several free trade agreements are already in place, including an agreement between MERCOSUR (South American trade bloc comprising of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela) and the South African Customs Union.

 In the Golden Triangle, enterprises can save import-export taxes, stock inventory and streamline their supply chains effectively. For example; enterprises with customer base in South America, Africa and Europe can make use of the custom bonded warehouses on the ports in South America as their inventory to reduce the lead time. Distribution to North America is extremely viable using Panama and Mexico.

 The LAC market consists of 19 countries, with a population of 620 million and a combined GDP of about $6 trillion. The six major economies — Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru — account for 85.2% of the total of the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) economic activity. Brazil is the largest market with over $2 trillion of GDP and a member of BRICS, Mexico is second, with close to $2 trillion GDP and the largest trading nation.

Economic developments in Latin America have been strongly influential since the beginning of the year due to the spread of Covid-19. Latin America’s exports and imports of goods are estimated to have fallen in value by 17% and 18%, respectively in the first half of 2020, according to the August report of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

India lags behind in terms of absolute volume of trade with LAC as compared to the EU and the US. India’s exports to Latin America increased by 9.6% in 2018-19 (April to March) reaching $13.16 billion. India’s exports to the US stood at $35.73 billion in 2018-19 and the EU at $57.20 billion in 2018-19.

Indian companies, including NRI firms, have invested about $12 billion in the region in varied sectors. India’s IT and ITenabled services industry has been a pivot in India’s outward expansion which has benefited Latin America. Indian IT & ITES companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, KPIT Cummins between them employ almost 20,000 Latin Americans.

United Phosphorus Limited is one of the leading agrochemicals and seed company and has a turnover of $1.2 billion with plants in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia. Novelis has Aluminum and carbon black plants in Brazil with an annual turnover of $2 billion.

 Mothersons Group has over a dozen plants in Mexico and Brazil, generating 9.2 % of its global revenue, about $1 billion. The annual revenue of the Indian manufacturing companies in Latin America is estimated to be around $4 billion.

India has signed several agreements with a few countries in the LAC. The SICA-India agreement prioritised agriculture, SMEs, pharmaceuticals, tourism, IT-related activities, renewable energy, among others. In 2019, India signed a nuclear agreement with Argentina, which is assisting New Delhi in setting up small nuclear plants in India. A steady expansion of state visits in both directions (Luiz Lula, the former Brazilian President, visited India three times in eight years) gave the right signals to the private sector, which followed through in a variety of areas.

The Brazilian President’s visit to India in January 2020 further boosted India’s forays into Latin America. The visit was strengthened with 15 agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) including Investment Cooperation and Facilitation Treaty, Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Bioenergy and Cyber Security.

Also, culturally, LAC has small pockets of Indian diaspora (Hindus) across the region. There are about 550,000 Hindus in South America, 270,000 Hindus in Guyana, 120,000 in Suriname, and some others in French Guiana. The region is influenced by yoga, Bollywood movies and cricket. Dhoom 2, Kites, reality TV show Khataron ke Khiladi was shot in Rio De Janeiro and Santa Fe, Mexico. Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai dance sequence for the film Robot was also shot in Machu Pichu (in Peru). Argentina has been the strongest cricketing nation in South America, with a history of over 200 years and there are multiple cricket championships which take place in Lima, Argentina and Suriname.

Latin America is becoming a significant source of natural resources for India — oil, copper, soya and iron ore, among others, which calls for a stronger policy. India’s steady, opening to the world economy, its high savings and investment rate, and rapidly expanding middle class, whose demands for Western consumer products is growing in leaps and bounds, offer enormous trade opportunities. A combination of government initiatives and private ventures should open up new vistas in IndiaLAC trade and investment, leading to an eightfold expansion in interregional trade. The Indian government should focus on a shared economy model and promote MSMEs, corporates and startups in both the countries. Also, investment in shipping industries and concluding PTAs (Preferential Trade Agreements) and FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) is the need of the hour. Most importantly, it should remove the barriers that have held back the India-LAC relationship which can achieve its full potential.

Rajesh Mehta is a Leading International Consultant & Policy Professional. Prathamesh Karmarkar is an economic development expert, having worked with various national and provincial governments in India, Americas, Europe and the Middle East.

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VASU HEALTHCARE FORAYS INTO EXCLUSIVE BRANDED OUTLETS WITH ‘VASU NATURALS’

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With an aim to strengthen the direct consumer connect and give first-hand experience of existing and new product offerings, Vasu Healthcare, Herbal Cosmetics, Personal Care, and Nutritional Supplements brand, has launched the company’s first exclusive brand outlet (EBO)—‘Vasu Naturals’ in Vadodara, Gujarat.

Vasu Naturals outlets will have the entire range of products from Vasu Healthcare: haircare, skincare, personal care, men’s care and other health and wellness products. The company has 200 plus products covering segments including Urology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Gynecology, Respiratory care etc.

Speaking on the launch, Hardik Ukani, Managing Director, Vasu Healthcare Pvt Ltd, said, “Vasu Naturals outlet is the fifth division of the company—direct consumer division to give the consumers first-hand experience of all existing and future launches of Vasu Healthcare. Going forward, the company is planning to launch more Vasu Naturals outlets in Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot etc. and gradually expand nationally. Focused on direct consumer connect, the company is looking to strengthen a network of retail touch-points including company outlets, exclusive kiosk, and shop in shop model.”

The company has the vision to establish itself as a science-based, head-to-heel brand harnessed from nature’s wealth. The company’s flagship brand—Trichup, is omnipresent worldwide and offers a range of hair care Solutions including oil, shampoo, serum, hair conditioner, cream etc.

“Inspired by nature, Vasu Healthcare offers a range of innovative products enthused by Ayurveda’s rich heritage and backed by strong R&D, modern science, and technology. The company will consider setting up Vasu Naturals brand outlets in overseas markets based on the response in domestic markets. Our R&D team is further working on expanding the personal hygiene and oral healthcare,” said Sagar Patel, Director, Vasu Healthcare Pvt Ltd.

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Ticketing platform Yellowheart launches app to stamp out middlemen

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In an apparent bid to stamp out middlemen that seek to profit from tickets resale of live events and concerts, ticketing platform Yellowheart recently announced the launch of NFT ticketing mobile application YellowHeart Wallet, which eliminates the need for a physical ticket and connect users directly to its Web3 Ethereum-based NFT ticketing platform and marketplace.

The Wallet enables credit card fiat and cryptocurrency payments via Ethereum and Polygon integration, to be used for live event NFT ticket purchasing and on-site redemption and integrates with on-site activations and the concert-going experience.

“The YellowHeart Wallet is a major milestone for the live event industry. The App allows fans, artists, and venues to interact with Web3 marketplaces, which will greatly evolve the fan experience and create long-term recurring revenue opportunities for artists, teams, and venues. Artists, teams, and venues that don’t adapt will get left behind,” said Josh Katz, CEO of Yellowheart.

“Providing fans with a technology that grants exclusive access to concert tickets and event-specific content is a real win for us; combining this with our focus on artist community tokens, exclusive album-connected NFT content, and the possibilities for creativity from here are endless,” added Katz.

Running ticket sales through an open-source blockchain via the new app and wallet will give artists and event organisers the ability to track the entire ticketing cycle including monitoring secondary market resale and potential ‘scalping’.

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Jai Bheem app to give young Indians a platform to enhance their skills through short videos

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The country’s young generation will now be able to express their creativity through short videos. Girish Wankhede, a well-known entertainment professional and trade analyst of mainstream cinema, has announced the 4 December launch of the Jai Bheem mobile application in India, allowing users to record, discover, and share short videos.

“Jai Bheem is a short videos application that hones the skills of the youth in small towns that don’t get the opportunity to express their creativity. It will shape their careers by sharing the revenue with those whose videos go viral. It is an opportunity for youth offering them a career in entertainment as well as it makes them our ‘Revenue partners’,” announced Wankhede.

The app maker claims that ensuring data privacy has been the priority with all the data stored on servers in India.

The app also allows creators to enjoy full ownership and control of their videos, which they can download, anytime they want. Jai Bheem App is fully developed by an Indian team.

The teaser launch event of the Jai Bheem app was recently held amidst huge fanfare in Dubai in the presence of top Bollywood stars and corporate bigwigs.

Wankhede also unveiled the motion creative of the Dhamma Chakra Pravartan diwas especially created by the app team that fetched stupendous applause from the press persons. Along with Wankhede, Aman Kamble of Awaaz India was also present on occasion.

This app would not only talk about entertainment; it will also be focusing on entrepreneurship apart from entertainment.

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GOVT FOCUSING ON STRENGTHENING INDIA’S LOGISTICS SECTOR

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The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) is giving enormous thrust on improving logistics in the country and taking steps to bring efficiency into logistics management.

Delivering a talk on “Improving Operational Efficiency in Logistics Infrastructure; Multimodal Integrated Logistics Parks; Technologies” at Smart Mobility Conference 2021 at Pragati Maidan in the Capital on Tuesday, Suman Prasad Singh, Joint Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, said, “Our present focus is to have integrated planning of transport network development. We should not develop it in silo, that’s why the Gati Shakti portal has already come.”

“So far as the infrastructure of MoRTH is concerned, our basic purpose is to reduce the travel time. There are instances near ports, when a distance of 10 km, sometimes, takes more than 24 hours to cover. The reason is not the distance but many other factors like traffic restrictions,” he said.

The JS (Logistics) said the Ministry is trying to develop a dedicated highway to the port so that the travel time gets reduced, and it is operational all the time. “Similarly, whenever there is congestion, we are coming up with flyovers, bypasses, ring roads etc. All such aspects have been studied and incorporated in the Bharatmala Pariyojana,” Singh pointed out.

He said a number of steps have been taken to strengthen the logistics in the country. “The seriousness of the government towards addressing the logistics issue can be understood by the fact that a dedicated logistics department has been set up to bring down the cost of logistics. The government is trying to bring down this cost,” said the JS (Logistics).

Calling upon the private sector to join hands with the government in a true spirit of “partnership”, he said the policies introduced by the Ministry should be complied with in a positive manner. “Compliance attitude needs to be developed by the users of these policies,” said Singh.

The session was also addressed by Amrit Lal Meena, Additional Secretary (Logistics), Ministry of Commerce and Industry; Prakash Gaur, CEO, National Highway Logistics Management Limited; and Vaibhav Dange, Advisor National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), besides others.

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DOCTORS GUIDE CORPORATE LEADERS ON DEALING WITH OBESITY AND MENTAL STRESS

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‘Exercise alone cannot make you lose too much weight. Diet plays a more important role. Meal replacements through various diet plans can work for only certain periods of time. Eventually, the body goes back to its original weight and in the long term, you don’t seem to have results. Bariatric surgery leaps ahead of any other non-surgical method as it can make you lose weight and maintain it”, said Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, Director, Dept. of General Surgery & Minimal Access Surgical Sciences, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital at an engagement of Thought Leaders of India (TLOI).

The meeting was held under TLOI’s Wellness Impact initiative last Thursday and the well-known laparoscopic, GI, and bariatric surgeon was addressing leaders of India Inc., who are members of the business community. He was the Chief Guest. The exclusive meeting was also addressed by renowned psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, Founder of Maitri, who has been appointed as a member of the National Testing Agency (NTA) by the Government of India. He was the Guest of Honour. Given the work stress, haphazard timelines, and sedentary lifestyles, leaders of the corporate world often face challenges to physical and mental wellness. The two medical experts were invited to help the business leaders understand the two biggest health challenges—obesity and mental wellness— and realign their lifestyles with their bodies and mind in a more cognisant manner.

“Obesity is linked to less fertility, less sexual desire, varicose veins, and sleep apnea,” said Dr Lakdawala, while busting many myths on body weight, food habits, exercise, and lifestyle management. “It not only impacts the weight-bearing joints but also the non-weight bearing joints as it leads to high levels of uric acid”, he said. The Honorary Surgeon to the Vice President of India also informed about the non-fatty liver syndrome, saying that fatty liver is linked to not only alcohol but to obesity too. “Studies also show that it is not necessary for rice-eating people to put on weight”.

There were many cautions in Dr Lakdawala’s address. While guiding the business leaders on the way to check their BMI according to the specially curated index for Indian physiology “as obesity is classified differently for Indians and Asians vis-a-vis other countries”, he spoke about the danger of obesity leading to diabetes. “We have 90 million diabetics in India, and are next only to China,” he said adding that most obese people are malnourished as they face a deficiency of vitamins B and D.

However, fat should not be completely driven off our dining table, advised Dr Lakdawala, who was given the Best Surgeon in the World Award by the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) in 2019. “Fat is important for vitamin A, B, D & E”, he said and explained how a balance could be arrived at. When asked about an ideal diet or eating routine he backed the practice of having dinner prior to sunset as it allows the person to get three to four hours of gap between their meal and sleep, which is important and healthy.

Dr Harish Shetty, identified as one of the 17 young mental health workers by the World Health Organisation, highlighted the need to reconnect in his address. “We have all lost connection. Connectivity in people has gone down and emotional contact time in the family has declined. Globalisation has caused the disconnection. We need to reconnect”.

Speaking on why leaders are more prone to mental stress and depression, Dr Shetty said, “In a globalised world it is very important to preserve empathy and it takes a lot of effort. You need to share your vulnerability with your hierarchy downwards. You can’t be the only pillar that holds the entire organisation.” Emphasising that our goal should be to build emotional health, Dr Shetty underlined the anatomy of Pathy Triad: apathy, empathy, and antipathy. “They co-exist,” he said guiding them about empowered vulnerability. “It is important to accept your vulnerabilities as that is what makes you empowered”.

Sharing specific data, Dr Shetty said that one out of seven Indians is mentally ill and shared a five-point solution to manage stress and prevent depression—deal, dissolve, deflect, distract, and disintegrate. “Continuous exhaustion and excessive guilt are signs of depression,” he cautioned. “Depression is a fracture of the mind and it is invisible”.

To a query on ways to destress in highly active life, Dr Shetty shared three simple ways: a) micro pranayama – using even a two-minute window to take a few deep breaths; b) showers – the water sprayed on the top of the head helps relax the skull muscle, which helps the body to relax; and c) short breaks – taking small breaks and processing one’s emotions. He stressed the need to vent out regularly. Dr Shetty, who also trains the judiciary, warned, “Obsessive exercise doesn’t work, joyous exercise works”.

He recommended every organisation to have a mental health policy. Dr Shetty gave five simple mantras to a good and happy life: yoga, exercise, diet, sleep and kindness. He had a strong piece of advice for women: “Do not try to be perfect in everything. It is ok to be imperfect.”

Thought Leaders of India (TLOI), an exclusive ‘by-invitation’ community that has made long strides in a short span is curated by Sapphire Connect, one of India’s premier B2B meeting specialists. Its members include top entrepreneurs, founders, chairmen, managing directors, and CXOs of corporate India across industries.

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When Vikram Bhatt called me for Sanak, I was taken aback: Rohit Bose Roy

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Actor Rohit Bose Roy recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX India A-List . As part of the interview, Rohit opened up about his latest series Sanak-Ek Junoon, what attracted him to the character, to the show and much more.

Speaking about the new series, which is now streaming on MX Player, Rohit said, “Quite honestly, the major attraction was Vikram Bhatt and his writing. I’ve been a longstanding fan of the way he writes, the kind of content that he creates. I’ve just done a show with him before this called ‘Memories’, which was one of the most anticipated shows. Unfortunately, at that time, it was another OTT. So, not many people got to see it but that’s where I got addicted to Vikram Bhatt. I’ve been addicted to him since Holland but I love the way he writes. He is a dear friend and when he calls, I don’t ask him what I’m doing. When he called me for Sanak, I was actually taken aback because it is not the kind of show that you would associate with me. It is not the kind of character that you would associate with me. If I’m going back to what I’ve done, I’ve never really did a character who is like this. It is not really about greys. I have played grey characters. He is a character who believes that there’s nothing wrong in what he is doing. Greys are decided by various people. What is right for me might not be right for you, which is what actually eventually drew me to the role.”

“Ajay, as a character, believes that there are certain compromises to be made and they are absolutely fair to make those compromises in life, if you want to move ahead . When we reach a a cross road, we have to decide whether I am going to make a compromise with my morals to get ahead to the next stage or should I trudge along till I need the next stage without compromising my morals. In real life, Rohit Bose Roy would never compromise on his morals to reach ahead in life or in his career. I’d rather work hard and keep at it, which is why it took me to be 25 years to get here,” he continued. “I would have been in a different space otherwise. Ajay doesn’t think there is anything wrong and you can’t fault him for that. You can’t sit on judgment and say what Ajay is doing is wrong. That was the challenge for me as an actor to take up Sanak because when people watch it, you realise that you can’t say does anyone do like this ? You will actually be in a conundrum whether to call him white or black.”

When asked does he as a viewer also like thrillers, he responded, “I love thrillers. I have two point of views here. Unfortunately right now, there is an overkill of thrillers on OTT. I feel there should be a little bit of everything. There should be comedy, there should be human interest drama, there should be romance. I miss romance on OTTs. Having said that, I love thrillers. That’s my major consumption, whether it’s on television or film or OTT worldwide. Thriller is a genre, which I am never tired of because there’s always constantly something happening. When I’m tired, I’d like to watch thrillers because it ups my BMR and my blood starts flowing. Vikram makes all those kind of shows. Even making the same genre, his writing is so different in all the shows. What I did earlier was memories, it was different. Sanak is totally different as far as my character is concerned and the show is concerned.”

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