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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ITV NETWORK COMMITS RS 100 CR TV SPACE FOR ROTARY RAHAT’S HEALTH MISSION
On its mission to bring an effective change in India, Rotary Rahat is all set to roll out the world’s biggest health mission from July 2021. Led by a team of committed Rotarians all across the world, the mission will cover all of India. NewsX recently organised a special public service broadcast to spread awareness about the initiative, which was joined by Shekhar Mehta, incoming Rotary International president of 2021-22, Dr Naresh Trehan, Padma Bhushan and chairman of Medanta, Vivek Tankha, Member of Parliament and Rotarian himself, and Kartikeya Sharma, founder of ITV Network.
In his opening remarks, Mehta highlighted the commendable work done by Rotary International in the past and said, “Rotary has been involved in many things and the biggest has been polio eradication. Over the years, the medical mission has become an important part of our work. In India, we do large camps with some of the best doctors offering their services. Various health check-ups are done, including surgeries if required. Rotary has an advantage because of its entire network. We have two lakh people whose motto is to serve the people in fields such as education, health, water, and sanitation. In the last ten years, we have done 25,000 paediatric heart surgeries and we want to do 35,000 heart surgeries for children.”
Dr Trehan said, “It is a privilege to be a part of an organisation like Rotary, which treats 50,000 people for free. Tankha has been very dedicated to the Rahat mission. I feel it is a worthwhile thing to do. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted life in many ways, where people who need care have not been able to have access due to the fear of movement. The purpose of these camps is to detect morbidity and guide those people for the future. It has become more complex as many people have had Covid-19 and have already suffered the infection and the side effects are carried on, so I think this kind of camp takes into the huge population into consideration and the fact that those who desperately need help and are somehow unable to access it. We examine, diagnose and then treat them, this is the mission of the camps that are held around the country. Medanta will be backing it and we will be backing it more vigorously.”
He emphasised the points that need to be kept in mind while organising such camps, “The main concern is the safety of the personnel and the people who come to attend the camp. In this Covid-19 era, this has created a challenge. We will have to carefully plan our camps. It is going to be more time consuming and even more difficult to get the people. They have to be screened first for what they came to the camp for. Suppose people are in a separate situation, we will have to establish separate areas so all these things will have to be planned. If we go by the estimates of our vaccination drive, the government is expanding it with time. A large number of people who come to the camp are vaccinated and have completed their two doses of vaccination, and hopefully, they will develop immunity. A lot of the population has been covered by Ayushmann and that entitles them to treatment everywhere. All the members of the providers, healthcare providers who sign up for the scheme will be able to participate. The amount of money required to accomplish the mission and our million objectives are achievable now. We need connections everywhere. The way the population is covered by the Gold Card, the Ayushmann Card, we will have to recruit diagnostics and treatment wherever they need it. There may not be facilities in Kashmir itself, which means like us, institutions that are participating will help, so every speciality will be covered. We are ready to link with NGOs that are identifying people who cannot otherwise get access to healthcare.”
When asked the motto behind these camps, Tankha said, “In 2019, we had one lakh patients but the whole administration was with us. Thousands of surgeries took place. I remember doctors performing surgeries on those tribal women who otherwise may not have got a chance to live. When you see a leader like Shekhar who is willing to take mega projects it is all the more motivational and encouraging. We have 38 districts and 38 governors, Rotarians in all parts of India and each of them wanting to work. What could be a better situation than to serve the people of India? You are reaching healthcare to the unreached. We send patients to top hospitals.”
Narrating his experience with Rotary, Kartikeya Sharma said, “I was part of the 2019 Rahat camp and saw what was happening. It was mind-boggling and motivated us at ITV Foundation as well to collaborate and take it to the furthest. Everything about Rotary is massive and what rotary as an organisation has been doing is fantastic. Rahat is a fantastic concept and it has reached millions of people in the last decade. When we spoke about it, I wanted to be a part of this organisation with names such as Medanta and Dr Trehan associated with it and the initiatives taken by the civil society which make healthcare possibilities happen.” He further committed Rs 100 crore worth of TV space across the ITV network to promote and take the mission to the farthest parts of the country over the next year.
WHEN BUDDING STARTUPS SHARE INNOVATIVE IDEAS WITH PANELLISTS
In an invigorating session with NewsX, Supreme Incubator, a startup venture platform founded by Disha Singla and Tanvi Singla, presented a panel discussion, ‘Demo Day by Supreme Incubator’, wherein five budding startup companies presented their ideas and vision in the presence of an exemplary panel which consisted of business and entrepreneurial stalwarts who were also esteemed investors.
Supreme Incubator aims toward helping early age startups, especially those who are beyond the metropolitan areas and helping them build strong foundations from a very early stage and accelerate their growth. They hand-picked startups from a variety of companies across the country through a six-month-long program and provided them with a structural support system involving dedicated mental support, opportunities, and infrastructure. Supreme Incubator has been serving solutions for the young startups, creating a startup ecosystem, and helping them adapt to this new normal.
A demo day is an event that culminates this cohort program where companies, which are successfully graduated, can come to this platform to pitch to this panel of investors, who are successful entrepreneurs and capital venturists in their own right, to showcase their business idea and what does their product or company represents.
The panel constituted of some of the industry leaders who have actively contributed to the startup ecosystem and helped it to be stronger than ever. The panellists included Ashwin Srivastava, an IIT Bombay Alumni, Global Investor, VC/PE FIRM Founder, Government Advisor; Ashish Taneja, Partner at growX Ventures; Sandro Stephen, Regional Head, North India Operations, and Indian Angel Network; and Kshitij Shah, Principal, 3one4 Capital. Disha and Tanvi were also present while their finalised startup teams gave presentations to potential investors.
On an introductory note, Tanvi talked about Supreme Incubator and shared her experience of working with these young startups and how incredibly talented are the teams of different startups. The five startups pitched to the investors, followed by a Q&A session from the panellists and NewsX viewers.
The startups were:
Startup 1: Bigdipper Exploration Space Technologies – Abhinesh Srivastava, CEO
Startup 2: TalkEng – Er. Subhra Deb, Founder & CEO, Sowarjit Baidy, Co-Founder & CEO, Sushmita Bhowmik, Co-Founder & CPRO, Subhendu Datta, Co-Founder & COO, and Shantanu Modak, Co-Founder & CMO
Startup 3: SoDo – Gaurav Sood, Founder & CEO
Startup 4: Edgenus – Jalaj Garg, Founder & CEO, and Priyansh Mahajan, Co-Founder & COO
Startup 5: Hyoristic Innovations- Hari Shankar Lal, Founder & CEO
Abhinesh made the first pitch whose startup- Bigdipper Exploration Space Technologies aims toward enabling access to space resources. Talking about the idea, he underlined that their goal is to develop cutting-edge robots for lunar and deep space missions which would further enable access to space resources that will have a life-changing impact on humanity. In the presentation, Abhinesh briefly described the roadmap of the company, the opportunities that await us in space technology, and the future goals of the company. “With 2.5 crore capital, we will be able to get the product ready by the end of next year,” he said.
The second startup to make their pitch was TalkEng, which is an ed-tech startup, aiming to revolutionise the process of learning any language, especially English. The team cited some relevant data that is obstructing young people to take up jobs, particularly in the corporate sector. They talked about their innovative idea of following a scientific approach to pave the way for English learners, citing the three crucial elements which are required to learn and achieve fluency in any language, that is Listen-Observe-Speak.
The third startup that gave the presentation was SoDo, founded by Gaurav, which is an on-demand B2B and B2C Hyperlocal platform with an intent to provide on-demand assured services for IT firms and businesses. Talking about the idea behind his company, he said, “Our company will help the clients in order creation wherein we will provide them freelancers, IT firms, and find out the best service to take depending upon their requirements to get their work done smoothly.” Gaurav underlined the post-funding predictions were stated to be at about 60 lakh wherein the major chunk would go in marketing.
The fourth presentation was given by Edgenus, founded by Jalaj, which is a one-stop destination to help you take a step ahead in your artistic passion. He asserted three major problems which might stop someone to discover and pursue arts—lack of learning opportunities, community exposure, and structured guidance in the artistic arena. The company aims to address such concerns through methods that include self-assessment, goal realisation to domain understanding, skill-building by providing the users with relevant informative content, and networking opportunities with the artists across the country.
The fifth and final startup that gave the presentation was Hyoristic Innovations. Introducing his idea to the panel, Hari stated that they aim to build high-tech solutions to mitigate space debris, making it safe for space explorations. He talked about the growing threat of space debris through his visual presentation and the current problems we are facing in that area. Hari said, “We plan to capture the eighth hidden device in the de-orbit using the ADR technique and intend to fill the gap in the debris through our services. Our service area includes ADR (Active Debris Removal) and mapping.”
On a concluding note, Disha talked about the plan ahead and stated that these startups have been an active part of the cohort. She added that the major focus would be to connect them with industry experts.
MAHARASHTRA BACK TO SQUARE ONE WITH SECOND LOCKDOWN
The state government’s decision to impose another lockdown is not a wise one since the losses would outweigh the benefits. What the state needs to do instead is ramp up its health infrastructure and Covid-19 testing, while letting citizens lead normal lives.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday announced a lockdown for 15 days, taking the state back to square one. The state administration seems to have accepted defeat in the fight against Covid-19 and chosen the method of inaction.
Throughout the pandemic, Maharashtra has been the worst performer consistently. Now, with a disproportionately high fatality rate, the statewide implementation of Section 144, which will paralyse daily life, is another setback for its citizens. For a state which boasts of many urbanized centres, it has failed miserably in curbing the surge in infections and put pressure on its healthcare system.
With 60,212 fresh cases, the number of active cases in Maharashtra stands at 593,042. Disturbing reports have begun to emerge from various parts of the state, from hospitals looting patients to a lack of beds resulting in deaths. The unavailability of Remdesivir has led to hoarding. Inadequate oxygen supply has been a cause of concern. People running from pillar to post to secure hospital beds, medicines and ventilator facilities has turned it into a tragedy on a mass scale. How did Maharashtra end up in such a precarious position while Delhi is holding on despite facing a surge too?
Inadequate testing and contact tracing by the government of Maharashtra, combined with a lax attitude, have led to Covid cases shooting through the roof. The Covid positivity rate has reached the dangerous threshold of 29%. Out of the 2.20 lakh tests done, approximately 63,000 have turned out to be positive cases, which indicates an appalling state of affairs. Overall, there have been 34 lakh cases out of 2.20 crore tests.
The positivity statistics in Maharashtra are way ahead of the all-India average of 5%. Meanwhile, Delhi, despite a high density of population, has a positivity rate which is not over the national average. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are at 2% and 1%, respectively. Even a relatively urbanised and large state like Tamil Nadu has held its own with an impressive 6%.
Given the high occurrence of the infection in Maharashtra, evident from such a high positivity rate, there is an urgent need to ramp up testing. The state cannot fight Covid unless the true extent of the spread is known. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his discussion with Chief Ministers has already sought increased testing along with widespread vaccination as a sustainable tool to fight the virus.
Maharashtra with its imposition of another lockdown is taking a step backwards. Last year’s experience has taught us that lockdowns are not a permanent or sustainable solution, but merely the postponing of the inevitable. The need of the hour for the state is to ramp up infrastructure and increasing testing, while letting normal life run as usual, until the positivity rates are in a comfortable position. This way the state may surely enter the list of badly hit Covid-infected states, but will succeed in saving lives by timely interventions.
The steep fall in the mortality rate in Maharashtra may either mean a sign of hope or be considered a result of undercounting due to a lack of reporting. Whatever the case, it is getting increasingly clearer that the economic costs of a lockdown far exceed the supposed benefits.
Unlike the previous year when the scientific community’s knowledge of the virus was limited, the world is better off today, especially with vaccines available in varying degrees of effectiveness. The original lockdown served its purpose of buying time and letting India manufacture a lot of medical items like PPE kits, which aided the fight initially and made the lockdown worthwhile. But now, we have reached a point where a lockdown will lead to diminishing returns in terms of the fight against Covid-19.
The author is a BJP spokesperson and former executive director of the Maharashtra Village Social Transformation Foundation. The views expressed are personal.
Prachi Desai opens up on her comeback with “Silence… Can You Hear It?”
Prachi Desai, a well-known Indian film actress and former television actress with millions of fans all over the world, recently joined NewsX for a candid interview as part of NewsX India A-List. Prachi returned to acting after a long break with her suspense-thriller movie ‘Silence… Can You Hear It?’ released on Zee5 on 26 March and is currently enjoying its success.
Talking about her recent film’s success, Prachi said, “I think so far the response has been great. Also, I’ve done a film after a while so I think that excitement definitely for me is special and the effort actually into it was was to do something different because it’s been a while and I think that has paid off. Actually it’s been a unanimous response. The one thing I’m consistently hearing every day from people is that it’s really nice to see me back after a gap. So, yeah that’s really nice to hear because that sort of thing gives you a sense of hope. It also reminds me that you know people do want to watch me and they’re happy to see me again and that I think, there cannot be any other feeling better than that”.
When asked about what convinced her to say yes to come back, she expressed, “It actually just ticked all the boxes, there aren’t any specific requirements for every film that you do, but I think it’s just the basics so whether it was a good engaging script- that was a tick, a new or different role in some different light- that was a tick and it’s a debutant director, a female director so I’ve always wanted to work with female directors and I feel like we need more female directors in this industry and there is so in this movie. So just tick tick tick all the reasons and I think for me some kind of lean mention was needed which is why I took my while to say yes to something and it was just as simple as silence, it was something as simple as this role for this film to come my way where I immediately said yes”
Sharing more insights from her experience, Prachi said, “I love it, I love thrillers in general, I love espionage thrillers, I love mysteries like murder mysteries. I also do love horror and I don’t think you’ll believe this fact but I love watching horror and yes I think that this genre is something that I watch a lot. I think because with thrillers, it just keeps you at the edge of your seat most of the time if it’s written well, it’s directed well and this particular one was a page-turner. When I was reading the script I just needed to know what’s gonna happen next and that’s a good sign.”
Expressing her views on working with Manoj Bajpai and being on sets with him, she mentioned, “Manoj sir is an institution known in acting in films and everything. I honestly would just keep observing him the whole time on the set, trying not to creep him out of course. Just like watching his performance looking at how he prepares for every particular scene and all of that, I feel like one thing is definitely not enough for you to you know. there is so much talent in that man, there’s so much going on in his head. I think that it rubs off very very nicely on all of us, on all the cool stuff so you always just want to also do well in the scene because he’s so good and he’s a very selfless actor.:
She further added, “I mean he’s not selfish at all. He makes sure that everybody in the scene is equally involved and if he ever feels like you can do something or that will make your performance better, he definitely shares that with everyone. Also just the kind of involvement and dedication he has, I mean he’s such a busy actor, also he’s someone who’s done far more work than all of us in the film put together. Even then, he would just be involved with his thousand per cent and probably work as hard as we did. The number of hours that we worked, he doesn’t shy away from the hard work at all, so that’s very refreshing to see.”
On taking up a new role, Desai said, “It was totally unplanned, actually I think that’s how an actor’s life is, unpredictable sometimes, interesting sometimes, just weird but it definitely wasn’t planned. However, there came a point when I just felt like I needed to you know maybe detour from the roles that I’m doing and do something slightly different. It may not be earth-shattering but I definitely needed that shift, and yeah I don’t know if the casting directors are lazy, or if the filmmakers are lazy because they feel like oh! this person does something well so we keep on giving them the same role that makes their job easier because they don’t have to work hard with you to do something different.”
“So, that sort of thing happened were very repetitive things came my way and I really enjoyed my space for a while. I made the most of it, however, it felt like I can do so much more and I needed people to open up to that. When that did not happen, I mean you’re an actor, if you’re not a producer yourself, all you can do is just probably wait or try and add something different. But you only have this much that you can do within that scope because you can’t probably make a different film for yourself. So, I think that the waiting period took a little longer than expected. Certain things of course, in that span, certain things that were very interesting did not materialize for some reason, and for an actor, you just never know how months have passed by or a year or two years or more and then of course, there was covid. One whole year, the entire year went into that. So, it was unplanned but overall I think now I feel like it’s just been worth it”.
“Digital health would bring healthcare within the reach and accessibility of everyone in the country.”: Praveen Singhal, Co-Founder & Director, BeatMySugar
In an exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of the NewsX India special segment A-List series, Co-Founder and Director of BeatMySugar, Praveen Singhal talks about his venture which is a one-stop platform for pre-diabetic and diabetic patients.
Praveen Singhal, Co-founder, and Director of BeatMySugar recently sat with NewsX for a conversation as part of NewsX India’s special A-List series. BeatMySugar is a tech-powered, comprehensive, and unique platform that focuses on making best-in-class diabetes care effortless, affordable, and easily accessible to everyone.
Speaking about the ethos of the company, Mr Praveen said- ”BeatMySugar is a platform for people with diabetes with an intent to be true partners in life. So the ethos driving the corporate culture is in sync with it and our ethos are collaborative, transparency, progressive, and integrity. We always believe in growing along with all our stakeholders and delivering the best solutions to our customers using all the progressive tools and technologies available in the area of healthcare.”
Talking about how the platform is inclusive for its customers, Mr. Praveen Singhal stated – ”There are three main pillars of BeatMySugar. The first one is ‘Education’, the second is ‘Product’ and the third is ‘Service’. In Education, we have very exclusively self-curated content from various key opinion leaders and our internal medical affairs team to disseminate the right information and knowledge to people with diabetes. Along with that, we have come up with one of its kind in India, a diabetes education programme co-authored by leading diabetologists of national and international repute to help people understand the basics of diabetes so that they can start their self-monitoring of this silent pandemic. On the product side, whatever a person with diabetes need, be it food or supplements, food care, books or medicines, and devices, we make it available to them and the most important thing, the core of BeatMySugar services which help them manage their lifestyle in terms of doctor’s consultation, diet, fitness plans, and lab services as well as fulfilling their other requirements. so that’s why we call it an inclusive model for people with diabetes.”
Speaking about the idea of starting a One-Stop platform for people with Diabetes, Mr. Praveen said- ”It came from within the families of co-founders with two of them being diabetic. Shaurya was diagnosed with type II diabetes at the age of 12 and Atul had type II diabetes for over 2 decades. Having understood the pain and the trouble they had in finding all the requirements at one place, that gave the thought for BeatMySugar. After that we found that though India is becoming the world capital of diabetes, awareness, and the right information about the same is completely missing. That’s when we came up with the concept of BeatMySugar.”
Sharing the offers and the benefits that BeatMySugar provides to its customer and how can it serve those who have diabetes, Mr. Singhal elaborated, ”The help is in the form of complete care and that is what we intend to provide. It is driven by our concept which is in the DNA of our company and that is- Educate, Empathise, Engage and Evolve. With this, we are there to take care of all the requirements and be the true partners to our customers in their journey with diabetes.”
Talking about the reluctance and the fear in the mind of those having the disease, Mr. Praveen shed some light upon the transparency that the company has and gaining the trust of the customers, ”Our ethos of transparency and integrity, they drive the trust from the people and that gets reflected in the results that we have had so far. At present, we have over 35% orders from our customers. This also gets accelerated because this is one place where they get all the right information. The doctors that are associated with us and the content that is available is one way of helping them get the right information about diabetes. so this is how the prospective is built up,” he said.
Speaking about the queries that are received on a daily basis to BeatMySugar, Mr. Singhal underlined- ”The major query that we get is surprisingly from various brands and vendors wherein they are showing interest to collaborate with us and asking how they can associate with us or how their products can be onboarded with BeatMySugar. I think that is one of the major queries and I think it is very interesting and motivating for us because it shows the kind of traction and the visibility of what this platform has already built.”
When asked about the R&D of the company, Mr. Praveen Singhal responded ”We are developing various tools so that remote monitoring enabled by data science and artificial intelligence can be put into use wherein rather than being reactive, we provide a proactive solution to people with diabetes, helping them manage their disorder.” He further talked about connecting with customers from tier-1 and tier 2 cities rather than just metropolitan ones. ”If you look at the way this complete ecosystem is changing. The Internet penetration rate is going higher and higher in India and it is expected that we would have a better connection by 2025. Smartphones numbers are also increasing and we are expected to have about 966 million by the year 2023. We are talking of Digital health or Mobile health that would bring the healthcare within the reach and accessibility of everyone in the country.”
On a parting note, Mr. Singhal shared the vision of the company,” BeatMySugar is and would be a fully integrated tech-enabled platform and our vision is to be the leading provider of diabetes care with our continuum of care model not only in India but in other parts of the world as well.”
“We stand for water sustainability, reuse and recycling of water”: Arun Lakhani, CMD, Vishvaraj Environment Pvt. Ltd.
Arun Lakhani, Chairman and Managing Director of Vishvaraj Environment Private Ltd. recently sat with NewsX in an exclusive interview under its special segment called NewsX India A-List to talk about India’s first and the largest PPP on water reuse and recycling which was completed in record time during the pandemic and has recently been felicitated with the FICCI Water Award 2020. Vishvaraj Pvt Ltd. has a fresher outlook towards the overall management of the water cycle with a newly integrated PPP model into function.
Talking about the ethos of the company and what does it stands for, Mr. Lakhani said, ”We stand for the water Sustainability, We stand for the reuse and recycling of water. We believe that unless the fourth P that stands for ‘People’ into the PPP Model, particularly in the water sector which is one of the social sectors rather than a corporate one, is not included, we will not get adequate success. We believe that the reuse and recycling of water is a must for us and only by being aware of the same, we can become ‘Sujjlaam, Suflaam’ which our country has always been.”
Expressing his gratitude for winning the FICCI Water Award 2020, Mr. Arun Lakhani talked about the project that led the company to bag an honour like this, he stated, ”We won the first prize in the FICCI National Competition. this is a project which was 100% privately funded project of 200 Billion Litre per day sewage treatment. so there is a plan of secondary treatment of 200 MLD out of which we have added a tertiary treatment and we are selling 119 MLD of treated water to nearby Thermal Power Stations. now, what good it does to the society is that the freshwater that is being used by the thermal power stations, the same amount of 190 MLD is now available for the city for drinking purposes. this takes care of the upcoming generation and about 35 years of population growth of the city of Nagpur. so with this type of complete positive cycle, you treat the sewage and supply it to a non-portable use be it industrial or others. We take out the freshwater which we were using earlier for treatment. this cycle basically brought us into the competition.”
Talking about the procedure that the model entails, Mr. Lakhani underlined, ” Every city that we supply water to, Nagpur for example; We supply 70 crores Litre of Water every day and 80% of this water comes back as Sewage. So when around 500-600 crore Litres of Water comes back every day in the form of Sewage, if you don’t treat it, then it goes on to contaminate the wells, lakes, streams, and rivers in the city. so when we treat the water, it not only saves the freshwater sources but can also use this treated water in the industry. What we do is that we treat the sewage, and the treated water is pumped across the pipeline to the thermal power stations and they are stored in the reservoirs of freshwater which eventually gets transferred to the city for drinking purpose. Its a total of 20 crore litres of water per day that is additionally available in the city of Nagpur.”
When asked about the reason of starting Nagpur Rescue Project, Mr. Lakhani said, “Actually this started with the contamination of water in Nagpur. there were Public Interest Litigations around the matter and the court took cognisance of the matter and further laid out a ruling ordering the Municipal Corporations to start treating the sewage which further led to the announcement of PPP project with a public biding. At that time when we entered the project, it was a secondary treatment but we took it further and added the tertiary treatment as well seeking some help from Mahagenco, which is quite proactive and is a generation company of Maharashtra for power with their own power plant that was implemented a decade earlier. So they were familiar with the concept and when we approached them, they said they’d be happy to treat more sewage water and help the environment.”
When asked about his plans of expanding the venture to different cities across India, Mr. Lakhani’s response was affirmative. ”Yes, definitely! We have been called in so many forums in different cities. Actually, we are present across India, nearly in 20 towns in different sectors such as water distribution, water treatment and sewage treatment. We are also on the list of top 50 companies in the world as per population and are serving around 80 lakh people in the country presently. We intend to go to more cities with more investment,” said Arun.
He further talked about the reason for water pollution in India. He added, ”In our country, management of water has been missing. we have always had an adequate amount of water and you’ll be surprised to know that out of 100 smart cities, 82 cities have enough water, with 130 LPD per person as per the international standards data. the management is missing as the water leakages are there and the sewage that goes untreated. We have 60 thousand million litres of sewage that is being generated in the country out of which 36,000 is released without any treatment.”
Speaking about the government policies, he underlined, ”This government has fortunately been very proactive. the clean Gange Programme is one such example, where a hybrid annuity PPP model was suggested. then there is also ‘Jal Jeevan mission’ through which they are trying to reach every household with tao water. there is also one programme that the government will be funding, necessarily with the sewage treatment.”
On a concluding note, Mr Lakhani talked about the dire need for a policy that sheds light on newly integrated models. ”We need a policy that clearly defines the PPP rules for the entrepreneurs as well as the government that give revenue separately. Like the one given in the Namami Ganga programme, where the central government has assured the payment which makes people interested into the sector,” said Arun.
When being asked about the vision of the company, Mr. Arun Lakhani said, ”Now with the complete understanding of the issues as well as the solutions, we are looking to expand in many more cities and towns where we would be able to invest. We believe in the skills of the game and plan to do more PPP models and hopefully in the next couple of years, we would be in around 1–15 cities.”
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