MOST NATIONS WILL HAVE A LARGE NUMBER OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES BY 2023: SUNJAY KAPUR - The Daily Guardian
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MOST NATIONS WILL HAVE A LARGE NUMBER OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES BY 2023: SUNJAY KAPUR

Sona Comstar chairperson Sunjay Kapur shares the way Covid-19 has impacted the auto sector and how India can prepare to usher in the era of electric vehicles.

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Sona Comstar chairperson Sunjay Kapur, in an exclusive conversation for the special segment NewsX India A-List, spoke about the company, the impact of the pandemic on the automobile industry and the emergence of electric vehicles in India.

Speaking about effects of the pandemic on his group, Kapur said, “People had written off any opportunities when we went into this, with March-April being zero revenue months. You prepare for a lot of different scenarios in terms of reduction in sales, however, nobody was prepared for zero revenue while we still incurred expenses. When we went into this, I don’t think anybody saw the kind of opportunities that would come along. The opportunities have been great, in terms of localisation, Aatmanirbhar Bharat, opportunities to move supply chains out of high-risk countries or situations.”

“As a business, we have seen a V-shaped recovery in the automobile industry, which has been phenomenal. Our business was 50% domestic and 50% export. Now, it has moved to 80% export, which again has given us great growth opportunities. The United States is one of our biggest markets today in terms of supply. We are not only supplying to the ICE but also to electric vehicles. We have also, in this pandemic, been able to develop new products. Our aim is to continuously develop products and see how we can increase market share. To that effect, we have gotten into the two-wheeler space, where we had never been before. Traditionally, we have been in farm equipment, all fiver vehicles, passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, And we are doing electric two-wheelers. It has been a great opportunity for us and I see a lot of positivity which has come out of this pandemic,” said Kapur.

“Going into this pandemic, we made a lot of comparisons with the 2008-09 financial crisis and I am happy to say that we saw hardly any bankruptcies. Therefore, this gives me the belief that businesses are better run, better managed and more robust, and fewer companies are sitting on large debts, which is definitely a positive sign. It has been a good recovery,” he added.

Sharing his outlook for the auto sector ahead and whether the surge is the result of a pent up demand or whether it would sustain, Sunjay said, “There are four things that are driving demand. One, the pent up demand. Two, rural demand, which is very strong and you can see it in tractor sales going through the roof. Rural demand is helping the rest of the automobile industry as well. Three, festive demand, which just ended. Four, social distancing. More people are afraid to travel in public transport and prefer travelling by their own vehicles. We have seen that impact on small car sales as well as two-wheelers. I feel that this demand will sustain. We are now slowly seeing an increase in heavy commercial vehicles, which is again a good sign. Commercial vehicles are doing well because of e-commerce and all the deliveries happening. We have seen strong growth even in November, as compared to last year. Several companies will see higher sales. If they don’t match their sales from last year, they will see higher sales than what they saw this financial year.”

When asked about the scope for an electric vehicle sector, particularly in India, Sanjay explained, “There has to be an ecosystem built around EV. I definitely see electric vehicles increasing. In India, it may take a little longer and that doesn’t mean long-term. In the short term, we are going to see an increase in EV. In the West, we are seeing it already with the Paris Accord and the climate change requirements in Europe. By 2023, most countries will see a large population with electric vehicles. In India, we will see it begin in the two-wheeler space. Charging is easier in that space, but charging infrastructure needs to be built, battery management needs to be understood better and standards need to be created. The government is very keen to push electric vehicles and the industry is geared up to meet the requirement for EV.”

When asked for his views on opportunities for India in the manufacturing sector and the scope for turning around supply chains, especially with the anti-China narrative in the world now, Kapur responded, “This is a global opportunity and everybody is vying for this business, be it Vietnam, Thailand, Mexico or India. We are very well positioned to attract a lot of business. From a private sector perspective, we must invest in technology. You can have all the ease of doing business and great pricing, etc., but if we do not have the technology, business is not going to come. It is not as easy as it seems. People seem to think it is easy to move out of China but it is not. There is a lot of investment required, especially in technology.”

Pointing out electronics as a case, Sunjay added, “We have a large import content for electronics across the board, not just in automobile but in every industry. To localize electronics, it is going to require investments in technology. The government is working with 24 different sectors to create export champions, which is a great initiative. It is a great starting point, in terms of creating that manufacturing base in India. I think we are well positioned to do that. I feel we are going to work from the private sector in not just adopting technologies in Tier 1, but also in Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the supply chain as well. If we are able to do that, we would be able to attract more business, localise more and reduce our dependency on supply chains outside India. Today, in the auto components industry, we are a net importer. The aim is to become a net exporter. We can only get there by continuously deploying technology in the right space.”

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PRESIDENT ADDRESSES SPECIAL SESSION OF HIMACHAL ASSEMBLY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF ITS STATEHOOD

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All Indians are proud of the development story written by the people of Himachal Pradesh in the past 50 years, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, while addressing the special session of Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Shimla on Friday. This special session was being organised on the occasion of golden jubilee of statehood of Himachal Pradesh.

The President said that all the previous governments of Himachal Pradesh have played an important role throughout the journey of its development. He appreciated contributions made by former Chief Ministers— Late Dr. Y.S. Parmar, Late Shri Thakur Ram Lal, Shri Shanta Kumar, Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal and Late Shri Virbhadra Singh. He said that the initiative taken by the Himachal Pradesh government to take the development journey of the state to the people is highly commendable.

Himachal Pradesh has set new dimensions of development in various fields. He noted according to a report by NITI Aayog, that Himachal Pradesh ranks second in the country in the “Sustainable Development Goals – India Index 2020-21”. He said that Himachal Pradesh is the leading state in the country on many parameters. He appreciated the government of Himachal Pradesh for these achievements.

Pointing to the fact that water of rivers of Himachal Pradesh is clean and soil is full of nutrients, the President urged the farmers of the state to adopt natural farming more and more and keep their land free from chemical fertilizers.

The President said that eco-friendly agriculture, horticulture, tourism, education, employment, etc., have immense potential for sustainable development in Himachal Pradesh. Therefore, we should make continuous efforts for development while preserving its natural beauty and heritages, he added.

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PUNJAB YET TO PROPOSE PENSION FOR HIV AIDS PATIENTS

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HIV AIDS patients of Punjab have been suffering not only the disease but also bearing the sting of financial deprivation for the last many years. All neighboring states of Punjab have a pension plan for these patients, even the Capital of Punjab Chandigarh also has a pension plan. Nevertheless, Punjab State AIDS Control Society is yet in the process of thinking to create a proposal for a pension scheme and send that to State Government. Punjab has a maximum patient load of HIV-AIDS patients when compared to the neighboring states. These patients require treatment, nutrition, travel expenses, Medicine expenses but whom shall they look upto. As the government despite knowing all the ground reality sitting silent and yet thinking to propose a plan for such patients.

For an HIV patient, it takes time for him/her to reach the stage of AIDS. There are more than 40000 patients in state who are suffering from HIV, some of them had already reached the stage of AIDS. Some are residing in the border area of Punjab and a maximum of them are getting treatment from PGIMER. It’s a tedious task for an HIV Patient to travel first to the PGIMER, then seek medicine every month.

Pragya Thakur (Name Changed) of Amritsar told The Daily Guardian, “It’s like adding insult to injury for me, I hardly could manage nutritious food for myself as after popping these medicines one need nutritious food to survive and then traveling this long for medicine and treatment, I have no option but to strive hard for myself and my kids who also turned out to be HIV positive”.

“Maybe it is not my mistake but once someone turns HIV Positive, people in society would not let him or her life with dignity. I was thrown out of my job after my boss get to know that I am HIV positive. Even my family too had cornered me. I became HIV positive in 2020 after infected blood was infused in me by a govt hospital in Bathinda. Government is other states provides pension to HIV patients but here in Punjab no one cares,” says Sudhanshu Mishra from Bathinda

Talking about this grim situation, Project Director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society IAS Amit Kumar exhorted, “ We know life is not easy for them. We are going to propose a Pension scheme to the Government comprising many other benefits that we could provide to these patients. Also, we are trying to collaborate with the POSHAN scheme so that we may contribute nutritious food to them. Moreover, We are also in process of providing free travel to these patients. We are hopeful that state government shall soon pass this proposal.”

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BJP CHANGES ITS STRATEGY AGAINST MAMATA IN BHABANIPUR, TO RUN CAMPAIGN ‘SECRETLY’

Arup Kali

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There are only a few days left for the Bhabanipur by-election in the state of West Bengal. The propaganda storm of all the camps is at its peak. Complaints and counter-allegations are also coming to the fore in the atmosphere of propaganda. This time the BJP changed its campaign strategy. Their new strategy with Bhabanipur is that the campaign will be run secretly. The BJP leadership will reach different parts of Bhabanipur without informing anyone. Recently, Priyanka Tibrewal, the BJP candidate in the Bhabanipur by-election, has been accused of violating the Covid-19 rules. But her counter-claim is that some unknown people are reaching out during her campaign, and that’s why the crowds are getting bigger. So, this time the state BJP decided to change the campaign strategy for Bhabanipur.

BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal alleged that a group of 15 to 20 people were behind her campaign team wherever she went. Priyanka claims that although these unidentified persons are claimed to be police, there are doubts as to whether they are police at all. The BJP leader estimates that they are not police at all. They are the ones who are motivating the crowd in campaign, she said. And seeing the crowd, there admin puts the allegations of breaking the Covid-19 rules. The BJP demanded that if those people were policemen, they should come in police uniforms.

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SCRAP FARM LAWS, TALK TO FARMERS TO FIND WAY FORWARD, PUNJAB CM AMARINDER SINGH TELLS CENTRE

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As the nation marked one year of the Farm Laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday demanded immediate scrapping of the legislations by the Centre, calling for detailed discussions with the farmers to find a way forward.

Pointing out that many farmers had died in these protests, the Chief Minister said it was high time the Central Government realised its blunder and withdrew the legislations in the interest of the farmers and the nation.

The Chief Minister, wearing a #nofarmers_nofood bade, was inaugurating the 3rd state level virtual Kisan Mela organised by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. The 2-day mela is centered on the theme : ‘KARIE PARALI DI SAMBHAL, DHARTI MAA HOVE KHUSHHAL’, in line with the state government’s focus on eliminating stubble burning.

“Till date, the Indian Constitution has been amended as many as 127 times, so why can it not be amended once again to scrap the Farm Laws and resolve the imbroglio resulting from them,” asked the Chief Minister. “What is the problem in doing it a 128th time,” he demanded to know from the BJP-led government at the Centre.

What was happening with the farmers today was extremely sad, given the immense contribution made by them to India’s development and progress, said Captain Amarinder, calling for immediate revocation of the laws, which he said were detrimental to the interest not just of the agricultural community but the entire country.

Recalling that he had been asked by the Centre to stop Punjab’s farmers from going to Delhi last November, the Chief Minister said he had refused point blank to do so, as protest is the democratic right of farmers. “Why should they not protest? How can I stop them,” he asked, making it clear that he continues to stand with the farmers in their fight against these legislations, with his government continuing to give compensation and jobs to the families of the deceased farmers.

Noting the contribution of Punjab and its farmers to the country’s growth, the Chief Minister said the state, with only 1.53 % of total geographical area of India, produces about 18% of the country’s wheat, 11% paddy, 4.4% cotton and 10% milk. For the past many decades, Punjab has been contributing about 35-40% of wheat and 25-30% of rice to the central pool, he said, expressing pride in the achievements of the state’s farmers.

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No passport to government employees in J&K till they get vigilance clearance

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The administration in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory on Thursday made the latest vigilance clearance mandatory for obtaining a passport by a government employee.

“The passport to the citizens including Government employees is issued on the basis of verification carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The current system does not contain any mechanism that would help deny the passport to such employees who are either under suspension or facing departmental inquiry or prosecution on account of serious charges,” reads a government circular, a copy of which lies with the ITV Network.

Hitherto, a Government employee was only required to inform his employer for applying for a passport. “Also, the guidelines for obtaining passport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training, GoI in consultation with the Central Vigilance Commission and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and vide Office Memorandum No. F. No. 11012/7/2017- Estt.A-111 dated February, 2020, elaborate instructions have been issued for obtaining fresh vigilance clearance while considering grant of passport to Government employees,” it reads.

The government said Anti Corruption Bureau, J&K has also brought into its notice that the present mechanism for issuance of passport to Government employees without obtaining requisite vigilance clearance results in the issuance of passport to those employees against whom vigilance cases are pending. “Thus, there is an urgent necessity to instruct all the departments to issue the NOC for issuance of passport on the basis of vigilance clearance only.”

Accordingly, the government has impressed upon all the Administrative Departments/Heads of Departments to mandatorily obtain the latest vigilance clearance in respect of an employee applying for obtaining passport in terms of Office Memorandum dated February, 2020 issued by DoPT, GOI, strictly.

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MAMATA WILL BE THE FACE IN 2024, NOT RAHUL: TMC

In Trinamool’s internal meeting in Kolkata on Thursday, MP Bandyopadhyay said that it is West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, and not Rahul Gandhi, who is the face of the Opposition against PM Modi.

Arup Kali

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Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had long dreamt of clinching the seat of power in West Bengal. However, the people of the state relied on the ‘daughter of Bengal’ again. As Mamata Banerjee assumed power for the third consecutive time in a row, her eyes are settled on the main epicenter of power in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Mamata is moving from pillar to post in order to look for like-minded people who could join hands with her ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. As TMC is looking to form a grand alliance, to tackle the BJP juggernaut, the party wants to portray Mamata Banerjee as the main face against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 elections.

The Trinamool has already started bringing the like-minded opposition parties under one umbrella to win the capital. That list includes parties like Congress, NCP, SP, Shiv Sena, UP, DMK. However, the Trinamool wants to establish itself as the main face of the BJP opposition. This is clear from a report published in the Trinamool mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ on Friday.

The title of the report suggested: “Rahul Gandhi could not defeat Modi, Mamata is an alternative face.” According to political analysts, the Trinamool wants to portray Mamata as the main face against Modi, even if there is an alliance with the Congress.

In the TMC’s internal meeting in North Kolkata on Thursday, senior MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said that it is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and not Rahul Gandhi, who is the face of opposition against Narendra Modi.

“We are not talking about an alliance without the Congress. I have observed Rahul Gandhi for a long time and he has not developed himself as an alternative to Modi. The entire country wants Mamata so we will keep Mamata’s face and will campaign,” Bandyopadhyay was quoted saying by News 18.

Meanwhile, Adhir Chowdhury, the president of the West Bengal Congress, has strongly opposed this message. In this way, Mamata Banerjee is indirectly strengthening the hand of BJP.

Adhir Chowdhury’s response to the report was: “On the one hand, they are saying that all the opposition parties should be one. Again, without taking the views of the opposition parties, insulting them, without discussing with them, Mamata is writing in her party’s mouthpiece that she wants to be the Prime Minister of India. It is extremely unfortunate. I think the BJP’s hand is indirectly getting stronger by making these things happen. Because, BJP wants to see discord brewing within the opposition. The Chief Minister of Bengal herself is facilitating this. The BJP will benefit in the end. ”

However, in a bid to clear the air, Kunal Ghosh said, “There is no question of disrespecting the Congress or disrespecting Rahul Gandhi, nor is there any alternative to excluding the Congress. That being said, people are not accepting Rahul Gandhi as an alternative face to Narendra Modi. He is not ready yet.”

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