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Policy & Politics

Second coronavirus wave, administration and Fundamental Rights

The pandemic saw the infringement of various Fundamental Rights guaranteed by our Constitution. The fundamental human rights that are most affected are ‘Right to Health’ and ‘Right to Life’ which also includes ‘Right to die with dignity’. In many well-known judgements, the Supreme Court and several High Courts agreed that the dead corpse should be treated with proper dignity and treated fairly. The Supreme Court recognised that right to life extends not only to living persons but also to their bodies after death.

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In the words of William Shakespeare which says “All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity.”While death is regarded as a natural occurrence, the basic decent treatment that is anticipated and should be provided to the deceased does not always germinate and materialize naturally. We recently had to witness such tragic cases which have not only shocked the entire country but have also witnessed and drawn intervention towards this grave issue from all over the world.

Sightings of dead bodies floating on the bank of the holy river Ganga were reported in the country’s top newspapers. Villagers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh discovered bodies in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers on May 11, 2021. Ganga, a holy river where people undertake various rituals in relation to ceremonies that are therein mentioned in their holy book, they not only perform ceremonies but also venerate river Ganga for its purity. On May 11, seven bodies wrapped in plastic bags were discovered floating in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur and Hamirpur districts. Similar incidents have also been reported in the Baksar district of Bihar. The greatest concern among residents was that stray dogs and birds would devour the carcasses which would then result in spreading the coronavirus. However, instead of taking action against those responsible for the malafide attacks, the state authorities are now playing a blame game with one another. The world is in danger and the situation has been seen severely detrimental among masses. The heart-rending incidents from these states remind us of the last Mughal emperor and his poetic lament. Unable to find a final resting place in his beloved homeland (India), the last Mughal emperor quite rightly put forth the plight of the dead – Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar dafn ke liye/Do gazz amen bhi na milikoo-e-yaar mein (How unlucky is Zafar! For burial, even two yards of land were not to be had in the land of his beloved). In the recent past, a ‘novel’ difficulty, similar to the ‘novel’ Corona Virus, has arisen for our contemplation, which would be guided eventually from the foundations of this present article. The article shall examine three major contentions vis-à-vis the issue of dead bodies which were found floating on the banks of river Ganga. Firstly, whether the actions of state authorities being negligent towards the horrendous issue i.e the floating of dead bodies, be condemned? Secondly, the fundamental right of a dead person, enumerated under the constitution of India violated or do we not owe a duty to cremate the deceased respectfully? Third, is there a need to amend the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on management of corpses?

NEGLIGENCE ON PART OF STATE AUTHORITIES

The term other authorities that are enumerated under Article 12 of the constitution of India has given interpretation to the term ‘AUTHORITIES’ by the means of landmark precedents. It is settled law that the State under Article 12 is the custodian of the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens. However, looking at the present scenario the situation seems to be such where the actions on part of state authorities are not at all seems to be custodian but seems to become a warrior against the interest of masses.

Legislation derives its power from the constitutions of India, 1950 which grant the liberal interpretation of Articles 21, 48 and 51(g) by the Hon’ble Judges of Apex court and other courts across the country. In the famous case of Narmada Bachao Andolan v. union of India 2010 SCC 664, The Supreme Court has held that the right to clean water is a fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian constitution. Water prevention and control of pollution act of 1974 is the key specific legislation for preventing water pollution and for taking care and maintaining water bodies. It also aims for promoting for restoration of water bodies. For better implementation of the act, the Central pollution control board and the state pollution control board have been established by the Central and the state government. Under the aforesaid act, the board has the requisite power to encourage and conduct research and investigation with the view of promoting, the prevention of contamination of water in a significant manner and also to add the central government for the matters relating to environmental issues and for the prevention and control of water pollution. In the present issue, the duties and obligations that have been imparted to such boards and the ones enumerated in the aforesaid act have been brazenly ignored by state authorities. They have failed to impart their duties in such remorse condition because of which the lives of masses are now at stake. Hence, because of the aforesaid reason the actions of state authorities should be condemned.

DEAD PERSON TOO HOLDS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT

The flagrants acts during the pandemic has resulted in the infringement of various Fundamental Rights guaranteed by our Constitution.The fundamental human rights that are most affected are “Right to Health” and “Right to Life which also includes Right to die with dignity.” In many well-known judgements, the Supreme Court of India and many High Courts agreed that the dead corpse should be treated with proper dignity and treated fairly. The Supreme Court of India recognized that right to life, to fair treatment and dignity, extends not only to a living person but also to their bodies after death. In a landmark judgment (Common Cause, A Regd. Society V. Union of India & Anr.) delivered on 9th March, 2018, the Supreme Court of India held that the right to die with dignity is an intrinsic facet of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. In fact, in the year 2007, the Madras high court in the case of S.Sethu Raja vs The Chief Secretary (2007) 5 MLJ 404 had held in Para 18 of the Judgment that the same human dignity (if not more) with which a living being is suppose to be treated by our tradition and our culture should also apply to the dead person and he too holds a right of dignified burial or cremation of a dead body. The right to decent burial is upholding in Indian context, but who is authorized for burial is not explained in any Indian Law. There is a strong societal interest in the proper disposition of the bodies of deceased person. It is universally accepted that a duty is owed to both society and the deceased that the body be buried without any unnecessary delay.

AMENDEDMENT IN THE GUIDELINES AMID COVID-19 IS ‘THE NEED OF THE HOUR’

A document containing ‘Dead Body Guidelines (COVID-19)’ – [hereinafter, ‘Document’], was released by the Directorate General of Health Services (EMR División), Minister of Health and Family Welfare of India on March 15, 2020. To date, it remains unamended and builds on the epidemiological understanding of COVID-19 of the Ministry at present. The aforesaid document lacks some crucial quintessential.

Thereby, the authors would like to propose some takeaways from the other jurisdiction of the nations across the globe, which can be included in the aforesaid guidelines for the benefit of the masses across the country.

The guidelines should be inclusive or seeks to impose a compulsory cremation of the covid-19 victims, which is foremost aimed to prevent local bodies from being able to cremate the body of the deceased overriding his/her religious belief.

In the midst of the global pandemic of covid-19 where graveyards and crematoriums crammed, the locals people of various states are of the view that there emerged shortage of woods for pyre, thereby resulted in the hike in the cost of cremation, whereby this becomes the sole reason why the bodies were buried or seen floating. Hence, the guidelines should impose a reasonable amount or capped a certain amount that crematoriums can charge from families at the time of cremation of a dead body.

Prices should be regulated for hearse or ambulance services so that people are not used and are not exposed to difficulty transporting dead bodies.

The guideline should impose sanction on those people committing horrendous acts such as throwing bodies in rivers, not cremating bodies as per rules enumerated therein.

In order to avoid health risks from smoke emission from burning pyres in large numbers, the use of electric crematoria can be encouraged.

The burial or cremation of masses should not occur because it infringes the right to dignity of the dead.

CONCLUSION

India has been overwhelmed by a devastating second wave of the pandemic in recent weeks. It has recorded more than 25 million cases and 2,75,000 deaths. But the experts say the real death toll is several times higher. The bodies dumped on the river banks and the funeral pyres burning round the clock and cremation grounds running out of space are the proof that the official tally of deaths represent a substantial undercount of the true burdens. In recent times, various eye opening incidents surfaced through media wherein humans were seen to be treated worse than animals. There were interminable news reports which reported incidents like dumping of corpses in a pit at a burial ground without performing their last rites. Many photographs and videos of the half burnt and decomposed dead bodies have gone viral on social media. In order to stop this menace that is bulging the entire nation, all those aforesaid measure as stated hereinabove should be adopted and the the adminstration should pay heed and curb against all those activities that are disturbing not only the rights of dead person but all the right of a living person.

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Policy & Politics

Share of agri-exports in GDP

Tarun Nangia

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The year-wise details of value of India’s agri-exports of principal agri commodity group along with its share in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices during last five years is as follows:

The agricultural products having exports of more than Rs 10,000 crore over the last five years is given in the table below. Last year we had 22.8% of growth in agri-exports with a share of 1.6% to GDP (highest in terms of growth and share in the last five years).

Source: DGCI&S, Kolkata and CSO, MoSPI

Source: DGCI&S, Kolkata

Government has taken several measures to boost exports, including agri-exports, such as:

(i) A comprehensive “Agriculture Export Policy” has been introduced toharness export potential of Indian agriculture and raise farmers’ income. Twenty One States viz. Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh and the 2 UTs vizLadakh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands have finalized the State specific Action Plans. State Level Monitoring Committees (SLMC) has been formed in 26 States and 4 UTs. 28 States & 4 UTs have nominated Nodal agencies for implementation of this AEPs. As part of the Agriculture Export Policy, 46 unique product-district clusters have been identified for export promotion. Twenty-Nine Cluster Level Committees have been formed in cluster districts of different clusters. Country and product-specific action plans have also been formulated to promote exports.

(ii) Products Specific Export Promotion Forums give impetus to the export of potential products as well as to remove the bottlenecks in the supply chain, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has formed Export Promotion Forums (EPFs) under the Chairmanship of Chairman, APEDA and having representatives of Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, State Governments, National Referral Laboratories and top 10 leading exporters of each product for the products, viz., Grapes, Onions, Mango, Banana, Pomegranate, Floriculture, Rice, Dairy Products and Nutricereals.

(iii) 13 Agri-Cells in Vietnam, USA, Bangladesh, Nepal, UAE, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Japan and Argentina were created in Indian embassies abroad to provide inputs on real time basis to enable us to improve Indian exports.

(iv) Further, In order to boost honey exports, India has made NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) testing mandatory for honey exported to USA.

(v) A Farmer Connect Portal has been set up for providing a platform for farmers, Farmer-Producer Organizations (FPOs) and cooperatives to interact with exporters. Buyer-Seller Meets (BSMs) have been organized in the clusters to provide export-market linkages. Regular interactions, through video-conferences, have been held with the Indian Missions abroad to assess and exploit export opportunities. Country specific BSMs, through Indian Missions, have also been organized.

(vi) Assistance provided through several other schemes to promote exports, including food export, viz. Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES), Market Access Initiatives (MAI) Scheme, etc. In addition, assistance to the exporters of food products is also available under the export promotion schemes of APEDA, Tea Board, Coffee Board and Spices Board.

(vii) Government has also introduced a Central Sector Scheme –‘Transport and Marketing Assistance for Specified Agriculture Products’ – for providing assistance for the international component of freight to mitigate the freight disadvantage for the export of agriculture products.

(viii) Common Digital Platform for Certificate of Origin has been launched to facilitate trade and increase FTA utilization by exporters.

(ix) Active role of Indian missions abroad towards promoting our trade, tourism, technology and investment goals has been enhanced.

(x) Package announced in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to support domestic industry through various banking and financial sector relief measures, especially for MSMEs, which constitute a major share in exports.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

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Policy & Politics

Share of India’s exports in annual GDP

Tarun Nangia

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The details of exports of goods and services and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices, and percentage share of India’s exports to the GDP for the last five years and current year are as follows:

Source: National Accounts Division, CSO, MoSPI Note: RE: Revised Estimate, PE : Provisional Estimate

Source: National Accounts Division, CSO, MoSPI

The share of export of goods and services in GDP has increased to 18.7% during 2020-21 over 18.4% in 2019-20 and 21.7% in 2021-22 (April-September) over 19.4% in 2020-21 (April-September).

The details of the annual rate of growth of exports of goods and services and the corresponding annual rate of growth of GDP at current prices for the last five years and current year are as follows: This information was given by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

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Policy & Politics

Consolidation of trading relationship with the US

Tarun Nangia

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USA has been the largest trading partner of India with respect to merchandise trade since the FY 2018-19, except 2020-21 when trade with the U.S. declined marginally on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the current FY 2021-22 (April- October), USA has once again become the largest trading partner with bilateral merchandise trade of US$ 67.41 billion, accounting for 11.98% of India’s total merchandise trade. (as per DGCIS figures)

India and United States enjoy a comprehensive strategic partnership covering a broad range of areas, underpinned by shared democratic values and vibrant people-to-people contacts. Trade and commercial ties form an important component of this multi-faceted partnership. India and the U.S. are continuously engaged in strengthening these ties through bilateral dialogue mechanisms at Ministerial level including the Trade Policy Forum and Commercial Dialogue.

The 12th India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum meeting co-chaired by the Commerce and Industry Minister of India and the U.S. Trade Representative was held recently in November, 2021 at New Delhi, in which both the Ministers discussed various outstanding trade issues for early resolution on mutual basis, and also reached convergence on certain market access issues.

The bilateral trade with Australia, UAE and Belgium has gone up in the first nine months (Jan-Sept) of Calendar Year 2021. During this period, India’s bilateral trade with Australia has increased to US$ 13.88 billion in 2021 from US$ 7.48 billion in the corresponding period of 2020. The bilateral trade with UAE has grown to US$ 49.06 billion in 2021 from US$ 29.48 billion in 2020 for the same period. The bilateral trade with Belgium has also grown to US$ 13.70 in 2021 from US$ 7.63 billion in 2020 for the same period. (as per DGCIS figures).

This information was given by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Anupriya Patel, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

The 12th India-U.S. Trade Policy Forum meeting co-chaired by the Commerce and Industry Minister of India and the U.S. Trade Representative was held recently in November, 2021 in New Delhi, in which both the Ministers discussed various outstanding trade issues for early resolution on mutual basis.

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Policy & Politics

India can emerge as the largest diamond trading hub in the world: Piyush Goyal

Exports of gems and jewellery more than double and rise to $23.62 bn in the first 7 months this FY as compared to last year: Piyush Goyal.

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal today said India can emerge as the largest diamond trading hub in the world. In a video message during the Inauguration Ceremony of Gems & Jewellery Manufacturing Show – 2021”, organised by the Surat Jewellery Manufacturing Association (SJMA), Shri Goyal said the Government has declared the Gems & Jewellery sector as a focus area for export promotion.

“We have established ourselves as the largest player in diamond cutting & polishing, we can become the largest international diamond trading hub,” he said.

Exports of gems and jewellery this FY in the first 7 months upto October’ 21 was $ 23.62 bn, as compared to $ 11.69 bn (+102.09%) for the same period previous year.

“Superior quality of our manufacturers has enabled us to penetrate markets like Dubai-UAE, USA, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Latin America,” he said.

Goyal said the Government has taken various measures to promote investment for growth of the sector, – Revamped Gold Monetisation Scheme, Reduction in import duty of gold and mandatory hallmarking.

“We have the best artisan force for designing and crafting in the world, there is a need to focus on strengthening creativity & systematic skill development of artisans,” he said, adding, “We should make our products a benchmark of quality, to further expand in new markets & deepen presence in existing ones.”.

Goyal laid out four points to make India’s Gems & Jewellery a pioneer industry in the world:

1.​Focus on Design (creation of patented designs) in order to increase value add of our products and make our manufacturing more profitable.

2.​Diversification of export products: Emphasis on products like pearls, silver, platinum, synthetic stones, artificial diamonds, fashion jewellery, non-gold jeweller, etc.

3.​Collaboration with other nations for cost-effective methods to enhance production of fusion jewellery.

4.​Promote Lab-Grown Diamond: They are environment friendly & affordable and will contribute to India’s export as well as generate employment.

Goyal said Surat is, perhaps, one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is home to more than 450 organised jewellery manufacturers, importers & exporters. It has the potential to become the jewellery manufacturing hub of the world, he added.

“I visited the Diamond Bourse in September on the day of the Honourable Prime Minister’s birthday and I was impressed by the efforts put to create the world’s largest office building which will serve as the hub of all Diamond trading activities. It is an example of Prime Minister’s Aatmanirbharta and your Aatmavishwas. It is a testament of the fact that if we are willing enough we can do anything on our own. Jewellers are woven into the fabric of our nation. People don’t just spend money when they buy gold & jewellery in our country but invest their life’s savings when they do so. Jewellers are the repositories of trust and faith of our people,” said Goyal.

The Minister said, the SJMA, since its inception in 2016, has championed the cause of improving the jewellery industry in Surat. “Their ‘Make in Surat’ programme has facilitated innovation & promoted skill development to build a robust jewellery manufacturing ecosystem.”

Stating that India’s Gems & Jewellery sector is known all over the world for its Charm & Cost Effectiveness, Shri Goyal said this sector embodies the spirit of New India, contributing about 7% of India’s total GDP & employing more than 50 lakh workers. “Our jewellers have mastered the art of diamond manufacturing & jewellery making and have made it a shining example of ‘Make in India’,” he said.

Quoting a proverb, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”, Goyal said our G&J sector has the potential to realise the goal of “Local Goes Global and Make in India for the World” and become the driving force of New India. “For progress there is a need for change in mindset,” he said.

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Policy & Politics

Is an inventive move a solution for the sustainability of the fashion industry?

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Clothing industry is the contemplation of our values, culture and society in which we live in. However if we see today it is fundamental reflection of our identity .The fashion industry constitutes a significant part of our economies as well as vicinity, with the worth of more than 2.5 trillion $USD and giving employment to more than 75 million of people worldwide.

The sector has seen extensive amount of growth over the last years, as clothing production has doubled between the tenure from 2000 and 2014.As the fashion industry is achieving sky rocketing success, it is negatively impacting to the environment in terms of carbon emissions, drying up the water sources and polluting water and streams.

We must emphasize on the fact that it’s production not only could seriously influence our environment but people as well as culture we live in.The toxic substances utilised in the production of the textiles is putting harmful impact not only on the health of the human resources engaged but also on the vicinity which is being around it.

But there are some of the solutions through which we could move in a right direction:

Orientation towards Fashion: A developing number of pioneers have changed how they see what shoppers are truly after – admittance to mold, not really responsibility for. An arising wave of organizations are offering clothing as a help .Such plans of action can possibly drive up the nature of items to guarantee life span, make shopping simple while giving a channel to reclaim, reuse or reusing. These models will not be applicable for all market sections or fulfill all purchaser inclinations, yet can absolutely be essential for the arrangement.

Emphasize on Function: From lab-developed calfskin to reasonable cellulose-based materials, great advancements are testing customary suppositions regarding how elite execution materials are created. For instance, Lenzing has fostered a reasonable cellulose-based material, Tencel, that guarantees quality, execution and supportability. Social business visionary Modern Meadow is bringing design into the lab, making “biofabricated” materials, with the first bio-designed cowhide dispatched a year ago. This is just the actual hint of something larger in what developments can be investigated to rethink materials creation.

Formulation of Recovery economy: Today, under 1% of material used to form clothing is reused into new dress, and just 13% of the complete material information is here and there reused after apparel use. While numerous customers think they are doing acceptable by giving garments, the sheer volume of gifts implies a lot of winds up in landfills. Financial motivators to support clothing reusing are feeble, and mechanical advancement is deficient. A couple of computerized stages for apparel reclaim are arising to boost purchasers, like Yellow Octopus, however a solid government push will be needed to rebalance what is presently a messed up market framework for recuperation and reusing. Strategy choices including broadened maker obligation and out and out guideline to, for instance, boycott the consuming of unsold style things have started to come to fruition in nations like France and the UK.

Joint Effort: Youngsters are forming a basic part in making a more manageable design area – with in excess of 30 World Economic Forum Global Shaper center points driving a Shaping Fashion drive through ground-up aggregate activity. While the weight of effect ought not tumble to shoppers to address, their commitment in both requiring a more supportable future, while additionally taking an interest in a roundabout economy for style is basic to move the framework.

While a couple of sparkling stars are making a serious move, they can’t move a whole style framework, with its immensely appropriated supply chains and very cut throat nature. Worldwide public and private area authority supported by activities at scale will be basic. Late certain signs are arising: the assembling body Global Fashion Agenda is advancing a 2020 circularity responsibility that more than 10% of the business has embraced, France is utilizing its G7 initiative to lead an approach push and has approached François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, to bring business along. The European Commission has additionally featured materials as the following need for administrative concentration, and more nations are investigating public strategy and administrative activities.

Eco friendly material mix: There is a requirement of reducing the influence of harmful fibres and requirement of more sustainable fibre.

Fashion system that orient towards closed loop: There should be formulation of those products which take into consideration the reuse and recycling of post customer textiles at scale.

Fourth Industrial Revolution : It means taking into account those possibilities in the digitalization and immerse with the different kinds of stakeholders to prepare for transition of workforce…

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Policy & Politics

Pawan Kumar takes over as Director (Commercial) at Indraprastha Gas Limited

Tarun Nangia

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Pawan Kumar has taken over as Director (Commercial) of Indraprastha Gas Ltd. (IGL), the largest CNG distribution company of the country, operating City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks across 27 districts in ten geographical areas across four states of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

A graduate in Industrial Engineering from prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee and post graduate in management from S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, Mr. Kumar is a senior leader in hydrocarbon space having a rich experience of over 33 years across multiple regions in various roles during his tenure in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL). He has worked across the entire value chain in LPG sector, including Marketing, Operations, Maintenance, Safety, Training, Strategy, Network Expansion, Distribution Channel Management, Logistics etc. Before joining the current assignment, he was the Regional LPG Head for Northern Region of BPCL comprising seven states & three Union Territories servicing 2.5 crore customers & 2000 distributors. He has been the pioneer in implementation of Ujjwala Scheme across states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Chandigarh.

Mr. Kumar has taken over the position of Director (Commercial) from Mr. Amit Garg, who has been repatriated back to his parent organization BPCL to Head the new vertical of Renewable Energy. IGL is a joint venture of GAIL (India) Ltd. and BPCL along with Govt. of NCT of Delhi.

Mr. Kumar is a senior leader in hydrocarbon space having a rich experience of over 33 years across multiple regions in various roles during his tenure in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

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