EV’s and charging stations boosted in India

Two announcements have given a great promotion to Electric Vehicles in India.

First, the Government has lowered the GST rate on EV’s to 5% from the standard 12%.

Second, leading company Tata Power will increase its network of electric vehicle charging stations to 700 by next year.

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The company which has already installed 100 fast charging stations in various cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.

The company is not only targeting the public spaces but will also offering home EV charging stations.

The company is also in talks with metro rail authorities and municipal corporations for setting up EV charging stations. Moreover, it will set up charging stations at Tata Group owned outlets such as Chroma, WestSide, Titan watch showrooms and Indian Hotels.

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Pictured is a trial solar powered EV charge station in India

India budget revives “Modinomics”

Has “Modinomics” been given a boost by the Indian budget?

A couple of highlights from the recent Indian budget make me think the PM Narendra Modi might have found his economic mojo again.

Here’s one – 100 more airports will be developed by 2024 – that is a big number!

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Pictured above – Mumbai and Delhi airports

The Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget 2020-21 in Parliament said that infrastructure was crucial to the theme of “Economic development” and hence the Budget is dedicated to providing “Ease of Living” to all citizens.

Here’s another – Indian Sea Ports will receive funding for technology to improve their performance and the government is considering corporatizing at least one major port and subsequently listing on the stock exchanges.

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Here’s a third example – a national gas grid, expanding to 27,000 km plus states to introduce “Smart Meters” plus a corporate tax rate of 15 per cent for new domestic companies generating electricity.

Just my quick take on the budget, which seems to have found the Modi economic mojo again.

Delhi-Mumbai expressway part of transformation of Indian highways

By 2023, Indians will be able to drive on the world-class Delhi-Mumbai expressway which will also be one of India’s longest expressways. The trip is estimated at 12 hours (we almost took that long from the Taj Mahal in Agra to Delhi!)

Expressways are major projects of the Modi Government.

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In the next three years, the Modi government is planning to build three of 22 expressways and green corridors. A total of 22 new expressways and green corridors will be built by FY25. This is change on a massive scale.

Once completed, the total length of the Delhi-Mumbai expressway will be 1,320 km.

How long now (before the expressway) to drive from Delhi to Mumbai?

Officials estimate at least 24 hours, but I think that is wildly optimistic.

In other words, this infrastructure upgrade will make a huge difference to India.

January 26 – Australia Day and India Republic Day – best wishes to both!

Australia and India have much in common – British heritage, democracy and love of the game of cricket.

But we also share a day of national celebration.

January 26 is Australia Day and India Republic Day.

Hope both countries fully enjoy their celebration and best wishes for 2020.

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Amazon is backing India to the hilt

Pictured recently in India – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with Amit Agarwal, senior VP & country head, Amazon India, during the Amazon Smbhav event at the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in New Delhi

Amazon.com Inc Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said on Wednesday that his company would invest an additional $1 billion to help bring small businesses online in India, and also committed to using the retail giant’s “size, scope and scale” to export $10 billion of made-in-India goods by 2025.

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Bezos has faced some problems in India, but he is bullish and active.

Seeking to reach out to critics, Bezos, donning traditional Indian attire, said his company was committed to be a long-term partner of India.

Bezos was into India so much – “I want to make a prediction for you. I predict that the 21st century is going to be the Indian century.”

Why? “The dynamism, the energy… everywhere I go here, I meet people who are working in self-improvement and growth. This country has something special, democracy,” he said.

Bezos contradicted my recent blog (India and Russia the closest relationship on earth) – “I make one more prediction for you: In this 21st century, the most important alliance is going to be the alliance between India and the US,” Bezos added.

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The firm aims to digitise 10 million MSMEs with the proposed investment. In addition to providing training and enrolling MSMEs into its programmes, Amazon will help them work on cloud technology through specialised Amazon Web Services offerings at low costs. It will also establish 100 “digital haats’ in cities and villages throughout India.

Amazon has invested $5 billion in India in the past five years. The e-commerce platform also announced plans to support local neighbourhood shops and kiranas. It will expand its Amazon Easy programme.

In many ways, India retail is leapfrogging from the corner store to fully online.

For those in the FMCG sector this is a pretty exciting opportunity. Time to get your India strategy right!

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The Belt and Road Initiative and the Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific Region

David Morris is a former Australian diplomat and current expert/advisor on regional issues, risk and international relations. He recently wrote on “The Belt and Road Initiative and the Geopolitics of the Pacific Region” published in Research on Pacific Island Countries, Social Sciences Academic Press (China), 2019.

The Belt and Road Initiative has become associated with a geopolitical “China threat” discourse in the South Pacific, he writes.

Are China and Australia, the dominant regional player in the South Pacific, driven by geopolitical imperatives to compete for power? Or do their different geopolitical needs provide opportunity for cooperation that is mutually beneficial and manages risks in the region?

As a commentator on India and the Indian Ocean, I can see much of what David Morris writes could be applied to the Indian Ocean rim countries.

Morris analyses supposed Chinese “threats” as well as risks to China, including fears of a military base in Vanuatu, Chinese debt-funded projects in Tonga and closer economic cooperation with Papua New Guinea.

He concludes that it is feasible for Australia to meet its geopolitical imperatives if its regional security leadership can be maintained.

A geopolitical analysis of China in the South Pacific concludes that China is unlikely to seek regional security leadership if it can ensure access to trade routes and markets.

If Australia could move beyond geopolitical rhetoric, it should therefore be possible for Australia to partner with China to support sustainable development, mitigate risks and ensure broader stability of the South Pacific region, he writes.

With large doses of common sense, Morris writes that Australian activity could be complementary to China’s BRI, and that while there are political risks, the two countries could cooperate to reduce risk and ensure projects are sustainable.

This would be great – but my view is a big barrier to anything Australia does in our region is always its world view of “goodies and baddies” with the USA as the major “goody” and China the current “baddy”.

It would be great if influential countries like India, Australia and China could create a new collaborative model that brings real development to those poor communities in our region.

Is this possible?

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