India now chasing trade deals – having resisted for decades

Indian PM Narendra Modi meets recently on trade with former Australian PM Tony Abbott

What has changed for India? It seems that having resisted trade deals for years, it now plans by the end of March 2022, to complete multiple quick-fire bilateral trade agreements.

Something has not changed however – the Indian government, distrustful of full scale FTA’s, is prioritizing “early harvest” pacts over comprehensive free trade agreements.

What has changed is the pandemic and the rise of China.

Therefore, the Indian government is focusing on strengthening the trade with G-7 nations with strong Indo-Pacific strategies and those with growing influence in central Asia such as the United Arab Emirates.

Australia, at a key position in the Indo-Pacific, is a high priority. As a fellow member of the QUAD, India and Australia have never been so close strategically and are keen to add trade now.

In large part, this is India’s push to do well as supply chain realignments take place – there is only a narrow window of opportunity to get these deals done.

How big is this? The government is negotiating bilateral trade agreements with 20 countries and expects to complete half a dozen deals, including those with Australia and Britain by this December and March 2022. 

India is ambitious – Mr. Piyush Goyal has set kept a target of US$ 400 billion for annual merchandise exports – almost 38% higher than US$ 290 billion achieved in last year and plans to achieve US$ 2 trillion annual merchandise exports by the end of this decade.

Outcome? Lots of deals that will not be quite world class Free Trade Agreement (FTA) but which will have some wriggle room.

KIIT & KISS Founder has been awarded the “Sandipani Gourav Maharshi Samman-2020” – dedicates award to young tribals

Dr Achyuta Samanta dedicates award to young tribals

Awards and recognitions are no mere feathers in the cap for the KIIT and KISS founder Dr. Achyuta Samanta, but it has become a reality about inheritance of ideals built on a foundation of benevolence and concern for others.

Dr Samanta is a social worker, educationist and philanthropist.

He has pioneered an Art of Giving program that is a force for change.

Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences – KISS, comprises of KISS Foundation, KISS School & College and KISS University. KISS Foundation is an NGO in India headquartered in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. School, College and University is the educational wing of this initiative located at the intersection of food, education and empowerment.

Dr Samanta’s ventures are powered by a belief that a better world – free from hunger, poverty & illiteracy – is possible. We provide free education, accommodation, food and healthcare to over 30,000 indigenous students currently studying at our main campus in Bhubaneswar. We are currently 20,000 alumni strong. We aim to serve an additional 10,000 students across our satellite centres which are going to be functional soon.

Dr. Achyuta Samanta, is also a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Kandhamal, and has been conferred with the prestigious “Sandipani Gourav Maharshi Samman-2020” by Bharatiya Sanskrutik Sambhardhak Trust, Porbandar, Gujarat on the eve of celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the trust.

In a ceremonial event held in the presence of Shri Nimaben Acharya, Hon’ble Speaker, Gujarat Legislative Assembly, a galaxy of intellectuals and saints of the nation, this honour was bestowed upon Dr. Samanta for his exemplary dedication and lifetime contribution towards Social Work and Spiritualism. Humbled by the honour, Dr. Samanta extended his respectful gratitude towards Shri Ramesh Bhai Oza, Founder of Bharatiya Sanskrutika Sambhardhak Trust and all the members & office bearers of the trust.

It’s noteworthy that every year the trust has been honouring spiritual figures, saints, sages, intellectuals, thought leaders and social workers with coveted titles and honours namely ‘Devarshi’, ‘Brahmarshi’, ‘Rajarshi’ and ‘Maharshi’ since 1996.

 Apart from Dr. Samanta, Kokila Ben Dhirubhai Ambani was conferred with ‘Rajarshi’ Samman whereas treasurer of Sriram Janmabhumi Tirthakhetra, Pune Swami Govind Devagiri Maharaj received Devarshi Samman and former Vice-Chancellor of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University Dr. Rajaram Shukla was conferred with Brahmarshi Samman.

“Maharshi award is extremely special as it comes from the organisation led by the most revered and venerable Pujya Bhaishri, Shri Ramesh Bhai Oza ji. It will be remembered by our KIIT & KISS family and me forever. I dedicate this coveted recognition to our team that has worked relentlessly and to all the tribal young girls and boys who have struggled and have transformed their lives with resilience.”; said Dr. Samanta.

An Indian view of the Australian “Habits of an Optimist” free course

With Avinash Kshirsagar travelling in the Himalayas on my last trip to India

Yesterday was Mental Health Day – but really, it should be every day of the year. Many have found that good mental health and an optimistic outlook go together and there is a wonderful course suitable for all ages and FREE from the Centre for Optimism.

This has been reviewed by my friend Avinash Kshirsagar – a young Indian from Maharashtra state who is completing his accountancy qualifications. We met while travelling in the Himalayas and I joined him on his daily quest to find great cafes for lunch. Here is his review:

“Steve and I have had several discussions on optimism particularly a blend between optimism and realism.

We’ve shared our thoughts as well on this.

I’m very thankful to Steve that he shared with me a course on Project Optimism.

This course is all what one needs to do to be an optimist. Lots of takeaways on being positive and spreading optimism. I have highlighted the points that I particularly found were best inputs;

•             Smile like an optimist. The importance of smiling and how the optimist does it. It shared a quote by Charlie Chaplin “You’ll never find a rainbow if you are looking down.”

•             Habits of an optimist highlighted the importance of habits, and I could totally relate it to the book I’m currently reading by James Clear named “Atomic Habits.”

•             Another important aspect that was largely emphasised was Social media and being optimistic. The relationship between the two and impact of procrastination leading to a low key on positivity was very well illustrated.

•             The impact of asking oneself “What make you optimistic” ona regular basic or giving affirmations to check whether one is optimistic is relatable because I personally practice giving myself such affirmations. But this course doesn’t stop here. It teaches one to ask each other these questions so that the environment is healthy too. Imagine implementing the same in small groups. It will do wonders and promote mental health as well. This is spread optimism through optimism.

•             Optimism and success are very well connected. I would say that they complement one another. Would be of great help to those working in the corporates to check on this.

Each chapter had a questionnaire on how does one practice optimism in real life. The questions were really easy at first but didn’t seem as easy when I had to pen down the answers. They were very basic but made me press upon a lot to see where I stand. Totally worth it.

The chapters don’t have written context. It is more through video illustrations showing animated figures so that one won’t feel monotonous. Also, after each chapter they have added points through different research papers and other references. This would be of help to those who want to read more on it.

This course is a gift. It’s free of cost.

I have totally found this course worth the time and would recommend it to those who want to know what optimism is how can one practice being optimistic.

It’s not a choice. It’s a way to acceptance and leading an positive life in a realistic manner.

Thanks

Avinash Kshirsagar

Deloitte finds US firms investing more in India than in China

INTO INDIA has long called for more western investment into the growth story that is modern India.

Now, according to a survey conducted by multinational professional services network, Deloitte, a large proportion of international business leaders remain confident in India’s short- and long-term prospects and are readying plans to make additional and first-time investments in the country.

The India FDI Opportunity survey of September 2021, which questioned 1,200 business leaders of multinational corporations in the U.S., U.K., Japan, and Singapore, found that India remains an attractive destination for investments, scoring highly for its skilled workforce and prospects for economic growth.

  • 44 percent of the 1,200 business leaders surveyed are planning additional or first-time investments in India
  • Nearly two-thirds of first-time investments will be made within the next two years
  • Business perceptions of India are better in the U.S. and UK compared to Singapore and Japan
  • Recent reforms by the Indian government to improve ease of doing business are popular, but awareness of policy improvements remains low

It also said that more business leaders, especially in Japan, are making investments in India for access to the domestic market rather than using India as a springboard for exports.

“India has the strongest positive perception in the U.S. when compared to markets such as China, Brazil, Mexico, and Vietnam. The U.S. and U.K. business leaders expressed greater confidence in India’s stability,” it said.

Investment is always indirectly but powerfully linked with market entry and trade outcomes. INTO INDIA applauds the enthusiasm of the US for India and hope this is also taken up in Australia – where investment funds are high – fourth largest wealth management market in the world.

New “Business Champions” group to provide much needed top level links between India and Australia

Indian Commerce Minister Mr Piyush Goyal

A new “Business Champions” group will lead top level business engagement between India and Australia – and it was launched last week in India.

INTO INDIA welcomes this move to bring the “top end” of both countries together. Business engagement at this level has not worked well in the past. Most of the business councils and chambers have provided lower level SME engagement – important as this is.

“Supply chains” is behind the enthusiasm of India for the new Australia-India Business Champions Group’s role. Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, Textiles, Government of India said this when addressing the Inaugural Meeting of the Australia India Business Champions.

The Minister is co-chairing the group with Australian Trade Minister, the Hon Dan Tehan.

“The Australia-India Business Champions Group’s key aim is to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade between both the nations and pave the way for collaborative economic growth.” stated Mr. Dan Tehan MP, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Government of Australia.

Major business organisations leading the group are the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA). Both represent almost all the major business corporations in both countries.

Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, pointed to areas such as mining, education, defence, space and emerging sectors which the group can take forward.

Ms. Jennifer Westacott AO, CEO, BCA, highlighted that we must strengthen and reform regional and global institutions, so they deliver for our citizens.  She said the Business Champions would engage directly with the top tier of Australian and Indian Governments on matters critical to business. 

Other panelists at the meeting included H E Mr. Manpreet Vohra, High Commissioner of India to Australia, H E Mr. Barry O’ Farrell AO, High Commissioner of Australia to India, Dr. Anish Shah, MD & CEO, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Ms. Julie Shuttleworth, CEO, FFI, Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, Mr. Mike Cannon-Brookes, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Atlassian, Mr. Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management, Ms. Verena Lim, Asia CEO, Macquarie Group, Mr. Girish Ramachandran, President, Tata Consultancy Services Asia Pacific, Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice Chancellor, University of Melbourne.

Breathing program making Yale students happy coming to Australia in September

Art of Living – quick, simple program for happiness in tough times

A program from India that is being used at Yale University and many other American universities to improve wellbeing of students – is coming to Australia online.

Starting on 30 September, this short Pan Australia Happiness Program will be held in the Presence of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who creating the breathing technique that changes lives. INTO INDIA has been doing this program for many years and loves the energy and simplicity of it.

This is a super simple, quick and unbelievably powerful way to have a good day!

If you are feeling alone.

If covid is dominating your mind.

If your breathing is shallow.

If you feel anxiety and stress.

Step in and join a big and strong group of like-minded people who believe in contributing and creating waves of happiness, sharing, and caring that are so much required right now.   

Registration link: www.artofliving.org/au-en/program/6401

Videos: The videos below showcase how Breathing and Meditation can help us become stress-free

James Nestor, author of Breath, on his research & the power of SKY (Sudarshan Kriya)

Take a breath: What a new study from Yale reveals about stress and mental health

Art of Living Australia Foundation is looking forward to sharing this beautiful program with you and your friends and colleagues.

Contact for further information – Rohit 

Art of Living Happiness Program and Sri Sri Yoga Facilitator

0423 531 787

“Make others comfortable and you will see that Nature will take care of your comfort” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Getting lost in Higginbothams – amazing bookshop in Chennai

You can get lost in Higginbothams – or, at least, I have!

On Chennai’s Mount Road, Higginbothams has stood tall and proud since 1844. Said to be the oldest bookstore in India, it was founded by Abel Joshua Higginbotham—an India-born Englishman.

After an unsatisfying career as a seamen, Higginbotham became the manager of a bookstore in the basement of a Methodist chapel. He bought and ran the store for 60 years with his youngest son, before switching to the current Mount Road location.

The bookshop is housed in a grand, colonial structure and still carries an old world charm with wooden furniture and tall stained-glass windows.


LIC Building, 116, Anna Salai, near Regional Passport Office, Chennai.

Winning in India – less about sales and more about culture and relationships  

Most Indians continue to live in joint families – your business host might be the same so be curious about their life and culture

When a company sends a salesperson into the Indian market, the goal is to fill the order book as quickly as possible – there is no time for that person to build ongoing relationships.

The result at best is a quick transaction based on price.

It rarely lasts.

India is a country where relationships drive and impact all aspects of business. That is “how they do things there” and expect us to be the same.

Some tips for relationship building in these tough times:    

You can build good relationships during Covid by hosting a zoom or similar catchup to see how things are going – no big agenda, share experiences and listen.     

You can join groups and chambers and be seen as a player.  
     
You can accept the intangibility of relationships and give your key executives time and resources to build them.      

You can look up Indian culture, architecture and history so you can have informal conversations about things close to their heart.

You will need strong curiosity and listening skills.

Really, decisions about future business with India need to be C-Suite and Boardroom driven, based around a minimum three-year strategy. And giving your people the right to spend time on the intangible of relationships is the best first step.  

India second to China for APAC startups and globally third largest unicorn ecosystem

According to GlobalData, Indian entrepreneurs received US$ 16.9 billion in venture capital investment in 2021, second only to Chinese peers in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

According to GlobalData’s financial transactions database, 828 venture capital financing agreements were reported in India between January and July 2021, with a total declared funding value of US$ 16.9 billion.

Flipkart raised US$ 3.6 billion, Mohalla Tech (ShareChat) raised US$ 502 million, Zomato raised about US$ 500 million, and Think and Learn (Byju’s) raised US$ 460 million in India between January and July 2021.

“While several of the top major countries globally saw a drop in VC financing value in July compared to the previous month, India managed to display growth despite a decline in VC funding transaction volume,” stated Mr. Aurojyoti Bose, Lead Analyst at GlobalData.

India has becoming a digital-first economy as smartphone usage has increased and mobile Internet has become cheaper. As a result, IT firms have benefited the most from this trend.

According to GlobalData, India has the world’s third-largest tech unicorn ecosystem, after only the United States and China. VC investors are showing interest in companies in e-commerce, social media and social networking, food delivery, edtech, and digital payments at the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mr. Bose.

Australia: home to 48 of the world’s top 50 most innovative companies

Bosch and Monash University team up on “smart agriculture”

When you think Australia you might call to mind minerals, vast fields of agriculture or cricket.

But there is another reality about Australia – it’s a smart place.

International companies are leveraging Australia’s talent, government support and research to boost productivity, competitiveness and growth – according to data from Austrade and Boston Consulting Group.

Forty-eight out of Boston Consulting Group’s top 50 most innovative companies operate in Australia. These companies have partnered with Australian organisations to research additive manufacturing, renewable hydrogen technology and cloud supercomputing, among other areas.

Advanced manufacturing: General Electric

GE subsidiary GE Additive and the University of Sydney are establishing a high-tech manufacturing hub. The Sydney Manufacturing Hub will advance Australia’s capability in metal additive manufacturing technology.

Agricultural technology: Bosch

Bosch Australia and Monash University are co-developing Australia’s first smart agriculture research facility. The facility will contain a prototypical ‘smart farm’ to test: artificial intelligence; automation; robotic and advanced sensor technology solutions

Energy: Hyundai

Hyundai, Fortescue and CSIRO are working together to develop renewable hydrogen technology. The group seeks to:

  • develop new hydrogen technologies with the potential for bulk transport
  • build a renewable hydrogen refuelling facility, to deploy hydrogen fuel cell coaches
  • build the first combined hydrogen production and refuelling facility in Western Australia. 

Healthcare: Johnson & Johnson

The Johnson & Johnson Innovation Partnering Office @ Monash is a hub for researchers and early-stage companies. The facility allows them to develop novel pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer healthcare solutions.

Technology: Amazon Web Services and Intel

Amazon Web Services, Intel and AARNET established Australia’s first cloud supercomputing facility. Based at RMIT University, the facility focuses on advanced data processing and computing.

So, from the land of minerals, farming and cricket – there is also an advanced technology reason to team up with the Aussies.