4 Indian cities rank in top 20 sustainability index for Asia Pacific

Pictured is Bengaluru (Bangalore) among the top Indian cities for sustainability

According to the Asia Pacific Sustainability Index 2021, the top 20 sustainable cities include four Indian cities: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

36 cities were ranked according to the APAC Sustainably Led Cities Index by global real estate firm Knight Frank based on urbanisation pressure, climate risk, carbon emissions, and government activities.

Singapore, Sydney, Wellington, Perth, and Melbourne were the top five green-rated cities in commercial real estate in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some straight talking on climate change and public policy

Patrick Suckling presents the clearest short paper on climate change and what we urgently need to do

Patrick Suckling is a non-resident Senior Fellow of Asia Society Policy Institute and former Australian Ambassador for the Environment – and former Australian High Commissioner to India.

He has written one of the clearest – and briefest – papers on the importance of climate change and how we need to respond.

Highly recommended reading –

Wow! India Australia trade deal much bigger than we thought

These two Ministers are transforming the Australia-India relationship

Wow! The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement signed yesterday is a whopper.

Get on the plane now if you are in business or education! The trade and investment doors are open for you.

The two trade ministers, Australian Dan Tehan and Indian Piyush Goyal, are transforming the economic relationship and created a platform for decades of growth for India and Australia. Well done.

READ MORE DETAIL HERE:

https://www.trademinister.gov.au/minister/dan-tehan/media-release/historic-trade-deal-india

More good news! Consider Bangladesh – which for many symbolises everything wrong with the world – take another look

Literacy in Bangladesh jumped from 35% to 74%

Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, for many people in the west is a symbol of everything wrong with the unequal world.

But take another look.

It celebrated a ‘development miracle’ in 2021, its 50th year of independence. In the last three decades, GDP per capita has increased seven fold, 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has risen to 73 years, infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen by a factor of five, the literacy rate has increased from 35% to 74%, and more than 97% of the population now has access to electricity, up from 62% in 2014.

Worth going over that again – it is genuine good news.

Will India and Australia achieve “early harvest” trade deals and lay groundwork for a CECA?

Former PM Tony Abbott was instrumental in getting trade talks going again

INTO INDIA believes the two big issues facing Australia are allowing greater people movement from India to Australia, and directing more of our massive A$ 2.3 trillion pension fund sector that could be a regular source of investments in the Indian infrastructure and disinvestment story.

The key for Australia is to see India as more than a “quick sale” – Indian negotiators will be looking to push the two countries to become partners, adopting policies that streamline physical movement, including, on-arrival visas, multiple entry long term business visas, etc.

From India’s perspective, it will want to ensure that trade deficits in the post agreement period do not widen. And two, non-tariff barriers and differences in standards or recognition of qualifications do not offset higher access through the trade deal. As an Indian report recently wrote: “This is the crux of the matter.”

In the larger CECA agreement, investments from Australia will play a big role in the growth of bilateral trade between the two countries, because the growth trajectory of India will create new opportunities for Australian companies, including in areas like water management and up in future, for which Australia can be a long term reliable supplier.

In the early harvest agreement, Australia wants services included with goods – an area where India has not performed well in earlier trade deals such as with ASEAN.

Australia however just needs to accept the sensitivity of the agribusiness sector in India – the deal will fall over if Australia demands substantially lower tariffs across the board for fruits, dairy, agriculture and processed food items.

INTO INDIA RECOMMENDS Australia narrow its ambitions down to selected niche items in the agriculture sector. Finding ways that Australian expertise, technology innovation and scale can actually transform Indian agriculture sector towards value addition would give Australia a big advantage.

Finally, you can expect India could show flexibility in tariff lines related to commodities and minerals, which are needed for its growing economy and the e-mobility program. In turn, Australia could be accommodative in tariff lines related to refined petroleum, medicaments, railway vehicles, gems and jewellery, auto components and made up textile items, which it imports in any case from countries around the world, in addition to India.

Thanks to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), in collaboration with KPMG and led by Amb Anil Wadhwa, who is Former Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.

How is India travelling? Some developments for investors and exporters

Some developments for investors and exporters

  • One billion vaccines: The cumulative coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine doses administered across the country surpassed the 1-billion milestone, today. Over 700 million people have been administered the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, while 290 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the government’s CoWin website. The government has set a target to vaccinate all adults by the end of 2021.
  • Moody’s banking rating: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook for the Indian banking system to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. It believes that the deterioration of asset quality since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic has been moderate and an improving operating environment will support asset quality. Moody’s expects asset quality to further improve, leading to decline in credit costs, as economic activity normalises. The rating agency has projected India’s real GDP growth for 2021-22 at 9.3 per cent.
  • Tax targets overshoot: The Centre is likely to exceed the budgeted tax collection target of Rs.22.2 trillion for the current fiscal year by Rs.2.5 trillion, according to experts. This is driven by better indirect tax mop-up, compliance measures and recovery in most sectors following the second wave of the pandemic. Personal income and corporate tax collections grew by 74 per cent to Rs.5.7 trillion in the first half of the current financial year, mainly due to advance tax and tax deduction at source (TDS) payments.
  • Power deficit: The power shortage situation in the country is improving as per the data released by the Central Electricity Authority. Power shortage came down to 1,456 MW on 17 October 2021 from 2,714 MW a week back. Peak power shortage stood at a massive 11,626 MW on 7 October 2021. According to power sector experts, demand has moderated due to the onset of autumn and heavy rains in many parts of the country. Moreover, an improvement in coal supplies would further bring down the power deficit.
  • Data consumption: India has the highest mobile data consumption in the world which is about 11 to 12 GB per user a month. The country is adding as much as 25 million new smartphone users every quarter making it a flourishing ground to launch digital initiatives, Ram Sewak Sharma, chief executive of the National Health Authority of India said. By 2025, India’s data consumption is likely to be doubled to nearly 25 GB per person a month, driven by affordable mobile broadband services and changing video viewing habits, Swedish gear maker Ericsson said.
  • E-Commerce sales: The share of e-commerce in the overall sales pie has touched new highs in the first fortnight of October 2021, according to market trackers and companies. Several categories, including smartphones, consumer electronics, apparel and daily necessities are growing faster than last year. The share of smartphone sales online surged to around 60 per cent in the first fortnight of Navratri-Dussehra from around 55 per cent, early estimates by market tracker Counterpoint Research showed. Televisions grew to 40 per cent from 31 per cent in the same period last year, while refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines and kitchen appliances rose to 9-10 per cent from 6-8 per cent. Market research firm RedSeer Consulting said the overall online shopper base has grown by around 20 per cent this festive season compared to last year, with tier II markets contributing to almost 61 per cent of all shoppers
  • Foreign investment: India witnessed net foreign investment inflows of USD 8.3 billion in August 2021, as compared to net inflows of USD 649 million in the preceding month. Net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) rose to USD 5 billion from nearly USD 3 billion in July 2021. Net inflows of foreign portfolio investment (FPI) worth USD 3.3 billion were seen in August 2021, after witnessing net outflows of USD 1.6 billion in July 2021.

Thanks to ASK Capital Management Pte Ltd for the above information.

Covid19 could lead us to a cleaner more innovative world – if we rethink what we do

About seven million people are killed by air pollution every year. The current model of modern society is unsustainable.

Two leading Professors say that looking through a COVID-19 lens provides us an amazing picture outside and shows some innovative pathways on living in harmony with nature, i.e. new-modern society.

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They are Professor Suresh Bhargava, RMIT University, Australia (pictured above) and Professor Seeram Ramakrishnan, National University of Singapore (below).

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Here are some points from their recent paper on the topic:

Contrary to devastating effects, the COVID19 had positive outcomes in terms of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, depletion of natural resources, and climate change.  Satellite imageries confirm the reduction of NOx, SOx and other pollutants in all cities of the world.

COVID19 provides an opportunity to rethink everything humans do. The current model of modern society is unsustainable. Reversing the clock and going back to pre-modern society built on fulfilling just the needs of humans is not realistic.

Pollution

Sustaining the modern society built on fulfilling the needs and wants of humans requires out of the box thinking. In the current climate of COVID, companies are struggling to survive on top of challenges in industry 4.0 or digitalization of products and services. How will they be able to think about sustainability while their worry is about resilience, and make the necessary adjustments to their business for the long term?

Sustainability has tended to be a secondary priority for many industries and especially SME businesses. Now faced with business survival and viability concerns, what is the status of existing sustainability initiatives in companies and across industries? How has the pandemic affected existing initiatives and longer-term targets, plans and ambitions on the sustainability front?  How can organisations get back on track with regard to their sustainability ambitions e.g. are there synergistic business-led propositions that can serve these aims? What countries can do in terms of sustainability, circular economy and Paris agreement to decarbonize while growing shrink economies and rising employment opportunities?

Using a COVID19 lens, there are opportunities for decarbonisation while not compromising the modern ways of living and economic growth.

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Countries and companies will shorten the supply chains and value chains.  Globalization will take newer form relying more on digital technologies and internet.  This will be facilitated by yet to emerge innovations in finance and commerce.

COVID19 has unexpected effect on food industry. Clean meat is touted as a solution to zoonotic diseases associated with current methods of producing meat from the animals.  Clean meat is made from plant based, cultivated cells.  Hence the carbon footprint is lower than animal sourced meat.

Critics will argue for slow and careful introduction of clean meat to the mass population.  Therein lies huge opportunities for innovations, technologies, new jobs and new pathways of economic growth while caring for the Earth.

Importance of safe water and its adequate supply is highlighted by the COVID19.  Sustainable future lies in the zero-waste water innovations and technologies.

The single use plastic wastes have been identified for their pollution of the marine ecology and subsequent negative effects on the food chain and human health.  Science, business, standards, and policy innovations are needed to replace the petrochemical derived plastics with degradable bioplastics derived from the renewable sources.  Designing products with end-of-life considerations and life cycle engineering opens up opportunities for economy growth and new jobs creation while improving the quality of environment.

The Energy sector is also affected by the COVID19.  Oil futures went into negative. It is an opportune time for the governments to eliminate the fossil fuel subsidies and invest in renewable energy infrastructure as long-term nation building.

Perhaps, governments and companies should together accelerate the electrification of transportation.  New jobs and new economic growth to happen in vehicle design and manufacturing, digitization, as well as charging infrastructure.

COVID19 transformed shopping and brought almost the whole of humanity to on-line shopping.  The on-line shopping for groceries and food deliveries are on par with electronic goods and accessories.

Similarly, work has moved to telework, and the Education moved to on-line learning and assessment.

Digital services for virtual meetings, online learning, telemedical diagnostics, government services, ecommerce, grocery delivery, e-banking, and entertainment all experienced unprecedented growth in demand. The hyper scale data centres with their 24x7x365 resilient operation, are the heart of digital transformation.

Looking to the coming decade, the introduction of 5G will further accelerate the digital transformation era with its clear alignment with Industrial 4.0, in which real time data and automation will power more of the industrial world.

Clear messages emerged from the COVID19 pandemic include, the digital transformation is a necessity to keep society running; mental health is important for the general well-being and productivity of a person; and a healthy living environment is a basic human right.

The circular economy vision, decarbonisation and sustainability efforts mitigate climate change thus create opportunities for sustained economic growth and new jobs creation. 

Amazing research work by the two and continues the innovative and collaborative approaches of my friend Professor Suresh Bhargava – well done!

Bhargava5

 

 

7 ways Australia could build relations with India to balance China

While it is true that India is not just another China, there is a good risk management case for improving Australia’s trade and diplomatic relations with India.

To give energy to this relationship, Australia should take eight urgent steps:

(Keep in mind most of this relates to “post-Covid” but some could action now)

First, we should be flat out campaigning to get more Indian tourists down under. They now have the money, and a campaign for tourism would also communicate our culture to the broader Indian public. Let’s get Australia on the billboards, on the cable TV and in the cinemas in India.

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Second, encourage Bollywood to make more films down under and help them show the diversity of the Australian population and culture.

Third, reinforce our intellectual property and leadership in the twin areas of high demand over there – health and education.

Fourth, take more initiatives to exchange knowledge and services in the waste management and waste disposal fields – we are pretty good in this, with some of the cleanest cities in the world, and India is worried that rubbish is taking over their country.

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Fifth, create ways we can work closer on sustainable energy.

Sixth, make sure Indians are aware of our global leadership in fields such as wealth management, a growing need over there. The best way to do this would be to increase our investment into India.

Seventh, provide cultural training to Australians in all fields who are to visit India, so that our blundering around (which we often see as down to earth and friendly) does not continue to cause offence or confusion among our hosts.

India’s water and waste provide big opportunities for Australian firms

Water and waste management and technologies are in high demand in India.

Funding from the Indian Government and the World Bank is driving new projects.

Local players are doing well – the Water & Effluent Treatment Business of L&T Construction has secured three Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) water management orders from the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC).

According to the company’s statement, under the contracts it will be responsible for ‘Design, Build, Operate, Maintain and Transfer of water supply systems.

Austrade has long been a champion of Australian expertise getting into this sector in India. It says: “The Indian industrial water and waste-water market are going through a shift with recycling and reuse, zero liquid discharge, and online effluent quality monitoring systems becoming mandatory across industries.”

Recycling and reuse of water has been made mandatory for industries and housing projects in some states. Industries across power, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, refineries and textiles and other sectors are gearing to meet stringent pollution norms, leading to increased demand for reliable water and wastewater treatment technologies.

Austrade points to four major opportunities in India:

  • Ganga River Cleaning Project: US$3.5 billion (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project to focus on river restoration, building sewage treatment infrastructure across 118 towns, village level waste water management, and rehabilitation of existing sewage treatment plants (STPs).
  • National Hydrology Project: US$700 Million (jointly funded by the World Bank and the Government of India) project aimed at establishing a hydrologic database and hydrological information system (HIS) for effective water resource planning and management.
  • Groundwater Aquifer Mapping and Management Project: US$1 billion projects aimed at data acquisition through 21,000 exploratory and observatory borewells to be excavated, preparation of aquifer maps and real time groundwater monitoring.
  • Smart Cities Initiative: Water is a significant aspect of the smart cities initiative in India. Projects on urban water supply, recycle and reuse of waste water, smart water meters are in pipeline.

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South Australian firm Hydro-dis is one of several Aussie firms active in India – it has snared a role in the Cleaning up the Ganges project.

The company, based in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has developed a new device that provides immediate disinfection, improves the efficiency of metal removal and includes residual chlorine to reduce contamination after treatment.

Post Covid19 could be a good time for a major Aussie push into the water and waste landscape of India – we are good at it, have the expertise and the technology.