Category Archives: Business & Economy

Krishishakti tractors commercially launched in West Bengal

Kolkata :

The CSIR – Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur, commercially launched ‘Krishishakti’, – the low cost tractor in West Bengal for the benefit of small farmers in the state. A batch of tractors will be sold to the farmers of North Bengal through the dealer.

For the sake of farmers with small land holdings, CSIR-CMERI had developed Krishishakti – a 12 hp tractor and the technology was officially launched in 2014 at New Delhi.

Since then, the technology has been transferred to a private company in Howrah for production and commercialization in West Bengal. With continuous technical assistance of CSIR-CMERI, the licensee private firm established the assembly line for Krishishakti tractor at Howrah with an initial capacity of 100 tractors per year. This tractor is very much suitable for small sized land due to its size and lower turning radius.

Officials said that compared to other available large sized tractor, the operation and maintenance cost of ‘Krishishakti’ is much lower. Due to this, small farmers may be in a position to have the ownership of ‘Krishishakti’ tractors instead of cultivating with a walking tractor or a hired one.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Suman Chakraborti / April 28th, 2017

Art of craft: This Sunday, RBU to organise fair to promote Bengal’s indigenous handicrafts from across districts

The traditional craft of the Lepchas along with Bonbibi masks and clay dolls of Joynagar in South 24 Parganas will be displayed for the first time at the ‘Lokshilpa O Karukirti Mela’ organised by Rabindra Bharati University on May 7.

Professor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Vice-Chancellor of the university will preside over the inaugural function at the Dwarkanath Mancha, Jorasanko Thakurbari. The three-day fair has been organised by the West Bengal State Akademi of Dance, Drama Music and Visual Arts.

Haimanti Chattopadhyay, secretary of the Akademi said the main purpose behind holding the fair was to create awareness among people about the rich tradition in the field of art and crafts in the state. “We often decorate our rooms with masks that are famous in South Africa and Thailand but in Bengal, there are districts where the artisans make masks and which can compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.” The clay dolls of Joynagar which have a long history will be displayed for the first time.

Similarly, the traditional crafts of the Lepcha community will be on display.

It may be mentioned that the Backward Classes Welfare department has chalked out schemes to help Lepcha artists and musicians to pursue their carrier.

Nearly 60 artists, craftspersons and weavers from 17 districts of Bengal will take part in the fair with a wide range of attractive traditional art and craft items made by them.

These will include — patachitras, mats, and decorative items made with wild grass and buffalo horns from Paschim Medinipur district; lac items from Purba Medinipur district; clay dolls from Dakshin 24 Parganas district; dokra jewellery, shola crafts, kantha-stitch items and batik products from Birbhum and Howrah districts; kanthas and wood carvings from Bardhaman district; traditional clay models from Nadia district; Baluchari sarees, dokra crafts and dashabatar cards from Bankura district; Chhau dance masks from Purulia district; bamboo crafts from Malda district; jute crafts from Murshidabad district; wooden masks and dokra items from Dakshin Dinajpur district; polia clay models from Uttar Dinajpur district; wooden handicrafts from Alipurduar district; shitalpatis from Cooch Behar district; and wood carvings from Darjeeling district.

source: http://www.millenniumpost.com / Millennium Post / Home> Kolkata / by Team MP / Kolkata – May 05th, 2017

Midmark (India) sets up experience centre in Kolkata

Kolkata :

Midmark (India), a provider of medical, dental and veterinary equipment and solutions, has set up its first experience centre in Kolkata.

This incidentally will be the company’s first “state-of-the-art” experience centre in the eastern part of the country.

The display centre will showcase a “Barrier Free” OPD room, advance hospital beds and allied medical furniture. Customers will be taken on an interactive journey through the product and solution offerings and will be able to discuss about efficient clinical spaces with the experts, the company said in a press release.

The company operates in four main business areas: medical furniture, including hospitals beds and OPD spaces, diagnostics, homecare and skill development.

According to Sumeet Aggarwal, MD, Midmark (India), the new national health policy plans to add 1.8 million beds in the next ten years.

“In line with this vision, we have an ambitious expansion plan for eastern India which includes launching three more experience centres in eastern India and another 12 in other regions of the country over the next 2 months,” he said.

source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com / Business Line / Home> News / by The Hindu Bureau / Kolkata – April 11th, 2017

Kolkata-based oil & gas co set to buy LSE-listed firm

Kolkata :

City-based PFH Oil and Gas, promoted by Harsh V Poddar of Poddar group, is in talks with London Stock Exchange (LSE)-listed companies for acquisition to expand its energy business. The Poddar-led firm has won three gas blocks from ministry of petroleum and natural gas last week. It is one of the youngest firms in India and the only firm from east to be allotted these oil and gas blocks by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in this round of auction held on February 16.

Out of these three fields, two are in KG basin (Andhra Pradesh) and one in Cambay basin in Gujarat. During the latest auction round, CCEA awarded contracts for 44 fields, mostly smaller fields of ONGC and OIL India. A total of 47 companies submitted their bids for these blocks, out of which four were foreign companies.

Poddar, a 29 year MBA from Yale and a graduate of Duke University who came back to Kolkata after over an eight-year stint in the US, told TOI that his plan is to acquire the LSE-listed company and merge it with PFH through which its hydrocarbon firm, too, would be listed on LSE. “We are in advance talks with two-three firms. I am going to the UK later this week to finalize a deal,” he added.

However, Poddar didn’t disclose the names of the UK firms citing LSE restrictions

According to Poddar, the three gas fields awarded to PFH have adequate reserve. “There are four drilled wells, and the company plans to drill at least 11 additional wells in the near future. Our portfolio currently consists of three fields in India, which we expect to bring into production by the end of the year. By 2020, we aim to have a portfolio of at least 10 producing blocks in India,” he added. Over the next 20 years, PFH has set a target to become one of the largest global exploration and production companies with a focus on gas.

A young serial entrepreneur, Poddar has acquired or started companies in IT, semiconductors, shipping and environment engineering across India, the US, China and Israel over the last eight years. According to him, Yogeshwar Sharma, based in France, has recently been appointed as a director on the board of PFH. He is the co-founder of Hardy Oil and Gas plc, a London-listed company and served as its CEO until May 2012. PFH Oil and Gas is advised by Manuel Pinho, who had served as economy minister of Portugal from 2005-2009.

Apart from upstream business of exploration and production (E&P), it is also planning to focus on building mid-stream business like infrastructure such as pipelines in the KG basin to make it easier for independent and smaller E&P companies to enter the industry in the future. “Since transportation infrastructure in India is predominantly government-owned, often capacity constraints and lack of competition make it difficult for smaller private companies to negotiate a deal and efficiently transport and market their production. We aim to contribute towards building the necessary ecosystem to make India a vibrant domestic oil and gas market,” he added.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Udit Prasanna Mukherji / February 22nd, 2017

Eveready to hive off packet business business into new entity

Kolkata :

Eveready Industries, the largest dry cell battery manufacturer in India, is planning to hive off its packet tea business into a separate entity. The B M Khaitan Group firm has convened a board meeting on February 20 to restructure the packet tea business. The packet tea with Rs 75 crore turnover now constitutes a little over 5% of the topline of Eveready, once the generic name in battery and flashlights in the country.

A source close to the company told TOI that the management of EIL is contemplating with 2-3 options, including demerger of the packet tea business and making it a wholly owned subsidiary of the battery maker which has diversified into lighting and consumer appliances in the last few years. The demerger of tea business will help Eveready to concentrate on lighting, appliances and bettery businesses which directly leverage the Eveready brand.
“The new company in packet tea will concentrate on tea business. This would be a win-win situation for both the companies. Eveready will concentrate on its core strength while the new company would concentrate on packet tea,” added the source.

The packet tea volume of Eveready is now around 4.5 million kg making it one among many players. But sources pointed out that after the renewed focus on packet tea business, the number could easily go up to 10-15 million kg making it a new company in the top-3 in packet tea after Unilever and Tata Global Beverages. “The new entity may also look for acquisition of packet tea brands and can induct private equity investors as well if needed,” said another source close to the development. B M Khaitan group is already the largest producer in bulk tea globally with 110 million kg output. The bulk tea business of the group comes under McLeod Russel.

Eveready had a turnover of close to Rs 1,400 crore in the last fiscal. The EBITA margin of the company is now at healthy 11%. A source close to Eveready said that after gaining reasonable success in LED lamps, the company is now addressing a growth path in LED Luminaires. “Growth should also come from the newly launched product segment of Appliances, once the distribution network for the same is fully established on ground. The demerger will help these businesses grow faster,” added the source. Eveready sells over 1.2 billion batteries and 25 million flashlights every year.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Udit Mukherji / TNN / February 17th, 2017

The accidental zamindar – The East India Company did not learn its lessons well

A painting by Benjamin West, 1765, of the Mughal emperor, Shah Alam, transferring the right of tax collection to Lord Clive

East India Company was basically a commercial enterprise; till the end it continued to make good money by exporting Indian goods. In the 19th century, its monopoly was corroded by the entry of other British traders; but trade continued to be a major activity till its demise in 1858.

But it was an odd bird from its birth. The Spanish and Portuguese adventurers who preceded it were an explicit extension of their home governments; the British crown, on the contrary, kept out of the Company’s affairs abroad. Charles II gave the Company power to judge and punish people in its territory abroad according to the laws of his kingdom in 1661; the power to make locally applicable laws followed.

The injunction assumed that the Company would occupy and own territory. But its territory in India was not virgin territory; it had its own administrative structure, of which the Company became one pillar. So it had two masters; and in so far as the two never talked to each other, it had considerable freedom of manoeuvre. But legislation and administration were not its main business; it tried to minimize the effort it put into them. One way it did so was to use local law where it existed, and import British law where there was no local law.

The two differed greatly in respect of landed property. In 1660, King Charles II abolished personal service due from noblemen and converted it into a monetary obligation; that is how land revenue became the dominant tax in Britain. In India, too, land revenue was the major tax; it was reckoned as a third of agricultural produce under Akbar. But it was not always in cash. And it did not necessarily go to the king; the nobleman delivered his dues in cash or in military service. The feudal structure applied to the Mogul empire, but not necessarily to other, smaller kingdoms. So when Lord Clive defeated the Mogul army in 1765 and took the Diwani of Bengal, the Company had to learn the ins and outs of zamindari.

The lessons it learnt are the main part of Law and the Economy in Colonial India, a new book by Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy. They are an odd pair. Tirthankar is a first-class economic historian. But he is not a leftist; so he faced discrimination from the academic powers-that-be in India. Finally he got fed up and left India; now he teaches in the London School of Economics. Anand Swamy teaches economics in Williams College. They have been running into each other in conferences, and working together on books once in a while.

Their conclusion is that the Company did not learn the lessons well. Its laws led to thousands of cases in Bengal relating to property, tenancy and rent; the system remained overloaded throughout British rule, and cases took decades. As if property law was not obscure enough, legal proceedings were complicated by succession law, which differed according to religion. They do not say so, but the mess was sorted out after Independence, first by legislation abolishing zamindari, and more slowly by population growth, which reduced the size of holdings.

It is difficult to imagine today that Indians could own slaves till 1843; and once slavery was abolished by law, all they had to do was to give a loan to the slave and turn him into a bonded labourer. That is not surprising, since Britain itself outlawed slavery only in 1811. But slavery served a purpose under conditions of labour shortage, which was commonly faced by plantations in the north-east. There were not enough workers in the area; they had to be brought from far away, most often tribals from Chhota Nagpur, which is now Jharkhand. Loading them into bullock carts and transporting them hundreds of miles cost money; a planter could not afford to bring them and then let them walk over to a neighbouring planter for a higher wage. So planters asked for and got laws which empowered them to jail their workers for not repaying a loan. But maltreating workers also earned a planter a bad reputation that he would rather avoid; so planters who could get and retain workers more easily avoided using penalties. Roy and Swamy deal with these labour market adjustments in some detail.

I found their discussion of contract law fascinating. Before the statification of the Company, Indian governments did not legislate or enforce laws. But commerce had existed for millennia; and where there was trade, there was always scope for cheating and breach of promise. Traders used social networks to deal with these risks; loss of reputation and standing was the punishment for breach of contract. But this could work only with those who had reputation to lose; it could not work with Santhal labourers or indigo farmers. When it came to workers, the Company gave penal powers to their employers. That could not be done with indigo farmers; they were not housed by indigo buyers, and could not be jailed or beaten up. So indigo buyers collected chits documenting debt against various farmers, and when an opportunity arose, sold them off to someone who had greater influence on the debtors. Partly under their influence, a contract act was passed in the 1860s; but few cases were filed under it.

Such are the narratives collected by Roy and Swamy. Their book is neither a treatise on law nor a history book: it does not systematically align legislation and case law, and it does not tell a story. The topics it has chosen are broad; a systematic treatment would take more space. Making a history out of it would require a larger role for the personalities involved; a legal treatise would require links with both legislative and case law. So there is a case for expanding the book.

Roy and Swamy should also try their hand at pathology of Indian law. The Indian judicial system is hugely overloaded, and extremely slow; the two aspects are connected, but slowness is not just due to overload. It is a good deal due to antiquated procedure; for instance, judges let lawyers drone on and on, briefs cite piles of cases unnecessary to make the point, and courts give postponements and adjournments for the asking. There are too many briefless lawyers, and too few judges. High courts reverse a high proportion of lower court judgments, generally on the ground of poor police investigation. Other systems have faced these problems and overcome them.

No one in India has looked critically at the judicial system except Arun Shourie; anyone who thinks of doing so is bound to consider the possibility that he may face judicial bias if he is hauled to court. Roy and Swamy do not have to worry about that. At worst, a book of theirs would be banned in India. But that would not be much of a loss; hardly any book sells more than a thousand or two copies in India, and the publicity would increase the book’s sales outside. If the judicial system is to be repaired, someone has to start somewhere, and no one is better placed to do so than Roy and Swamy.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> Opinion> Story / Writing On The Wall: Ashok V. Desai / Tuesday – February 14th, 2017

Kolkata girl bridges Bengal-Costa Rica gap

Kolkata :

This saree-clad, Spanish-speaking woman had stood out in the Costa Rica pavilion of the Kolkata Book Fair. Nothing about her looks and demeanour was Central American and yet she seemed so much at home, spreading native Costa Rican cheer. But speaking to a visitor at the pavilion, her Spanish changed into pure Bengali within seconds. Kolkata girl Baishakhi Saha has made it big in Costa Rica to gain permanent residency from the government there.

Saha used to live in Salt Lake and studied at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan before settling down with her parents in Chennai. Her ties to the city, however, remained strong as the family often returned to visit relatives. Always a brilliant student, Saha bagged a scholarship from the Singapore department of education to major in computer science and minor in German from University of Singapore. It was during her stay there that she realised being part of university exchange programmes would help her see the world.

However, she soon realised that with a partial scholarship, it was quite an expensive proposition for an Indian girl with a middle-class background. Around this time, she participated in a global essay-writing competition hosted by the government of Switzerland, on how Europe still inspires imaginations. This won her a limited period stay in Switzerland, which was a turning point in her life. “I yearned see the whole of Europe.

There were many like me and I soon found that by becoming a member of Aiesec, a global students’ body, I could get placed in jobs and get internships that could help me with that. Luckily, I managed to clear the necessary tests and was called for an interview to Malayasia, after which I was awarded a management internship with Model United Nations in Nigeria. It was a two-month job and I made $200 a month — quite a hand-to-mouth situation, but I enjoyed every moment of it,” Baisakhi recalls.

For the next one-and-a-half years she travelled the length and breadth of the west coast of Africa for the TV show Goge Africa. Aiesec acknowledged her work and her next assignment was that of an English teacher in Venezuela, after which she got a similar assignment in Costa Rica. By then, she had started writing her book, ‘magicNine’. The book was a success and Baisakhi was soon giving inspirational talks and teaching business communications at institutes. Her popularity made the Costa Rican government acknowledge her contribution and offer her permanent residency.

“Life has been a dream since then. Costa Rica is more or less like Kerala or Goa if you want to compare Indian situations. I come to Kolkata once in a while, but I have plans to take slices of Bengali culture there now,” Baisakhi said. She is a dancer too and has performed Indian dances in Costa Rica, which have been instant hits. As one of the few Bengalis in a distant land, she has much to do to bridge the two cultures, she explained.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / February 13th, 2017

IIT-Kharagpur and State Bank of India develop a customised portal for intellectual property

Kolkata :

Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and State Bank of India are collaborating to develop a customized portal for launching ‘Intellectual Property Development as a service’ (IPDaas) for Intellectual Property Rights generation. Mr. Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO of SBI launched this project today at IIT-Kharagpur.

A symbolic submission of a patentable project was made by him in the preliminary version of IPDaas.
A MoU has already been signed between India’s largest commercial bank and the largest IIT in the country for a larger gamut of collaborations in the FinTech domain. Four departments from the Institute are engaged in this collaboration.

SBI has a history of creating innovative banking and IT solutions in-house. The IPDaas will facilitate streamlining patent applications for solutions developed internally and thereby making them available for external use through licensing. Since solutions created by SBI are based on actual challenges faced by the organization, they would prove to be useful for various bottlenecks experienced by financial institutions that too in the Indian scenario.
It will also tap the huge technical expertise of seasoned banking professionals in the organization. “It is trend-setting for an organization like SBI to move towards holistic IP creation. This would create an ecosystem for organizations in India especially in the financial sector to promote their technical expertise. With the exponentially growing economy of India such solutions will decide the quality and efficiency of financial services which would be provided to customers in India and similar other regions” said Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Director, IIT Kharagpur.

IIT-Kharagpur will work with SBI Collaborative Innovation Centre (CIC) team. Going forward, this premier technology institute of the country with unique distinction having an IPR law school in the campus will assist in review and associated activities for a full-fledged offer of IP as a service.

Mrutyunjay Mahapatra, Deputy Managing Director and CIO of SBI visited several labs focused on research related to security solutions for mobile banking, hardware such as ATM, POS machine, IoT, intelligent asset tracking etc.

There were further discussions pertaining to commercialization of such products developed by IIT-Kharagpur through SBI.

“This is merely the beginning of what could be termed as a long-term association between SBI and IIT-Kharagpur. IIT has proposed several solutions for real challenges faced by banks in IT, user application, security, management of human resources etc. For e.g. tracking of hypothecated or lien property, prevention of erroneous usage of administrative rights, voice identification of caller, tracking of human resources and office stationary on premise and many more. Some of the solutions are already existing which needs to be customised for SBI’s requirements while some problem situations or feedback SBI will share with IIT based on which they will develop the solutions. We have found several of the solutions intriguing and further discussion would be held to collaborate on those projects,” Mahapatra added.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata / by Somdatta Basu, TNN / January 31st, 2017

Bengal entrepreneurs flock for a slice of defence budget pie

defencekolkata11nov2016

Kolkata :

A few months ago when the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) made an effort to introduce Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in West Bengal to the defence sector, there were few takers. On Friday, there was overwhelming response at the CII’s 7th Industry Defence Linkage in the city with entrepreneurs aiming at a slice of the huge defence budget pie.

“The Army is best suited as its relatively easier to meet our requirements. Our requirements are simply humongous. Of the 130-140 schemes at any time, nearly 40% are below Rs 150 crore. This makes wider participation possible.

Even big ticket items like armour and artillery are integrated systems of sub-systems. There are over 100 vendors for the T-90 tank and at one point it has to come down to MSMEs. We are looking for new technology dozers and other equipment. There is great potential in eastern India where there are a number of mines,” Lt Gen Subrata Saha, deputy chief of Army staff (planning and system) said during the event.

According to him, the Army is already interacting with academic institutions like the Indian Institute if Science and IITs to enable technology development. MSMEs can easily participate for supply of equipment worth more than $ 9.6 billion that is now imported.

“There is no reason why this kind of money should be allowed to leave the country. We took industrialists and scientists to the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir so they may form their own opinions and come up with suggestions. After the Uri attack, two persons came up with very good suggestions that have been forwarded. We also plan to take industrialists and scientists from the east to Sikkim for a similar experience,” Lt Gen Saha said.
Among the others who spoke at the conference were V S Noronha, vice president, Tata Motors, Rajib Chakraborty, general manager, Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore, K R Nautiyal, IG and commander, Coast Guard Region (North East), Rear Admiral S P Lal, assistant chief of material, Indian Navy and Air Commodore H S Basra, principal director (plans), Air Force Headquarters.

Noronha appreciated Lt Gen Saha’s efforts to move from city to city in a bid to encourage Indian entrepreneurs. There has been a lot of effort in promoting Make in India in the last two years and this has provided long term opportunities for entrepreneurs, he said. He felt that defence clusters can be set up at several locations and funding can be arranged by CII’s SME Finance Facilitation Centre. Commander Nautiyal said that entrepreneurs can look towards participating during maintenance of ships and refits.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jayanta Gupta / TNN / November 09th, 2016

Bengal weaves to make it to UK’s Asia House show

bengalweaveskolk15oct2016

In a bid to showcase to the world the craftsmanship of traditional weaves and tribal work from Bengal and other parts of India, five Indian women running design houses in Britain’s capital have come together to organize an exhibition at London’s Asia House on Sunday.

A software consultant, Rajeswari Sengupta who works with weavers from tribal Bengal will display the products under her label, The Far East Studio.

“We have been working with master artisans from different parts of Bengal to revive textile traditions. At the exhibition, I will have an entire collection of hand-woven jamdani from Bangladesh, hand-embroidered kantha, Tangail products for buyers in the UK. There will also be sarees in organic cotton and natural dye, besides other drapes, including silk, by national award-winning artisans,” said Sengupta.

The other designers at the show will be Jyoti Chandhok, who will bring chikankari works from Lucknow, Neetu Jalali who will showcase Kashmiri Pashmina, Josephine Nirmala who will come with her Rajasthani silver jewellery and Dimple Kalla, who will showcase hand-painted furniture.

Hailing from different parts of India, the five designers shifted to London almost a decade ago but they still swear by Indian handloom, jewellery and artefacts. Sengupta said, “The five of us are from different parts of India and we have managed to bring a piece of all the four corners of the country at this exhibition which will have works of weavers, embroiders and jewellery designers from the grassroots level.”

The group’s aim is to support and promote handwoven works. “The UK has seen a lot of big exhibitions where Indian products are showcased in abundance. But this might be the first initiative by Indian women to showcase the works of grassroots weavers and artisans,” Sengupta added.

Apart from the loyal Indian customer base, the exhibition is expected to have a good response from the English as well. “They are very interested in sarees and handwoven textiles. Even stoles, shawls from Kashmir, kantha dresses are quite a rage here. Through these expos, we are looking to create a platform for Indian weavers who can directly interact with buyers,” Sengupta added.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City News> Kolkata / Swasti Chatterjee / TNN / October 10th, 2016