How small ecommerce firms are trying to access local towns and cities

Source:, Jul 20, 2018

A new breed of social ecommerce and recommerce companies are looking to digitally recreate the experience of bargaining with vendors in the lanes of Bengaluru’s Commercial Street or the streets of Delhi’s Sarojini Market—in local languages.

About 75% of Indian internet users are expected to be regional language speakers by 2021, as per industry estimates. To reach this demographic, companies including Helion Ventures-backed Wooplr and Beenext-backed Elanic are working on launching platforms in vernacular languages including Hindi, Telugu and Tamil so sellers and buyers can engage better. Read the rest of this entry »


India urged to seal trade pact with S-E Asian nations

Source:, Jul 19, 2018

New Delhi: Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Thursday prodded India to speedily conclude a regional trade pact with South-East Asian countries and its partners in East Asia, including China, against the backdrop of a pushback against free flowing trade by some countries.

The economic benefits of such a deal were real given that India and the South-East Asian grouping were estimated to have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $3.8 trillion-4.5 trillion, Balakrishnan said at the Delhi Dialogue that brings together governments and think tanks from India and the 10 Asean countries.

“South-East Asia and India hold tremendous potential that can be unlocked through further integration,” Balakrishnan said. “When there is a pushback against trade liberalization in some of the more advanced parts of the world, it is all the more important for India and the Asean to double down on the course of free trade. Specifically at this time, we need to work towards the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and hopefully do so by the end of this year,” he said, adding that the talks offered the opportunity to create the world’s largest trading bloc. Read the rest of this entry »

E-commerce players brace for big battle over online pharma

Source: The Economic Times, Jul 20, 2018

BENGALURU: Online pharma retail is becoming the next battleground for ecommerce players seeking to build a high-frequency play in India.

Flipkart, Amazon, BigBasket and Swiggy are all in exploratory talks to acquire, partner or invest in online pharma players including MedPlus, 1mg, Medlife, PharmEasy and Myra, according to entrepreneurs, investors and industry executives ET spoke with. For the ecommerce leaders, the online medicine-delivery category represents a significant strategic opportunity given easing regulations and its potential to drive repeat orders — a feature that has endeared grocery to Flipkart and Amazon.

Amazon has held talks with 3-4 online pharma players, including Medlife and MedPlus, according to people familiar with the developments. Medlife, run by the founding family of pharmaceutical company Alkem Labs, has held discussions with Flipkart as well, sources said. Read the rest of this entry »

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Indonesia

Source:, Jul 19, 2018

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), India and National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPOM), Indonesia on cooperation in the field of pharmaceutical products, pharmaceutical substances, biological product and cosmetics regulatory functions. The MoU was on signed on 29th May, 2018 in Jakarta.

The MoU is expected to forge better understanding about each other’s regulatory requirements and would be beneficial to both the countries. It could also facilitate India’s export of pharmaceutical products. Read the rest of this entry »

Railway targets to lay 4,100 km of tracks in 2018-19

Source:, Jul 19, 2018

New Delhi: Railways has set a target of laying 4,100 km of tracks in 2018-19, which includes 1,000 km of new lines, the Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain told the Lok Sabha today. 

This also includes 1,000 km of gauge conversion and 2,100 km of doubling of lines, he said.

“For timely completion of the projects, railway is holding regular meetings with state government and central government officials concerned on various issues involving alignment, land acquisition, forestry and wild life clearances, law and order problems, shifting of utilities,” Gohain said. Read the rest of this entry »

US import duty hike: India set to break WTO rules, get protectionist tag

Source: Business Standard, Jul 19, 2018

New Delhi: Despite multiple import duty hikes by New Delhi in the first half of 2018 that attracted criticism from the United States and China as being examples of ‘protectionism’, India hasn’t broken the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) yet.

As soon as New Delhi’s higher import duties against the US kick in on August 4 – effectively breaching WTO mandated ‘bound rates’ for the first time – India will enter a long list of nations that have broken their commitments to WTO, Abhijit Das, trade expert and head of the Centre for WTO Studies, said.

The country may officially then be open to criticism for being protectionist as under the norms of the WTO, the bound tariff rate is the customs duty rate committed by a country to all other members under the most favoured nation principle. Read the rest of this entry »

Government looks to sell viable infrastructure projects

Source: The Economic Times, Jul 19, 2018

NEW DELHI: The government is looking to sell successfully running public sector infrastructure projects such as power and steel plants to private companies in a bid to boost green-field investment and create fresh capacity.

A proposal is being worked out to monetise commercially viable assets operated and held by state-owned companies such as NTPC and Steel Authority of India Ltd. Two senior government officials confirmed the plan and said the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management and NITI Aayog, the government’s think-tank, are expected to identify such projects, assess their valuation and decide on a mechanism to sell them.

“We will ask companies like NTPC, SAIL and BHEL, among others, to identify projects that can be put up for sale,” said one of the officials. Apart from outright sale, assets can be leased out for 20 years or more, the official said. The second official said NITI Aayog has recommended that the government should exit infrastructure projects across sectors and hand over their operation and maintenance to private companies, much along the lines of highways. Read the rest of this entry »