Volvo Group launches green casting developed in India

Source: Economic Times, 24 June 2022

New Delhi: Swedish automotive major Volvo Group on Thursday announced the launch of its first ‘green casting’ developed and sourced from India that will be used for its engines globally. The green castings from India will include bearing caps and bearing housing for select Volvo engines, and this is the first step, the group said in a statement.

It further said these castings will be produced by Brakes India, utilising scrap, alloys, and raw materials that are 100 per cent radioactive elements free. It involves recycling 100 per cent metallic scrap generated by other industries to manufacture a usable product.

The plant will operate on 100 per cent green power from solar and wind energy, it added.

“When fully adopted, the potential reduction in CO2 per year due to green castings would amount to 0.86 million tons for Volvo and 210 million tons for the industry (assuming the industry adopts this approach),” the group said.

This is a significant step as India is a key source for Volvo Group’s global casting requirements, and also the country has a significant share of the global casting demand, it added.

Commenting on the development, Volvo Group India President and Managing Director Kamal Bali said, “India is a home base for the Group and we not only ‘Make in India’, but also design, process, sell and source from India to the world”.

In line with the group’s global sustainability targets and ambitions, he said, “Our aim is to create an environment that is safe and sustainable for future generations – while being immersed in advanced technology that goes into making world-leading commercial vehicles. Green Casting has the potential to kick-start a revolution in the casting manufacturing process for a sustainable future”.

Commercial Production of these green castings will start this month, the statement said.

Industrial production grows 1.9 pc in March, 11.3 pc in 2021-22

Source: Financial Express, 12 May 2022

India’s industrial production rose 1.9 percent in March 2022, according to official data released on Thursday.

As per the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO), the manufacturing sector’s output grew 0.9 percent in March 2022.

Mining output climbed 4 percent, and power generation increased 6.1 percent.
The IIP had grown by 24.2 percent in March 2021.

During 2021-22, the IIP grew 11.3 percent as against an 8.4 percent contraction in 2020-21.
Industrial production has been hit due to the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020, when it had contracted 18.7 percent.

It shrank 57.3 percent in April 2020 due to a decline in economic activities in the wake of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

BHEL to supply 6,000 HP electric locomotives to NTPC after winning contract

Source: Metrorailnews, 27 April 2022

NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has won its first order from National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Limited. BHEL will deliver 6,000 HP electric locomotives to the corporation for use at material handling operations in Lara thermal power project site.

This order has enabled BHEL to expand its services in the rolling stock business to new market segments such as power, steel, and cement, in addition to Indian Railways. BHEL will manufacture these locomotives at its Jhansi facility in the state of Uttar Pradesh that will feature modern IGBT-based propulsion equipment, which is developed and delivered by the firm’s Bengaluru unit.

BHEL’s Bhopal facility will supply the traction motors for the locomotives. The eco-friendly electric locomotives offered by the firm will help replace diesel-electric locomotives, which will help in reducing emissions.

BHEL has informed that ‘it has so far supplied more than 450 electric locomotives of various ratings to Indian Railways which are running successfully’.

In 2013, Indian Railways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BHEL to establish a mainline electric multiple unit (MEMU) coach factory at Bhilwara, Rajasthan. The coach factory, which is being built to meet the demand for faster local and suburban trains in the country, will have the ability to manufacture 400 coaches a year.

MSME Minister Narayan Rane to meet industry associations on MSME policy, credit, payments, other issues

Source: Financial Express, 13 April 2022

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: MSME Minister Narayan Rane will hold a meeting with industry associations and experts from the MSME sector on April 27 in New Delhi to discuss the upcoming MSME policy and issues pertaining to credit, marketing, technology, skill development, cluster development, and more, according to the draft agenda for the meeting by the ministry. Top industry bodies including FICCI, CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Assocham, FISME, FIEO, IEEMA, and multiple state-level chambers and industry associations have been invited to the meeting organised by the MSME Ministry at Vigyan Bhawan, according to the email sent by the MSME ministry on March 29, 2022. A copy of the email was seen by Financial Express Online.

“The meeting was preponed from April 28. At present, inputs have been invited from associations to discuss topics other than the ones listed in the draft agenda. MSME policy is one of the points of discussion. The final agenda will be shared soon with the associations,” a government official told Financial Express Online.

Apart from the draft MSME policy, the topics listed for discussion in the draft note were delayed payment cases with MSE Facilitation Councils, change in MSME definition, likely issues related to registration on the Udyam portal, difficulties in availing collateral-free loans, rating of MSMEs, loan restructuring issues, technology development and R&D activities in the sector, skill development for MSMEs to improve competencies, and more.

“We have suggested a discussion on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) as well since the recovery process is not in favour of MSMEs that are classified as operational creditors and hence, they get nothing in case their buyers undergo corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP). MSMEs’ dues should be cleared on a priority basis,” said an industry association member on anonymity to Financial Express Online.

“We have also sought medium enterprises to be separated from the MSME sector as their challenges and issues, such as the ability to raise a bank loan, are largely different from micro and small units. They should be clubbed with the Commerce and Industry ministry and there should be a separate policy to help micro business to graduate to small and grow further,” he added.

The meeting has been called over two months after the ministry had released the draft document of the upcoming MSME policy in February this year. The document had focused on promoting competitiveness among MSMEs, technology upgradation, cluster and infrastructure development, procurement of MSME products and dedicated credit support.

MSME Minister Rane had assumed charge of the MSME Ministry on July 8, 2021. Over the past 10 months, the minister had launched multiple initiatives for MSMEs including SAMARTH programme to boose women entrepreneurship, MSME Innovative Scheme for enhancing incubation, design, and patent ecosystem for MSMEs, the entrepreneurship awareness programme SAMBHAV, and Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme for the services sector.

Piyush Goyal exhorts Australian businesses to set up production bases in India

Source: Financial Express, 09 April 2022

Days after signing a trade deal with Canberra, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Friday called on Australian businesses to further deepen bilateral economic engagement and participate in the “Make in India” programme.

Highlighting that the recently-concluded India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) has opened up window of opportunities for firms in both the nations, the minister asked Australian companies to invest in Indian start-ups as well. He was addressing a gathering at a business luncheon hosted by deputy premier of Western Australia, Roger Cook, in Perth.

The ECTA promises preferential access to all Indian goods in five years (from 96.4% immediately after the pact comes into effect) and 85% of Australian products (from 70% to start with) to each other’s market. Indian yoga instructors, chefs, students and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduates will have easier access to Australia while premium wine from that country will make greater inroads into Indian supermarkets once the ECTA comes into force. Goyal has said both the countries can raise trade in goods and services to $100 billion by 2030 from $27.5 billion in 2021.

Outlining sectors of focus under the ECTA, including education, research, innovation, technology and manufacturing, Goyal called for bolstering relations in areas such as space and sustainability.

He stressed that Indian and Australian economies hardly compete with each other; instead they complement each other. For instance, fabric or apparel made of Australian sheep wool will make an excellent offering to India, while India’s vast talent pool will benefit Australia. Similarly, Australia has been a big supplier of raw materials and intermediate goods; India can convert these to finished products using its skilled labour force and supply to the world, the minister said.

Later, speaking at a tourism event in Perth, Goyal called for mutual recognition of each other’s education systems.

India now leading maker of switchgear: Official

Source: Economic Times, 11 February 2022

India has become a leading manufacturer of switchgear and the government will offer a lending hand to support the industry, a senior official said on Friday.

There is immense scope for shifting to smart switchgear too along with maintaining sustainability, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Power, Vivek Kumar Dewagan said.

“It is very satisfactory to see that India has become one of the leading manufacturers of switchgear. We intend to lend a supporting hand to the industry, ranging from setting up manufacturing units to investing in revamping the entire infrastructure,” Dewagan said at a session with ICC members on the switchgear and controller industry.

He said that expectations of consumers have increased post-pandemic.

“We are slowly moving away from fossil fuel. India has set the target to become Net-Zero by the year 2070. Per capita emission of CO2 in India is much less than in other developed countries,” Dewagan said.

Among the G20 countries, India has proved to be one of the torchbearers who have been trying to reduce carbon emissions, Dewagan said.

Kitchen appliances maker Kutchina pumps in Rs 40 crore to aid pan-India growth Plan

Source: Economic Times, 03 January 2022

Kutchina has embarked on a pan-India expansion plan to position itself as one of the top kitchen solution brands in the country, and planned to invest Rs 40 crore to augment manufacturing capability to overcome COVID-induced challenges, a company official said on Sunday.

It enjoys around 66 per cent market share in chimneys in eastern India, and the modular kitchen segment is also growing fast in the region, he said. “We now have limited presence in western and northern parts of the country. We have planned to become a top national brand in the kitchen space over the next 2-3 years,” Kutchina managing director Namit Bajoria told PTI. 

The Kolkata-headquartered company is planning to strengthen its presence in North and West India with chimneys and modular kitchens, and after consolidating in these regions, it would focus on southern states, he said. “We are in the process of executing an expansion project to ramp up our manufacturing capability by four to five times with a capital expenditure of over Rs 40 crore. We have earmarked a total of Rs 50 crore to enhance our capabilities and become a national brand,” Bajoria said. Video Player is loading. 

PlayUnmute Fullscreen VDO.AI A new integrated production facility is coming up in North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal with the latest imported plant machinery, he said. Apart from chimneys, hobs and modular kitchens, the company also sells small kitchen appliances such mixer grinder, electric kettle, hand blender and OTG and RO water filters. The company had mostly followed an outsourcing model since its launch in 2003 but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the management to have its own manufacturing facility to protect from supply-chain disruptions, he said. “One cannot stop operations during disruptions. We decided to have our own strong manufacturing unit to address supply chain issues and costs,” the official said. 

The kitchen appliances maker, which had introduced the first auto-clean chimneys in the country, will also bring innovation in the new year with storage ultraviolet
(UV) water filters that would not require continuous water supply. Currently, UV water filters require constant piped water supply.

The company achieved growth in 2021, amid the COVID-induced disruptions and hopes to end the current fiscal with Rs 300 crore revenue. Bajoria also stated that the company is expanding the footprint of Kutchina Galleries from 75 to 100 by April with the majority of them being set up in new locations.

JSW Group announces EV Policy for employees, incentive of Rs 3 lakhs to buy EV vehicles

Source: Economic Times, 27 December 2021

Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group has launched an electric vehicle (EV) policy which will facilitate up to Rs 3 Lakhs incentive for employees to purchase electric vehicles- four-wheelers, as well as two-wheelers. This Policy aims to promote the adoption of electric vehicles across the Group.

”The goal is to build ambition among corporate and government bodies to support India’s transition to net-zero by 2070,” group chairman, Sajjan Jindal said in a media statement on Monday.

Apart from financial incentives, free-of-cost dedicated charging stations and green zones (parking slots) for electric vehicles will be provided at all JSW offices and plant locations for employees, the statement said.

“The transport sector in India is currently the third-largest emitter of CO2. As electric vehicles are more efficient than traditional IC engine vehicles, the JSW EV policy, effective January 2022, will set a benchmark for others to follow. EVs are not only environmentally-friendly but also cost-effective,” the company’s chief human resources officer, Dilip Pattanayak said.

JSW Steel Ltd has adopted a specific climate change policy and set a CO2 emission reduction target of 42% reduction over the base year of 2005 by 2030 (to a level 1.95tCO2/tcs). In India, JSW Steel is operating a Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU) of 100TPD capacity where the captured and refined CO2 is used in the beverage industry.

JSW Group has been incorporating sustainability into its core operations and decision-making practices, along with adopting the Best Available Technologies (BAT) to improve climate impact performance.

“JSW Group’s new EV Policy is a unique initiative leading to increased adoption of EVs in India and enabling access to green mobility,” Jindal said.

Indian economy recovering well, but Omicron poses a risk: RBI bulletin

Source: Business Standards, 16 December 2021

The Indian economy “continues to forge ahead, emerging out of shackles of pandemic,” but the rise of the Omicron variant has emerged as the biggest risk factor, said the state of the economy report released with the December bulletin of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday.

The Indian economy bounced back strongly in the second quarter, as the gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed its pre-pandemic levels, and inflation broadly remained under the 6 per cent range, the upper band of the tolerance range of the RBI. The RBI’s medium-term target is to keep retail inflation at 4 per cent. In November, the retail inflation came at 4.91 per cent, but wholesale price index (WPI), which it no longer targets, came at a 12 year high of 14.23 per cent.

“A host of incoming high frequency indicators are looking upbeat and consumer confidence is gradually returning. Aggregate demand conditions point to sustained recovery, albeit, with some signs of sequential moderation,” the report said.

Farm sector is strong, while the “manufacturing and services record strong improvement on strengthening demand conditions and surge in new business,” the report said, adding high frequency indicators are also looking upbeat. The daily infections have tapered and the inoculation rate has gathered steam.

Consumer confidence is gradually returning, and the “overall outlook remains optimistic on the general economic situation, the employment scenario and household income.” RBI’s recent surveys show for the year ahead, consumers are buoyed by sentiments on income and employment.

Revenue collections under the goods and services tax (GST) in November was the second highest ever although e-way bill issuances moderated somewhat pointing to moderation in GST collections in the month ahead. On the other hand, toll collections remained resilient in November. Coal stock in power plants has risen to nine days, assuaging concerns on supply shortages.

While both international and domestic cargo freight normalised in November, and passenger traffic has been gathering steam during the festive season, “new travel guidelines coming in the wake of Omicron might derail the nascent growth,” the report said.

Expenditure by the centre and 18 states together during November-March 2021-22 is expected to grow by 27 per cent, assuming states meet their budgeted targets. Similarly, capital expenditure is expected to grow by 54 per cent in this period.

“The higher revenue expenditure growth, a proxy of government final consumption expenditure, is expected to support economic recovery, while robust capex could crowd in private investment and improve medium-term growth prospects,” the RBI noted.

“Going forward, the emergence of the Omicron strain has heightened the uncertainty in the global macroeconomic environment, accelerating risks to global trade with resumption of travel restrictions/ quarantine rules at major ports and airports,” the report said. This looming threat “calls for observing greater caution and readiness to respond swiftly.”

According to the RBI, the ongoing supply-side constraints are likely to keep input prices and freight rates at elevated levels and could act as a “drag on overall exports.”

India Inc may stick to hybrid work model in new year

Source: Economic Times, 15 December 2021

A large section of India Inc across sectors is likely to follow hybrid working model in the new year as the pandemic enters its third year.

Executives from companies including Maruti Suzuki, Saint-Gobain, ITC, Dabur, Wipro, Infosys, HCL Technologies, Uber, Amazon, Flipkart and KPMG told ET that a mix of remote and on-site work will continue at least for the 􀀀rst few months of 2022.

With the impact of the newly found Covid-19 variant Omicron not known, some companies like Kotak Mahindra Bank and Nestle India have either slowed down or completely stopped business travel and team gatherings. 

We expect to operate in a hybrid mode for most of the coming year,” said Richard Lobo, head, HR, at Infosys. “We will have a mix of people – some who will work out of the o􀀁ice while others work partially or fully remote.”

Spokespersons of other tech 􀀀rms like Uber, Wipro and HCL con􀀀rmed they will continue the hybrid working model.

Maruti plants are operational, but most of its o􀀁ice employees are working remotely with a small percentage of people coming to o􀀁ice following a roster system, said Rajesh Uppal, chief information o􀀁icer and member of executive board (HR, IT, digital enterprise, education & training) at the country’s top carmaker. 

“With the new Omicron’s threat, we have further strengthened our internal communications, and advisories are being shared with employees to follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour at all times,” Uppal said. 
Nestle India has put “any planned relaxations in consideration with respect to team gatherings and travel on hold”, according to its spokesperson.

Kotak Mahindra Bank is also not undertaking any business travel unless essential and stopping all physical events, said its group CHRO Sukhjit Pasricha. 

Most companies plan to wait up to February to renew the e􀀁orts to return to o􀀁ice.

“For many companies, the plan to return to work and push people to come to o􀀁ice has slowed down,” Roopank Chaudhary, partner at Aon’s human capital business, told ET. 

Ecommerce major Amazon India, which directly employs more than 100,000 people in the country, said it is monitoring the situation closely. “We anticipate (our) directors sharing more with teams in January,” a company spokesperson said.

Its rival Flipkart has created a hybrid model for all corporate employees for the next few months. “This combines campus and remote work options,” said Krishna Raghavan, chief people o􀀁icer at Flipkart. 

Tobacco, hotels and consumer goods conglomerate ITC’s corporate human resources head Amitav Mukherji and FMCG company Dabur India executive director-HR Biplab Baksi, too, said they plan to continue with hybrid working model in their o􀀁ices. 

Professional services 􀀀rm KPMG has been following a remote working model since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020. “Starting at some point in early 2022, we look forward to seeing our people in our new 􀀂exible and hybrid model of working,” said Sunit Sinha, head – people, performance and culture at KPMG (India). 

Partners and directors are likely to come to o􀀁ice twice a week from January, he told ET. 

B Santhanam, CEO Asia Paci􀀀c at Saint-Gobain, said, “Businesses and functions have the autonomy to decide WIO (work in o􀀁ice) or 􀀀FH (work from home)… I believe hybrid will continue beyond Covid.”