Welcome to the January 8, 2015 bulletin of key policy decisions and high-impact news from India, presented by the Embassy of India, in Washington D.C.
High-Impact News

Secretary of State Kerry to Travel to India       


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Ahmedabad, India, on January 10 to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit, the first time the U.S. has partnered with the event. Kerry will join leading U.S. business executives and innovators at the Summit to highlight the important role played by the U.S. technology.

Highway Ministry: E-toll to Save $13.8 Billion, Cut Waits


India's electronic toll (E-toll) collection system will help save $13.8 billion and cut wait times at toll plazas significantly, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said. Gadkari cited a report that said every year, fuel worth $9.4 billion is wasted due to time spent by vehicles at toll plazas; the value of wasted time takes the total to $13.8 billion. "Of the 350 toll points on the Mumbai-Delhi route, 140 have been converted into E-toll points," he said.

Govt. Starts Railway Reforms, Decentralizes Tender Process      

In a major initiative to bring transparency and speed up decisions on tenders, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has empowered zonal railways and heads of production units to finalize them. Full powers have been delegated to General Managers and Director Generals of production units as tender authority, said an official statement. 

Private Equity Investments Surge 47% to $10.9 Billion in 2014

Powered by mega bets on e-commerce, private equity investments surged 47.3% year-on-year to $10.9 billion across 436 deals in 2014, the second highest ever in a calendar year. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Olacabs were among the companies that attracted the highest private equity investments during 2014.

Infosys Expands CSR Activities to the Americas      

Infosys will expand its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in the Americas through its philanthropic arm, the Infosys Foundation, USA. The effort will focus on making quality computer science education widely and easily accessible across the Americas. "I am confident that we will leverage Infosys Foundation's experience in India of imparting technical education to enhance employability," said Sudha Murty, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation.


Key Policy Decisions

Planning Commission is now 'Niti Ayog'


National Institution for Transforming India, Niti Ayog, which will replace India's Planning Commission, will be responsible for formulating a new approach to development. NITI is seen as a think tank that will foster "cooperative federalism" rather than take a top-down approach. "An important evolutionary change from the past will be replacing a Centre-to-state one-way flow of policy by a genuine and continuing partnership with the states," the Government said in the statement.

Govt. Seeks Public Comments on IPR Policy

The Commerce and Industry Ministry has sought public comments on the first draft report on the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy till January 30. "All stakeholders are requested to send their comments and suggestions to the first Draft of the National IPR Policy to ipr@nic.in on or before 30th January, 2015," said the statement. The policy has been formulated with the mission to foster innovation, accelerate economic growth, employment and entrepreneurship besides protecting public health, food security and environment, among other areas of socio-economic importance.

Competition Commission OKs IBM-Globalfoundries Deal       


IBM's proposed deal with U.S.-based Globalfoundries has been cleared by the Competition Commission of India, the country's fair trade watchdog, which said the transaction would not have an adverse impact on competition in India. A pure-play semiconductor foundry, U.S.-based Globalfoundries offers a full range of wafer fabrication services and technologies. It does not have any operations in India.

Cabinet OKs Largest-Ever Spectrum Auction 


The Cabinet has approved the largest-ever telecom spectrum auction, targeted to fetch at least $10 billion when it is put up for bid next month. The Government will sell 380.75 megahertz of second generation (2G) spectrum in three bands - the premium 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 800 MHz.   

Govt. Opens New Health Policy Draft for Comment    


Seeking "highest possible level of good health" through preventive and promotive care, the Centre has put the draft of the new National Health Policy out for public comment. The policy's objectives are to improve Indians' health status through concerted policy action in all sectors and expand preventive, promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services provided by the public health sector, according to the draft.

Reserve Bank Eases External Commercial Borrowings Rules    


The Reserve Bank of India has introduced changes in external commercial borrowings (ECB) rules under which authorized money changing banks have been allowed to create a charge on securities. The decision was taken "with a view to liberalizing, expanding the options of securities and consolidating various provisions related to creation of charge over securities for ECB at one place," the Bank said in a release.

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