The Indian Express | 1 day ago | 23-09-2022 | 10:50 pm
Dang police Thursday rescued two persons, including a financial investment advisor, from Maharashtra who were allegedly abducted by a gang and arrested five persons in connection with the incident.According to police, on Thursday night, police personnel stationed at Saputara check post in Dang, neighbouring to Nashik, heard people crying for help from two cars which passed by. When they stopped the cars, police found two persons in the car who claimed that they were being kidnapped.Police seized the cars and rescued the two persons, who were identified as Yogesh Bhalerao (45), a financial investment advisor who is a resident of Adgaon in Nashik, and his cousin brother Mahendra Gaekwad (46).Police also claimed to have recovered a country-made pistol with three live cartridges and a knife from the kidnappers.The five persons, identified as Vinit Jhatle (45), Vinod Dangre (47), Santosh Shinde (51), Rahul Ghayvat (41), and Bharat Deore (33), all residents of Adgaon were arrested and booked under IPC sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 114, 25(1)(b)(a) (possession of arms).On Friday afternoon, the accused were produced before a court in Ahwa which remanded them in four-day police custody.Dang Deputy Superintendent of Police S G Patil said, “The family of Yogesh Bhalerao was unaware of the kidnapping incident. While travelling in the car, the accused had threatened Yogesh that he would be released after getting Rs 1 crore. No ransom call was made by abductors to the family of Bhalerao. After being released, Yogesh lodged a complaint of kidnapping against unknown person with Adgaon police station in Nashik on Thursday late night.”The accused had planned to stay in Saputara after kidnapping the duo and later recover the ransom, police said.“Yogesh had some monetary dispute with a person who gave the contract to the gang to kidnap him,” Patil added.“The arrested persons Vinit and Vinod were earlier booked in several criminal cases by the Mumbai police and Nashik police,” he added.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray’s Saturday protest at Pune’s Talegaon, the site for the proposed Rs 1.5 lakh crore ($20 billion) semiconductor project of the Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture (JV), has signalled a spiralling political row in Maharashtra days after the JV despite being in discussion with the Maharashtra government on the project for years switched to Gujarat.A political slugfest has erupted in Maharashtra since September 13, when the Vedanta-Foxconn signed an MoU with the Gujarat government for their semiconductor project, with the Opposition MVA blaming the Eknath Shinde-BJP government for letting the flight of the big-ticket project to the neighbouring BJP-ruled state.Attacking the Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis dispensation, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, while addressing a party rally earlier this week, alleged that the government was “lying” on the issue and should be “ashamed” of the project going to Gujarat, even as he offered his support to it to bring the project back to Maharashtra. “Let’s come together and bring it back. I will also come with you,” he told the Sainiks.Cornered over the Vedanta-Foxconn project, which was one of the biggest industrial investments projected to come to Maharashtra, the ruling camp is now desperately looking for a face-saver, with CM and rebel Sena leader Shinde reaching out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah in this regard.Speaking to the Express Group last Sunday, Shinde said his government will announce a mega project for the state very soon.Vedanta-Foxconn project shift furoreAn industrial state like Maharashtra, which has almost all the key elements to attract investors – land, skilled labour, port, road connectivity, water, knowledge ecosystem – has been waiting for a mega industrial investment for years. While the state has seen various investments, from medium to large scale projects, coming to the state in the IT and automobile sectors among others, a mega investment has not fructified over the last decade despite the Magnetic Maharashtra summits and the “Make in India” investors summit in 2015 – when Foxconn had made its first investment commitment of $5 billion to the state.If the wait for Foxconn to invest in the state lasted for 7 years, losing it to a neighbouring state in a matter of two months or a quarter, was set to unnerve the political class and the residents of the state alike.While the continuous flow of new projects in any state keeps its economic growth on track, creates jobs for its people and also enhances social development, mega projects worth $3-5 billion or more give impulse and ripple impact that leads to the building of the ancillary industry, development of service sector and a thrust to the real estate, among other things.The Vedanta-Foxconn project had come as a hope for Maharashtra, which has been reeling under an accumulated debt of Rs 6.50 lakh crore, as the state saw it as a golden opportunity to give impetus to both its sluggish investments and channelise it towards job creation after the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.Terming the Vedanta-Foxconn project loss as a major setback for Maharashtra, a top economist, who has been closely watching the state’s progress over more than three decades and has been involved with various governments in the state with regards to its development, said, “It takes a long time for mega projects to fructify as a lot of home work has to go into it and bureaucrats, political class are involved. So in that sense the loss of Vedanta-Foxconn is a big setback. Also when I take a closer look, I don’t see a mega project in the vicinity and so it is both loss of time and opportunity.”While the state had also announced a Rs 3 lakh crore refinery project in Nanar in 2015, which promised to generate over 1 lakh jobs, it has failed to see the light of the day. The new government is, however, hopeful to revive the project.As regards the past mega investments in the state, the two that made their mark were the $3 billion Enron power project announced by the US major in 1992 and the $13 billion Jaitapur nuclear power project for which the agreement was signed with the French company in 2010. While Enron ran into trouble and also resulted in financial loss for the state, its debacle led to a power crisis, with the state running into power deficit for several years as power producers stayed away from committing investment in the power sector in view of the expected big capacity addition of 2,000 MW through Enron’s natural gas-based Dabhol power project. Also, the Jaitapur nuclear power project has not been able to take off in the manner it was envisaged.The politics of economyWith the latest big investment opportunity gone, the Maharashtra government is now hoping for a bigger project and is counting on the BJP-ruled Centre’s blessing. However, even as Shinde exuded confidence in pronouncing that Maharashtra will bag a major investment in the coming days, Deputy CM and senior BJP leader Fadnavis has exercised caution warning that “Maharashtra will have to initiate concrete steps to rebuild the confidence of the investors.”The government is also hopeful of benefiting from a “double-engine” government — a BJP government both in the state and at the Centre. While the Vedanta-Foxconn project might have been lost due to the lack of the Centre’s intervention (CM Shinde’s July 26 letter to Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal showed that Vedanta had asked the state government to get the “Central Government alignment”), the current government still hopes to capitalise on a “favourable” central government. This “alignment” has already led to breakthroughs in some key infrastructure projects in the state such as the land acquisition approvals for the Mumbai Ahmedabad bullet train project, clearance for the metro car shed land in Mumbai, and the Dharavi redevelopment project. These projects could not move ahead during the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government, comprising the Sena, BJP and Congress, as the state and Central governments used to be locked in a recurring tussle over them.While the state government has redoubled its efforts to clinch a big-ticket project ahead of the crucial Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, slated for late 2022 or early 2023, it is working on multiple fronts, including the revival of the Rs 3 lakh crore refinery project. At the Mumbai industrial conclave last week, Fadnavis indicated his government’s resolve to revive the refinery project. He said, “The refinery project is high on our plate. But the inordinate delay has made it difficult to match the same scale. Even if it is taken to its logical end it will be on a smaller scale.”Another project under process and being discussed on priority is Wadhawan Port at Raigad. With access to natural deep draught the project when completed will have the potential to anchor even the biggest ship across the world.Concerned over losing the the Vedanta-Foxconn project to Gujarat, Shinde and Fadnavis seem to be hopeful now that they will get the Centre’s backing for these critical large projects in Maharashtra.It is also important that the state improves its record over the conversion of signed MoUs into real investments on the ground. In the past 7.5 years the state hosted two major investment events — Magnetic Maharashtra and Magnetic Maharashtra 2.0. The first Magnetic Maharashtra was held in 2018 under the then Fadnavis-led BJP-Sena coalition government. At the end of the three-day conclave, the state had then signed 4210 MoUs with promised investment of Rs 16 lakh crore, of which around Rs 12.1 lakh crore was investment from private industries and Rs 3.9 lakh crore was a proposal signed between the Centre and state governments. However, only 50 per cent of the total proposed investments, which were signed, could be realised and have been since at various stages of implementation.The second Magnetic Maharashtra was held under the MVA government in 2020 when Vedanta-Foxconn had committed their semiconductor project to the state, subject to the approval from the Centre.Although the Vedanta-Foxconn project’s departure from the state has now given the Opposition MVA a handy weapon to score points against the BJP-Shinde regime, nobody is disputing the state’s ability to “overtake” Gujarat.The Leader of the Opposition and NCP leader, Ajit Pawar, said, “We had promised a 1,000 acres land parcel to the company in Talegaon. If Vedanta-Foxconn has buckled under political pressure to relocate the project it is a sad comment on politics.”Taking up the political challenge, Fadnavis has pledged to outstrip Gujarat in coming days. At least two projects show promise and are cited to show the BJP’s success — the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) complete with two nodes, Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Area and Dighi Port Industrial Area, and the Aurangabad Industrial City (AURIC). While Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Area is being developed as a large-scale industrial cluster, the Dighi Port Industrial Area will become a port as well as an industrial hub. On the other hand, the AURIC is a greenfield smart industrial city spread across 4,030 hectares with investments of Rs 5,500 crore with the state government estimating that it can generate more than three lakh jobs over the next 15 years.The politics of rivalryThe creation of Maharashtra and Gujarat on the same day, May 1, 1960, through reorganisation of states was not a smooth affair. Mumbai (then Bombay) was the bone of contention between them. To ensure Mumbai remains in Maharashtra, a long-drawn agitation, Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, was launched in 1956. About 105 people lost their lives in this movement. In this background, Maharashtra versus Gujarat has always been a fraught discourse.Despite the co-existence of both Marathi and Gujarati communities in Mumbai, the faultlines remain. And following the switch of the Vedanta-Foxconn project to Gujarat, the Opposition has again brought this debate to the centre stage of Maharashtra politics. Confronted with the in-house challenges following a major split within, the Uddhav-led Sena seems to have got a major political issue on a platter that it hopes would cut ice with the people besides helping the party to hit back at the BJP. This assumes more significance as the BMC polls may be held over the next three-four months, which will settle the key question whether the Uddhav Sena would be able to retain its hold over the BMC that it has been able to do successfully over the last 25 years.The BJP-Shinde alliance, on the other hand, has been sensing an opportunity in the upcoming BMC polls to bring an end to the Sena rule from there and deal a body blow to Uddhav’s party. It, however, reckons that if Maharashtra versus Gujarat narrative gains traction, it might be “politically fatal” and hence they are going all out to quell the controversy and promise a mega industrial project for the state soon.Even as the BJP-Shinde combine has set higher electoral targets for the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls — in the previous 2019 polls, the BJP had won 23 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats and 105 out of 288 Assembly seats in the state — a polarisation along Maharashtra versus Gujarat lines might undermine it. Demographically, 65 per cent of the Maharashtra population is youth with an average age of 27. No political party can overlook the youth aspirations given its presence and potential to make or wreck the electoral results in the state. And the departure of a mega semiconductor project — which is regarded as the industry of the future — from the state makes for bad optics, both in the eyes of the state political class as well as its youth.The NCP’s youth leader and Karjat-Jamkhed MLA, Rohit Pawar, says, “We are not against any state’s development. But the question is why sacrifice Maharashtra youth. Why should our next generation pay the price?” Now, this may be question, which cannot go unaddressed for long as it is not just about employment and financial implications but also the aspirations of youth, whose vote base could play a big role in the electoral outcome.
GANDHINAGAR: Addressing a ceremony to honour the cops who were conferred medals by the President of India, chief minister Bhupendra Patel attributed the peace and safety in the state to the police force's commitment to duty. It is because of peace and security in Gujarat that it was considered the first choice as an investment destination, a CMO statement quoted Patel as saying. Police medals for meritorious service and distinguished service had been conferred by the President to 99 officers and personnel of Gujarat police. The CM felicitated them at a function in the city on Friday. Minister of state for home Harsh Sanghavi, chief secretary Pankaj Kumar, DGP Ashish Bhatia and the families of those awarded medals participated in the event. The CM lauded the work of the police force and their commitment to zero-tolerance for crime. Sanghavi said Gujarat was among the best states in the country when it came to maintaining law and order, and the state's police force should be credited for the achievement. tnn
Essential data, facts and figures from reports, policies, schemes and important documents for UPSC-CSE. Do not forget to solve the MCQ. The Post Read Q&A will help you to self-evaluate your retention memory after reading the article.Syllabus-Prelims: Economic and Social DevelopmentMains: GS III Syllabus — Agriculture: transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.Relevance: Agriculture is one of the most important topics for Geography and Economy. There are many static and dynamic dimensions of agriculture. Often, a government report or an international report give you some insights on various of agriculture. Noticing that UPSC picks a very specific micro topic as question, this report becomes highly relevant. Though, less in data, it brings to limelight agri-techs, startups and traditional agricultural companies together. Go beyond the report and know useful information and examples of agri-tech startups in India. Enrich your agriculture related questions of GS and Essay.Why in news?FSG, a global consulting firm, has launched the Agritech Report 2022, “What’s next for Indian agri-tech? Emerging opportunities and the way forward for India’s agricultural technology sector”.This report presents the current state of Indian agri-tech in India. It highlights emerging opportunities in this field. It also recommends way forward—Traditional agriculture companies to succeed across the agriculture value chain— Agri-tech start-ups to address the stiff competition aheadWhat are the key takeaways from the report?Agri-tech startups—Start-ups are driving India’s agri-tech innovations and investment story with significant private equity inflows.—Start-ups will need an acute focus on profitability to survive an emerging ‘battle of platforms,’ as several of these players now compete for farmer attention. This situation will be exacerbated by a funding slump in the medium term amidst an overall slowdown in global investment activity.—Innovative global start-ups need to be responsible for addressing systemic barriers and building the critical ecosystem required to scale the agri-carbon market.Technology—While the first wave of Indian agri-tech focused on market linkages, several mature, late-stage start-ups are now becoming ‘full-stack’ platforms, including value-added services such as agri-fintech in their core offerings.—The next wave of agri-tech growth in India will come from technological advancements in, and increased adoption of, sustainable inputs, digital in-farm solutions (such as farm management software, remote sensing and advisory, and farm automation), novel farming systems, traceability, and agri-carbon.—Climate change has intensified the focus on agri-carbon innovations.—Technology has irreversibly disrupted the traditional agricultural value chain – from how farmers access information and inputs to how they grow and sell their produce. Stronger need to adapt to this digital transformation of agriculture. Investments in in-farm innovations, including artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, robotics/drones, and farm management software, have been growing exponentially.—The government is playing a key role in the continued mainstreaming of agri-tech in Indian agriculture, through supportive policies in each of these emerging categories.Traditional Agriculture companies—The report highlights that while traditional agriculture companies lag behind in most categories, large agrochemical players benefit from in-house R&D and a greater investment capacity. They are therefore ahead in developing, producing, and marketing sustainable and specialized inputs such as bio-fertilizers and organic fertilizers.—However, traditional agriculture companies focused on the upstream and midstream value chain, including in-farm mechanization solution providers, lag behind start-ups in most other agri-tech innovation categories.Traditional agriculture companies must embrace technology to succeed.—Whether they double down on their strengths, or expand into adjacencies, they will need to develop a few core digital capabilities such as data analytics and digital farmer networks.Why agri-tech innovations are required?—Agriculture accounts for an estimated 43% of India’s employment. Despite its importance to India’s economic and social development, the sector is fraught with challenges.—Indian farmers face increasing cost and margin pressures due to several operational issues and structural barriers, such as rising input and production costs, threats to sustainability due to climate change and intensive cultivation, labor shortage and limited mechanization, and a low share of the final price of produce.— Agri-tech innovations can address many of these challenges by making better information and technology available to farmers. This will inturn provide opportunities to farmers improve their incomes and engage in more sustainable food production.—India’s agri-tech advancements, if utilized correctly, present an excellent opportunity for sustainable and equitable growth, ensuring not only profitability for agribusinesses but also improved livelihoods for farmers.Beyond this reportAshok Gulati and Kavery Ganguly writing for The Indian Express – ‘Agritech startups have great potential in India’ highlight that agritech startups can steer the shift from government-controlled agricultural markets towards more demand-driven digital markets. Some of the key highlights of the article are:—Globally, India is competing with the US and China in the agri-startup space. According to Agfunder, India witnessed an increase in funding from $619 million in H1 2020 to $2 billion in H1 2021, behind the US ($9.5 billion) and China ($4.5 billion).—An Ernst & Young 2020 study pegs the Indian agritech market potential at $24 billion by 2025, of which only 1 per cent has been captured so far.—Currently, it is estimated that there are about 600 to 700 agritech startups in India operating at different levels of agri-value chains. Many of them use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT), etc, to unlock the potential of big data for greater resource use efficiency, transparency and inclusiveness.—The pandemic helped them catapult and the 2020 farm laws can give them a further boost by providing a legal framework to work with the farmers through FPOs, co-operatives and other collectives.How some startups in the marketing space are empowering farmers, small agrifood operators, and giving consumers a better deal?— Ninjacart, Dehaat, and Crofarm (Otipy) are a few of the many startups that are redefining the agrifood marketplace. The novelty of startup-led value chain transformation is not limited to empowering farmers but also co-opting local grocery, mom-and-pop, and kirana stores as well as small agrifood businesses that are an integral part of the agrifood ecosystem.—At the same time, the startup network is able to leverage the bigger front-end players who demand bulk quality produce and have challenges in directly linking with farmers. This is in contrast to the earlier organised retail (big box) wave that emerged in the mid-2000s, wherein the livelihood of the unorganised retailers and small businesses was perceived to be threatened.How agritech startups have a growing footprint ?Dehaat is present in Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh, working with 6,50,000 farmers through 1,890 Dehaat Centres.Dehaat Ninjacart sources fresh produce from farms and supplies to retailers, restaurants, grocery and kirana stores, and small businesses and is operational in nearly 11 cities.With a farmer network of 10,000 plus, Crofarm has served more than 1 lakh consumers and 5,000 businesses.Otipy has emerged as one of the popular app-based platforms with nearly 2 lakh customers and more than 8.25 lakh mobile downloads. It currently works with 10,000-plus resellers in Delhi NCR and also present in UP, Gujarat, and Himachal Pradesh. About 70 per cent of the resellers are women.How the agri-tech startups have had a demonstrated impacts?Ninjacart reduced wastage to 4 per cent compared to up to 25 per cent in traditional chains through demand-driven harvest schedule. Logistics optimisation enabled delivery in less than 12 hours at one-third the cost in traditional chains. Farmers’ net incomes are reported to have increased by 20 per cent.Dehaat has enabled up to 50 per cent increase in farmers’ income as a result of savings in input costs, increased farm productivity, and better price discovery.Terms you should knowAgri-tech: Agricultural technology, or agri-tech, is the use of technology in agriculture based on agricultural science, agronomy, and agricultural engineering. Agri-tech innovations could be in the form of products, services, or applications, which aim to improve yield, efficiency, profitability, and sustainability of agricultural operations.In-farm & novel farming solutions: Innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet ofThings (IoT), robotics, and data analytics that manage risks and improve farm productivity and quality, and novel farming solutions such as vertical farming and aquaculture.Agri-fintech: Agri-fintech, or fin-tech for farmers, includes digital financial products and services across the agriculture value chain, such as input credit, supply chain financing, and insurance.Agri-carbon: Agri-carbon includes regenerative farming and soil health practices (such as no-till farming and crop rotation) which can restore carbon in the soil, biomass for energy and feedstock,and the trade of carbon credits.(sources: fsg.org, ‘Agritech startups have great potential in India’)Point to ponder: Startups are creating a buzz in India by raising large sums, despite many of them currently making losses. This is because they disrupt the traditional system of doing business and leapfrog to efficiency, winning the trust of potential investors. Agri-startups are no different. Discuss.MCQ: With respect to Agriculture in India, which of the following statements is incorrecta) Agriculture Infrastructure Fund offers long term financial assistance for building infrastructure for post-harvest stage.b) India is the top producer of milk, spices, tea, jute, and rice.c) The objective of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease Agri-Waste.d)Agriculture’s contribution in the gross domestic product (GDP) has reduced to less than 20 per cent.Answer to previous MCQ: UPSC Essentials: One word a day – AIBD, the organization (c)Post Read Q&ACan you recall what you read? 2. How some startups in the marketing space are empowering farmers, small agrifood operators, and giving consumers a better deal? 3.Why agri-tech innovations are required?
Reliance Industries Ltd on Friday said it has acquired a 20 per cent stake in California-based solar tech firm Caelux for USD 12 million as it strengthens its new energy manufacturing capabilities.Reliance New Energy Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the firm, signed definitive agreements to invest in Caelux Corporation, a Pasadena, California-headquartered company engaged in the development of perovskite-based solar technology, it said in a statement.The partnership is expected to help Reliance produce higher efficiency and low-cost solar modules at its gigafactory in Jamnagar, Gujarat, where an integrated photovoltaic plant is being set up.It will also allow Caelux to commercialise its perovskite-based solar technology, which enabled solar modules to produce 20 per cent more energy over a 25-year lifetime of the solar project.Reliance has been building its new energy stack with partnerships with several global players, including Ambri in the US, Faradion in the UK and Lithium Werks in the Netherlands. It recently acquired a 79.4 per cent stake in SenseHawk, a solar digitisation platform SaaS that helps customers develop, build and operate solar and other infrastructure sites.It has also signed up with Maxwell Technology to purchase eight sets of high-efficiency production lines for heterojunction cells (HJT), each with 600 MW capacity, to manufacture an annual capacity of 4.8 GW of HJT cells.Reliance acquired REC Solar Holdings, a module manufacturer of HJT technology.“This investment will accelerate product and technology development for Caelux, including the construction of its pilot line in the United States, for expediting the commercial development of its technology,” the statement said.RNEL and Caelux have also entered into a strategic partnership for technical collaboration and commercialisation of Caelux’s technology.Caelux is an industry leader in the research and development of perovskite-based solar technology. Its proprietary technology enables high-efficiency solar modules that can produce 20 per cent more energy over the 25-year lifetime of a solar project at significantly lower installed cost.Reliance is setting up a global-scale integrated photovoltaic Giga factory at Jamnagar, Gujarat.“Through this investment and collaboration, Reliance will be able to produce more powerful and lower cost solar modules leveraging Caelux’s products,” it said.Speaking about this investment, Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance, said the investment in Caelux aligns with the firm’s strategy to create the most advanced green energy manufacturing ecosystem, backed by world-class talent, and built on the pillars of technological innovation achieved through strategic partnerships.“We believe Caelux’s proprietary perovskite-based solar technology provides us with access to the next leg of innovation in crystalline solar modules. We will work along with the team at Caelux to accelerate its product development and commercialization of its technology,” he said.Scott Graybeal, CEO of Caelux, said through the partnership with Reliance, the company will accelerate its efforts to build out manufacturing capabilities to produce products that make crystalline solar modules more efficient and cost-effective.The transaction will not require any regulatory approval and is expected to be completed by end of September 2022, subject to satisfaction of any condition’s precedent.
Mumbai: A senior bureaucrat said the entire land allotment for 191 industrial projects was transparent and online, so there was no scope for illegality. Only eligible applicants were allotted land, he added.In addition, for the 335 proposals worth Rs 15,000 crore pending with MIDC, the bureaucrat said that in-principle approval has been granted and it is likely that the land allotment committee will meet in the ensuing week to clear the allotment. “There was no stay on these 335 projects on 1,700 acres of land. However, in view of the change of political guard, it was suggested to go slow. Now, in-principle approval has been granted and we expect the actual process to begin within a week,” he said. The bureaucrat clarified that most of the projects are cleared at the MIDC level, but those involving investment of Rs 1,500 crore (mega projects) and Rs 4,000 crore (ultra-mega projects) are referred to the government, particularly for incentives. The bureaucrat said in view of criticism of the government and the flak following the shifting of the Foxconn project to Gujarat, the industries department will fast-track all pending projects on top priority.