What is India-Middle East-Europe Mega Economic Corridor Project?
In a significant announcement during the G20 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled plans for the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor, a ground-breaking initiative that promises to reshape global trade and connectivity. The corridor, which involves India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, European Union, Italy, Germany and the United States, is poised to be historic venture, surpassing even the legendary Silk and Spice routes of the past.
Objective of the India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor project
India-Middle East-Europe mega economic corridor project aims to boost trade between the participating nations, with a particular focus on facilitating the exchange of energy-related goods. This initiative could serve as a substantial response to China’s extensive infrastructure initiative, which aims to enhance global connectivity with the Chinese economy.
A Multifaceted Corridor
This corridor is not merely a traditional transportation but a comprehensive infrastructure network that includes various elements:
Rail Link: The corridor will feature a modern rail link, facilitating the movement of goods and people across participating nations.
Electricity Cable: An electricity cable will be laid to ensure a reliable and efficient power supply, enhancing energy cooperation and sustainability.
Hydrogen Pipeline: The project includes a hydrogen pipeline, reflecting a commitment to cleaner energy sources and reduced carbon emissions.
High-Speed Data Cable: A high-speed data cable will enable seamless digital connectivity, fostering innovation and economic growth.
Purpose Behind the Project
Several compelling reasons underpin the proposal for the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor:
Economic Prosperity: One of the primary objectives is to boost prosperity among participating countries. By facilitating the flow of energy resources and digital communications, this corridor will stimulate economic growth and development.
Infrastructure Development: Many lower and middle income nations lack the infrastructure needed for sustained economic growth. This project addresses this gap by promoting infrastructure development, fostering inclusivity and reducing disparities.
Regional Disparities: The corridor is expected to play a role in reducing turbulence and insecurity emanating from the Middle East. By fostering economic cooperation and interdependence, it has the potential to contribute to regional stability and peace.
Countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative
The India-Middle East-Europe corridor is regarded as one of the most ambitious counters to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has sought to connect various parts of the world to China’s economy. This project not only promotes economic integration but also emphasizes sustainability and digitalization as key components of global connectivity.
Significance of India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor
The significance of India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is as follows:
The corridor opens up new markets and trade routes, boosting India’s trade opportunities.
It enhances supply chain resilience, ensuring a stable source of essential goods.
India’s strategic location strengthens its role in global geopolitics.
Reduces transportation costs, benefiting Indian businesses and exports.
Aligns with India’s green goals, promoting environmentally responsible development.
Creates job opportunities and economic growth through infrastructural development.
Improves supply chain security, crucial for energy and resource access.
Simplifies trade processes, making it easier for Indian businesses to engage globally.
Provides improved access to global markets, diversifying India’s exports.
India’s Sindhu Gangadharan appointed as Nasscom Vice-Chairperson
Sindhu Gangadharan, who holds the position of Senior Vice President and Managing Director at SAP Labs India and is also responsible for SAP User Enablement, has been named the Vice-Chairperson of The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom). In her new role, she will use her extensive experience in technology and corporate leadership, acquired over many years in India and Germany, to help shape India’s TechAde initiative. As the first woman to lead SAP Labs India, which is SAP’s largest R&D center worldwide, Gangadharan is in charge of overseeing product development and innovation across all five centers located in Bangalore, Gurgaon, Pune, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. Furthermore, she leads SAP User Enablement, which provides training and support for SAP’s entire product portfolio.
Earlier this year, Gangadharan was appointed as the Chairperson of the Nasscom GCC Council for the term 2023-2025. She also serves on the boards of organizations such as Siemens India and Titan Company Limited. Additionally, she is a member of the Steering Committee of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce, an industry association that promotes bilateral trade and discussions between India and Germany.
Previously, Indian IT and tech trade body Nasscom announced the appointment of Rajesh Nambiar, Chairman and Managing Director, Cognizant India, as its new Chairperson. Nambiar is succeeding Anant Maheshwari, former President, Microsoft India as the new Chairperson of the trade body.
About the NASSCOM
The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) is the apex body for the Indian technology industry. It is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1988. NASSCOM’s membership comprises over 3000 companies, including both Indian and multinational organizations that have a presence in India. The membership spans across the entire spectrum of the industry from start ups to multinationals and from products to services, Global Service Centers to Engineering firms.
NASSCOM’s mission is to build the architecture integral to the development of the technology sector through policy advocacy, and help in setting up the strategic direction for the sector to unleash its potential and dominate newer frontiers.
Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2023-24 Series II Opens Today; All You Need To Know
The Indian government has initiated the 2023-24 Series II of the Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB) Scheme, which has begun its subscription phase today and will remain open until September 15. This scheme offers a secure alternative for investing in gold, diverging from physical gold ownership, while also presenting an opportunity for additional income.
Some Key Features Of Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB)
Issuance, Pricing, and Online Discounts
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issues SGBs on behalf of the government. The issue price is determined based on the average gold prices of the past week.
These bonds are denominated in multiples of grams of gold, with a minimum investment requirement of one gram. Individual investors can invest up to 4 kilograms within a fiscal year.
While the bond’s nominal value stands at Rs 5,923 per gram of gold, the government, in consultation with the RBI, offers a discount of Rs 50 per gram over the nominal value to online applicants, reducing the issue price to Rs 5,873 per gram of gold.
Interest, Tenure, and Exit Option
One significant advantage of SGBs over physical gold is the fixed annual interest rate of 2.5%, paid semi-annually to investors based on the issue price.
This interest is credited directly to the investor’s bank account.
SGBs come with an eight-year tenure, but investors have the option to exit from the fifth year, which can be exercised on interest payment dates.
Subscription Modes and Taxation Benefits
SGBs can be subscribed through various channels, including banking channels, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), selected post offices, and recognized stock exchanges, either directly or indirectly through agents.
From a taxation perspective, the Indian government does not require investors to pay TDS deducted or GST on the purchase or redemption of SGBs. Capital gains tax arising from the redemption of SGBs by an individual is also exempt. However, selling bonds before maturity may attract capital gains tax, which can be paid after availing the benefits of indexation.
Risk, Security, and Government Guarantee
SGBs are considered safe and virtually risk-free investments because they are government securities.
These bonds come with sovereign guarantees for both the capital invested and the interest earned.
Additionally, as SGBs are electronically held, concerns associated with physical gold, such as storage and theft, are eliminated.
The SGB 2023-24 Series II represents a unique opportunity for investors to diversify their portfolios. It offers the benefits of physical gold without the associated risks and provides a regular income. This investment avenue is secure, profitable, and convenient, catering to the needs of various investor classes. As the government encourages shifting savings from physical gold to financial products, SGBs emerge as an ideal conservative investment option that combines safety and returns.
Vijayawada Railway Station gets IGBC’s ‘Green Railway Station’ certification
Vijayawada Railway Station was awarded the ‘Green Railway Station’ certification with the highest rating of Platinum by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) for its efforts in improving the environmental standards and providing eco-friendly services to passengers. This is an upgradation of the station’s ratings, from gold in 2019 to platinum in 2023.
Some of these measures include use of star-rated electrical appliances, LED lights, installation of a sewage treatment plant to recycle wastewater, periodic testing to check smoke emission, increasing green coverage, improvement in amenities for passengers, provision of medical facilities, proximity to bus stops, avoidance of single-use plastic, use of comprehensive mechanised cleaning for effective waste segregation and its disposal, among others.
Green Railway Stations Rating System
The IGBC-CII Green Railway Stations Rating System is a voluntary initiative that aims to facilitate the adoption of green concepts in railway stations. The system helps to address national priorities such as water conservation, waste management, energy efficiency, reduced use of fossil fuels, and lesser dependency on virgin materials. The rating system also helps the station management to understand their current position with respect to the “green performance” of the station and the measures that need to be taken to enhance the performance on a continual basis.
The IGBC, with the support of Environment Directorate of Indian Railways, developed the Green Railway Stations rating system to facilitate adoption of green concepts and enhance the overall commuter experience.
The rating is based on six environmental categories as defined by IGBC which include sustainable station facility, health, hygiene and sanitation, energy efficiency, water efficiency, smart and green initiatives and innovation and development.
Evaluation Process for Green Railway Stations
The Vijayawada Railway Station was evaluated under six modules:
Sustainable station facility
Health hygiene and sanitation
Smart and green initiative
Innovation & development
Features of the IGBC Platinum Certified Vijayawada Railway Station
The station has implemented several green initiatives, including:
Safe drinking water
No smoking policy
Tobacco smoke control
Fresh air ventilation
Solid waste management plan
Plastic- free environment
Energy efficient measures such as 5star rated electrical equipment, LED fixtures, BLDC fans, daylight sensors, energy monitoring, and solar water heaters. Smart and green initiatives such as WiFi facilities, smart card ticketing, food courts, pharmacies, and innovative measures like the Centre for Advanced Maintenance Technology (CAMTECH) design coach watering.
Additional Information about Vijayawada Station In June 2023, Vijayawada Station became the first station in India to equip platforms with a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solar roof, installing a total capacity of 130 kilowatts ‘peak’ (kWp) of solar power.
Government Celebrates Sixth Rashtriya Poshan Maah 2023 In September
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is celebrating the 6th Rashtriya Poshan Maah throughout September 2023. This year, the objective is to comprehensively tackle malnutrition through a life-cycle approach.
The focal point of Poshan Maah 2023 is to cultivate widespread awareness concerning critical human life stages: pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and adolescence. The aim is to foster nutritional understanding across India through a theme centered on “Suposhit Bharat, Sakshar Bharat, Sashakt Bharat” (Nutrition-rich India, Educated India, Empowered India).
Transforming Nutritional Outcomes: The Government of India’s Poshan Abhiyaan
The Government of India’s flagship initiative, POSHAN Abhiyaan, has been instrumental in advancing nutritional outcomes for pregnant women, lactating mothers, adolescent girls, and children under 6 years of age in a comprehensive manner.
Launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister, POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan operates in mission mode to combat the challenge of malnutrition.
During the 15th Financial Commission period, Poshan Abhiyaan, the Anganwadi Services Scheme, and the Scheme for Adolescent Girls were aligned under Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 to launch an integrated nutrition support programme aimed at strengthening content, delivery, outreach, and outcomes.
The focus remains on cultivating practices that foster health, wellness, and immunity against diseases and malnutrition.
Empowering Communities: The Heart of Rashtriya Poshan Maah
This month-long event will witness concentrated efforts nationwide to enhance ground-level nutritional awareness through campaigns focusing on key themes around Exclusive Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding.
Activities like Swasth Balak Spardha (Healthy Child Competition) aim to instill a spirit of healthy competition for nutrition and overall well-being. Other initiatives would include Poshan Bhi Padhai Bhi (Nutrition as well as Education), Improving Nutrition through Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), Tribal-Focused Nutrition Sensitization, and addressing Anemia through Test, Treat, Talk.
Additionally, the Jan Andolan movement under Poshan Maah will serve as an extended platform for united celebration under the ‘Meri Mati Mera Desh‘ campaign, commemorating the nation’s journey of freedom and progress.
Grassroots Engagement: The Key to Success
Outreach programs, identification drives, camps, and home visits will be conducted at the village, block, and district levels, engaging diverse segments of the community to spread awareness about holistic nutrition. Encouraging nutrition-seeking behavior at both the individual and community levels stands as a pivotal component in realizing the goals of the Abhiyaan. This objective continues to be pursued through Mission Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0.
A Collaborative Effort: Celebrating Rashtriya Poshan Maah
To achieve this objective, Rashtriya Poshan Maah will be celebrated in collaboration with all stakeholders from the 1st to the 30th of September. Since the inception of the Abhiyaan, five successful Poshan Maah events have been held across the country, with enthusiastic participation from States/UTs as well as convergent Ministries and Departments. During the last Poshan Maah in 2022, more than 170 million sensitization activities were reported across key themes. To date, over 600 million activities have been carried out as part of Jan Andolan under Poshan Pakhwadas (March) and Poshan Maahs (September) each year.
PM Modi Launches Global Biofuels Alliance at G20 Summit
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of the Global Biofuels Alliance (GBA) during the G20 Summit. The alliance includes more than 30 countries and international organizations, aimed at promoting the adoption of biofuels and expanding bioenergy access in emerging economies.
This announcement comes during a month marked by important environmental events, including the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies (September 7), International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (September 16), and World Environment Health Day (September 26). The G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration also highlights the establishment of the Global Biofuels Alliance.
The GBA launch reflects India’s proactive stance as the G20 President and its representation of the ‘Voice of the Global South.’ The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas emphasized the action-oriented nature of India’s positive agenda.
Key Members of GBA
The GBA consists of 19 countries and 12 international organizations. Key G20 member countries supporting the alliance include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, South Africa, and the US. Four G20 Invitee countries supporting GBA are Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, and the UAE.
Additionally, eight non-G20 countries, including Iceland, Kenya, Guyana, Paraguay, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Finland, are part of the alliance. International organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Economic Forum, and others are also members.
Biofuel Production and Consumption
The GBA members are major producers and consumers of biofuels, with the USA, Brazil, and India contributing significantly to production and consumption. They collectively account for about 85% of biofuel production and 81% of ethanol consumption. The global ethanol market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.1% by 2032, surpassing $162.12 billion by that year.
Objectives of the Alliance
The GBA aims to:
Promote Sustainable Biofuels: Support the development and deployment of sustainable biofuels globally.
Capacity Building: Offer capacity-building exercises, technical support, and policy lessons-sharing.
Virtual Marketplace: Create a virtual marketplace to map demand and supply, connect technology providers with end users.
Standards and Regulations: Develop and implement internationally recognized standards, sustainability principles, and regulations to incentivize biofuel adoption and trade.
Benefits for India
The GBA is expected to benefit India in several ways:
Global Strengthening: Enhance India’s global position and collaboration opportunities.
Export Opportunities: Provide Indian industries with opportunities to export technology and equipment.
Unlocking Bioenergy Access: Improve bioenergy access in emerging economies and create new business opportunities.
Low Carbon Energy: Contribute to low-carbon energy goals and reduce import dependency.
Shyam Sunder Gupta Takes Charge As Central Railway’s Principal Chief Operations Manager
Shyam Sunder Gupta took over as the Principal Chief Operations Manager of Central Railway on Tuesday, September 5, 2023. His appointment follows the superannuation of Mukul Jain, who retired from the position on August 31, 2023. Shyam Sunder Gupta’s illustrious career in the railway services and his extensive experience make him a valuable addition to this pivotal role.
A Distinguished Career in the Indian Railways
Shyam Sunder Gupta, a 1992 batch officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, brings with him a wealth of experience spanning various regions and responsibilities within the Indian Railways. Over the years, he has held several key positions across different railway divisions, showcasing his competence and dedication to the service.
During his tenure, he has worked on Western Railway, South Central Railway, South East Central Railway, and Central Railway in various capacities. His diverse roles have included serving as the Chief Freight Transportation Manager for Central Railway, Chief Passenger Transportation Manager for Central & Western Railway, Chief Commercial Manager (Freight Marketing) for Central Railway, Chief Transportation Planning Manager for Central Railway, and Chief Public Relations Officer for Western Railway.
His extensive expertise extends to roles such as Chief Transportation Manager (Petroleum) for Western Railway and Senior Divisional Commercial Manager for South Eastern Railway, Kolkata. Furthermore, he has served as the Divisional Railway Manager of Raipur Division in South East Central Railway, where he demonstrated his leadership and managerial skills.
Honors and Recognition
Shyam Sunder Gupta’s dedication to the Indian Railways has not gone unnoticed, and his contributions have been acknowledged through various prestigious awards. In 2001, he received the Railway Minister Award, a testament to his outstanding performance and commitment to the railway sector. In 2010, he was honored with the General Manager’s Award, further solidifying his reputation as a top-performing railway officer.
Notably, Shyam Sunder Gupta’s pursuit of excellence also led him to achieve recognition beyond awards. He was a gold medallist and Best Participant in the 32nd Advanced Management program offered by the National Academy of Indian Railways in Vadodara. These accomplishments underscore his dedication to continuous learning and professional development.
Transition to Principal Chief Operations Manager
Before assuming his current role as the Principal Chief Operations Manager for Central Railway, Shyam Sunder Gupta served as the Chief Administrative Officer (Systems) for Northern Railway. This prior experience has undoubtedly equipped him with a strong foundation in railway operations and administration, making him well-prepared to lead Central Railway in his new capacity.