India’s First Citizen
Former Finance Minister and one of India's well known and respected politicians, Shri Pranab Mukherjee was elected as the XIII President of India. Mukherjee, who took oath as the country's first citizen and supreme commander of armed forces, succeeds Smt. Pratibha D Patil. The website for the President of India has also been redesigned and launched and citizens can directly connect with the President.
India has bagged two silver medals and four bronze medals in the recently concluded London Olympics 2012, the highest tally for India. The winners include, Vijay Kumar (Silver-Shooting), Sushil Kumar (Silver-Wrestling), Saina Nehwal (Bronze-Badminton), Gagan Narang (Bronze-Shooting), Mary Kom (Bronze-Boxing) and Yogeshwar Dutt (Bronze-Boxing).
XI Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
The Government of India recently announced Cochin, Kerala as the venue for PBD 2013. The three-day forum to connect overseas Indians from all over the world will be inaugurated on January 7, 2013. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India will give the valedictory address on January 9th and will also confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards.
Former Union Home Minister, Shri P.Chidambaram has been appointed as the Finance Minister, a portfolio which was being handled by the Prime Minister himself, after Shri Pranab Mukherjee's election as the President. Former Power Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde has been appointed as the country's Home Minister, whereas the charge of Power Ministry has been given to Shri Veerappa Moily, who also holds the portfolio of Corporate Minister.
India and Sri Lanka aim to double trade between the two nations to US$ 10 billion by 2015. India will also assist Sri Lanka in establishing an engineering and automobile components hub near Trincomalee. Apparel, rubber products, power and energy, tourism, education, skill development, ports and shipping and infrastructure are some of the potential areas where trade and investment can be increased.
Tax Information Exchange
India and Monaco have signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement recently. The TIEA allows both countries to check tax evasion and money laundering. This is the ninth TIEA signed by the Government of India.
Revised Agreement India and Indonesia have signed a revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) which enables avoiding double taxation and fiscal evasion. The revised DTAA gives taxation rights in respect of capital gains on alienation of shares of a company to the source State, among other things.
The Union Cabinet has approved the reserve price of Rs. 14,000 Crore for 5MHz spectrum pan India in 1800 MHz band. For 800 MHz band, the reserve price will be 1.3 times that of 1800 MHz band. The Cabinet also approved the existing slab system for Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC). The approval of reserve price and SUC were essential for auctioning of 2G spectrum auction bid process.
National carrier, Air India is expected to resume most of its international operations by August end. It will also add more services to the Southeast Asian markets by mid-August, which are busy routes.
IT spending by Indian manufacturing companies is expected to grow to US$ 8.78 billion by 2016, according to data by IDC Manufacturing Insight. The main reason behind the increase in IT investment is the rising competition and the need to manage costs better.
State in Focus: Odisha
The Coastal Star
Having attracted over US$ 220 billion in investments, the south eastern state of Odisha has emerged as one of the leading investment destinations in India. This is just the beginning. The mineral rich state plans to take the region to the next level by building world class infrastructure, providing quality education and health care facilities, implementing e-governance initiatives and providing quick clearance to investment proposals.
Not just that, the state has a rich cultural history and heritage, which has been preserved well over these years and therefore attracts thousands of tourists from around the globe. Some of the big global companies like Arcelor-Mittal and POSCO, have invested in the state. Odisha is endowed with a rich mineral base. In fact, 97 per cent of India's total reserves of chromite, close to 50 per cent of bauxite reserves and a third of iron-ore reserves are in the state. Other minerals include, manganese, limestone, china clay, quartz, precious and semi-precious stones, copper, vanadium etc. This is complimented by adequate water resources, which are extremely critical for industrial and business units. It has harnessed only 14 per cent of the total ground water resources of the state. Furthermore, it was among the few power surplus states in the country, until very recently. Nonetheless, Odisha has been leading the power sector reforms in the country and will again regain the title by 2014. In fact, it is not just coal power plants which the state is using to power the region, but has a sound base of hydro-electric power, which has helped it meet its energy needs.
The Government of Odisha has also been proactive in creating the right investment climate in the state. As per this policy, the thrust areas include chemicals & fertilizers, agro & food processing industries, handicrafts & handloom, export oriented industries and information technology, besides downstream industries in steel, aluminum and petrochemical sectors and those in mineral processing and value addition. The focus is not just on big industries, but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In fact, late last year, the Government carved out a separate department to cater to the needs and growth of micro, small and medium enterprises. To take the Information Technology sector to the next level in the state, the Government is pushing the proposed IT Investment Region (ITIR) project at the center. The ITIR project, which will come at a cost of approximately US$ 3.2 billion, will open up a new window of opportunity for investors. The project will be largely on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode and generate jobs for around 230,000 people in the state. The Government is also pushing for the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy to provide further boost to exports. Exports registered a 15 per cent growth in 2011-12, to US$ 64 billion.
The state has also been actively investing in developing human capital, infrastructure and providing health care to its people. In fact, one of the state's districts, Jajpur, recently won the JRD TATA Memorial Award for outstanding performance in improving the health of the people in recent years.