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PLI Scheme: India Invites Applications for Second Round of Large-Scale Electronics Manufacturing Policy

The government has started inviting applications for the second round of large-scale electronics manufacturing under the production-linked incentive scheme with focus on some electronic components like motherboards, semiconductor devices, among others. Application window for the scheme will remain open till March 31 which may be further extended, according to guidelines issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT. “The second round of the PLI scheme is open for accepting applications,” an official memorandum dated March 11 said. “The tenure of the second round of PLI scheme is for four years and the incentive shall be applicable from April 1, 2021.” The first round of the scheme was open for receiving applications till July 31 which attracted participation from global majors like Apple’s contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron; Samsung; local players Lava, Optiemus, Dixon etc.—committing investment of over Rs 11,000 crore. While the first round targeted mobile manufacturing with incentives for 20 companies, the second round has expanded the window for up to 30 eligible companies. 

(BloomberQuint, Mar 14, 2021)

India's draft e-commerce policy calls for equal treatment of sellers Policy

India will require e-commerce firms to treat sellers equally on their platforms and ensure transparency, according to a draft policy seen by Reuters on Saturday that follows criticism against business practices of big online companies. India has been deliberating a new e-commerce policy for months amid complaints from brick-and-mortar retailers who allege online giants like Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart flout federal regulations. The companies have denied the allegations. A Reuters special report last month revealed that Amazon has for years given preferential treatment to a small group of sellers on its India platform and used them to circumvent the country's foreign investment rules. The latest draft of the policy document says operators should be impartial in their dealings with sellers. "E-commerce operators must ensure equal treatment of all sellers/vendors registered on their platforms and not adopt algorithms which result in prioritizing select vendors/sellers," it says. A spokesman for the commerce ministry declined to comment. The policy will apply to Amazon and Flipkart - two top e-commerce players in India - as well as domestic players like Reliance Industries, which has plans to expand its JioMart online platform. All three firms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(ET, Mar 14, 2021)

OLX has recorded an increase of 35 per cent in demand from buyers in the year 2020 over 2019 General

Classifies platform OLX has witnessed high demand for pre-owned goods throughout 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has said. According to an official release by OLX, “a comparison of buyers and sellers data on the platform for 2020 versus 2019 reveals a strong growth trajectory of buyers throughout all quarters in the year over the previous one.” The demand for used goods on the platform has outpaced the demand for new goods, driven primarily by consumers in non-metro markets. It has also witnessed an increase in listings by sellers from non-metros in the second half of 2020 especially for goods such as laptops, fridges and air conditioners. OLX has recorded an increase of 35 per cent in demand from buyers in the year 2020 over 2019. Demand for electronics and appliances, mobile phones, accessories and furniture has also remained steady throughout the year, as per OLX.  “Demand for technology gadgets and electronics - laptops, mobiles phones, tablets and televisions saw a spike during 2020, even during the first few months when the lockdown was announced owing to home entertainment and online education requirements,” it said. Each of these products witnessed a growth in demand by nearly 100 per cent in the non-metros, in Q2, 2020. In metro cities, there was high consumer demand for Tablets at 98 per cent.

(BusinessLine, Mar 14, 2021)

India’s move to deter digital monopolies may hit Amazon, Walmart IT

e-tIndia’s draft e-commerce rules to prevent creation of “digital monopolies” and aid local startups may raise costs and stymie expansion plans at companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.  The draft rules seek to prescribe a code of conduct for online retailers and define cross-border flow of user data, according to a note titled Draft Ecommerce Policy, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg News. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government --beset by complaints from its traditional vote base of small retailers -- has been framing rules to reduce the dominance of Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart in India’s estimated $1 trillion overall retail market. The latest proposals build on laws that curb the two U.S. companies from offering deep discounts, deter exclusive arrangements with preferred sellers and investing in merchants offering products on their websites. The new comprehensive e-commerce policy will address growth and aim to “reduce prevalent market distortions,” the note said. The nine-page document formed the basis of a discussion by officials of various ministries at a meeting on Saturday called by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in India’s Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The draft proposals seek to ensure algorithms created by e-retailers do not discriminate against sellers.

(ET, Mar 14, 2021)

Bengal e-commerce start-up plans to help small electronics retailers IT

Magitronix EComm, a startup firm, is focusing on buyers in small towns for its online marketplace and helping neighbourhood electronics shop owners who are not able to get access to the network of big e- commerce players, a company official said on Sunday.The startup firm from West Bengal has also received approval from the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) of the commerce ministry and will start transactions through its portal 'Ononya.com', he said. "We do not have any warehousing facility. Neighbourhood electronics shops will act as sellers. This is a startup with no funding from outside till now," Magitronix CEO Indrajit Ghosh said.The offline sales of electronics shops across the country have been hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Citing a recent study released by IT body Nasscom and retail consultancy firm Technopak Advisors, he said, "The emergence of 'online offline' (O O) market is seen as a rising collaboration of digitally enabled retail stores." He said a report of FIS also suggested the business of India's digital marketplaces will touch USD 111 billion by 2024. Nabendu Ray, former head of retail at Samsung India, has joined the startup as a director, Ghosh said.  West Bengal's home and IT departments former secretary GD Gautama is also a member of the advisory board, he said, adding Aditi Olemann, who was associated with Tata group and is now a successful startup entrepreneur in the technology space, has joined the firm.

(LiveMint, Mar 14, 2021)

AC makers set to hike prices to offset rising input costs; expect high double-digit growth this year General

Leading AC manufacturers are betting on high double-digit growth this year even as they are firming up plans to increase prices of residential air conditioners by 5 to 8 per cent before the crucial summer season starts. Leading players such as - Voltas, Daikin, LG, Panasonic, Haier, Blue Star and Samsung - are expecting a high double-digit growth, as they are betting on pent-up demand, sweltering summer and continuance of work from home, which will create demand for additional cooling products. This season, several makers have introduced health and hygiene features in their range of ACs, claiming to protect their customers from the virus amid the pandemic. They are also providing no-cost EMI, cashback and easy accessibility to boost sales. Daikin Airconditioning is going to increase the prices by 3 to 5 per cent this month as prices of metals and compressor, which are largely imported, have gone up. "It will have some impact on the sales but the pent-up demand is there and summers would be hot this year. We are expecting that even if there is some price increase, demand would be there," Daikin Airconditioning India MD & CEO Kanwal Jeet Jawa told PTI. Panasonic, which is having "robust sales" across regions, primarily helped by the pent-up demand from last year, is also going for a price increase and expects a high double-digit growth this season.

(Outlook, Mar 14, 2021)

TV prices to go up from April as open-cell panels get costlier in global markets General

Prices of LED TVs are set to rise further from April as the cost of open-cell panels has gone up in the global markets by up to 35 per cent in the past one month. Brands including Panasonic  NSE 0.98 %, Haier and Thomson are considering to increase prices from April this year, while some like LG have already raised prices due to hike in prices of open-cell. Panasonic India and South Asia President and CEO Manish Sharma said, " . "Panel prices are rising continuously and so are the prices of TVs. It is likely that TV prices may increase further by April." When being asked about the quantum on increase, he said, "Seeing current trends, it might go up 5-7 per cent more by April." Expressing similarly, Haier Appliances India President Eric Braganza said there is no other way than to increase the prices. "The prices of open-cell have gone up tremendously and the trends are that it would keep on increasing," said Braganza adding that "if that continues, we would have to continuously increase prices". 

(ET, Mar 11, 2021)

Will the DRDO make AIP ready by 2023 to be fitted on Kalvari Class submarines? General

The Fuel Cell based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System of the Defence Research and Development Organisation has cleared another level of testing on Tuesday (March 9, 2021). An official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stated that land-based prototype has crossed another milestone in user specific tests on March 8, 2021. According to the statement, the system being developed by Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) of DRDO, as per the user requirements, was operated in endurance mode and max power mode. As has been reported earlier the AIP is considered critical for the Kalvari class submarines, as it makes the diesel electric submarine more lethal as they can remain submerged for longer duration. And, according to DRDO the Fuel cell-based AIP has merits in performance compared to other technologies. It uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and has almost no moving parts (this helps in making them quieter) and produces minimal waste. “Compared to the AIP systems being used by other navies internationally, the fuel cell-based AIP of NMRL is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard. This technology has been developed with the support of industry partners including L&T and Thermax,” says the official statement. In October 2019, as has been reported earlier, the DRDO had announced a major breakthrough in the fuel cell-based AIP system for Indian Naval Submarines after crossing several milestones in technology maturity.

(FE, Mar 09, 2021)

India to launch more Aadhar like Public Digital Platforms shortly – Secretary, MeitY General

Mr. Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, while addressing the inaugural session of IndiaSoft-2021 International Exhibition and Conferences, organized by Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) yesterday late evening said that the public digital platforms being developed by India for healthcare, education, agriculture, matching jobs with skills, logistics etc would be launched soon. The public digital platforms in these avenues would add to India’s digital backbone and are being developed by a pool of experts and will open up a lot of opportunities for the private sector for developing tools and devices that can help citizens to access such platforms and to carry out their innovative pursuits; Mr Sawhney said, adding that countries, all over the world, could take advantage of these innovative products. IndiaSoft 2021, which is being held digitally this year, will have country specific buyer-seller meets and conferences to promote Indian products and solutions mostly from the MSME and startup sectors. There will be B2B meets focusing on North America, Europe, Africa, Japan, South Korea, Latin America and the Middle East.

(Orissadiary.com, Mar 08, 2021)

Twitter India Looks For Law Enforcement Liaison As Govt. Clears Air On IT Rules Policy

Minister of electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad has clarified that the Indian government does not intend to interfere in the activities of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others. This at a time when Twitter India has put out a job posting looking for an executive to liaison with law enforcement agencies, or a law enforcement (LE) outreach manager. The IT minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of India’s latest IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021, which states due diligence, grievance redressal and self-regulation for news portals, social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.The government will soon constitute an inter-departmental committee (IDC) consisting of representatives from various ministries, to look into complaints regarding the online content of these digital media intermediaries.  The minister referred to these guidelines as a “soft-touch oversight mechanism” to prevent “abuse” and misuse” of digital intermediaries and social media platforms. The union minister, in an interview with ET, said that the government would not want to look at the content or seek decryption of messages, but only to trace the origin of a message that caused serious criminal offences. He was referring to the traceability clause that mandates messaging platforms to report to the government within 72 hours on the origin of messages that lead to offences that are serious in nature. Prasad added that the government will follow due legal procedures and seek the court’s orders or law enforcement agency’s permission before submitting such requests.

(INC42, Mar 08, 2021)

India must to develop technology to indigenously manufacture electronic materials: MoS IT

Sanjay Dhotre, MoS for Education, Communications, Electronics and IT Monday said that materials are the backbone of the manufacturing sector in the country and that India’s electronics manufacturing has grown from Rs 1.90 lakh crore to Rs 5.33 lakh crore in recent years. He was delivering the inaugural address organised at an event to mark the 30th foundation day of city-headquartered Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET), which operates under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). ” In 2014 – 2015, the manufacturing of mobile phones was worth about Rs 6 crore which in 2019 – 2020, grew to Rs 33 crore. From contributing approximately 1.3 per cent in 2012, the share of mobile phone manufacturing has increased to 3.6 per cent during 2019 – 2020. This growth has opened employability for thousands,” said Dhotre. “With the Centre pushing for being Aatmanirbhar in all sectors, the country needs to be greatly involved in materials technology, ” said Vijay Bhatkar, Vice Chancellor, Nalanda University. ” In the past, India had not done significant research on electronics hardware, which is entirely dependent upon materials technology,” said Bhatkar, who led India’s supercomputer programme in the 1990s. NITI Ayog member VK Saraswat too stressed on the urgent requirement for developing technology to develop materials within India and cut imports.

(The India Express, Mar 08, 2021)

Panasonic to buy software firm Blue Yonder for $6.5 billion: Report General

Panasonic Corp will buy U.S. software firm Blue Yonder for 700 billion yen ($6.45 billion), the Nikkei reported on Monday, saying it was the Japanese electronics firm's biggest acquisition since 2011. While Panasonic bought 20% stakes of Blue Yonder in 2020, it is now in the final stage to acquire the rest from shareholders including Blackstone Group Inc, the Nikkei said, citing unnamed sources. The move comes as the Japanese company aims to expand hardware that combines software, sensors and other devices to help companies improve operational efficiencies, Nikkei said.

(ET, Mar 08, 2021)

SC Gives Relief To Google, Facebook, Other Tech Giants Over Royalty Taxes General

Big tech companies Google, Facebook and Amazon could start claiming hundreds of crores in refunds from the Indian government, as a Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday clarified that payments made by local users for the purchase of software from non-resident sellers or distributors cannot be taxed as royalty. India charges a 10% royalty tax, but the SC ruling means a non-resident foreign software seller without a permanent establishment in India would not have to deduct the royalty tax at the source. Instead, sellers such as the tech giants and other software providers would have to pay the 2% equalization levy, which was introduced in the Finance Act, 2020.  With the relief, multinational companies such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and Samsung Electronics, which import software for sale in India, could even lower their prices for the end-user, as their tax liability will now reduce.  The SC ruling came after an examination of around 86 appeals and counter appeals by various software firms as well as India’s Commissioner of Income Tax. Software companies have been deducting the royalty tax at source for years or have been in litigation for the same. 

(INC42, Mar 04, 2021)

Addverb Technologies inaugurates Robots manufacturing facility 'Bot-Valley' in Noida IT

Addverb Technologies, one of India’s biggest Automation and Robotics companies, has launched its Rs 75 crore manufacturing facility in Noida. The company said that the facility has a capacity to manufacture more than 50,000 robots of varied types in a year, and is equipped with best-in-class electronics and mechanical machines. "We have entered a nascent paradigm shift (industry 4.0) where technology will help Addverb meet the growing needs and demand of the present business ecosystem. Robotics holds huge potential in streamlining the processes across industries right from retail to healthcare and from warehousing to supply chain," said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, who inaugurated the Addverb facility. Spread over 2.5 acres of land, this new manufacturing unit is equipped with the best-in-class electronics and mechanical machines and has a capacity to manufacture more than 50,000 Robots of varied types in a year. This one-in-a-kind manufacturing hub will employ 450 workforces and provide equality and empowerment to both men and women. 

(India TV, Mar 04, 2021)

Used-phone seller Cashify raises $15 million from Olympus Capital Telecom

Cashify, a re-commerce marketplace that sells and buys used smartphones and other electronic gadgets, has raised $15 million from Olympus Capital Asia. Olympus Capital will make the investment through Asia Environmental Partners (AEP), its clean energy and sustainability platform.  “We are looking forward to accelerating our investment in the electronics reuse and recycling sector and thereby enabling OEMs and consumers to materially reduce their carbon footprint," said Mandeep Manocha, founder and CEO of Cashify. Founded in 2015 by Manocha, Nakul Kumar, and Amit Sethi, Cashify is an online platform to sell used mobile phones for instant cash and offers free home-pickups. The start-up plans to use these funds to expand its footprint in India, through offline retail expansion. “We plan to grow our offline stores from 60 to 150 over the next one and one-and-a-half years, as people like to touch and feel the phone before buying," said Manocha, adding that the pandemic has boosted demand for second-hand smartphones and laptops because of online learning and work from home.  From selling 80,000 devices per month in September 2020, Cashify today sells more than 125,000 devices a month and is looking at achieving profitability in the next 6 months.

(LiveMint, Mar 04, 2021)

Silver accounts for 10% of PV module costs General

Silver accounts for 10% of PV module costs: The share of silver in PV module costs has risen by around 5% in recent months to account for approximately 10% of the total, according to U.S.-based analyst Matt Watson. “With PV module costs in the neighborhood of $0.018-$0.019/watt and silver representing around 10% of the overall module cost structure, and module and cell prices still declining, finding a means to lower the silver cost component is going to become an increasingly difficult task,” Watson told pv magazine. “Over the past 20 years, silver has averaged an 8.31% year-on-year growth in prices, which is greater than the current rate of design thrifting. This means lowering that silver $/watt component is going to be very difficult.” Watson noted that silver is now sold at around $26 per ounce, but said that prices will continue to climb. “When you study the silver market, electronics demand, led by the Solar PV markets, all have increasingly larger forecast demand,” he said, noting that silver is becoming more of an industrial metal with each passing year. “The projected solar PV module silver cost per watt produced is leveling out going forward as a result of these silver price climbs.

(PV Magazine, Mar 04, 2021)

Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting India biz grows 14 per cent in Apr-Dec General

Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting (WCCL) on Thursday said it has seen about 14 per cent growth in its India business in the first nine months of the fiscal ending March, even during a pandemic-hit year, on the back of operational efficiencies and new product launches. The company, which also witnessed strong performance in international markets, also plans to introduce new products exclusively on e-commerce channels as it looks to tap into the increasing adoption of digital platforms in the country. "Our India business has done very well during the COVID times. We did get hit in Q4 of last year but starting Q1, followed by Q2 and Q3, we've done well, largely because our teams really moved fast in the initial week. We realised that distribution reaching the retail was key and we needed to get to the retail as fast as possible," Vineet Agrawal, CEO of Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting and Executive Director of Wipro Enterprises, said. Agrawal said the team worked closely to ensure that distributors and retail partners can be serviced well even during the lockdown, and also start a new factory in Hyderabad that started operations at the end of May last year. 

(ET, Mar 04, 2021)

India's electronics exports cross pre-Covid levels, touch record high of Rs 8806 crore in December General

India’s exports of electronics goods have not only recovered to pre-Covid levels but also touched an all-time high of Rs 8,806 crore in the month of December 2020, data released by commerce ministry last week showed. Of this, mobile phones remained the top contributor with exports worth Rs 3,061 crore - or roughly 35% of total electronics exports - which though is still to reach pre-Covid levels which were as high as Rs 3,254 crore. For 2020, however, electronics exports declined 4.32% to Rs 73,132 crore due to washout of production for 45 days during shutdown of factories. Import also continued to remain high at Rs 3.5 lakh crore as India mostly imports components required to assemble electronic goods which are then exported.  The National Policy on Electronics 2019 envisages total production of electronics in India to the tune of $400 billion by 2025. Close to $190 billion, or 48% of this is expected to come from mobile phones as per official figures. Further, the industry is estimating that 13% of this target production can be achieved from laptops, tablets or PCs and another 22% from industrial electronics. Although, handset production is steadily catching up to targeted levels with production in FY21 estimated to be Rs 2.14 lakh crore, laptops and PC segment is still lagging behind. For instance, among all electronics goods, laptops/tablets/PCs is the largest category of imported products valued at close to Rs 30,000 crore while exports are abysmally low at Rs 122 crore during calendar year 2020. 

(ET, Mar 02, 2021)

Huawei aims to make electric cars later this year General

Chinese tech giant Huawei is planning to make electric cars under its own brand, and some models may even be launched before the end of this year. According to GSM Arena, Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer business group, who was in charge of the company's amazing rise in the smartphone world, is said to shift his focus to EVs, which will target the mass-market segment. Huawei is in talks with state-owned Changan Automobile and other automakers to use their car plants to make its electric vehicles (EVs), according to two of the people familiar with the matter. Huawei is also in discussions with Beijing-backed BAIC Group's Blue Park New Energy Technology to manufacture its EVs. In addition, another Chinese tech company Xiaomi is also planning to build its own car and is considering it as a strategic decision, but specific details and the path it aims to take are yet to be determined As far as project leadership is concerned, Xiaomi's current CEO, Lei Jun, will be directly heading it. Back in 2013, Lei Jun had visited the US twice to meet with Tesla CEO Elon Musk and now it seems that its interest on the field has grown.

(ET, Feb 28, 2021)

BlueStacks to revolutionise mobile gaming in India: CEO Telecom

BlueStacks, the world's largest Android gaming platform for PCs and Macs, is bullish on India and with over 2 million games across numerous developers, the company is revolutionising the way Android gaming is taking shape in the country, a top executive said on Monday. BlueStacks has over 500 million users globally across more than 200 locations. "India is an extremely large mobile gaming market for us. Last year, the pandemic drove a surge of gamers across the world, including India, which saw a near 100 per cent jump in user base," Rosen Sharma, CEO BlueStacks, told IANS in an interview.  A typical BlueStacks user is spending an average of 5 hours playing mobile games every day. According to Sharma, the gaming eco-system in India is majorly driven by mobile games. "With developers coming out with bigger and heavier games, more mobile gamers will play in interruption-free environments and migrate to PC-based platforms. Mobile games are not designed for long gameplay," he noted. The new BlueStacks 5 (Beta), which will support ARM devices, offers significantly faster boot, install and launch times and core gamers can look forward to better gameplay experiences.

(ET, Feb 22, 2021)

LG sees 'window of opportunity' to come back into Indian smartphone market Telecom

South Korean electronics major LG is planning to use the “window of opportunity” provided by the anti-China mood in India currently to stage a comeback in smartphones, targeting the sub-Rs 15,000 segment to claw back its way back in an industry now dominated by brands from across the Great Wall. The company is seeking to scale up local manufacturing by 15 times until Diwali and expand distribution.  In an interview with ET, Advait Vaidya, business head - mobile communications at LG Electronics, said the brand has seen 10 times increased sales of smartphones in the past two months due to the anti-China sentiment. “The short-term window of opportunity is big enough for us to enter the space and achieve scale,” he said. Diverging from its global portfolio, this year, LG is building an ‘India specific and India first’ product portfolio to cater to unique consumer demands here, Vaidya said. “So, this year, starting August, we will be launching six phones across all segments - starting from the sub-Rs 10,000 category up to the flagship segment. We are ramping up distribution across channels, online and offline,” he said. The company is also targeting corporate sales and foraying into the tablet market by year end.

(ET. July 05, 2020)

Hyundai, Uber join hands to develop electric air taxis General

South Korean automobile manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company today entered into a partnership with US ride-hailing giant Uber to produce electric air taxis. Hyundai also unveiled a new full-scale concept PAV (personal air vehicle), developed jointly with Uber, at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show 2020. Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative. Under the partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles and Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation and customer interfaces through an aerial rideshare network. The two entities are also collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support their take-off and landing. The concept PAV -- S-A1 -- is an eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft designed for aerial ridesharing purposes. The S-A1 will seat five people, including the pilot, and have a cruising speed of 290 kmph, with a flying trip up to 100 km. The cruising altitude of the air vehicle will be around 1,000-2,000 feet above the ground. Being a completely electric air vehicle, the S-A1 will utilise distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe to increase safety by decreasing any single point of failure. During peak hours, it will require about five

(India Today, Jan 07, 2020)