The FB-Jio deal

Buzz of the week: Will FB–Jio deal create magic?

by | Apr 26, 2020 | Buzz of the week, Deal, Industry News, UC & C

The deal ignites an already hot payments arena and also the attractiveness of India’s telecom sector too.
Share to lead the transformation

The recent announcement made by Facebook to invest ₹43,574 crore for a 9.9% stake in Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Jio Platforms has created enormous interest in the Indian market (see details of the FB-Jio in this RIL release).

The coming together of Reliance Jio, with nearly 400 million telecom subscribers; and Facebook, with about 300 million Indian users, is a significant market development by all measures. It has the potential of giving restless nights to their rivals. At the same time, it could raise the interest of Facebook’s rival digital behemoths such as Google in RJio’s rival telcos such as Airtel. Consequently, the attractiveness of India’s telecom sector may be expected to go up in terms of valuation, global partnerships and capital raising.

No wonder, while Reliance Industries’ shares jumped 10% on the deal, Airtel’s shares too rose by a notional 1%. As part of the agreement, WhatsApp is expected to strengthen Jio’s new retail business on the JioMart platform while Jio Platforms will support small businesses on WhatsApp.

Though onlookers see the FB-Jio deal largely disrupting India’s retail sector, it is also expected to revolutionize many future ideas. After all, a key challenge that India has been facing to take its digitization efforts to the next level has been the absence of a cohesive ecosystem, which the partnership could help address.

The path, however, is not without some tough challenges.

Today, the industry offers several fragmented channels to telecom and digital users—from payment services to collaboration tools and entertainment. Both small businesses and consumers have multiple choices to opt from. While this is great for users, not many people like the idea of using multiple mobile apps for different purposes. There was a brief period when, after demonetization, Paytm was emerging as the de facto player, but that is no longer the case. Today, it faces strong market competition from giants such as Amazon and Google, as well as from homegrown players such as PhonePe.

Facebook, thanks to its incredibly popular WhatsApp messaging services, is sitting uniquely in the world’s fastest growing marketplace. And by collaborating with Reliance Jio, country’s largest telecom player, they together have the potential of creating a one-stop digital shop that India has long been waiting for.

It is worth noting that while Reliance Jio already has a license for its JioMoney payments platform, WhatsApp is yet to receive a license for rolling out a payment service for all its users in India (it has got the clearance to do a phased rollout, while the final approval remains subject to meeting compliance all requirements set by the government).

With the FB-Jio deal in place, the duo could leverage each other’s capabilities for mutual benefits and compete with existing payment providers in a major way

Besides retail and payment services, if executed precisely, this alliance could also pave the way for Jio to offer exclusive services such as virtual education, premium mobile conferencing, food delivery, digital entertainment among others instantly using WhatsApp.

It is significant that just two days after the deal, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced new collaboration and conferencing features and capabilities for WhatsApp.

WhatsApp, being the favored mode of communication for a majority of smartphone users in India, indeed has the potential to drive Jio’s ambitions of becoming the largest mobile digital player in the world. More so, with most of the population expected to stay indoors even after the lockdown is gradually phased out, the market will need innovations and digital products that can meet consumer need at their convenience. It is not mere coincidence that the FB-Jio deal has come through when the world is still adjusting to the social distancing conditions triggered by Covid-19.

On a concerning note, this deal also proposes a risk of monopoly, and may invite scrutiny from authorities such as Competition Commission of India.

MORE FROM BETTER WORLD

Fisheries key to sustainable food security: V-P

Fisheries key to sustainable food security: V-P

The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu has said that environmentally friendly aquaculture can serve as a vehicle for rural development, food and nutritional security for the rural masses, considering the substantial contribution aquaculture makes towards socio-economic development in terms of income and employment.

Naidu was inaugurating the 5th Aqua Aquaria India 2019, India’s International Aquaculture Show, organized by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), in Hyderabad today.

“Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which we build our fisheries sector,” the Vice President said. (Tweeted by @VPSecretariat)

Highlighting the government’s resolve to double farmers’ income by 2022, the Vice President underscored the necessity of ensuring that the economic benefits from fisheries reach the primary producers, the fishermen and fish farmers. “We must reduce the role of middlemen, provide crop insurances, enhance access to credit, develop cold chains and good upcountry market linkages, provide infrastructure for post-harvest storage, handling and value addition,” he added.

Cautioning that reckless exploitation of limited resources, especially endangered marine species must be strictly prevented, the Vice President stressed that the promotion, regulation and monitoring of responsible fishing practices, through robust fisheries management and governance frameworks are essential for the sustainability of fisheries resources in both coastal areas and high seas.

The Vice President said that the burning concerns of marine and fresh water pollution caused by discarded plastics and harmful chemicals must be addressed on priority basis. Referring to the looming threats of global warming and climate change, he called for a coordinated response to tackle these issues. “Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which we build our fisheries sector,” he exhorted.

Speaking of India’s enormous potential in the fisheries sector, the Vice President stated that India is the second largest fish producer in the world with a production of 13.70 million metric tons of fish during 2018–19.

Reasoning that the rising world population is putting further pressure on the available food resources, the Vice President said that there was an urgent need to boost fish production to ensure food security to our billion-strong population.

Referring to the slogan given by the former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Jai Vigyan,’ Naidu said that we must salute the soldiers for guarding our borders, we must salute the farmer for producing food for us and we must salute the Scientists for making India scientifically advanced.

Endorsing the call given by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for Fit India, the Vice President said that it is the need of the hour and has to become a national movement. Intake of food rich in proteins, such as fish, is crucial for good health, he added.

Naidu said that with a long coastline of over 8,000 km and exploitable fisheries resources of 3.9 million metric tons, India is blessed with vast aquatic resources with a rich diversity of fish fauna for sustainable utilization. He added that India’s vast and diverse aquatic resources offered an excellent opportunity for expansion of aquaculture.

The Vice President also pointed out that globally, aquaculture is being looked upon as the best alternative to boost fish production, as the production from the traditional and marine fisheries have been stagnating.
Expressing concern that India exploits only a fraction of the aquaculture potential that is available to it, he said that there is room for both horizontal and vertical expansion in the fisheries sector. He also spoke about the immense potential India has in the field of mariculture.

Referring to the need for diversifying aquaculture, Naidu said that cage culture in floating or fixed cages and pen culture would help us meet this objective. The Vice President suggested that our future outlook must focus not on increasing our fishing efforts in the seas, but on judicious use of the declining fishery resources by reducing losses and focusing on value addition.

Stating that fisheries and aquaculture are multidisciplinary subjects where scientists and technologists have to work as teams, Naidu said that initiatives like Aqua Aquaria must not only serve as platforms for sharing knowledge and information on new technologies but also strive to take this knowledge to the common people, fish farmers and primary producers.

Referring to the role played by modern technology in enhancing production and productivity, the Vice President said that greater R&D support with strong linkages between research and development agencies was the need of the hour.

He congratulated MPEDA for organizing the 3-day exposition and expressed hope that such events would help giving a renewed impetus to the sector by infusing new ideas and advanced technology.
The Vice President inaugurated the MPEDA-RGCA Exhibition and the Business to Business Exhibition and went around the same.

The Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Marketing, Andhra Pradesh, Mopidevi Venkata Ramana Rao; the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Telangana, T Srinivasa Yadav; the Chairman, MPEDA, KS Srinivas and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Mahindra’s Plant a Tree campaign engages 4.5M

Mahindra’s Plant a Tree campaign engages 4.5M

Mahindra Group has said its three-month long citizens’ movement campaign #CelebrateDifferently has culminated with engagement (likes, shares and comments on the hashtag) from 4.5 million citizens. Under the Mahindra Hariyali initiative, Mahindra Group will now plant equivalent number of trees over the next four years to #RiseAgainstClimateChange.

Planting trees, including improving forest management, conservation, and regeneration, will help offset India’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, as well as providing a host of wider environmental and socio-economic benefits. As per research, more than 90% of young people agree that humans are responsible for climate change. 48.8% believe climate change is a more serious issue than war or inequality, Mahindra said in a release. Being the largest demographic group in India, millennials want to curb the effects of global warming and live a sustainable life. With millennials as the key catalyst of the initiative, #CelebrateDifferently was also conceptualized to encourage citizens to include tree plantation as part of their key celebrations. Alternately, individuals who are not able to do so, could simply like, share or comment on #CelebrateDifferently and Mahindra Hariyali committed to plant a tree on their behalf, the release added.

Sharing his thoughts on the success of the campaign, Ruzbeh Irani, President Group Communications and Ethics & Chief Brand Officer, Mahindra Group, stated, “The idea behind our citizen movement initiative was to collectively work towards giving back more than we take from our planet. Driven primarily by the millennials, our campaign has received an overwhelming response from citizens. Although campaign is concluded, we sincerely hope that #CelebrateDifferently continues to be a way of life for every citizen hereon.”

Mahindra said Citizens could continue to #CelebrateDifferently by planting with the help if NGOs such as, Grow Trees, etc. Grow Trees can help them give back to the environment by planting a tree in their name, which they can track.

As a part of the ongoing effort towards environment conservation, Mahindra Group aims to become net carbon neutral by 2040. Twenty companies of the Mahindra Group have committed to science-based targets that are in line with the decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C.

Shah lauds Mission Million Trees, flags off EV buses

Shah lauds Mission Million Trees, flags off EV buses

Union Home Minister Amit Shah today participated in the concluding ceremony of “Mission Million trees” program organized by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The Mission which started on World Environment Day on 5 June 2019 has been concluded with plantation of 10,87,000 trees in Ahmedabad city.

Speaking on the occasion, Shah urged people to keep away from using plastics bags while purchasing groceries and vegetables. Reminding the citizens of Paris climate accord, he outlined the danger of ozone layer depletion because of CO2 and CO emission worldover.

Union Home Minister planting a banyan tree on the concluding day of #MissionMillionTrees in Ahmedabad. (Pix tweeted by @AmitShah)

The Home Minister recalled that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on resuming powers second time in 2019 created a separate ministry for Jal Shakti. He said that this step will guide the entire world in coming days on various fronts of environment conservation including water conservation, water saving, wastewater treatment, irrigation innovations, etc.

Shah also flagged off eight AC electric buses in the city and also inaugurated a battery charging station. Lauding the efforts of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Shah appreciated that Ahmedabad has taken a lead on electric Mobility with countrymade buses. He also appealed to the civic authorities to keep prepared for technological needs such as establishment of efficient battery exchanging stations which should be time saving and energy efficient.

Shah had written a special letter to the chairmen/secretaries of the resident societies in his parliamentary constituency to plant at least 5 trees in their society which have more than 100 years of age such as Banyan tree, Peepal tree, etc. Expressing satisfaction at the response, the Home Minister said that he has received 3,216 positive replies in which the societies have also made arrangement for regular watering and maintenance of the trees.

Speaking on the occasion, the state Chief Minister Vijay Bhai Rupani assured the Home Minister that Gujarat will take lead in the country on enhancement of electric mobility. He emphasized that 50 electric buses have been provisioned in Ahmedabad now but in very short span of time 500 electric buses will be put to service in Ahmedabad alone. He reiterated for green, clean, environment friendly and pollution free state of Gujarat.

Vijay Rupani also informed that the electric buses are indigenously made which echoes the sentiments of Make in India. Expressing satisfaction at sufficient rainfall this monsoon, Rupani said that numerous check dams, ponds and other water conservation efforts of the state government in last 3 years are now yielding good results following this year’s good rainfall.

Bijal Patel, Mayor, Ahmedabad; Pradipsinh Jadeja, Home Minister, Government of Gujarat; RC Faldu, Agriculture Minister, Government of Gujarat; Kaushik Bhai Patel, Revenue Minister, Government of Gujarat, and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.

Center releases Rs 47,436 crore for afforestation

Center releases Rs 47,436 crore for afforestation

In a major boost towards promoting afforestation and achieving green objectives of the country, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, today handed over Rs 47,436 crore of CAMPA funds to various states, in presence of Minister of State, MoEF&CC, Babul Supriyo. In a meeting of State Forest Ministers and Authorities held at New Delhi, the Environment Minister stated, “The State budget for forests shall remain unaffected and the fund being transferred would be in addition to State Budget and it is expected that all States will utilize this fund towards forestry activities to achieve the objectives of the Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) of increasing its forest & tree cover, which will create an additional carbon sink equivalent to 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2030.” The Environment Minister further emphasized that the CAMPA funds cannot be used for payment of salary, travelling allowances, medical expenses, etc.

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar Minister of State, MoEF&CC, Babul Supriyo with representatives from states. (Pix: PIB)

Underlining the efforts of the Government towards preserving and improving the forest wealth and ecological security of the country, Javadekar said “Important activities on which the fund will be utilized will be for the Compensatory Afforestation, Catchment Area Treatment, Wildlife Management, Assisted Natural Regeneration, Forest Fire Prevention and Control Operations, Soil and Moisture Conservation Works in the forest, Improvement of Wildlife Habitat, Management of Biological Diversity and Biological Resources, Research in Forestry and Monitoring of CAMPA works etc.”

Background of CAMPA
With the initial experience of the states regarding under-utilization of the money collected towards compensatory afforestation, Supreme Court of India ordered for establishment of Compensatory Afforestation Fund and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) in 2001.

In 2006, separate bank accounts were opened in which the compensatory levies were deposited and ad hoc CAMPA was established for the management of Compensatory afforestation fund. In 2009, Supreme Court permitted release of Rs 1,000 crore every year to States/UTs for compensatory afforestation and other activities. In 2014, Supreme Court permitted release of 10% of total deposit of states in the fund from interest accrued on the deposits.

This Act has provisioned that CAMPA funds shall be kept in interest bearing non-lapsable Public Account. After detailed deliberations with CAG and Ministry of Finance and deliberations with other Stakeholders, the fund flow mechanism could be finalized and the CAF Rules were finally put in place in 2018.

After notification of CAF Rules, with approval of the Supreme Court on 28 Jan 2019, an amount of Rs 54,685 Crore from Ad-hoc CAMPA has been brought under the control of Government of India. So far 27 States/UTs have created accounts for receiving the Funds from Union Government and today funds to the tune of Rs 47,436 crore have been transferred to those States. The Fund shall be utilized as per the provisions of the CAF Act and CAF Rules.

India to restore 50 lakh ha of degraded land by 2030

India to restore 50 lakh ha of degraded land by 2030

India will be hosting the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from 2–13 September 2019 at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida. Delivering the keynote address at a Curtain Raiser Press Conference in New Delhi, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, highlighted India’s resolve to combat desertification. Desertification is a worldwide problem directly affecting 250 million people and a third of the earth’s land surface. To fight this menace, India will convert degraded land of nearly 50 lakh hectares to fertile land in next 10 years; it will implement provisions of New Delhi Declaration which is to be adopted at the end of conference and a Centre for Excellence will be established at Dehradun,” said Javadekar.

The Environment Minister also expressed India’s continued commitment to stay on track on a sustainable path to land use and land management. “It is our collective responsibility to do our duty towards protecting the environment and ensuring that there is no harmful impact on it,” said Javadekar. Elaborating further on India’s key role as the President of UNCCD COP for the next two years, Javadekar said “It is the common resolve of the World to combat desertification and India will lead from the front and move the world in a positive direction, taking into cognizance the support of other countries”.

Delegates from 196 countries comprising of scientists and representatives of national and local governments, global business leaders, NGOs, gender-based organizations, youth groups, journalists, and faith and community groups will present and share their expertise and give an overview to achieve their goals at the 12-day conference .

The Convention entered into force in December 1996. It is one of the three Rio Conventions along with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). India became a signatory to UNCCD on 14 October 1994 and ratified it on 17 December 1996.

The main objective of the convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, involving long-term integrated strategies that focus simultaneously, in affected areas, on improved productivity of land, and the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, in particular at the community level. The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought. The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.

Source: PIB. 

Modi talks Biodiversity, Oceans, Climate at G7

Modi talks Biodiversity, Oceans, Climate at G7

At the G7 Summit in Biarritz, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed the session on ‘Biodiversity, Oceans, Climate.’ He has highlighted India’s large scale efforts towards eliminating single use plastic, conserving water, harnessing solar energy and, protecting flora and fauna for a sustainable future.

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