Jio driving digital shifts

Jio driving digital shifts in the economy

by | Jul 20, 2020 | Deal, Technology, Telecom

Jio’s aggressive push to translate itself into a digital services behemoth can further redefine India’s already transforming economy.
Share to lead the transformation

For most of the companies, the past few months have been extremely challenging due to the unprecedented breakdown in economic activities, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. While enterprises are trying to deal with matters such as changing consumer behaviors, work-from-home setups, and psychological effects of the pandemic on their employees, with telcos like Jio driving digital shifts in the economy.

While this sudden outbreak has impacted many traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to the extent that they had to close their shops, for companies like Jio Platforms, it has accelerated growth, led by a new surge in opportunities.

A gold rush for Jio Platforms

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Jio Platforms, the telecoms and digital arm of the Indian multinational Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has raised over Rs 15.2 billion (Rs. 1,52,056 crore) by attracting investments in 13 companies.

From the likes of Facebook, Google, Qualcomm, and Intel to General Atlantic and Mubadala, leading tech- and private-equity giants seem to yearning to retain some stake in the world’s most treasured digital player of the moment.

This has not only helped company Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to pare a literal mountain of debt, but also set it on a clear path of turning RJio into a digital products and services behemoth of a global scale.

RJio stands to leverage a plethora of new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, cloud and edge computing, block chain, analytics, and augmented and mixed reality to develop solutions and services that could reshape the user experience for its growing base of customers.

On path to becoming a digital multinational

Amidst the global downturn and massive growth in internet consumption due to the pandemic-enforced work-from-home environment, the recent investments have given Jio a strategic leapfrog.

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 could meet customers need at their convenience. Jio Platforms has clearly realized this early on.

Its telecom unit, Jio Infocomm, has already surged past the competition by providing quality services at surprisingly low costs. Now, the company is strategically poised to enter new digital domains by leveraging partnerships.

In this context, the getting together of Reliance Jio (with around 400 million telecom subscribers) and Facebook (with around 300 million Indian users) is specifically important and will help Jio drive growth by potentially catering to a largely dispersed SMB sector of India. (See: Will FB–Jio deal create magic?).

Leveraging the potential of Facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger service, the company has already begun to bring local vendors, independent hawkers, and small ration stores to its Jio Mart platform, for delivering online groceries across 200 cities and towns in India. Its online delivery services are well-backed by Reliance Retail, which is country’s largest retailer in terms of revenue.

According to company sources, Jio has already prepared a roadmap to flesh out its e-commerce services beyond the groceries and is likely to offer a range of merchandise and solutions, competing directly with the likes of Amazon in future.

Mass market for niche consumer tech?

A very significant element of Jio’s recent intents is its focus to become a tech-solutions company.

Besides expanding its offerings as an e-commerce service provider, Jio is also looking at developing cutting-edge next-generation solutions to facilitate the surge in the use of video-based collaborative technologies. In its recently concluded AGM, RIL announced several new initiatives to accomplish its refreshed agenda.

By partnering with Google, for instance, Jio plans to increase the reach of digitization across the length and breadth of India, beyond the current 500+ million Internet users in the country. Jio has also entered into a collaboration with Google to develop an entry-level affordable smartphone with optimizations to the Android operating system and the Play Store.

Another interesting announcement that caught everyone’s attention was the company’s showcasing of a prototype virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) headset, called Jio Glass at its recent annual general meeting. While the company has refrained from sharing details around its market launch or pricing, it said that the device would work with over 25 applications and connect to the internet via a smartphone cable. Once available to the masses, Jio Glass can be a turning point for India’s video-conferencing market and give users more power to collaborate and connect virtually.

India’s education and health sector are likely to be the biggest gainers of the technology as it will enable schools and medical institutes showcase real time projections through various 3D models. Much will be dependent on the pricing of the product as both VR and MR products have so far remained restricted to niche markets.

A gear-making venture in the making

Reliance has also surprised the telecom gear makers by announcing the development of a made-in-India 5G solution to help global service providers roll out advanced 5G infrastructure. The solution is expected to be ready for field deployments next year.

This is a striking development as it will not only help Jio launch 5G services at a significantly lower cost but also endanger the existence of already pressured companies such as Huawei.

RIL hasn’t yet disclosed the roadmap or its vision to develop 5G solutions. However, 5G gear making may not be a cakewalk, considering the fact that players like Huawei are well-ahead in their tech journeys and Jio will need to do a lot of catching up.

At the same time, Reliance is also understood to be forging partnerships to develop other future technologies such as connected cars, drones, and smart homes.

There is no doubt that Reliance Jio is sitting on a unique hotbed of opportunities. The multiple technology partnerships that it has forged, along with its massive domestic telecom subscriber base, create a formidable combination that bodes well.

However, to prove its mettle globally and conquer new markets, the company will need to test different strategies, diversify its product mix, and move up the value chain.

Table: A quick glance at Jio Platforms investors

Investor Stake (%) Funding (in Rs crore)
     
Facebook 9.90 43,573.62
Google 7.7 33,737
Vista Equity 2.30 11,367
KKR 2.30 11,367
Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia 2.30 11,367
Silver Lake Partners 2.08 10,202.55
Mubadala 1.85 9,093.60
General Atlantic 1.34 6,598.38
Abu Dhabi Investment Authority 1.16 5,683.50
TPG 0.93 4,546.80
L Catterton 0.39 1,894.50
Intel Capital 0.39 1,894.50
Qualcomm 0.15 730
  32.79 152,055

 Source: RIL, BM Nxt

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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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