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Increased Swedish confidence in India’s business potential, markets



India and Sweden, which share more than a decade of camaraderie in terms of political, cultural, social, and economic ties, have only grown closer with the exchange of knowledge and experience. India-Sweden Innovation Summit was a perfect example of such strengthening of ties. Besides innovation and advanced technology, another sector which witnessed similar growth trajectory in network and strategies, is business and trade. Swedish companies have shown tremendous interest in the potential of Indian markets.

Similar kind of optimism was reflected in the 13th edition of the Business Climate Survey (BCS), which exhibited an increasing confidence of Swedish companies in conducting business in India. Additionally, the recent BCS report also showed a substantial increase in Swedish companies’ interest and intent of doing business in India compared to the pandemic-marred 2020.

BCS is a highly-trusted annual survey, conducted since 2008 by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, India (SCCI), along with the Embassy of Sweden in India, the Consulate General of Sweden in Mumbai, and Business Sweden. It is undertaken every year to understand the strengths and weaknesses of India-Sweden business relations, and how long-standing and emerging obstacles can be identified, reduced and resolved.

So far, more than 220 Swedish companies are operating in India, actively contributing to various business verticals, such as Industrial Equipment; IT & Electronics; Healthcare MedTech & Pharma; Business Services; Retail Consumer Goods & Services; Automotive Heavy Vehicles & Auto Components. More companies are now entering the Environmental Technology & Energy sector (Water, waste, HVAC, etc.). These companies have had a huge impact on the Indian job market as they employ over 200,000 people directly and another 2.2 million indirectly.

Commenting on the strengthening of ties between the two nations, Anna Hallberg, Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs, said: “Sweden and India’s bilateral cooperation has grown even stronger despite the pandemic. Swedish companies have repeatedly shown that they have a long-term commitment towards India. Therefore, I am particularly proud that the 2021-22 Business Climate Survey (BCS) has received such a massive response and highlights important areas such as green transition and women in the workforce.

“The BCS provides valuable information on the business climate in India, as perceived by Swedish companies. It is therefore of great importance to the Swedish Government and will play an important role in the preparations for the upcoming meeting of the Joint Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific Cooperation, and for the preparations of the upcoming trade negotiations between India and the EU.”

At the launch of this year’s BCS report, Sweden’s Ambassador to India, Klas Molin, remarked: “Swedish companies continue to thrive in India. Even in the wake of the challenges posed by the pandemic, Swedish companies have continued to invest, expand, and believe in India. As reflected in the Business Climate Survey, it is highly encouraging to see that so many Swedish companies are planning to increase their investments in India in the years ahead.”

This year’s survey, titled ‘Towards Sustainable Growth’, reflected the commitment shown by Swedish companies in their long-term association with India, given the country’s business environment, which is deemed supportive and encouraging with promising growth prospects. Interestingly, despite the pandemic adversely impacting the country’s economic growth, Swedish companies are looking forward to expanding their business and investment in India, especially in sustainable technologies, to create a greener and a lasting impact. Besides, the survey also took into account the increase in job opportunities and representation of women in the Indian workforce. These also acted as one of the key factors influencing business dealings between the two nations.

In line with the ongoing trends and key agenda of exploring business opportunities in India, a six-member delegation led by Sweden’s Ambassador to India Klas Molin will soon be visiting Sweden for a weeklong roadshow titled “Time for India”. Among diplomats accompanying Molin will be Consul General of Sweden to Mumbai Anna Lekvall, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Oskarsson, General Manager of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce to India Sara Larsson and Counsellors for Science & Innovation and Trade Per-Arne Wickström and Markus Lundgren.

The delegation will be joined by India’s Ambassador to Sweden & Latvia Tanmay Lal, and Chairman of Sweden India Business Council Hakan Kingstedt. The roadshow will start from Stockholm, followed by Lulea, Göteborg, Malmo and then back to Stockholm, where the Indian Embassy in Sweden will be organising a final seminar on Investing in India.

“Time for India” will have a series of breakfast seminars, which will provide a comprehensive insight into different sectors and markets linked to the Indian trade industry and their business potential. The trade roadshow will focus on analysing and availing the opportunities available to Swedish companies in India and for Indian companies in Sweden and forming required strategies to strengthen trade ties between the two nations, keeping in mind the current economic developments.

Speaking about the ambitious business campaign, Ambassador Klas Molin said: “Time for India is a part of an ambition shared by Sweden and India to strengthen and increase bilateral trade and investments. The plan that has been tasked us to perform has been backed by our Prime Ministers as well as Indian and Swedish Ministers of Commerce, Piyush Goyal and Anna Hallberg, respectively. Our goal is to increase investments, opportunities, employment and the flow of goods and services between our countries.”

Molin added that the roadshow’s roadmap includes exploring business opportunities, holding talks with private sector representatives, government, and other decision makers to discuss trade and investment-related issues. The delegation will also look at the next steps to further facilitate business collaborations and means to assist Team Sweden and Team India in the process.

Expressing optimism about the upcoming talks, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Oskarsson said: “In the last few months as Trade Commissioner for Business Sweden in India, I have seen the potential for collaboration and investments substantial. The Indian government has brought most of the key infrastructure sectors in India under the automatic route which allows 100% foreign direct investment (FDI).

“The new master plan aims to boost employment opportunities, make interconnectivity easier between road, rail, air and waterways to boost efficiency, and improve industrial productivity. It also aims to help India become a manufacturing hub, attract foreign investors and raise the possibility of future economic zones through multimodal connectivity that provides manufacturers faster access to domestic and international markets. It’s certainly time to invest in India.”


Reliance Jio, GSMA roll out initiative to train rural women in digital skills




Reliance Jio and global mobile network operators’ organisation GSMA on Tuesday announced the roll-out of their digital skills programme to train rural women in India.

The programme aims to provide need-based training to rural women and individuals from marginalised/low-income groups to help them make meaningful use of digital access.

The national roll-out phase is now underway, with the programme being rolled out across 10 states.

“We are proud to partner with GSMA in this programme to take digital skills training to the women across India and be the wind beneath their wings,” said Isha Ambani, Director, Reliance Jio.

As per the GSMA’s ‘Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022’, women in India are 41 per cent less likely than men to use mobile internet.

A total of 330 million women in India still do not use mobile internet, compared to 248 million men. Lack of literacy and digital skills is one of the top reported barriers to mobile internet use.

As a part of the programme, the GSMA and Jio teams worked together to assess prevalent digital skill gaps and develop need-based digital skills training toolkits that are India-specific.

Over 1,000 rural women and men from Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu participated and provided inputs for the refinement of the digital training toolkits during the trial phase.

Reliance Foundation will be supporting the roll-out through its large network and self-help groups, particularly in rural areas.

“More needs to be done to ensure women are not being left behind in an increasingly connected world. We are excited to partner with Jio and Reliance Foundation to take the Digital Skills Programme national and help accelerate digital inclusion for women,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.

The GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change.

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Centre asks Vodafone Idea to convert Rs 16,000 dues into equity




Financially-stressed telecom company Vodafone Idea said on Friday that the government has directed it to convert a portion of its dues worth Rs 16,000 crore it owes to the exchequer into equity in the government’s favour.

“It is hereby informed that the Ministry of Communications has [directed] the company to convert the NPV of the interest related to deferment of spectrum auction instalments and AGR dues into equity shares to be issued to the government of India,” the company said in a filing.

The government will take 33 per cent equity in Vodafone Idea after converting all interest related to payments for spectrum and other dues into equity.

This will make the government the largest shareholder in the telecom company.

Vodafone Idea will convert dues of Rs 16,133 crore into equity and issue shares for Rs 10 each, the company informed.

“We had sought a firm commitment that the Aditya Birla Group would run the company and bring necessary investments. The Birlas have agreed and hence we have agreed to convert. We want India to be a three-player market plus BSNL and ensure healthy competition for consumers,” Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said in a statement.

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I-T dept raids over 30 locations of five builder groups across Jaipur




The Income Tax department on Thursday raided over 30 locations of five builder groups across Jaipur. The teams also conducted search operations at two locations of a builder group in Gurugram.

Officials said that the I-T department had received a tip-off that these builders were engaged in making cash deals while selling flats in multi-storey buildings, plots and commercial properties in Jaipur.

After verification, 40 teams of the investigating branch of the I-T department raided their locations on Thursday morning. Raids have been conducted at the premises of Manglam Group, Sanjivani, R-Tech, Jugal Derewala and Haridutt, including their offices, corporate offices and residential premises.

The I-T teams have raided places in Jaipur including Tonk Road, Mansarovar, Rajapark, Jagatpura, C-Scheme, Civil Lines, Ajmer Road, Delhi Road, Agra Road and Sanganer.

Sources said that the department had received complaints of undisclosed income running into crores of rupees. All the five builders were using cash to buy and sell land. So the I-T teams raided around 38 targets simultaneously. According to the information received so far, huge amount of cash, and documents of land purchase and sale have been found from their premises.

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