It was a picture of destruction in Visakhapatnam, which bore the brunt of the cyclone fury, with hundreds of fallen trees, poles and other rubble blocking the roads
As cyclone Hudhud weakened moving north-westwards, Andhra Pradesh was on Monday grappling with its aftermath following extensive damage to infrastructure and many losing their houses in the three worst affected districts, which were facing shortage of essential commodities.
An alert for heavy to very heavy rainfall has been sounded in districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram and in some parts of Odisha where the cyclone, which has claimed eight lives so far, had moved before heading to Chhattisgarh.
Over 2.48 lakh people in 320 villages of 44 mandals (blocks) have been affected by the cyclone in Andhra Pradesh. As many as 1.35 lakh people have been evacuated and accommodated in 223 relief camps.
It was a picture of destruction in Visakhapatnam, which bore the brunt of the cyclone fury, with hundreds of fallen trees, poles and other rubble blocking the roads as winds of almost 200 kmph tore away roofs and hoardings in the city, where the cyclone made landfall yesterday.
“There is no power, no water or milk, no electricity. We are not getting petrol. We cannot move on the roads. It is difficult to survive a single day here,” said a harried resident.
The cyclone has snapped water and power supply and communication links have collapsed in the affected areas. Most of the petrol pumps were closed due to the damage caused by the cyclone and those which had opened Monday, saw people queueing up in large numbers.
The airport and railway lines in the city were badly damaged in the heavy downpour and gusty winds.
The state government has started the tedious exercise of assessing damage and losses with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu directing Hyderabad-headquartered National Remote Sensing Centre to use geo-tagging to put the data on damage on the map.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Visakhapatnam Tuesday to take stock of the situation while Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s Cabinet is expected to be in the city as the government focuses on bringing life back to normal in the affected districts.
According to the State’s Revenue (Disaster Management) Department, five persons were killed in the incidents of wall and roof collapses and uprooting of trees in the region. The deceased included one-year-old P Naga Manoj here.
According to Met department, Hudhud lay centred very close to south Chhattisgarh and adjoining southwest Odisha. It would move north—northwestwards and weaken gradually.
In Odisha, where three persons were killed, the state government braced for relief and rehabilitation in the affected southern districts where the cyclone damaged houses and uprooted trees and poles.
The partnership will initially focus on Future Group’s 40 fashion brands and will subsequently cover all other categories
Kishore Biyani-led Future Group and retail giant Amazon on Monday entered into a partnership to build on synergies of experience in online and offline businesses.
This comes days after Biyani complained of e-commerce companies, particularly Flipkart, of under-cutting the market and selling products at even below the cost price.
The alliance will leverage strong product knowledge, extensive brand portfolio and sourcing base of Future Group, and the e-commerce platform, customer base and reach of Amazon.in.
The partnership will initially focus on Future Group’s fashion brands and will subsequently cover all other categories, Future Group said in a statement.
Future Group’s current portfolio of over 40 brands will be retailed exclusively online through Amazon.in platform.
“The bottomline in each of our retail success stories is “know your customer”. Insights into the soul of Indian consumers — how they operate, think, dream and live — helps us innovate and create functionally differentiating products and experiences.
“Partnership with Amazon, which obsesses to be earth’s most customer-centric company, will enable us to leverage their strengths, investments and innovations in technology to reach out to wider set of consumers across India,” it said.
Commenting on the tie-up, Biyani said: “Partnership with Amazon, which obsesses to be earth’s most customer-centric company, will enable us to leverage their strengths, investments and innovations in technology to reach out to a wider set of consumers across India.”
“We are excited to collaborate, leverage each other’s unique strengths and serve customers across India. The product portfolio of Future Group, their innate understanding of the Indian consumer mindset and our ability to serve and deliver a convenient, easy, trusted and reliable delivery experience to a nationwide set of customers is a win-win for all,” said Amit Agarwal, Vice-President and Country Manager, Amazon India.
Amazon.in will also partner Future Group brands in promoting the existing and new brands in markets, explore co-branding opportunities and accelerate new product development in categories which are currently not served by retailers, the company said.
The two companies will also explore synergies in areas such as distribution network, customer acquisition and cross-promotions.
It is imperative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should carry out detailed discussions and propose Indian involvement in laying gas pipelines, setting up oil refinery, urea plants, hydroelectric power stations and road building in Myanmar
Our External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, truly speaking a Roving Ambassador, has already been to Myanmar and who has, in all probability, done the necessary ground work for a fruitful visit, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to attend the 25th ASEAN Regional forum meeting in November. Final dates have not been made public, though indications are that the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum meetings may be held on 9-11 or 10-12 November this year. This is an important meeting and a great opportunity for PM Modi to be able to meet a great number of political leaders of this region. It would appear that apart from meeting the Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw, he may also have the pleasure of meeting the leader of the opposition and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi.
Our relations with Myanmar, formerly known as Burmah, go back several centuries, as the country's population are devout Buddhists. It may be recalled, that till 1937, Burmah was a province under the British rule, and became totally independent on 4 January 1948. The present population of Myanmar is said to be 55 million, of which 2.5 million have Indian origin as roots.
In the past, literally when nobody wanted to associate and assist this country, due to the military junta that ruled, it was China that filled the vacuum and took immense advantage in building in roads into the Myamnarese society, in the fields of security, energy, business, infrastructure development, besides equipping its army, Indian association, trade wise, can be considered as one that has become increasingly important in the last couple of decades. In 2012-13, India exported $544.66 million and imported $1,412.69 billion worth of goods, mostly natural gas, wood products, copper and fish.
Indian exports covered various items such as fabric, petroleum products, fertilizer, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, food products and edible oil. Now, some developments are taking place that' includes engineering project services. Our bilateral trade has reached $2.18 billion in 2013-14 and this may reach $3 billion by 2015.
Indian investments in Myanmar have amounted to only $283 million till 2013, though it is projected that this may touch $2.6 billion in the next few years.
Already, some of the leading corporate bodies like TCIL, ONGC Videsh, GAIL, Essar, Rites, JK Paper, Jubilant Energy and Reliance Industries are actively pursuing opportunities in Myanmar.
Mention may be made of the Essar port development work at Sittwe as this, in the next few months, will enable India to get Kolkata linked with Mizoram and other North Eastern states through inland waterway, and road along the Kalandan river. In fact, Sittwe could become a key port for development with transit facilities for reaching out to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur, as explained above.
Myanmar, in the past, had offered to help India in setting up hydroelectric power projects with a potential of over 1,000 MW across its rivers on our borders. They have the natural gas that can be utilized for setting up Urea plants, which would be mutually beneficial. A gas pipeline that could run through Bangladesh, carrying the Myanmar gas, would benefit India just as much as the transit country.
In these areas, China has taken tremendous advantage in laying the gas/oil pipe line from Yunan province, all the way to the Bay of Bengal Port of Kyaukphu. However, media reports indicate that "all is not well" in China-Myanmar relations as the later feels that the former has taken advantage of the situation.
In any case, there are two other developments that are of importance. First refers to the Chinese proposal of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor, which would covered over 1.65 million square kms and take the interest of 440 million people in that area. This BCIM corridor is expected to run from Kunming, capital of China's Yunan province, which borders Myanmar. This corridor will cover Mandalay, Dhaka, Chittagong and eventually, Kolkata. This may also come up for detailed discussions during the Asean meeting.
The other covers the growing economy and importance of countries nearer to Myanmar, namely, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These are vibrant and have natural resources and developments involving Myanmar would have rippling effect all round.
What India has to bear in mind is the Chinese plans and development in the region. China has been actively associated with infrastructural development in the Trans-Karakoram Corridor stretching all the way upto Gwader (in Baluchistan), Pakistan, at the entrance of Strait of Hormuz. They also are associated with the Irrawady Corridor involving road, river and rail link from Yunan province, right through in Myanmar, upto the ports of Sittwe and Kyaukphu.
With all these developments happening in and around our areas of interest, it is imperative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong delegation that should carry out detailed discussions and propose Indian involvement in laying gas pipelines, setting up oil refinery, urea plants, hydro-electric power stations and road building in that country. For its development, Myanmar would need tremendous amount of engineering goods and services, transport equipment and other miscellaneous goods. If need be, India should offer adequate credit facilities and come to buy-back arrangements on many of the items mentioned above.
This November visit to Myanmar is an opportunity that Narendra Modi should not miss.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)