Cairo: Indian and Egyptian trade ties have continued to grow despite the global financial crisis, with bilateral trade hitting a $3 billion figure last year, reports PTI quoting Indian ambassador to Egypt R Swaminatan.
At a press briefing to mark the Indian Independence Day, Mr Swaminatan hailed the historic relations between Egypt and India and referred to them as "two champions among the developing world and leader countries in their respective regions".
Citing the achievements India had made in the 63 years of independence, the ambassador noted the recent launch of four Indian satellites from the Poly Satellite Launching Vehicle (PSLV), and also referred to the $35 laptop developed.
The ambassador said expectations were for the price of laptop to reach ten dollars.
He said the financial crisis had "a major effect" but India was able to sustain a 7.2% growth that reached 8.6% during the last quarter.
The ambassador noted that the target growth this year is 8% and 9% the next and for India to become the fastest growing economy within four years.
He also referred to the ongoing preparations for a visit to Egypt by top Indian officials-the external affairs minister who is expected to visit Egypt in September for talks with his Egyptian counterpart, the speaker of the Parliament, the minister of urban development and the minister of state for industry and trade.
Egyptian minister of oil Sameh Fahmi and minister of electricity and energy Hassan Yunis will pay a visit to India as well, he added.
Despite the fallout from the global financial crunch, trade between Egypt and India hit $3 billion last year, while Indian investments in Egypt reached $2billion, the ambassador said, pointing out that 44 Indian companies were operating in Egypt.
An Indian company plans to establish a factory in Port Said to manufacture PVC, which is used in pipelines and tanks with investments amounting to $1.3 billion, he said.
He pointed out that 45 Egyptian employees received training courses in India last year in various fields, adding that the number is expected to reach around 70 this year.
He voiced belief that inaccurate media reports have not affected the export of Indian meat to Egypt asserting the fact that his government exerts utmost efforts to present high quality commodities at suitable prices.
Touching on the issue of co-operation between Egypt and India in the nuclear energy domain, he said, the visit to India by Mr Fahmi and Mr Yunis aimed at probing cooperation in the fields of energy and oil in general and not nuclear energy in particular.
However, India is ready to discuss co-operation with Egypt in field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, he added.
Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today brought out a discussion paper on giving out new banking licenses to business houses and non-banking finance companies, and regulations for the same to foster greater competition, reports PTI.
"The Reserve Bank is considering providing licenses to a limited number of new banks. A larger number of banks would foster greater competition, and thereby reduce costs and improve the quality of service," the central bank said in a discussion paper.
The RBI also sought to know "whether industrial and business houses could be allowed to promote banks." And, should NBFCs be allowed to convert into or promote banks.
The central bank sought feedback on this as also business model for the new banks by 30th September.
It was of the view that greater competition would also promote financial inclusion.
Currently, India has 27 public sector banks, seven new private sector banks, 15 old private sector banks, 31 foreign banks, 86 regional rural banks, 4 local area banks, 1721 urban co-operative banks, 31 state cooperative banks, and 371 district central co-operative banks.
RBI said the new licenses are required since vast segments of population, especially underprivileged, have still no access to formal banking services.
The discussion paper outlines various pros and cons for norms like minimum capital requirements for new banks, promoters' contribution, caps on promoters' shareholding and other shareholders, foreign shareholding.
Various entities like Reliance Capital, Indiabulls, Religare, IL&FS, IDFC, IFCI and Aditya Birla Financial Services are reported to be mulling entering the banking space.
Bangalore: Some African countries are offering land on lease for 99 years for free to overseas farmers and India should grab the opportunity, reports PTI quoting the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).
Assocham has sent a proposal to the external affairs ministry to consider tapping the emerging agricultural opportunities in Africa and offering to act as a facilitator to help Indian farmers reap the benefits of the huge potential that lie in Africa.
"Hoping to address the huge issue of food shortage, these countries have begun inviting overseas farmers to come and cultivate their lands. These governments are willing to lease land free of cost for 99 years," Assocham secretary general D S Rawat told PTI.
Farmers are free to cultivate the land and raise any crop and sell it to the domestic market and also export.
"It is a win-win situation for the farmers and for the African governments," said Assocham director Om S Tyagi.
"Since the lease is for 99 years, it means that a farmer is in control of the land for his life time. It means land for roughly around three generations," he said.
The countries that were in the forefront trying to attract agriculturists were Sudan and Ethiopia, he said.
Several Chinese farmers have already accepted the offer and begun cultivation of land, said Mr Tyagi.
A number of farmers from Punjab have also on their own initiative migrated to these countries and begun cultivation. However, the chamber was not able to provide statistics on the number of Indians farming in these African countries.
According to J Crasta, chairman Karnataka State Council, "We know of five farmers from Karnataka who have already acquired hectares and hectares of land and have begun farming and are doing well".
Assocham has proposed to the ministry that the chamber was willing to coordinate between these countries and Indian farmers to facilitate those desirous of going overseas for farming.
It has suggested that part of the cost should be funded by the Centre or state governments and partly by it.
It was willing to identify farmers who want to take up the opportunity and to help them network with the embassies of these countries to complete the procedure and fulfil the various requirements, said Mr Tyagi.
"We are keen in taking educated farmers", said Mr Rawat adding the process has begun with over 1,000 farmers in Patiala who have come forward and expressed their intent. Out of these around 300 have been screened and work was on to get them in touch with the required government agencies.
According Mr Rawat, such a move would be specially beneficial for farmers in the country who were working on lands of others to go and have a land piece of their own.
It would also, he said, in some way mitigate the current scramble for agricultural land in India.