NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar - Business Guardian
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NCEL granted export permission for rice and sugar



The newly established National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) has received authorization to export 14,92,800 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to 16 countries and 50,000 tonnes of sugar to two countries, as disclosed by Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Functioning under the ambit of the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act, 2002, the NCEL, registered in January this year, operates across agriculture, allied activities, handloom, and handicraft items. With an objective to double its revenue by 2025 from the present Rs 2,160 crore, the entity has actively enrolled numerous cooperatives, garnering 2,581 membership applications from 22 states and Union Territories.

Minister Amit Shah emphasized that NCEL’s primary objective is to create an export-friendly environment, particularly for agricultural commodities, leveraging India’s comparative advantage in these sectors. The cooperative body welcomes the participation of cooperative societies, from grassroots to apex levels, interested in engaging in export activities.

The key focus of NCEL remains on utilizing the surplus available within the Indian cooperative sector by accessing global markets. This strategic expansion aims to enhance the demand for Indian cooperative products on an international scale, ensuring better price realizations for these goods and services.

NCEL’s operational scope encompasses a comprehensive ecosystem to promote exports, spanning procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, labelling, packaging, certification, research and development, and trading across all goods and services produced by cooperative societies.

Moreover, the cooperative export body intends to facilitate cooperatives in availing benefits from various export-related schemes and policies curated by different ministries, streamlining and enhancing their export endeavours.

The establishment of NCEL underscores a concerted effort to leverage cooperative strengths in India’s export landscape, promising to amplify market reach and economic returns for agricultural commodities and allied sectors through strategic global engagements.

The initiative by the Cooperation Minister, Amit Shah, signifies a concerted push to empower cooperative societies in India’s export realm. By extending export permissions for substantial quantities of non-Basmati rice and sugar, the National Cooperative Exports Ltd (NCEL) is poised to facilitate a significant leap in the global market for agricultural produce.

This move aligns with India’s broader objective to bolster its global trade footprint, leveraging the competitive edge of its agricultural sector. Through NCEL, the aim is not only to foster increased export volumes but also to ensure a more equitable distribution of economic gains, channelling the benefits back to the grassroots level of cooperative societies.

Moreover, the strategic focus of NCEL on diverse export-related activities, including procurement, storage, branding, and research, speaks volumes about the comprehensive approach taken to fortify the entire export ecosystem. This encompassing strategy, coupled with NCEL’s commitment to guiding cooperatives in navigating export-related policies and schemes, underscores a forward-thinking approach aimed at creating a conducive environment for cooperative-driven exports.

The enthusiasm surrounding NCEL’s permissions signals a transformative phase for India’s cooperative sector. By leveraging cooperative strengths and fostering a global market presence, the initiative not only aims to boost export figures but also promises to uplift local communities, thereby enhancing the socio-economic fabric of the country.

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India International Brand Summit 2024: Celebrating Excellence and Innovation in Marketing



Fourth edition of India International Brand Summit, the confluence of the best marketing minds in India to be held today at ITC Maurya, New Delhi.

Over the years, this annual event has become a beacon of thought leadership for the media & advertising industry, providing a platform for insightful discussions, networking, and recognition of marketing excellence. The Business Guardian is proud to be the print partner in the event.

This year’s summit will witness many of the brightest minds including CEOs, CMOs, Creative & Advertising Heads and MarTech Leaders and Brand Evangelists engage in thought-provoking conversations on themes designed to address current marketing realities and future trends. The extended format of the event now also includes keynote sessions, apart from panel discussions, and some interesting live performances as well!

The event is organized by Talentrack, India’s leading Talent-Casting & Content Marketplace. Magnon Group (part of the Fortune 200 Omnicom Group) is the Presenting Partner for the 2024 edition.

Announcing the summit, Vineet Bajpai, Founder & CEO, Magnon Group, said, “The paths we traverse as marketers and advertisers are in constant flux. The India International Brand Summit 2024, which Magnon Group has been proud to partner with for all four editions, is essential in this ever-evolving landscape. As we tackle the rapid shifts in digital strategies, analytics, content creation, social commerce, and AI, the market often seems to outpace even the most agile agencies. This summit excels in delivering unparalleled insights and fostering high-level discussions, making it crucial for staying ahead. It broadens our perspectives and provides transformative conversations that drive industry innovation. I eagerly anticipate the groundbreaking ideas and dynamic exchanges that will emerge this year. Together, we will continue to navigate the changing tides and shape the future of our industry.”

Manishi Singh, Co-founder, Talentrack, further added, “Organizing this premier event is a privilege for Talentrack, as we bring together marketing and creative stalwarts to redefine the future of marketing. Agency executives shaping brand narratives, and marketers leveraging the digital landscape gain fresh perspectives and strategies. It is also a platform to discover new avenues for creativity. Even the investors clout that’s always on the lookout for new venture ideas. Our goal is to drive forward the conversations on marketing innovation and create a dynamic environment for collaboration.”

The conference will be followed by recognition of the achievements of the best in the industry with an awards ceremony that honours excellence in various categories, recognizing those who have made significant contributions to the field of marketing.

The Business Guardian is proud to be the print partner in the event this year. Other brands joining to build the legendary event includes Magnon Designory, afaqs!, Konnect Insights, Best Media Info, TreeShade Books, India News Business, Candid Marketing, iAvatarZ, Talentown and Neo Group.

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Catalysing the Changing Landscape of Entrepreneurship in India



In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, entrepreneurship has taken on new dimensions, driven by technological advancements and a globalised economy. Modern entrepreneurs are required to not only innovate but also adapt swiftly to market changes, navigate the complexities of digital transformation, and lead with a vision that transcends traditional business models. This dynamic environment calls for leaders who are not only forward-thinking but also possess the resilience and strategic acumen to turn challenges into opportunities. One of such leaders is Vineet Bajpai, Founder & CEO of Magnon Group.

Vineet stands as a formidable force in the realm of entrepreneurship, combining visionary zeal with pragmatic business acumen. Over the past two decades, Vineet has consistently demonstrated an extraordinary ability to identify market gaps, innovate solutions, and build businesses that not only thrive but also set industry benchmarks. He is one of the most successful CEOs of the A&M industry, a celebrated entrepreneur, and among the top selling authors in the country today. At 36, he became the youngest-ever CEO of a multinational advertising agency as the Group CEO of TBWA\India. As Founder of the Magnon Group, he has built one of India’s largest advertising group from grounds-up.

Early Career and Founding Magnon

Vineet’s entrepreneurial journey began at the cusp of the new millennium. A graduate in commerce and passionate about technology, he started a web agency ‘Magnon Solutions’ in the year 2000. Under his leadership, Magnon grew exponentially, transforming from a small startup into a key player in the digital marketing space. His strategic foresight was evident in the company’s expansion, which included an acquisition by Omnicom Group, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates. This move not only marked a significant milestone for Magnon but also positioned it on the global stage.

Today, Magnon Group comprises of three distinct, award-winning agencies, namely- Magnon eg+, Magnon Designory, and Magnon Sancus, and is counted as one of India’s largest and most respected media & advertising groups. The group has nearly 400 professionals across Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad and its clientele includes several Fortune Global 500 brands. Magnon integrates service verticals like advertising, production, digital, language services, media, and content-marketing into pillars of a new-age agency, delivering world-class marketing solutions to Indian and global clients.

Talentrack and Beyond

Never the one to rest on his laurels, Vineet founded Talentrack in 2015, a pioneering online marketplace that connects talent with opportunities in the media and entertainment industry. Talentrack quickly gained traction, leveraging Vineet’s knack for blending technology with industry needs. The platform democratized access to opportunities for artists, creators, and technicians, reflecting Vineet’s commitment to fostering talent and innovation. Today, the platform hosts more than 5,00,000 artists and 20,000 recruiters across the industry. It is one of the fastest growing online hiring and content crowd sourcing platforms which has proved to be an ally to the advertising industry. Apart from launching Talentrack to solve the problem and chaos of a scattered talent market in India, he has taken several other initiatives in this direction.

Author and Thought Leader: The Journey of Penmanship

In addition to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Vineet is a celebrated author. His books, including “Build From Scratch,” “The Street to the Highway,” and the “The 30 Something CEO”, have garnered acclaim for their insightful take on business and leadership. These works highlight his multifaceted persona, seamlessly integrating his experiences as an entrepreneur with his literary craft.

Strategic Vision and Leadership

Vineet Bajpai’s leadership style is characterized by a relentless pursuit of excellence and an unwavering focus on launching growth initiatives. His ability to anticipate market trends and adapt to changing environments has been a cornerstone of his success. Whether it’s through organic growth or strategic acquisitions, Vineet has consistently demonstrated an ability to scale businesses while maintaining a strong organizational culture.

Awards and Recognition

Vineet’s contributions to the business world have been widely recognized. With sheer resilience and foresightedness, Vineet has emerged as one of the leading media-tech entrepreneurs and has won many entrepreneurship and corporate excellence awards, including the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award 2013, the CNBC MercedesBenz Young Turks Award 2014, and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016. Business World listed him among the 100 Most Influential People in India’s Digital Ecosystem. He has been appreciated for his work by Forbes and Times of India.

Vineet Bajpai’s journey is a testament to the power of vision, innovation, and leadership. From building successful enterprises to authoring influential books, his contributions span multiple domains, each marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence. As he continues to push the boundaries of what is possible, Vineet remains a beacon of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders worldwide.

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Sitharaman calls for proactive govt-industry alliances towards developed India



Finance Minister highlights policy stability, facilitative policies as key attractions for investors looking to India.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday asked industry to leverage opportunities at national and global levels through government-industry partnerships as the country gears up to realize the goal of emerging as a developed country by 2047, drawing attention to India’s policy stability, corruption-free decision-making, facilitative government policies, and robust legal framework which in consonance make India an attractive destination for business. “There is a big role for the private sector for making this happen and the government would be a facilitator and enabler in the process,” Sitharaman said speaking on “co-creating the future responsibly: role of business,” at the annual business summit 2024 of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Articulating the vision for new India, the Finance Minister outlined four key opportunities for growth in India which extends to all segments of the economy. The first, she highlighted, was the compelling India growth story which is expected to contribute significantly to global growth, as recognized and affirmed by global agencies such as the IMF and S&P. The large consumer market which is expected to double by 2031, a rise in consumption spending, and a secular rise in spending on financial services are the other triggers which would ensure that the country would continue to remain the fastest growing economy in the future, Sitharaman said.

Elaborating further on the subject, the Finance Minister noted that according to the RBI and the Economic Survey, India has graduated from the twin balance sheet problem of the past to the twin balance sheet advantage which has led to vibrancy in the market thereby propelling investment expansion by corporates on one hand and willingness and capacity of banks to lend. Secondly, the demographic dividend would be with the country for the next 30 years and dependency level is at a historic low and when complemented with skill development, through public-private partnership, inclusive of areas such as artificial intelligence, big data etc., this is a sure shot measure to bring prosperity and raise consumer demand, Sitharaman observed.

The Finance Minister also highlighted India’s transition towards green energy and a sustainable future as other drivers of new markets and new demand. “The solar push by the government as well as an impetus towards green hydrogen and green ammonia would also provide significant job opportunities to the youth,” she maintained. Alluding to the pressing need to increase manufacturing competitiveness, Sitharaman called for greater sophistication and improved productivity. The government would provide supportive policies for India to be a part of the global value chain.

Sitharaman underlined India’s advantage of figuring among the top investment destinations which pitched the country in a position to take advantage of global investors who are attempting to derisk their operations as a result of the China plus one policy. This would also help the country to become self-reliant. She also referred to the PLI scheme which has contributed significantly towards transforming the mobile and electronic sectors and creating value addition in smartphones. Noting India’s role as a preferred destination with over 50 percent of global capability centers having based their operations in the country.

The industry body has also worked with the government on a range of issues such as the reduction of corporate tax rates, extending GST compliance dates during the Covid period, and adopting a capex-led growth strategy, said CII President R. Dinesh and complimented the finance minister for reining in the fiscal deficit with a laser focus. Former Chairman, ICICI and chairman, National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development KV Kamath, was conferred with the CII President’s award for 2024 for his exemplary contribution to industry and society.

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Apple under spotlight as OpenAI, Google raise AI standards



OpenAI on May 13 announced GPT-4o, its maiden artificial intelligence model with multimodal capabilities to reason across audio, visual, and text. A day after, on May 14, Google kicked off its annual developers-centric conference (Google I/O) with announcements focused on AI integration with its platforms and services, including Android and Search. These two technology behemoths have set the bar high with AI-focused events, but all eyes are now on Apple, which has scheduled its annual worldwide developers conference (WWDC) for June 10.

Apple has been trailing in the AI space while the competition has made significant strides. OpenAI, for example, made its most advanced GPT-4o model free for all. It also announced a dedicated app for its AI chatbot ChatGPT for Apple’s macOS. While the ChatGPT app has been available on iPhones, the macOS app brings deeper integration into the desktop platform. With the macOS app, ChatGPT users will be able to take a screenshot of what’s on the display and share it directly with the chatbot for discussion. This gives OpenAI an early mover advantage in Apple’s ecosystem, especially due to the lack of a native alternative.

Apple’s exploration of the AI space, reportedly, began years ago. However, the company accelerated the development process only after the AI technology jumped onto the mainstream, fueled by OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Copilot, and Google’s Gemini.

Apple is playing a catch-up game with big technology rivals in the AI space, but it may change come June 10 when it is poised to lay out a strategy for AI at WWDC. A hint of it was made at Apple’s May 7 launch event where it debuted the iPad Pro and iPad Air, with the former featuring its next-generation M4 silicon with a new 16-core neural engine. The company said this new neural engine or Neural Processing Unit (NPU) makes the “M4 an outrageously powerful chip for AI.” This was the first instance where Apple mentioned “AI” in its event.

Earlier, at Apple’s quarterly earnings call on May 2, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook pointed out generative artificial intelligence as the company’s next frontier. He said Apple continues to make significant investments in generative AI and that the company will share “some very exciting things” soon.

These instances along with the fact that researchers at Apple have been continuously publishing papers on new generative AI tools suggest that Apple is poised to enter the AI space very soon. However, if it will be able to catch up with the competition is to be seen. For context, Bloomberg has reported that Apple has been in talks with Google and OpenAI to bring AI features to iOS 18 for iPhones. A recent report from Bloomberg stated that Apple has closed in on an agreement with OpenAI to use its AI technology on the iPhone. According to the report, both the companies are finalising terms for a pact to use ChatGPT features in iOS 18, Apple’s next operation.

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Paytm added to small-cap index by MSCI, attracting potential inflows



One97 Communications, the parent company of the popular fintech brand Paytm, has achieved a significant milestone by being included in the MSCI Emerging Markets Small Cap Index. This inclusion is indicative of growing confidence among both domestic and international investors in Paytm, evidenced by substantial stake increases from foreign portfolio investors (FPIs), domestic investors, and prominent Mutual Funds such as Mirae and Nippon India Mutual Fund.

With Paytm being one of the 29 stocks included in the MSCI Small Cap Index, the move is expected to drive USD 273 million in inflows, which is crucial for benchmarking Indian companies on the international stage. The inclusion comes as part of MSCI’s routine review, aligning with evolving market conditions, scheduled for May 31, 2024. MSCI, a global leader in equity, fixed-income, and hedge fund indices, plays a pivotal role in shaping global investment trends.

During the March quarter of 2023-24, Indian mutual funds notably increased their holdings in Paytm. Mirae Mutual Funds elevated their shareholding to 2.39 crore shares (3.76 per cent), while Nippon Mutual Funds raised their stake to 1.66 per cent from 1.05 per cent over the same period. Consequently, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) witnessed an increase in stake to 6.86 per cent from 6.06 per cent.

The shareholding pattern available with the stock exchanges indicates that domestic mutual funds boosted their stake in Paytm by 1.77 per cent, reaching 6.15 per cent from 4.99 per cent at the end of the December quarter of the fiscal year. Retail investors also saw an uptick in shareholding, rising from 12.85 per cent to 14.53 per cent sequentially, while Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) witnessed an increase from 0.67 per cent to 0.85 per cent.

Simultaneously, FPI shareholding in Paytm surged by 2.49 per cent to 20.19 per cent in Q4-2023-24, with new investors including Tiger Pacific Capital, Societe Generale, and Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global investing in the stock. Notably, in February this year, Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) Pte. – ODI acquired 50 lakh shares of Paytm worth Rs 243.6 crore in a bulk deal, as confirmed by the company.

Abhilash Pagaria, head of Nuvama Alternative and Quantitative Research, expressed bullish sentiments on India’s equity markets, attributing it to active participation from mutual funds and High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs)/retailers. Paytm currently boasts 60.4 per cent holdings by FIIs as of the March quarter of 2023-24.

Following NPCI’s approval on March 14, 2024, to onboard OCL as a Third-Party Application Provider (TPAP) on the Multi Payment Service Provider API Model, Paytm has expedited integration with Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India (SBI), and YES Bank. All four banks are now operational on the TPAP, facilitating a streamlined process for Paytm to transition user accounts to these Payment Service Provider (PSP) banks.

Moreover, Paytm is directing its focus towards UPI Lite wallet, targeting users preferring wallets for low-value everyday payments. Paytm UPI Lite serves as an on-device wallet, allowing users to store funds and make hassle-free payments without requiring a PIN. It promises lightning-fast transactions that never fail, offering convenience and efficiency to users on the go.

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RBI warns NBFCs to stay alert for financial system risks



Deputy Governor Swaminathan J of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) emphasized the imperative for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) to bolster their governance and assurance functions while remaining vigilant against potential risks and vulnerabilities. Speaking at an interaction in Mumbai, attended by about 280 participants from over 100 NBFCs, Deputy Governors M Rajeshwar Rao and Swaminathan J addressed the attendees.

The conference, primarily targeting Heads of Assurance Functions such as Chief Compliance Officers, Chief Risk Officers, and Heads of Internal Audit of select NBFCs, focused on the critical role of these functions in ensuring the stability and resilience of the financial sector. Swaminathan J underscored the heightened exposure of NBFCs to various risks, including cybersecurity threats and operational vulnerabilities. He articulated the RBI’s expectations regarding assurance functions, emphasizing the need for independent and effective oversight mechanisms.

Highlighting specific risks such as cybersecurity threats, operational challenges, credit risks arising from rule-based credit models, and liquidity risks, Swaminathan J conveyed the RBI’s supervisory expectations from regulated entities. The emphasis was on fostering fair and transparent conduct towards customers while ensuring robust risk management practices within NBFCs.

Deputy Governor M Rajeshwar Rao also contributed to the discourse by shedding light on contextual issues relevant to assurance functions. He discussed topics such as third-party dependencies, operational risks, customer conduct, and transparency in operations. Rao elaborated on the transformative journey witnessed in the Indian financial landscape and the significant contribution of the NBFC sector to this evolution.

The conference, attended by senior officials including Executive Directors S C Murmu, Saurav Sinha, J K Dash, and Rohit Jain, alongside representatives from the Regulation and Supervision departments of the RBI, featured technical sessions on the three Assurance Functions led by Chief General Managers of the RBI. These sessions aimed to delve into the nuances of governance, risk management, and internal audit within the NBFC sector.

Additionally, presentations were made by Heads of Assurance Functions from select NBFCs, offering insights into best practices and challenges encountered in their operational domains. The overarching theme of the event, ‘Resilient Financial System – Role of Effective Assurance Functions’, underscored the pivotal role of these functions in fostering stability and resilience within the financial ecosystem.

The conference, part of a series of supervisory engagements organized by the RBI over the past year with its regulated entities, exemplified the central bank’s commitment to proactive regulatory oversight. By facilitating dialogue and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders, such initiatives aim to enhance risk awareness, promote adherence to regulatory standards, and fortify the overall integrity of the financial system.

Previous iterations of this series included a conference for Heads of Assurance Functions of Scheduled Commercial Banks held in January 2024. The recurrence of such engagements underscores the regulatory focus on fostering robust governance frameworks and risk management practices across diverse segments of the financial sector.

In summary, the interaction between RBI Deputy Governors and Heads of Assurance Functions of NBFCs served as a platform to underscore the importance of governance, risk management, and internal audit in safeguarding the stability and resilience of the financial system. Through collaborative efforts and proactive engagement, regulators and industry stakeholders endeavour to promote a sound and resilient financial ecosystem conducive to sustainable growth and stability.

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