India is world’s 40th most competitive economy: WEF

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy — slipping one place from last year’s ranking — on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which is topped by Switzerland.

On the list of 137 economies, Switzerland is followed by the US and Singapore in second and third places, respectively.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report released today, India has slipped from the 39th position to 40th while neighbouring China is ranked at 27th.

“India stabilises this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years,” the report said, adding that the score has improved across most pillars of competitiveness. These include infrastructure (66th rank), higher education and training (75) and technological readiness (107), reflecting recent public investments in these areas, it added.

According to the report, India’s performance also improved in ICT (information and communications technologies) indicators, particularly Internet bandwidth per user, mobile phone and broadband subscriptions, and Internet access in schools.

However, the WEF said the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

“A big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy,” it noted.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India.South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

“Improving ICT infrastructure and use remain among the biggest challenges for the region: in the past decade, technological readiness stagnated the most in South Asia,” WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation are the 12 pillars.

According to WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey 2017, corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.

The survey findings are mentioned in the report.

“Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

Big data analytics to become $16 billion industry by 2025

The sector is expected to reach USD 16 billion by 2025 and register CAGR of 26 per cent over next five years.

Big data analytics sector in India is expected to witness eight-fold growth to reach $16 billion by 2025 from the current $2 billion, industry experts said here.

The sector is expected to reach $16 billion by 2025 and register CAGR of 26 per cent over next five years, they said.

According to these experts, India is currently among top 10 big data analytics markets in the world and Nasscom has set a target of making the country one among the top three markets in the next three years.

“The government, industry and academia can collaborate to build an ecosystem to generate sustainable solutions by harnessing the power of big data and digital innovation,” said WNS Global Services Group CEO Keshav Murugesh said.

“The combined power of harnessing big data and digital solutions can drive tremendous results in improving the citizen experience, implementation efficiency and boosting the nation’s economy,” added Murugesh.

Speaking at the ‘Emerging Worlds Conference’ workshop organised by Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) in collaboration with MIT Media Labs, Murugesh said, “India is a diversified country with a wide array of challenges, and it is pertinent that we as citizens of this country, innovate to find effective solutions that can make a difference to the billion lives that live here.”

“If big data can be put to cutting-edge use for our corporations and clients, it can very well be a catalyst for the economy and the country,” he added.

The workshop brought together industry leaders, technical experts, data scientists, innovators, academic institutions, implementation collaborators and progressive corporate collaborators to source national challenges and potential solutions.

Singapore’s automation incentives draw tech firms, boost economy

A Universal Robots employee demonstrates how a model of their industrial robot arms works in Singapore March 3, 2017.

Foreign precision engineering firms are investing more in Singapore, drawn by strong semiconductor demand and government incentives aimed at re-tooling an economy short of skilled labor.

The city-state is running programs worth billions of dollars to support productivity, automation and research, attracting global chipmakers including U.S.-based Micron Technology Inc and Germany’s Infineon Technologies.

This investment rush into electronics helped the technology sector log 57 percent output growth on average in October-February from a year ago, and kept Singapore from recession late last year.

“I’ve lived in Europe, I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve spent a lot of time in Taiwan and other countries. From a proactive standpoint, Singapore is about as good as it gets,” said Wayne Allan, vice president of global manufacturing at Micron, adding the Singapore government’s long-term vision was key to Micron expanding its investment.

Taking advantage of government grants, Micron is investing $4 billion to make more flash-memory chips in Singapore. It increased output by a third in the second half of last year and expects similar growth in the first half of this year.

Linear Technology Corp, a maker of analog integrated circuits, has opened a third chip testing facility in Singapore, and will produce 90 percent of its global test equipment in the city-state.

All this has created something of a virtuous circle in the semiconductor supply chain, with chip testing equipment supplier Applied Materials reporting record shipments to Singapore last year, said its regional chief, Russell Tham.

It’s unclear how much of this revival in Singapore’s $40 billion chip industry is due to a so-called ultra-super-cycle in the global memory chip sector, and Singapore remains a smaller player than South Korea and Taiwan.

“It is vulnerable to a pull-back,” said Nomura economist Brian Tan. “If there’s a turnaround in the semiconductor industry … it becomes a lot more apparent that the underlying growth momentum is not great.”


However, there are real signs that the targeted government incentives are helping firms move up the value chain.

One of the larger programs is the Productivity and Innovation Credit, where Singapore has budgeted S$3.6 billion ($2.6 billion) for 2016-18. Another S$400 million automation support package is aimed at small firms, and a S$500 million Future of Manufacturing plan encourages testing new technologies.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry says it encourages manufacturers to “embrace disruptive technologies” such as robotics. “These measures will help ensure the manufacturing sector in Singapore remains globally competitive,” it said, attributing the strong semiconductors performance partly to demand from China’s smartphone market and improved global semiconductor demand.

For Feinmetall Singapore, whose products are used for testing semiconductor wafers, grants covered about two thirds of the $100,000 cost of a needle-bending machine it needed to help overcome an island-wide labor shortage.

“If we use the same methods as before … I don’t think we can expect any growth,” said Sam Chee Wah, the company’s general manager, noting Feinmetall Singapore struggled to retain some workers for much longer than a year, even after nine months of training.

GlobalFoundries Singapore, a wafer maker, has spent $50 million on 77 robots, each able to perform the tasks of 3-4 workers. This has helped the company move up the value chain into parts for self-driving cars and security-related chips for credit cards and mobile payments, says general manager KC Ang.

Singapore now has about 400 robots per 10,000 workers, the world’s second-highest density after South Korea. Most robots are used in electronics, according to the International Federation of Robots.

And further developments are in the pipeline.


At its Singapore manufacturing hub, Infineon is developing productivity tools such as robotics and automated guided vehicles which it hopes to deploy to other production sites. Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors is also developing vehicle-to-everything technology, enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and roadside infrastructure.

Instead of trying to compete with high-volume producers such as China or Malaysia, Singapore has shifted to higher-end products, said Jagadish C.V., head of Systems on Silicon Manufacturing, another firm making semiconductor wafers.

“So you do the products which others can’t do so easily,” he said, adding his firm had shifted most of its output to specialized products, such as chips used in smartphones.

CK Tan, President of the Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association, noted the global chip industry is automating faster than other sectors because of cost pressure, a need to eliminate or reduce error, and have a consistent process control.

“In Singapore, it’s even more important for us to … look at how to speed up or increase the level of automation because of the lack of skilled resources,” he said. “The industry has recognized it has to move upscale. The government incentives play a part to allow the manufacturing side to be relevant, to be at least cost competitive.”

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said first-quarter growth in manufacturing – up 6.6 percent year-on-year, while overall GDP was up 2.5 percent – was due mainly to output expansion in electronics and precision engineering.

Integrated circuits were Singapore’s biggest export product among non-oil domestic exports in January-March, topping S$6 billion ($4.29 billion), according to trade agency IE Singapore.

($1 = 1.3972 Singapore dollars)


UAE firm launches world’s 1st offsite manufacturing park in TN

The world’s largest and first fully integrated industrial park has been opened in Tamil Nadu by a NRI-owned multinational group based in the UAE that specialises in innovative offsite manufacturing technology.

KEF Infra, the infrastructure subsidiary of KEF Holdings yesterday launched the KEF Infra One Industrial Park, the fully integrated offsite manufacturing park in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu.

The park is built on an area of one million square feet and developed at an investment of Rs 650 crore, the company said in a release.

The chief guest for the occasion was Narayana Murthy, Founder of Infosys and Faizal E Kottikollon, Founder and Chairman, KEF Holdings, Shabana Faizal, Vice Chairperson, KEF Holdings, Sumesh Sachar, CEO, KEF Infra among others were also present.

The park features a diverse range of cutting-edge technology that can revolutionise manufacturing and delivery processes in the construction industry.

“Today, India is at the cusp of growth led by innovation and we are pioneering an age where technology is being effectively integrated into infrastructure, thus heralding industrial revolution 4.0. Our aim is to fast forward this progress by radically changing the landscape of infrastructure in India.

“Offsite manufacturing of infrastructure reduces delivery time by up to two-thirds, thereby speeding up the construction process. The launch of KEF Infra One is a step towards our vision of pushing forth the next phase of India’s growth through world class infrastructure and we are proud to present this to the world,” Kottikollon said who was born into an industrialist family in Kerala.

Narayana Murthy said India has always been on the path of development, and with the arrival of technology, has witnessed exponential growth.

“However, every sector that contributes to India’s progress is supported by infrastructure that is future-ready. This is where KEF Infra is a true pioneer and is helping shape the future of the infrastructure industry as well as that of the country as a whole,” he said.


US, India to boost defence ties, fast-track co-production

India and the US have ramped up their defence and strategic ties by agreeing to fast-track co-production ventures as their defence ministers held wide-ranging talks on regional and global security issues besides discussing the growing menace of terrorism.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his American counterpart Ashton Carter held one-and-a-half hour long closed door discussions yesterday during which the two leaders “reviewed the cooperation between our armed forces which have grown stronger”.

Parrikar said India and US share a strategic partnership that reflects their shared values and interests. Defence and security cooperation is a vital component of this partnership, he said.

Describing the Indo-US defence partnership as an anchor of global security, Carter said the Obama Administration is ready to further strengthen this relationship.

“The Indo-Asia-Pacific is one of the most consequential parts of the world for America’s future. And we welcome India’s rise as a security partner in a region where half of humanity lives, and half of the world’s economic activity takes place,” Carter told reporters at a joint news conference with the visiting Indian Defence Minister.

Carter informed Parrikar that the US has updated its policy on gas-turbine engine technology transfer to India to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components.

As a result of this policy update, Carter said that the US will be able to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components.

Carter and Parrikar look forward to US companies working with their Indian counterparts to submit transfer requests that will benefit from this updated policy, said a joint statement.

During the meeting, the two leaders discussed ways and means to move the ambitious Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) forward.

Expressing satisfaction with DTTI progress to date, the two committed themselves to identifying additional projects for possible co-development and co-production of high technology items that meet the transformational intent of DTTI, the joint statement said.

This was the third meeting between the two leaders in less than six months.

Yesterday the two leaders stayed together for nine hours, including four hours abroad USS Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

“Through our meetings today and expanded cooperation in the days to come, the US-India defence partnership will become an anchor of global security, as together, we work towards a common future, a common future between the United States and India that is destined,” Carter said.
“This is a relationship that will be critical in strengthening the Indo-Asia-Pacific security architecture, so that everyone there can continue to rise and prosper,” said the US Defence Secretary.

Carter said he and Parrikar discussed the progress that has been made towards cooperation on jet engines and aircraft carrier design and construction as well as opportunities to collaborate on additional projects of interest, which will also further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ policy.

Parrikar said their desire is to further collaborate in the higher-end technologies within the framework of DTTI.

“The assurance I have, and I am confident of that India is placed at a level which would ensure that red tapism is cut. I think this is the biggest take home one can get. We have got a very clear promise and we have been experiencing it that our issues are fast-tracked,” he told reporters.

Parrikar said some US companies have shown interest in setting up manufacturing base in India for fighter jets for which India has asked the Pentagon if there is any advance clearance system from their side.

“They (US) are very positive on that,” the Minister said adding that the US side has indicated that pre-approval could be considered on all such proposals coming from companies like Boeing and Lockheed.

As many as 17 new ideas for cooperation under the DTTI are also being discussed.

“We have identified many new areas for cooperative research and development, and both sides are committed to continue to exchange ideas in the search for additional projects for possible co-development and co-production that meet the spirit of DTTI,” he said.

Both sides said that progress has been made on the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) pathfinder projects which include the Raven mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), “roll-on, roll-off” mission modules for C-130J aircraft, Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources (MEHPS) and Next Generation Protective Ensemble (NGPE) for soldiers.

The two leaders discussed range of regional security issues, including the threat posed by the Islamic State and entities such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, D Company, the Haqqani Network and other regional terror groups, according the joint statement.

Parrikar said in all his meetings in the US, terrorism was one of the key issues of discussions with American leadership.

“The issue of terrorism was a key topic discussion in all engagements Terrorism has become a global phenomenon and requires a comprehensive response. Terrorists of all shades and affiliations must be countered without any differentiation,” he told reporters.

Carter said terrorism of all kinds in South Asia has been and remains a serious problem. India, he said, has been attacked and is continuously threatened with attack from terrorists. However, India has ruled out any enhancement of its role

in the Middle East in view of the emergence of deadly ISIS in Syria and Libya.

Parrikar said there has been no change in India’s policy on participating only in UN approved peacekeeping missions.

But India is and has been sharing intelligence with the US on issues related to terrorism, he said.