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Open Network for digital commerce

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How ONDC aims to change the Indian e-commerce industry.

Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd June 2022

The lockdown brought about a dramatic growth of e-commerce in the past few years, which has hampered the business of physical retailers.With super high class companies who have invested billions of dollars in research and development in India we have been going through the abuse of ‘aggregator superpower’ a monopolising model of e-commerce. Allegations by CAIT and others have ranged from predatory pricing and prioritising certain sellers to the foreign ownership of Amazon and Flipkart. 

An attempt by the Indian government is being made to break down giant monopolies like amazon, flip kart, swiggy and so on with the introduction of ONDC which is supposed to be as revolutionary as UPI itself. It will not just be limited to products but also to services such as mobility, grocery, food order and delivery, hotel booking and travel, and many others. 

ONDC is an open technology network based on open protocol which is expected to digitise the entire value chain, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for consumers.

 The official government note was circumspect. “ONDC is a globally first-of-its-kind initiative that aims to democratise digital commerce, moving it from a platform-centric model to an open network,” it said. “[It] will enable buyers and sellers to be digitally visible and transact through an open network. No matter what platform or application they use.”

E-commerce is a complex business where every business has its unique supply chain and processes and standardisation is a challenge. It would require reconfiguration, including a complete revamp of their systems and losing advantages like control over the user interface and consumer behaviour insights. For the government however it will provide better control over what is sold and bought. In UPI, a recent government stipulation set a market share limit of 40 per cent for any service provider, which immediately dampens the growth of a market leader PhonePe which is owned by Walmart outside India.

In a marketplace-centric model, a buyer first selects a platform and then searches for a product there where then platform acts as an intermediary for the buyer and seller. In the new model, the buyer will search for the product first and then pick the right seller offering that item. The platform the seller is on becomes secondary. It aims at promoting open networks developed on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform. This provides all the small and medium fishes in the ocean with an opportunity to grow big, and simultaneously give a boost to Make in India.

“It’s (Open Network for Digital Commerce) an idea whose time has come. We owe it to the millions of small sellers to show an easy way to participate in the new high-growth area of digital commerce,” Nilekani, the co-founder and non-executive chairman of Infosys, himself supported this platform. 

This makes it the most potent weapon the ruling dispensation has yet unleashed on India’s e-commerce duopoly.

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Pet breeders stand to lose license if unregistered

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Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 24th May 2022

More than three years after the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, making it mandatory for pet shops to be registered with the respective State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB) companies still go one to flout laws.

On June 13, 2021 Corporation officials said they are now keeping a close eye on the pet trade and are ready to seize the shops if the owners do not get valid registration and trade licences.

As per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, no person should sell or trade in pet animals, whether retail or wholesale, or establish operate a pet shop, or any other establishment engaged in sale, purchase or exchange of pets without obtaining a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board (AWB).

On 26th august 2021 the petitioner’s counsel Sanjukta Dey told the bench that she had visited shops in Crawford Market and Kurla as recently as three days ago and found violations of the earlier high court order, which had directed immediate closure of such illegal shops. The shops require permission from the State Animal Welfare Board and they had seen puppies being drugged and animals kept out in the sun or out in the rain with no food or water. Due to the continued lack of regulation, illegal pet shops have mushroomed all over the city. It is alleged that such establishments are keeping animals domesticated as well as wildlife from India and abroad in “utterly unhygienic conditions” and the life and liberty of thousands of animals are at stake as they languish and die in miserable conditions in unlicensed and unregulated pet shops. They are also often taken away from mothers a a young age.

May 23 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Delhi government’s stand on a public interest litigation seeking directions on dealing with unregulated, unlicensed and illegal pet shops operating in the city.

“The non-implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018 is a complete dereliction of duty by the respondents (authorities), and by doing so, the respondents’ actions are affecting animal welfare negatively and preventing the compliance of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,” the petition filed through lawyers Supriya Juneja and Aditya Singla said.

Many pet shops and breeders operating in Mumbai are not licensed and the state urges pet owners to bring home pets only from licensed breeders.

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Govt. Plans to Cut Cooking Oil Tax

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The Indian market after seeing an unprecedented rise in the prices of edible oils plans to cut taxes on edible oil to keep the prices in check.

Khushi shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 5th May 2022

The war, combined with weather disruptions that limited harvests in other vegetable oil-producing regions, led to a supply shortage of sunflower oil. The ban by the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter on 28th April 2022, on the export on the widely used edible oil and all the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine that already upended the global agricultural trade in the world, sent oil prices skyrocketing in the market.

India is particularly sensitive to rising vegetable oil prices as it is dependent on imports for 60% of its needs. Inorder to keep the prices in check ,India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils is planning to cut taxes on some edible oils to cool the domestic market after the war in Ukraine. 

India has tried to reduce prices in the past, including reducing import duties on palm, soybean oil and sunflower oil, and limiting inventory to prevent stocking the oil.[ In September 2021] The import taxes on palm oil had been slashed to 2.5% from 10 %, while soy oil and sunflower oil had been reduced to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent. 

The reduction in these taxes were aimed at bringing down prices of the edible oils in India and boost consumption, effectively increasing overseas buying by the south Asian country.It would also bring down edible oil prices ahead of key festivals, when edible oil demand rises in the country

However, The moves so far have not been effective enough to cut down the rates of oil in the market 

India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils, wants to reduce the agricultural infrastructure and development cess on imports of crude palm oil to below 5% . According to reports, it is said that the government is now considering reducing import duties on crude varieties of canola oil, olive oil, rice bran oil and palm kernel oil from 35% to 5% to help boost domestic supplies. The new tax amount is still being deliberated The cess is levied over and above basic tax rates on certain items, and is used to finance agriculture infrastructure projects. The base import duty on crude palm oil has already been scrapped.

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C.I.A. picks Indian origin Chief Technological Officer – Nand Mulchandani

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Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd May 2022

Another Indian has raised the Indian flag abroad. Nand Moolchandani, who completed his schooling in Delhi, has been appointed as the first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US. 

With a degree in Computer Science and Math from Cornell, a Master of Science degree in Management from Stanford, and a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard, Nand Mulchandani will be leading a team of technologists at the C.I.A.  He will be working with experts who already deliver world-class intelligence and capabilities to help build a comprehensive technology strategy.

William J. Burns, the CIA Director made the announcement specifying that he has prioritised focusing on technology. Nand Mulchandani has more than 25 years of experience in Silicon Valley as well as the US Department of Defense (DoD) and can bring substantial private sector, startup, and government expertise to the Agency.

The man, who describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” in his Linkedn bio, prior to this position he served as the CTO and Acting Director of DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. He also co-founded and was CEO of several successful startups Oblix (acquired by Oracle), Determina (acquired by VMWare), OpenDNS (acquired by Cisco), and ScaleXtreme (acquired by Citrix).

His LinkedIn profile says: “I pivoted from my career in private industry to serve in the Government by joining the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center at the US Department of Defense where I am driving the DoD’s next-generation AI efforts.”In his new role, Mulchandani will ensure the Agency is leveraging cutting-edge innovations and scanning the horizon for tomorrow’s innovations to further the CIA’s mission.

He said on Linkedn “I tried to leave a few breadcrumbs at the end of my last post when I was leaving the Department of Defense with “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” And believe me, this was certainly an “offer I could not refuse”,” 

An Indian origin C.T.O. that collects, processes and analyses intelligence reports from around the world to strengthen national security of America is a new feather in the cap of not only Indian Diaspora, but also India at large.

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