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Toronto/Canadian-Media: Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce has brought out the January 2021 Newsletter.
ICCC January 2021 Newsletter
By Vijay Thomas
2021 promises to be a New Year with a big difference — it will be the year when we will all begin to see the back of Covid-19 — the horrific pandemic that continues to wreak havoc globally.
With the vaccine rollout steadily encompassing large swathes of world’s population, we will hopefully return to normalcy soon. But, as we hasten to leap back to the familiar, let us not forget the lessons that the pandemic and the lockdown have taught us.
And, as a technology entrepreneur, I root for the technological revolution that was ushered in during 2020 in every possible realm of our existence, and especially in the manner in which technology transformed our workspace.
By now, all of you are aware that I have taken over as the 32nd President of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC). We have a new team of directors — all experienced community leaders and nearly all of them successful entrepreneurs.
As the new leader of an established institution, I am aware of my responsibilities and duties and to fulfil them I have chalked out a three-pronged outreach strategy, and a three-pronged internal strategy. Let me adumbrate the outreach strategy first.
Growth — The Indo Canadian Diaspora in Canada especially the GTA has grown exponentially the last 10 years but the ICCC has really not been able to show a similar growth. This can be very easily be done by outreach within the professionally educated and affluent newer immigrants. As we attract a better membership, our membership start to become more aspirational — imagine a “Member of the ICCC” bumper sticker or an ICCC plaque in offices of Indo-Canadians.
Relevance — The ICCC should seek to make itself more relevant in the Indo-Canada business corridor and assist businesses from Canada and from India to look at each others’ markets more. We have the partnerships and the government connections to take this to the next level. The ICCC should also become a lobby group for the Indo Canadian business community.
Growth will also come from increasing our relevance to the second and third generation Indo-Canadians.
Digital — we have to have a digital first strategy and ensure that we still conduct our events as much as possible via a digital medium to enhance reach and also lower costs — the 2020 Gala cost only 20K versus nearly 200K for the 2019 Gala.
Read more: President’s Message
In the News
Ontario’s support to small businesses
“Small businesses are the heart of Ontario’s economy,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will help thousands of small businesses get through this difficult time, while strengthening our province’s economic recovery,” said Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade
The Ontario government has opened applications for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant, first announced in December, provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown. The tightened restrictions were put in place to help stop the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
“As Ontario’s employers do their part to defeat COVID-19, they are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of this global pandemic,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. “I encourage every eligible small business owner in Ontario to visit Ontario.ca/COVIDSupport to access the support our government has made available. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we can all look confidently to the future as we resolve to do our parts and put COVID-19 behind us.”
Small businesses required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for a one-time grant and use this funding in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business needs. For example, some businesses could need support paying employee wages, while others could need support with their rent.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
“Small businesses are the heart of Ontario’s economy,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will help thousands of small businesses get through this difficult time, while strengthening our province’s economic recovery.”
Read more: In the News
Indian PM’s pledge: Vaccine-production capacity to help all humanity.
On January 3, 2021, India announced emergency use authorization (EUA) for two COVID-19 vaccines. The first is for a vaccine developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca that is being manufactured in India by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India under the name of Covishield. This vaccine has already been approved for use in the UK. The other, an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, called Covaxin, has been granted ‘Monitored Approval.’ It is made by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research. Indian health authorities announced that from January 16, India would roll-out one of the most extensive immunization programs globally by immunizing more than 300 million people in the next six months.
The approval of Covaxin drew concern from some quarters. However, the issue had already been clarified by India’s Health Minister who said that the EUA for COVAXIN is differently conditional — in clinical trial mode. All Covaxin recipients will be tracked and monitored like in a regular trial. This approval ensures India has an additional vaccine shield in its arsenal against potential mutant strains in a dynamic pandemic situation — a strategic decision for our vaccine security. There were also some false reports that the Government of India has put restrictions on the export of vaccines. The Health Ministry in India has already clarified that the Government has not banned the export of any of the COVID vaccines.
The vaccines manufactured by Indian firms are most affordable and require less expensive infrastructure to store and transport. Unlike Covishield and Covaxin, which can be stored at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, Pfizer’s vaccine requires temperatures of minus 70. These India made vaccines open the possibility for vaccines to be equitably distributed across the globe. Indian pharmaceutical sector is among the most sophisticated globally, and Indian companies are major manufacturers of vaccines distributed worldwide, particularly those for low-income countries, supplying more than 60% of vaccines provided to the developing world. Without this capacity, there will not be enough vaccines to save the world. While addressing the United Nations last year, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had committed India’s vaccine-production capacity to help ‘all humanity’.
Read more: In the News
India’s Agriculture Reforms
The Indian Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the new farm laws and has formed a committee to examine them,
Meanwhile, more than 800 academics, researchers, scientists, and policy experts in India have issued a joint statement where, while expressing sympathy with the farmers’ protest, they pointed out that the three new agricultural laws would be of tremendous benefit to the farmers in India. Several Farmers’ Unions have also stated that they support the reforms and demanded that the laws should not be rolled back.
On December 18, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the farmers, strongly asserted that the existing regime of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for agricultural produce would continue. The issues surrounding the farm reforms have been politicized but there are compelling reasons to bring such reforms, the most important being the need to bring greater prosperity to farmers.
We share with our members information on the agriculture reforms provided by the High Commission of India in Ottawa.
Agriculture employs over 50% of Indians yet accounts for only 15% of India’s GDP. The bottlenecks include low farm productivity, fragmented land holdings, lack of storage infrastructure, and high indebtedness, are causing persistent agrarian distress in India.
Narendra Modi government’s bold moves to fundamentally reform one of the most important sectors of the Indian economy seek to change this.
Under the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, farmers now have the freedom to engage in contract farming. This legislation will obliterate the role of rent-seeking intermediaries and will lay the foundation of a true digitally enabled national agricultural marketplace, and hence a level playing field for all farmers. This paves the way for better land utilization and long-term financial security while providing access to modern technology and reducing the cost of marketing.
With the new Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, farmers will now able to sell their produce anywhere in the country as part of the ‘One Country One Market’ policy. This promises better pricing for agricultural produce and increased farmer incomes, which were previously squeezed by unscrupulous middlemen and cumbersome state taxes.
The uproar over Bills is misplaced for many reasons and politically motivated.
Read more: Insight
For more information, download following reports:
Agriculture Market Reforms: Fixing a Broken System (Report)
Agriculture Market Reforms: Fixing a Broken System (Presentation)
New Farm Acts — Understanding the Implications (Analysis)
By Rakesh Vijay
Exchange Trade Funds — A Primer
More and more investors are looking to Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) as part as their balanced portfolios. ETFs are hybrid securities; they are mutual fund trusts, but the units are listed and traded daily on major stock exchanges just like individual equities.
ETFs can come in many varieties from passive index tracking, quantitative based strategies, to full active management. Within the passive index based categories, commodities such as gold, silver, and oil as well as currencies, sectors, and specific industries are widely used and available. ETFs have also been developed to track a group of stocks from specific countries and regions, and others allow investors to emphasize growth or value stocks within a particular index. There are even ETFs designed to help investors profit from bull and bear markets by offering inverse and magnified exposure to the S&P/TSX 60 Index and other indices, sectors and commodities. To note, the latter category offering magnified exposure are high risk and recommended for short-term hold periods only.
Read more: Money Talk
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