USIBC Takes US-India Smart Cities Initiative Forward

USIBC takes next step to develop Smart Cities in follow-up to Modi-Obama September Joint Statement
The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) announced it has concluded its weeklong mission in India with the U.S.-India Smart Cities Conclave on Saturday. Senior Cabinet-level officials from the Government of India welcomed U.S. industry leaders to address concerns and promote ideas to advance the goal of developing Allahabad, Ajmer and Visakhapatnam into smart cities as articulated in the joint statement between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi earlier this year.


Smart Cities are the integration of information technology, telecommunications, urban planning, smart infrastructure and operations in an environment geared to maximize the quality of life for a city’s population.


Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu commented, “Smart Cities planned in India should reflect Indian culture and should not be a copy of any one model. There are a lot of opportunities for private-public partnerships in the area of smart-city development and the government is looking forward to involving everyone in these projects. Smart Cities in India will be people-centric and will aim at making life comfortable for all citizens.”


The conclave is the first of many events resulting from USIBC Chairman and MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga’s delegation meetings with ministry officials in June. Panels addressed the issues of economic development and financial viability of proposed projects.


“The Council and its member companies look to play an integral role in India’s commitment to build 100 Smart Cities across the nation and particularly in the three projects identified in September,” said USIBC (Acting) President Diane Farrell. “Smart Cities are sophisticated systems designed to simplify everyday life and USIBC has graciously accepted the invitation to visit the three cities.”


Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal noted that these Smart Cities “need to reflect a revolution and evolution of ideas.” Additional key government officials included Secretary, DIPP, Ministry of Commerce and Industry Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Shankar Aggarwal and Joint Secretary for Finance, Sharmila Chavaly and key U.S. Government officials.


A consortium of experienced industry leaders from USIBC member companies including, IBM, Cisco, Waste Management, Dow, GE and United Technologies Corporation discussed the role that industry will play as India develops Ajmer, Allahabad, and Visakhapatnam into Smart Cities and establishes sustainable economies and healthy communities.


The Conclave comes at the culmination of key business and government interactions throughout the week for the Council; including the India-U.S. Technology Summit, the very successful meeting of the U.S.-India High Technology Cooperation Group, and ahead of the Trade Policy Forum, reconvening after a four-year hiatus.

Best small business to start

Life is filled with special occasions. Special occasions bring people opportunities to greet their near and dear ones. One of the most effective and economical way of greeting people is with greeting cards. Setting up a greetings card shop can perhaps make one of the most lucrative businesses. You need to understand the likings and preferences of people. There are a number of readymade cards available from wholesale dealers and printers. You can source the greeting cards from them and display them in a neat way in your own shop. To start with, you can begin your venture in a little space. There are a number of ways in which you can further add more value to the cards you purchase. You may use some colorful ribbons, bead works, jewel enhancements and can further decorate the cards in myriad ways that will attract more number of people to your shop.

Cards are filled with sentiments. The messages contained in cards are highly powerful mediums to reach out the hearts of the recipients. People who gift the cards would like to see that their cards carry powerful custom messages neatly written with a calligraphic handwriting. Therefore, you may also offer to write out the message for the buyers if they prefer. You just need to tell them that such custom message services are available with you. If you are good in content making, you can also suggest them with the custom message that will suit their requirements. Thus, in the greeting cards business, you can add your painting sense, craft making talents, content writing skills and handwriting skills. Once people come to know that your cards carry more custom aspects and value added advantages, they will come to you and also refer you to others. You can charge them depending on the services you provide. In this way, greeting cards shop can make a lucrative business for small entrepreneurs.

Best small businesses in India

There are different kinds of rentals for varied needs of people. You can start a rental shop in several sectors. One of the most popular rentals shop is renting out cooking utensils and event needs. Cooking for big events require large utensils that people do not use every day. Therefore, the only way to get them is through renting out from utensil renting shops. The basic requirements for a utensil renting shop can be procured with little investment. You just need to invest the major part in buying the most popularly used kind of utensils from large scale manufacturers or wholesale suppliers. You can set up the renting outlet in a small space. Once you make a humble beginning, you can develop it eventually to great proportions.

In addition to cooking utensils, you can also include ready-made canopies to cover the event areas, tarpaulins, decorative festoons, hangings, background draperies and others. Once you set up your renting unit with the basic kind of items, you can expand your venture as you like in the long run. To run the renting business you need to know a few things. You need to take some advance from the people who rent out things from your shop. You need to make a proper inventory of the things that you supply and obtain their signature against the list of items supplied. It is always advisable to have your own transport arrangements to transport the goods to and from the event venue. However, to begin with, you can make some contractual arrangements with rental transport vehicles. You may also collect the transport charges along with the rental charges. Once you supply quality materials and good looking decorative items, people will come back to your for their recurring needs besides referring you to others too. Thus you have an opportunity to develop your business to phenomenal heights.

Best small scale business ideas in India

Stationery shops are in great demand in several places. Especially at locations where you find private offices, government offices, schools and colleges, you have a huge potential to sell stationery. Stationery shops can be started with little investment to begin with. You just need to make a list of the most popularly needed things to start your venture. You can source the materials from wholesale suppliers or even manufacturers so that you can have a good margin for yourself upon selling your goods. Children love colorful things for their school use. Attractively covered notebooks, fancy stationery boxes and fancy pens sell well day in and day out. You need to stay with the trend and constantly look out for the likings in people and procure them for your shop. There are also a number of other things you can sell in your stationery shop.

Students do a lot of projects and assignments for their school purposes. You may also supply materials required for doing a variety of academic projects. Some shops also undertake to do the project items, experimental set ups and exhibition displays for the use of children. These kinds of added services will attract more customers to your shop. Have a wide range of options under every segment, but also plan how well you will minimize the investment and put the investment to rotation rather than getting stagnant on things that do not sell much. You may also include some books that contain information and data required for daily use like table books, dictionaries, guides and study support guides like encyclopedias. Charts and displays also sell like hot cakes. It will take some time for you to decide which will sell more than others and eventually you can gain a good amount of experience in the arena enabling you do a better job on the go.

MadRat Games Raises Funding From Founders of Flipkart, Pine Labs and GlobalLogic

unnamedMadRat games, India’s most innovative & one of the fastest growing physical toys & Games Company has raised around 1 million in a round of funds from Sachin and Binny Bansal (founders of Flipkart) and Pine Labs and Globallogic. The amount will be used mainly for branding, marketing and expansion. Other investors include the founders of IT outsourcing firm GlobalLogic – Rajul Garg (Also Co-Founder of SunStone Business School), Manoj Agarwala, Sanjay Singh and Tarun Upadhyay.

MadRat Games provide innovative toys & games to engage kids and help in their overall development. Since inception in 2010, the company has sold over 275,000 units and has partnered with Nokia, Google, Intel, Cornell & Government of India for original game development.  They have launched 70+ game titles in last year. The company has earlier raised a round of funding in 2012 from Blume Ventures and First Light Ventures.

Expressing the company’s view, Rajat Dhariwal, CEO MadRat Games said

“The toys & games industry in India is pre-historic with no major product or business innovation since the last decade. The big global players dump age-old products in the country and the small local players sell cheap replicas. The game form factors have not changed, there is absolutely no use of new technologies and the focus on learning is extremely low. Hence, a huge potential of game-based learning market has remains untapped. MadRat games aims to tap this market and encourage a patient and joyful form of parenting.”


Commenting on the investment, Sachin Bansal, Flipkart said,

“Innovation is at the core of MadRat’s approach to disrupt the market and led by a team of very talented individuals they enjoy a strong competitive advantage in the industry. The whole industry is likely to benefit from this disruption.”


Rajul Garg, co-founder of GlobalLogic and Sunstone Business School, also an investor in the round said

Our country is in a dire need of innovations in education, in this case, through toys and games for children.  I am confident in the MadRat Games team’s ability to capture this space and build a formidable business.”

Certification for entrepreneurs–ISO certification

While much fanfare is made about ISO certification, it is certainly a coveted achievement for businesses in the line of furthering their goals and aspirations. Let us first understand what this certification is all about. This certification is administered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), who is the largest developer and publisher of international standards on the globe. Most ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product, material, or process and more commonly adopted by manufacturers, where product quality control is critically needed for the supply chain management. Service firms are increasingly resorting to standardized quality management systems in an effort to bring additional value to their businesses.

The different components of ISO certification provide quality management systems and also quality assurance of a product, the ultimate goal being an enhanced customer satisfaction. Through the process of getting qualified for ISO certification, businesses can assess their own abilities to meet the customers in addition to complying with all the regulatory measures and the organization’s own quality aspirations. ISO 9001 standard can be described in other words as a process approach to applying and supporting quality management system. When the top management sets up some quality policy, objectives and goals, the ISO process ensures the quality goals are realized in reality, new goals are evolved and improvement is continuously enhanced on the go.

As a result of ISO certification, the clearly defined and completely documented procedures ensure a consistent output. The quality is constantly measured and enhanced. In case defects crop up, they are remedied on the go and the rate of defects is minimized. It is possible to correct defects in the early stages and rectified at lower costs. Even the new employees stay well informed of the various processes since everything is documented. The total result is increased sales and increased market share for the company.

ISO is the international certification given to products and services that comply with the established global standards and norms. ISO has more than 19 500 standards covering every single aspect of daily life. When a product or service is certified by ISO, the consumers have increased level of confidence that boosts up its marketability and sales. International Standards also offer some invaluable tools and guidelines to companies for solving some critical challenges connected to modern businesses. In the process of ensuring compliance with ISO standards, businesses can perfect their goods and processes by streamlining operations, improving efficiency, enhance productivity and maximize profits. In addition, guided by this experience they can easily venture into newer markets.

ISO certification process is rather highly complex. The auditor working for you considers factors including location, scope and experience of the business and performs an initial assessment audit. Thirty days before the audit, a copy of the audit plan is forwarded to the business by the auditor. Two weeks before the audit, a proper documentation must be submitted to the auditor. The audit takes place as per the plan. The audit process identifies non-compliance areas and generates a report. NCRs are entered into the Registrar’s online EQM system. The business works to resolve the NCRs. Once the review approves the closure of NCRs, the certificate of registration awarded and sent to the client.

ISO certification optimizes operations and improves bottom line thereby enabling cost savings. It significantly enhances customer satisfaction. It features environmental benefits and helps access new marts and grab more market share. ISO certification is a sure way to business development.

Best small business ideas from home

Wooden Furniture making is perhaps a small business that is in great demand. Wood has been one of the most widely used mediums for furniture, doors, cupboards, partitions, artistic products and others. With its wonderful applications and its amazing features as a material, wood has gained a very important place in the furniture world. Wood can be easily carved by hand or machine into a variety of products.

Since olden days, a greater number of things used in daily life were only made from wood and in this regard, wood is second to no other material even till today. However, one great concern is the availability of wood. Since the demand for wood has increased and the supply has shortage, the prices of wood have gone sky high and this fact makes it difficult for people to choose wood for their furniture needs.

There are a variety of woods. Each of them has its unique characteristic features. These days, a number of ply woods are available in the market that makes your job easier than ever. If you are interested in making and selling wooden furniture, you have a huge scope of finding a thriving business. To start a small business in wooden furniture making, you need not be an adept in carpentry. These days, there are machines for every task you will come across. Especially, wooden cutting, fixing, pasting, carving and designing are all done with the help of machines. Installing each of these machines will require some investment. Once you have a small space, have the basic training to operate these machinery and employ some assistant for you, you can really do a great job in this arena and make a good profit since there is a lot of demand for wooden furniture. Develop your own catalogue and source for the orders and make your way to success.

Best small business ideas in India

Though several applications and video shooting devices have come, digital photography always enjoys its unique niche in the industry. People wish to capture their memorable moments in photographs and for this purpose, they resort to photography. Photographs are nowadays processed and developed using a variety of photo editing software and artistically crafted in a variety of formats, layouts, backgrounds and designs. You can start your own small business in these lines if you love photography.

There are three dimensions to a business in photography talking of the gadgets required for the business. The first thing is the camera that is used to capture pictures. The second aspect is the software installed in a computer to work on these photographs. The third part is the printer that delivers prints in hard copy format. Once these three segments are procured to your budget and liking, you are now on your own to start a small business in photography.

Apart from the events photography, there is a huge demand for instant id cards. For a variety of purposes and for applying for a number of documents, people need passport size photographs. Such a need creeps up all of a sudden for some requirement and under those circumstances, most people would not like to wait. If you have a camera and a printer, then you can shoot pictures and instantly print them. Your name board can read, ‘instant passport size photographs’. This business is very easy to start and you can find a thriving prospect for one that is located in a central space in the city, especially near the government offices where people visit and apply for documents. This business rather requires a very small space and you can get instant money upon delivering the prints. Once you plan this properly and give a nice shape to it, you can probably find a lucrative business in digital photography.

Interview with Anandra George–Mantra Yoga and life coaching

Anandra GeorgeMantra is no more an esoteric word that has some secretive essence hidden in the far-off Himalayas with saffron clad or un-clad saints. Mantra is right there in your breath and in every thing that you do. It has its appeal to everyone who is sentient enough to listen to his/her own inner voice.

We present Anandra, who lives on Kaua’i island, Hawaii, and teaches mantra workshops and intensives worldwide, in an email interview with us telling her story how she developed the love for mantra.

For nearly 20 years, she’s been on “the path” and has been teaching and seeing private clients since 1999. An internationally respected mantra teacher, she is frequently invited to teach and lead chanting/kīrtan at the world’s largest yoga festivals. Her students from online meditation groups, workshops, and teacher trainings speak highly about their experiences.

You can visit her website here: TrueFreedomCoaching

Q1. What exactly is mantra yoga?

Mantra yoga is a vast and fascinating subject which spans the most intimate, practical connection between thought, word and deed… to the mystery of creation emanating from silence to sound, and sound to form. I’m sorry I can’t reduce my reply to a simple answer; it would be disrespectful to the Infinite to try!

I can say that everyone has a different entry point of experiencing the magic of mantra. Some grasp the practical benefits immediately, and some fly directly into esoteric expansion. The best way to understand it is to try it yourself, and let the vibrations of the sounds speak to you personally.

Q2. Coming from the West, how did you feel the connection with something that is apparently oriental?

All mystics must seek the source of the soundless sound…  so mantra yoga is very definitely universal.

Whether my body was born in the East or the West has little relevance. I appreciate, with awe and wonder, that we’re all given the meat suit that best serves our purpose for a particular incarnation. Mine just happens to be a “Made in America” woman’s body this time! How handy! How fun!

You might wonder how I made my way to India? I was quite surprised to be called to India when I was 18, by Satya Sai Baba, on the inner planes in meditation. He made the arrangements, shall we say, and I came. I knew when I first heard the sound of mantra that I had a very strong previous connection. I learned the Sāvitrī Gāyatrī first, and could remember it very easily.

I kept up a practice and learned many more mantras over the years. It was always when I practiced regularly (either silently or out loud) that I felt the most myself. So, when my father died an early death in 2008, with many unfulfilled dreams buried with his ashes, I vowed to spend my life doing what most inspired me. I’ve been focusing on mantra ever since; deepening my own practice and sharing the gift with others. I’m so inspired by the deep transformation in my international students and clients, I keep going!

Q3. What’s the benefit that a modern person can get from mantra yoga?

At the most basic level, the mantra can be like a life jacket to help us from drowning in negative thoughts, especially during tough times in life. Then, with regular practice, it helps us distinguish between the thinker and the thoughts, giving us the power to create/generate our life experience rather than react as victims of our family/societal conditioning. Eventually, we reach a point I like to call “divinely drunk” when we feel everything within and without pulsing in harmony… I wrote a lot more about the benefits of mantra practice in my free e-book – check it out!

Q4. What kind of clients do you get and what’s their response?

I have worked with all types of people over the past 15 years, but these days I coach mostly leaders, change-makers, teachers of teachers, and others who are really working to refine their service to humanity. It’s such a privilege to help them unravel their stubborn inner obstacles, see new perspectives on issues they’ve struggled with for years, and break through to new vistas of potential. Their response is overwhelmingly gratitude, and I delight in seeing them thrive.

Q5. Can kids be initiated into it?

If you can think, you can do mantra.

The term “initiation” requires further clarity, however. I don’t claim to be a guru or have supernatural powers. I’m simply teaching the practice of mantra for the benefit of all. With sincerity and dedicated practice, the brilliant word-sound-power behind the mantra (which is the guru principle itself) will initiate the practitioner.

One could argue that children — who generally have less covering and conditioning and more purity of heart — are already more tuned in to mantric consciousness than adults. Just observe their natural creativity and joy! Encouraging them to chant their favorite mantra to themselves could help them maintain their inherent brightness throughout their lives.

Q6. What’s your goal as an individual mantra practitioner?

My goal is to harmonize my life inside and out with the infinite love that is otherwise known as God. My own practice has a cyclical pattern, wherein sometimes I’m absorbed in bliss for days or weeks at a time and everything is very expansive and joyous. At other times, I can feel the mantra penetrating my inner membranes of out-dated belief systems, and it’s not necessarily fun to squirm as they get burnt away. During those times, I swallow my own medicine and stick with it. I’ve learned to relish tapasya because I value Truth=Love beyond all else. I keep going because the more pure I am, the more I can inspire and serve others.

Q7. A message to our audience.

Love your meditation! Savor the pause between breaths, the silence after the sound of chanting mantra.

In that magic space, your Self shines unimpeded, and your whole life can begin to project from that pure space.

Most of us chase after that feeling of fullness and peace outside, which we attempt to get from material things, food, relationships, job promotion, etc.

Give yourself radical permission to savor what’s already within you, shining as your very Self! You can access it daily, at will, in your meditation. Then, enjoyment of those temporary material experiences can evolve from craving to a magnificent celebration of abundance!



Tax Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs

As is the case of individuals, businesses that are sole proprietorship are also eligible for tax exemption under some conditions. If you own more than one business as a sole proprietor, you can pay the taxes of all the firms together as a single assessee. There are some procedures to calculate the total income of the individual. Total income refers to the net profit made by all the businesses and sole proprietorship firms run by you. Net profit in this case will mean the gross receipts or the total turnover minus all the expenses incurred in running the business and related to business. In other words, computing of the total income of an entrepreneur is arrived at by adding up the net profits of all the proprietorship businesses of the individual. The method of administering the accounts can prove to be highly useful for tax calculation. You can choose to maintain your accounts either on cash basis or on accrual basis.

While looking forward to minimize the tax liabilities, first identify all the expenses related to your business. For instance, if you run a sole proprietorship business from your home, it makes sense to calculate the rent to be given to the owner of the property though you pay it for your living. Always make it a point to handle the personal and business related expenses separately from each other. Besides the direct expenses, there are some common expenses that every business will incur, which you must know for proper account management.

  • Rent payable to the owner of the place where the business is run even if it is from your home. Know that proprietor cannot accept rent for the place that is owned by him
  • Expenses towards running and maintaining the business, finance expenses and depreciation of the vehicles used for the business
  • Expenditure towards maintaining the office furniture, computers and equipment, the interest cost and the depreciation
  • Expenses towards telephone, internet, communication, power generator and telephone and the running and maintenance cost of all these items.
  • Salaries and welfare expenses of the staff, travelling and conveyance expenses
  • Stationery, books, newspapers, magazines and periodicals, computer and office consumables, cost of advertising, business promotion and website expenses

There are a few points you need to note with regard to maintaining the accounts with special reference to taxation. Support all your expenses with proper evidence; never make cash payments beyond a certain amount; and always deduct the TDS applicable and deposit the same.

Under different sections of the laws of taxation, tax deductions are applicable for investments in insurance, mutual funds, PPF, education, and housing loan up to one lakh. Also, check the deductions applicable for investment in infrastructure bonds, mediclaim policies, rent paid for residence and donations given to charity organizations.

You may also check the special provisions available for small businesses, provision that gives room for adjustment of losses, and the advantages given for setting up business in special economic zones. By working on several aspects in the lines specified above, you can hope to make considerable saving on the taxes payable. Once you probe your auditors, they can suggest you with more tax saving tips.

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