Indian officials hold first talks with Taliban in Afghanistan | Taliban News

Bilateral ties and humanitarian support mentioned within the first such go to to Kabul because the group took management of Kabul final yr.

A group of Indian officers has met the performing international minister of Afghanistan to debate bilateral ties and humanitarian support, the Taliban stated, in what was the primary such go to to Kabul because the group took management of the nation final yr.

Poverty and starvation have rocketed in Afghanistan because the Taliban took energy after the USA pulled out, and India has despatched meals grains and different support.

The Taliban administration’s performing international minister, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, met an Indian international ministry delegation led by JP Singh, a secretary within the ministry.

“The assembly targeted on India-Afghan diplomatic relations, bilateral commerce and humanitarian support,” Taliban international ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi stated on Twitter.

Balkhi stated the minister known as the go to a “good starting in ties between the 2 international locations”.

India has no formal diplomatic ties with the Taliban authorities, however its envoys have beforehand met Taliban representatives in Doha, the capital of Qatar, the place the group has an workplace.

Requested if New Delhi now formally recognised the Taliban administration, Indian international ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi instructed reporters they have been “studying far an excessive amount of into the go to”.

The ministry earlier stated in a press release the officers would oversee the supply of humanitarian help and go to areas focused by Indian-backed programmes or tasks.

India has donated about 20,000 tonnes of wheat, 13 tonnes of medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and gadgets of winter clothes, with extra medication and meals grains on the best way, it stated.

India pulled its officers out of Afghanistan final August and closed its embassy, though it’s eager to retain ties with the nation the place its regional rival Pakistan wields appreciable affect.

Bagchi declined to say when the embassy is perhaps reopened, besides to say that native employees had continued to perform and guarantee correct upkeep and maintenance of its premises there.

Muttaqi expressed gratitude for the Indian humanitarian and medical help to Afghanistan, stressing the significance of the resumption of tasks by India, its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and the supply of consular providers to Afghans, significantly to Afghan college students and sufferers, Balkhi stated.

Earlier than the Taliban took management, India offered Afghan safety forces with coaching and navy tools however had no troops on the bottom. It was additionally the area’s largest supplier of improvement support to Afghanistan.

Funding winter descends on Indian startups  | Business and Economy News

Bengaluru, India–In January, the founders of a business-to-business e-commerce startup had been seeking to increase $20m, in alternate for a 15 p.c stake. Whereas they had been speaking to a few to 4 buyers to finalize the deal, a brand new investor swooped in with a greater supply: $50m for a 17 p.c stake, valuing the almost three-year-old enterprise at a hefty $200m. Two days later, the investor gave the thrilled founders a time period sheet, which is a non-binding supply.

However in March, citing causes like “low margins” of their enterprise, the investor pulled the deal, leaving the founders with nobody else to lift cash from and placing a sudden finish to their aggressive growth plans. That enterprise capital fund gave “random causes” earlier than pulling the deal, stated an investor conversant in how the deal fell by, requesting anonymity because the conversations had been personal.

“The investor didn’t even inform the founders immediately, simply informed the opposite buyers that they’re out.”

Whereas one other mid-stage startup founder within the monetary know-how house did handle to shut a collection C spherical, it was at a decrease valuation than what companies had been elevating final 12 months and it “wasn’t straightforward,” he stated. The primary motive, he stated, was as a result of by the point he began speaking to buyers, “the costs had began to right and valuations had begun dropping.”

This appears to be the story for a lot of mid-to-late stage startups lately. These are companies with a longtime market presence and had simply raised cash previously, and are anticipated to deal with chopping spending slightly than chasing development at excessive prices. After elevating file funds in 2021, these startups are actually both struggling to lift cash or are seeing buyers rescind provides on the final minute, startups complain.

As an example, an agritech startup that had raised funds 5 months again and was near finalizing a $15m collection A spherical in Might from a enterprise capital agency, noticed the deal collapse, forcing the founders to search for methods to increase their runway – the period of time a startup can maintain functioning with out operating out of cash – or pause formidable enterprise plans till they acquired extra funds.

Some founders are additionally being requested to take cash in a down spherical, elevating cash at a decrease valuation when in comparison with their earlier fund raises.

Some that raised successive rounds of funding within the final two years in a short while with excessive valuations might not have the ability to increase any funds for the following 12 months no less than as buyers stress a sustainable enterprise mannequin and a path to profitability, say a number of buyers that Al Jazeera spoke with, requesting anonymity.

These buyers cited startups like e-commerce companies Meesho and Udaan. Meesho declined to remark, whereas Udaan denied the declare, citing its current $250m fundraise by debt and convertible notes.

They’re not alone. Cred, Groww, Slice, and Unacademy are another startups which have beforehand had profitable fundraises and are actually taking time to shut their subsequent funding spherical, in response to a Cash Management report. Many of those firms had raised a number of rounds final 12 months with a niche of three to 4 months. Now it’s taking them six months to a 12 months.

‘It’s formally winter’

“It will likely be very brutal this time,” stated Anand Lunia, a accomplice at early-stage enterprise capital agency Indian Quotient. “Final 12 months noticed 3x the standard VC exercise. This 12 months solely one-third of these might be getting follow-on funding…. Both the corporate must be written off or the corporate might be marked down. Since listed firms are down 80 p.c plus, comparable markdowns are logical, however just for the businesses that may survive.”

These are early indicators of a funding winter slowly setting in, the place buyers are asking powerful questions concerning the startup’s sustainability, particularly towards the backdrop of world market uncertainty.

“I believe it’s formally winter,” stated Vinod Shankar, co-founder and accomplice at early-stage enterprise capital agency Java Capital. “It was apparent earlier when Tiger [Global] was strolling out,” he stated referring to a shift in technique by New York-based funding agency Tiger World Administration, which went from aggressively investing in late-stage firms final 12 months when it pumped in almost $2.6bn throughout 63 offers in India, in response to knowledge by Enterprise Intelligence, to now specializing in early-stage offers. “Everyone seems to be getting cautious and it’s very clear that on the mid-and-late stage, the cash is barely accessible for the actually good ones—it’s not going to be as straightforward as earlier than.”

Final 12 months, some 1,400 Indian startups raised a whopping whole of just about $38bn — the best in a given 12 months and 3 times the cash raised in 2020. Many of those startups raised two to a few successive rounds, skyrocketing their valuations in a brief interval. As an example, edtech large Byju’s, which was valued at $11bn in late 2020, raised funds throughout a number of tranches in 2021 catapulting its valuation to $18bn. Equally, Apna, a market for blue and gray collar jobs, raised $70m at a $570m valuation in June 2021, which just about doubled inside months when it raised $100m in September at a $1.1bn valuation — unusually excessive for a startup that’s lower than two years outdated.

Apna was among the many greater than 40 startups that had been declared unicorns, that means their valuation touched or crossed $1bn. Tiger World performed a major position in making this occur for greater than half of the unicorns, together with Apna, because it aggressively made mid and late-stage offers.

Different funds that stacked up investments in Indian startups embody Japan’s Softbank Group, which pumped $3bn in 2021, and Sequoia Capital, which raised two funds cumulatively value $1.3bn in 2020 to put money into India and southeast Asia. A few of the different late-stage funds sometimes energetic in India embody Prosus Ventures and Coatue Administration.

The BYJU'S learning app is demonstrated on a tablet in Bengaluru, India
Edtech is likely one of the sectors that’s now seeing a funding freeze [File: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg]

Within the final a number of months, nonetheless, Tiger World has shifted technique, solely investing in early-stage offers. Its first seed funding in India was earlier this month when it co-led a $2.6m spherical in e-commerce enablement startup Shopflo. Even SoftBank stated it will decelerate on investments this 12 months. The general funding stoop may also be seen within the month-to-month numbers: Indian startups raised $1.7bn in Might, a 34 p.c drop from the $2.65bn in April.

“The identical funds that had been chasing late-stage founders final 12 months usually are not even answering their calls or responding to emails within the final six weeks,” stated an early-stage enterprise capitalist, requesting anonymity as a result of this element was shared with him in a personal dialog.

One more reason for the funding crunch, consultants say, is the general public market stoop. In April, the NASDAQ composite index fell 13 p.c with among the prime know-how shares plummeting. Restricted companions — who put money into enterprise funds, cash which is then invested in startups — sometimes have stakes in listed firms and debt, which they promote to put money into enterprise companies. “That’s how the cash move works,” stated Subramanya S V, founder and chief government of fintech startup Fisdom. “So when public markets right, personal markets get hit with a lag,” he added, explaining the current funding squeeze. That, in flip, has led to a “important shift” within the questions that buyers are asking “from person development to profitability and revenues, income multiples, how will this be valued at exit,” he stated.

Justify valuations

Whereas the funding crunch has affected startups throughout sectors, edtech firms, demand for whose companies rose in the course of the pandemic, appear to be the worst hit and are chopping prices, and even closing store.

Edtech startup Vedantu introduced on Might 18 that it laid off greater than 400 individuals — 7 per cent of its workforce— which got here simply weeks after it fired 200 individuals. On the similar time, Unacademy removed about 10 p.c of its workforce, whereas edtech agency Udayy shut operations after not with the ability to increase funds. Those shedding individuals “nonetheless have cash within the financial institution, however are taking a look at methods to cut back their bills in order that they will prolong their runway,” stated an investor with a enterprise debt fund, requesting anonymity.

Buyers say the shake-out will depart the higher startups standing. “We see later stage rounds slowing down in tempo, and focus of capital in direction of market leaders, class winners,” stated Manish Kheterpal, founder and managing accomplice at Waterbridge Ventures. “General this multiplied correction for EdTech, SaaS, HealthTech sort sectors is a wholesome change for enchancment in high quality of companies and deal with constructing enduring companies.”

What’s occurring in India is a mirrored image of a sentiment that’s enjoying out globally, buyers say. Some enterprise capital companies have began to difficulty warnings concerning the impending funding crunch. Sequoia Capital, the marquee investor agency with headquarters in Menlo Park, California, in a 52-slide presentation, informed its founders to preserve money because of the uncertainty and alter introduced by the mixture of “turbulent monetary markets, inflation and geopolitical battle”. Startup accelerator Y Combinator issued an identical warning. In India, edtech startup Unacademy’s founder Gaurav Munjal additionally warned his staff concerning the funding winter for the following 12 to 24 months, making profitability their precedence.

“It is a cyclical occasion and naturally, many startups will come out of it,” stated India Quotient’s Lunia. “However this time, even very effectively funded startups received’t survive [because] the distinctive function of this increase was that startups had been constructed round untenable foundations and had been merely chasing capital. We’ll see many of those pivoting to change into Zombies.”

Regardless of this, the scenario doesn’t look as grim for early stage startups for now. These firms are principally pretty early of their life cycle and lift cash from both angel buyers, or early-stage funds, which is likely one of the the reason why cash move hasn’t come to a grinding halt for them.

“At an early stage persons are nonetheless excited,” stated Harsh Shah, an angel investor and founding father of retail know-how startup Fynd. “They’re anyway not being judged based mostly on any knowledge on the early stage, it’s extra the calibre of the workforce, the thought and the market dimension — none of which has modified from a capital move perspective.”

But when the funding winter will get stretched, many early-stage startups might not survive a protracted crunch.

Indian economic growth at one year low on inflation, Ukraine war | Business and Economy News

The economic system’s near-term prospects have darkened resulting from spike in retail inflation, which hit an eight-year excessive in April.

India’s financial development slowed to the bottom in a 12 months within the first three months of 2022, hit by weakening shopper demand amid hovering costs that would make the central financial institution’s process of taming inflation with out harming development tougher.

Gross home product grew 4.1 p.c year-on-year in January-March, authorities knowledge launched on Tuesday confirmed, in keeping with a 4 p.c forecast by economists in a Reuters ballot, and beneath 5.4 p.c development in Oct-December and development of 8.4 p.c in July-Sept.

The economic system’s near-term prospects have darkened resulting from a spike in retail inflation, which hit an eight-year excessive of seven.8 p.c in April. The surge in vitality and commodity costs precipitated partly by the Ukraine disaster can also be squeezing financial exercise.

“Inflation pressures will stay elevated,” V Anantha Nageswaran, chief financial adviser on the finance ministry, mentioned after the information launch, including that the chance of stagflation – a mixture of gradual development and excessive inflation – was low in India.

India's economy will grow at a slower pace than estimated earlier

Rising vitality and meals costs have hammered shopper spending, the economic system’s predominant driver, which slowed to 1.8 p.c within the Jan-March interval from a 12 months earlier, in opposition to an upwardly revised development determine of seven.4 p.c within the earlier quarter, Tuesday’s knowledge confirmed.

Garima Kapoor, an economist at Elara Capital, mentioned a slowdown in international development, elevated vitality costs, a cycle of rising rates of interest and a tightening of monetary situations would all be key headwinds.

She revised her annual financial development forecast for the present fiscal 12 months that began on April 1 to 7.5 p.c from an earlier estimate of seven.8 p.c.

India’s authorities revised its annual gross home product estimates for the fiscal 12 months that ended on March 31, predicting 8.7 p.c development, decrease than its earlier estimate of 8.9 p.c.

The Reserve Financial institution of India (RBI) this month raised the benchmark repo fee by 40 foundation factors in an unscheduled assembly, and its Financial Coverage Committee has signalled it’s going to front-load extra fee hikes to tame costs.

Economists count on the MPC to extend the repo fee by 25-40 foundation factors subsequent month.

Weakening demand

Economists mentioned the weakening shopper demand and contraction in manufacturing actions have been a priority.

Excessive-frequency indicators confirmed provide shortages and better enter costs have been weighing on output within the mining, development, and manufacturing sectors — at the same time as credit score development picks up and states spend extra.

Manufacturing output contracted 0.2 p.c year-on-year within the three months ending in March, in contrast with an enlargement of 0.3 p.c within the earlier quarter, whereas farm output development accelerated to 4.1 p.c from 2.5 p.c enlargement within the earlier quarter, knowledge confirmed.

The rupee’s greater than 4 p.c depreciation in opposition to the US greenback this 12 months has additionally made imported gadgets costlier, prompting the federal authorities to limit wheat and sugar exports and minimize gasoline taxes, becoming a member of the RBI within the battle in opposition to inflation.

“With rising inflationary pressures, the consumption restoration stays underneath a cloud of uncertainty for 2022-2023,” mentioned Sakshi Gupta, principal economist at HDFC Financial institution.

Indian climate activist, 10, invited to East Timor inauguration | Climate Crisis News

Among the many individuals attending the inauguration ceremony of East Timor’s new President José Ramos-Horta shall be a 10-year-old local weather activist from India.

Licypriya Kangujam was invited as a particular visitor of honour for the inauguration of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Thursday, a day earlier than Asia’s youngest nation marks the twentieth anniversary of its independence.

East Timor, formally often known as Timor-Leste, was colonised by Portugal within the 18th century and remained beneath its management till 1975. When the Portuguese withdrew, troops from Indonesia invaded and annexed the island nation as its twenty seventh province.

A UN-sponsored referendum for freedom held in 1999 and a brutal retreat by Indonesian forces noticed the nation of 1.3 million individuals emerge as a republic three years later.

Ap Photo child activism climate
Kangujam holding an indication at Juhu seashore throughout a cleansing drive in Mumbai [File: Rajanish Kakade/AP]

‘Invitation very particular’

Kangujam, who’s the founding father of The Baby Motion environmental organisation, advised Al Jazeera she was “very shocked” when she first obtained the invitation to attend the high-profile occasion.

“Often at such massive occasions, solely international presidents and prime ministers are invited as particular visitors. I really feel this invitation could be very particular and has an amazing message on how small island international locations like East Timor are threatened by local weather change,” she mentioned.

“The inclusion of local weather activists in each subject and decision-making course of is kind of necessary.”

The kid activist mentioned her go to would strengthen relations between India and East Timor.

Licypriya Kangujam
Licypriya performs together with her sister Irina at house in Noida as their mom Bidyarani seems to be on [File: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Kangujam was born in a village close to Imphal within the northeastern Indian state of Manipur. When she was 5, her household moved to Bhubaneswar within the coastal state of Odisha, the place Cyclone Titli in 2018 and Cyclone Fani in 2019 killed lots of of individuals and destroyed houses.

On the age of 9, Kangujam moved to Noida on the outskirts of the Indian capital New Delhi, one of many world’s most polluted cities, the place she lives together with her mom and a youthful sister.

The fifth-grade pupil says the local weather disaster in Odisha and New Delhi’s air pollution points left a deep impression on her and turned her into one of many world’s youngest local weather activists.

In 2019, she addressed world leaders on the United Nations Local weather Convention 2019 (COP25) in Madrid, urging them to take rapid actions to avoid wasting the way forward for kids like her.

Licypriya Kangujam
Kangujam speaks in the course of the UN Local weather Change Convention (COP25) in Madrid [File: Susana Vera/Reuters]

The younger activist says she was alone when she began her motion in 2018. “However right now I’ve love and assist from hundreds of individuals throughout the globe.”

A number of international dignitaries are attending Ramos-Horta’s inauguration ceremony.

US President Joe Biden on Monday introduced a presidential delegation to the nation, based on a White Home assertion.

Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his efforts to deliver a peaceable decision to the battle in East Timor, scored a landslide victory within the presidential election final month.

The Nobel laureate beforehand served as president from 2007 to 2012 and was additionally the nation’s first prime minister.

‘Will hearken to their tales’

East Timor is extremely susceptible to local weather change, with rising sea ranges, frequent floods, cyclones, droughts, landslides and soil erosion.

Final 12 months, Tropical Cyclone Seroja killed dozens of individuals within the nation whereas 7,000 have been displaced.

Throughout her go to to East Timor, Kangujam will deal with the nation’s parliament and go to the College of East Timor. She mentioned civil society organisations within the nation have additionally invited her to work together with kids and younger individuals there.

“I’ll hearken to their tales and also will inform the world in regards to the issues they’re dealing with. We are going to speak about long-term peace and growth and the way we will struggle local weather change collectively,” she advised Al Jazeera.

“My voice will characterize the unheard voices of the tens of millions of individuals of the world and likewise for the numerous, unvoiced animals.”