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   Vol. 16 No. 76
Friday September 29, 2017

Digital India - Great Expectations
Digital India Great Expectations

     Despite all its brilliance and great expectations in 2017, India still remains one of the “toughest places” on the planet to do business, according a recent story in The Wall Street Journal.

Gusto & Red Tape

      For the record, of the first attempts that the almost three-year-old Narendra Modi government took up with gusto was to simplify rules and cut the bureaucratic red tape.

Numbers Hardly Moved

      The efforts of the government notwithstanding, India still remains at No. 130 among 190 nations in the World Bank’s computation of rankings at the end of 2016. In fact, the position improved by just one place over 2015.

The Digital Approach

      The difficulties of doing business in India today are nowhere more apparent than the air cargo sector.
      Realizing the need to facilitate the air cargo business, a panel set up by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) recommended the development of an electronic platform to digitize key stakeholder interactions.
      The report from the Committee on a National Air Cargo Community System pointed out that “in India, to facilitate the Ease of Doing Business, it is recognized that an electronic platform be put in place to digitize key stakeholder interactions.”


ACCS In The Works

Renu Singh Parmar      The proposed Air Cargo Community System (ACCS), when put in place, will help reduce paperwork and bring in supply chain visibility while reducing inventory and lowering transaction costs.
      Dr. Renu Singh Parmar, Senior Advisor - MoCA, pointed out that the Indian air cargo industry was poised for significant growth. “To support sustainable growth, it is of paramount importance that right physical and digital infrastructure is put in place in the country which can facilitate the ease of doing business in India,” she mentioned.
      Dr. Renu also highlighted the fact that the Civil Aviation Ministry understood the need for a single window for the air cargo community that would interface with the Customs department single window and facilitate seamless movement of goods and information.
      The news about the creation of ACCS could not have come at a better time.
      With Narendra Modi’s political party winning and forming governments in four of the five states in the country, the government in Delhi has been strengthened to go ahead and fast forward much needed reforms.


Voice Of The Forwarders

Yashpal Sharma      While quite a few air cargo stakeholders welcomed the ACCS move, others maintained a cautious stance.
      Freight forwarder Yashpal Sharma, who is also the secretary of Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI), said that the ACCS initiative was in keeping with the aims listed out in the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), 2016.
      Among these aims were the ‘Make in India’ and the ‘Digital India’ moves.
      “The ACCS,” Yashpal emphasized, “will cut down delays in the EXIM trade processes.”     
      Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) Chairman Samir Shah was cautious. Pointing out that the ACCS had only cleared the first stage—it was still at the policy level—and the technological details had to be worked out to understand how well the system would work. He hoped that there would be “more interaction between air cargo stakeholders and the government to smooth all the obstacles that could be encountered before the ACCS is finally established.”


More Kales To Share

Amar More      Kale Logistics Solutions is a leading global IT provider focused on providing technology solutions to the logistics industry. Its CEO Amar More pointed out that the ACCS could face a number of problems even though it was “a great initiative taken by the government.”
      “The committee’s report,” according to the CEO, “had taken into consideration the fact that airports and even cargo agents had their own community systems.
      “One such initiative has been set up by Kale at Mumbai International Airport,” the CEO said. (India’s first air cargo community portal GMAX-GVK MIAL Air Exchange was launched at the end of 2013)
      “The investments,” Mr. More added, “made by the airports for developing and running such systems had to be kept in mind before the new system was set up.”
      Mr. More also said that the “idea is to make sure that efficiencies are created where there is a scope to do the same and not hamper where efficient infrastructure already exists.”
      He is of the opinion that quite a lot of what already exists “can be reused for the development of the national air cargo single window system.”


“Industry Sources” Chime In

      Other freight forwarders were vocal (albeit requesting anonymity) that the committee’s move was delayed because stakeholders had been forced to develop their own digital platforms to handle and manage larger volumes of business on their side.
      Pointing out the system used by Mumbai airport, which was working flawlessly, these stakeholders wanted to know when the new system would start operations.
      Many of the stakeholders FlyingTypers spoke to in gathering this story also said that the government should have taken the lead a long time ago and set up a system that would support global industry standard messaging.
      Many see something of a paradox today as the EDI system being used by India today continues to have problems, despite the fact that Indian IT rules the world.

Changing Fast

      IT leaders like CEO More of Kales believe that the Indian mindset has yet to adapt itself to global moves.
      The situation, however, is changing fast. Today India is number six globally in the e-AWB lineup and with the government taking the lead in the ACCS initiative, the whole industry will fall in line and shift to digitization.

Tirthankar Ghosh

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
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