When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US President Donald Trump for the first time, the focus will be on establishing a good rapport between the two leaders. There remain concerns that their two governments’ objectives are not compatible: that Trump’s “America First” approach, which conceives of US interests in narrow, transactional terms, will be at odds with Modi’s agenda to transform India. But one area of natural convergence is in the defence and security realm. Part of the bilateral security agenda involves developing India’s capacity to assume a bigger role as a net security provider in its region. Unlike parts of Europe and Asia, India is not dependent on US security guarantees, and is eager to have a larger military presence, particularly in the Indian Ocean. Indian efforts have complemented US interests, including in patrols of the Strait of Malacca, counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and the evacuation of civilians from Yemen. But to play an enhanced role in the Indo-Pacific, India will have to upgrade its military capacity. Another element of strategic cooperation involves information sharing. A third element of strategic cooperation concerns interoperability. Modi’s forthcoming visit is, therefore, a chance to boost security cooperation, understand each other’s strategic priorities, and build constituencies for the bilateral relationship in both countries.
US defence giant Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata group signed an agreement to jointly build the F-16 Block 70 fighter in India, should New Delhi opt for the American aircraft in the procurement of single-engine fighters for its air force. The Tata group has earmarked Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) to build the F-16 in India with technology and manufacturing facilities transferred from Lockheed Martin. The manufacture of F-16 Block 70 would be an ambitious project. This would first require the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to select the Tata group as an Indian “strategic partner” for aircraft production.
Mumbai-based foodtech startup Wegan Foods has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from a member of the royal family of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah – Her Highness Sheikha Arwa Al Qassimi. The funding will be used for scaling the commercial kitchen, inventory, and brand building. Wegan Foods will initially be launched in Mumbai via modern trade and specific food delivery app platforms. The company is also aiming to set up a B2B network with restaurants, hotels, catering companies, coffee shop chains, and airlines. The startup is planning to launch a range of healthy, dairy-free, pantry staples for the growing vegan community in India.
Online property portal Magicbricks announced the expansion of a strategic partnership with Ola to launch an industry-first pilot project, wherein prospective home-buyers on Magicbricks can avail free rides to find the right home through Ola Rentals – cabs by the hour. The initiative, which garnered praise in Pune and Bengaluru will soon be rolled out in other pockets of India as well.
Unbxd, the cloud-based product discovery platform for ecommerce, has closed $12.5 million in Series C funding round led by Eight Roads Ventures, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International Limited. Unbxd plans to invest in its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered platform that enables online retailers to capture the 15%-40% in revenue that is lost due to a poor product discovery experience. Bengaluru- and California-based Unbxd startup applies artificial intelligence and advanced data sciences to connect shoppers to the products they are most likely to buy.