India Hopes to Benefit From Easing of Iran Sanctions

India Hopes to Benefit From Easing of Iran Sanctions 

India, one of the handful of countries that continued to trade with Iran despite tight sanctions, hopes to reap significant, long term benefits when Tehran’s nuclear deal with major powers is implemented. However, its exporters are also bracing for tougher competition from Western companies.

In the last three years, Pankaj Bansal says the exports of his trading firm, TMA International in New Delhi, increased by almost 40 percent.

 But the days of runaway business growth could be ending. With sanctions on Iran likely to ease, Bansal is bracing for a tougher environment.
 He says he is working overtime to scout for new markets and expand his product basket, which includes metals and engineering goods.
“In some of the items we are definitely expecting a hit. In case of highly advanced technological items, we are going to be impacted, because traditionally Iran looks towards Western countries for high technology items,” he said.

Rupee trade

In recent years, tight sanctions forced India to slash oil imports from Tehran. But New Delhi, which has a longtime friendship with Tehran, bought crude worth almost $9 billion annually by paying partly in rupees. Tehran used the Indian currency to fund imports from India.
 In just three years, the rupee trade helped Indian businesses double their exports to Iran to about $5 billion.
 But trade analysts say firms from countries like Germany, France and others will be back when the nuclear deal goes through, selling everything from clothes to cars and bidding for big industrial and infrastructure projects that Indian firms had been eyeing.
Industrial projects might suffer

Rafique Ahmed, who heads the Federation of Indian Export Organizations, agrees that plans to build cement factories and other industrial projects might suffer.
 But he is hopeful that new opportunities will open up for bigger Indian companies, particularly in the information technology, pharmaceutical and consumer sectors.
“Many of the multinational companies in India who wanted to sell, they had a demand there, but they did not want to go into the market. Now they are free to go. People remember the brands, some of them,” he said.


India’s Iodine-Carrying, ‘Life Saving’ Bindis Have Critics 

Colorful facial adornments known as bindis have long been worn by women across South Asia as a fashion accessory or religious signifier, but now they also provide essential nutrients.

“Jeevan Bindi,” or “Life Saving Bindi,” contains iodine, which could help tens of millions of women in India who suffer from iodine deficiency.

The creators say the adhesive-backed felt bindis, which appear identical to ones that serve merely decorative purposes, dispense the daily dose of the essential element through the wearer’s skin.

It is estimated that more than 71 million Indians suffer from iodine deficiency disorders. Iodized salt has helped mitigate the problem in India, like it has in the rest of the world, but there are still millions in India who do not get enough iodine through their diet.

The medicated bindis are intended to change that, but critics say they could be slowing the adoption of dietary iodine.

Mothers at Risk 

Iodine deficiency leads to a host of diseases like goiter, impaired mental development and thyroid disorder- which has been linked to breast cancer and fibroids.

Pregnant or nursing women are particularly in need because iodine deficiency can lead to children with low IQ or cretinism, a neurological disorder.

Neelvasant Medical Foundation and Research Center (NMFRC), an NGO in Maharashtra, is distributing the Iodine Bindi, targeting women of child-bearing age.

The medical campaign was conceived by Grey for Good, the philanthropic arm of Singapore-based advertising and marketing agency Grey Group Singapore (GGS).

In a pilot plan in March, NMFRC launched the Jeevan Bindi campaign to help around 100,000 mostly tribal village women in some poverty-stricken pockets of Maharashtra.

In the GGS-funded project, each woman is being handed out a strip of 30 Jeevan Bindis free for daily use over a month.

Each Jeevan Bindi is embedded with iodine along with the adhesive base of the bindi, said NMFRC president Dr. Prachi Pawar, who oversees the bindi distribution project in Maharashtra.

“One needs 150 to 200 micrograms of iodine daily. The absorption of iodine from the bindi takes place through the skin (sub-dermal absorption). The bindi should be worn for at least four to five hours daily,” Dr. Pawar told VOA.

Bindis Encouraged Where Supplements Failed

In the tribal areas, where the bindis are being distributed for free, people are mostly using non-iodized crystal salts, leaving women largely iodine deficient, she said.

“There are iodine supplement pills. But that scheme has not worked well with the women as they are not used to taking pills regularly. But, this Jeevan Bindi project has been fighting iodine deficiency among the tribal women more effectively because they have good liking for the colorful bindis and are using them regularly,” she said.

The success of the campaign of Jeevan Bindi lies behind the idea of using the common fashion accessories as a dietary supplement said Nirvik Singh, the chairman and chief executive officer of Grey Group Asia Pacific.

“To help them lead a healthier life, yet be more accepting of the daily dose of iodine they needed, we had to think of something that is familiar and a part of their daily routine,” Singh said. “I think the beauty of the idea lay in the familiarization of the bindi and the simplicity in being able to implement the idea. These are probably the two main reasons why this program has been so successful.”

There are now plans to bring the program to more Indians, but critics say that plan could, in the long run, damage efforts to expand dietary iodine programs.

Skeptical Doctors

Dr. Chandrakant Pandav, professor and head of the Center for Community Medicine at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said that iodine supplementation is cheaper and more effective if it is ingested orally in the form of iodized salt.

“With these bindis they are seeking to address the problems of the women, while children and men are being left out. Iodine supplementation with iodized salt is still the best solution to fight iodine deficiency disorders not only in Indian condition, but globally,” said Dr. Pandav, who is also the South Asia coordinator of International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders.

He noted that previous research on iodine administered through the skin found that only about 12 percent of the solution was absorbed by the body. He said researchers cannot determine how much iodine is actually absorbed by the ‘Life Bindi’ wearers.

Other doctors, like Sujoy Majumdar, an endocrinologist in Kolkata, are calling for controlled trials of the bindis to determine their effectiveness.

“Apparently, there is no clinical evidence to suggest that this iodine bindi therapy actually works,” Dr. Majumdar said.

India Hopes to Benefit From Easing of Iran Sanctions India Hopes to Benefit From Easing of Iran Sanctions Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 6:24 PM Rating: 5

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