16 January 2024 : Important Financial News in India


Source: Economic Times, “Today’s ePaper”
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Table of Contents

Vertical Ascent: Bulls Pitch Camp at New Heights

In a remarkable turn of events, India’s equity indices have soared, with the Nifty index closing above 22,000 for the first time ever. This surge, nearly 1% upward, primarily fueled by the IT sector, showcases the strength and potential of the Indian market. The rally is attributed to the IT stocks performing beyond expectations in the third quarter, signaling a robust and growing confidence in the tech sector. This milestone represents not just a numeric achievement but a symbol of the burgeoning Indian economy and its ability to reach new heights.

Modest Budget Hike Likely as Govt Looks to Stay on Fiscal Glide Path

The Indian government is reportedly planning a careful increase in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. This increase, anticipated to be around 10%, is a strategic move to balance the country’s need for continued economic growth with the necessity of fiscal responsibility. The decision reflects a thoughtful approach to economic management, where growth does not compromise financial stability. It’s a delicate balancing act, aiming to fuel the economy while keeping a check on expenditures.

Udaan Valuation Dives to $1.8b in Down Round

Udaan, a prominent B2B e-commerce company, has seen a significant reduction in its valuation, now standing at about $1.8 billion. This marks a steep decline for a company that had previously raised over $1 billion, highlighting the volatile nature of startup valuations and the challenges faced in sustaining growth. This decrease in valuation could be indicative of broader market trends and investor sentiments within the startup ecosystem.

DoT: No Progress Made in Vi Funding Talks with US DFC

The Department of Telecommunications has raised concerns over Vodafone Idea’s failure to secure critical funding from the US International Development Finance Corporation. This funding, aimed at deploying Open-RAN and related technologies, was a commitment that the telecom company has not been able to fulfill. This situation sheds light on the challenges and complexities in securing international funding and the implications it has for the company’s technological ambitions and financial health.

AIF Diktat: RBI May Extend Deadline for Banks, DFIs

The Reserve Bank of India is expected to provide some leeway to banks and financial institutions in relation to their Alternative Investment Fund exposures. This move, which may involve extending a crucial deadline, is seen as a relief measure for these entities, allowing them more time to comply with stringent financial directives. This decision reflects the central bank’s recognition of the current financial challenges and its willingness to offer support for the sector’s stability.

PSBs to Step Up Pledged Shares’ Scrutiny

State-run banks in India are gearing up to enhance their scrutiny of pledged shares, a move aimed at bolstering their risk management frameworks. This initiative will involve a more detailed and frequent review of securities pledged by major borrowers, signifying a shift towards a more proactive and risk-aware approach in banking operations. This change is indicative of the evolving landscape of banking in India, where risk assessment and management are becoming increasingly vital.

Global Investors’ Confidence in Indian Realty Increases

The confidence of global investors in Indian real estate has significantly grown. This surge in trust and interest is attributed to several initiatives and reforms undertaken by the government. These reforms have introduced greater transparency and accountability in real estate transactions, making the sector more attractive for foreign investments. As a result, there has been a noticeable increase in investment, particularly in the form of equity inflows. This reflects a positive outlook on the Indian real estate sector, which is now seen as a more viable and lucrative option for international investors.

Hyundai to Spend ₹7kcr to Fix GM’s Mothballed India Plant

Hyundai Motor Co has announced plans to invest a substantial amount of ₹7,000 crore (approximately $845 million) in India. This investment is earmarked for reviving a previously mothballed factory originally owned by General Motors Co. Hyundai’s decision to refurbish and start operations at this second plant in India is a significant move, indicating the company’s commitment to expanding its manufacturing footprint in the country. This investment is expected to boost Hyundai’s production capabilities and underscores the growing importance of the Indian market in the global automotive industry.

Boeing Opens Warehousing Unit in UP for Parts Supply

Boeing has recently inaugurated a new warehousing facility in Khurja, Uttar Pradesh, for parts supply. This 36,000-square-foot India Distribution Centre is operated in collaboration with DB Schenker, a third-party logistics provider. The establishment of this facility is a strategic move by Boeing to support aviation customers in the region. It aims to enhance fleet utilization by ensuring efficient and timely supply of necessary parts. This development is a testament to Boeing’s commitment to strengthening its support infrastructure in India, which is crucial for the maintenance and smooth operation of its fleet in the region.

Avaada to Invest ₹40K Cr to Develop 6 GW Hybrid Renewable Projects in Guj

Avaada Group, a prominent player in the renewable energy sector, has made a substantial commitment by announcing investments worth ₹40,000 crore. This investment is dedicated to developing 6,000 MW of hybrid wind-solar projects in Gujarat. The initiative underlines Avaada’s commitment to expanding its renewable energy portfolio and contributing to India’s green energy goals. This large-scale investment not only reflects the potential of renewable energy in India but also underscores the growing trend of sustainable and eco-friendly power generation.

Govt Amends Rules, Exempts Captive Projects from Transmission Licence

In a significant regulatory amendment, the Indian government has exempted captive power generators and consumers with a minimum load of 25 kW from the requirement of obtaining a transmission license. This applies to interstate transmission and energy storage systems that establish, operate, and maintain dedicated transmission lines. This rule change is expected to simplify processes and encourage the development of captive power projects, thus promoting self-sufficiency in energy generation and reducing dependence on the national grid.

KKR’s Road InvIT to Acquire 12 Assets from PNC Infratech

Highway Infrastructure Trust, an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) backed by the private equity firm KKR, has made a significant move in the infrastructure sector. It has agreed to acquire twelve road projects from PNC Infratech Ltd and PNC Infra Holdings Ltd. The total enterprise value of these acquisitions is ₹9,005.7 crore. This transaction signifies a substantial investment in India’s road infrastructure and highlights the growing interest of private equity firms in Indian infrastructure projects.

Passenger Hits IndiGo Pilot at IGIA Over Flight Delay, Arrested

An incident at the Delhi airport has led to the arrest of a passenger on an IndiGo flight. The individual was detained after assaulting a pilot who was making an announcement about a delay in the flight’s takeoff. This incident highlights the increasing challenges and stress faced by both passengers and staff in the aviation industry, especially in situations involving delays and disruptions.

Corporates Mop Up Record ₹9.58L Cr from Mkt in 2023

India Inc has witnessed a record-breaking year in terms of fundraising from the market. In 2023, a staggering ₹9.58 lakh crore was raised, marking a 26% increase from the previous year. This remarkable achievement reflects the robustness and dynamism of the Indian corporate sector and its ability to attract substantial capital. This trend also indicates the growing confidence of investors in the Indian market and the potential for further economic growth and development.

PNGRB Receives 20 Bids for City Gas Distribution Licences in NE & J&K

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has recently received 20 bids for six city gas distribution (CGD) licenses in North-Eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir. CGD licenses are crucial for the expansion of gas pipelines and services in cities, impacting energy distribution and availability. This interest shows the growing focus on improving energy infrastructure in these regions, which are historically less developed compared to other parts of India. The successful allocation of these licenses could lead to enhanced access to cleaner fuels like natural gas, contributing to energy security and environmental benefits.

CCI Clears SSI’s Stake Buy in Manipal Health Enterprises

The Competition Commission of India (CCI), a fair trade regulator, has approved the acquisition of a stake in Manipal Health Enterprises by Seventy Second Investment Company (SSI). This approval is significant as it indicates that the CCI, which ensures fair competition in the market, does not see any potential monopolistic concerns with this acquisition. This move could lead to greater investments in the healthcare sector, potentially improving healthcare services and infrastructure.

Domestic Air Passenger Traffic Grew 8.3% to 152 M in 2023

India witnessed an 8.34% growth in domestic air passenger traffic, reaching 152 million in 2023, as per the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). This increase from 123.2 million in the previous year suggests a robust recovery and growth in the aviation sector, possibly due to increased consumer confidence and economic growth. This growth has significant implications for the aviation industry, including the need for more flights, improved airport infrastructure, and increased employment opportunities.

UP RERA Starts Pre-Hearing Scrutiny of Complaints to Help Homebuyers

The Uttar Pradesh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (UP RERA) has initiated a pre-hearing scrutiny of complaints to expedite case resolution. This move aims to protect homebuyers by ensuring quicker and more efficient handling of grievances related to real estate transactions. This proactive approach by UP RERA could lead to increased transparency and accountability in the real estate sector, fostering consumer trust.

Jio Fin Profit Zooms 8x to ₹70 crore in Dec Quarter

Reliance Industries’ financial services arm, Jio Financial Services, reported an eightfold increase in profit to ₹70 crore in the December quarter of 2023. This surge, primarily driven by higher interest income and gains on fair value changes, indicates a strong performance in the financial services sector. This growth could lead to increased investor confidence in Jio Financial Services, potentially influencing its strategies and offerings in the financial market.

Cancellations Rise, Users Feel Taxi Apps Taking ’em for a Ride

A growing number of users of cab-hailing platforms are experiencing trip cancellations by drivers, triggered by factors like destination preference or payment mode. This trend raises concerns about the reliability and customer service quality of these platforms. It highlights the need for better regulation and improvement in service standards to ensure a fair and convenient experience for users.

M&M, Canada Pension Fund Launch Green Energy InvIT

Mahindra Group, in partnership with Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, has launched an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) focusing on renewable energy, holding assets of 1.54 GW in India. This collaboration reflects a significant push towards sustainable energy investments and highlights the growing interest of global investors in India’s green energy sector. The establishment of this InvIT could lead to increased development and adoption of renewable energy sources, contributing to environmental conservation and energy security.

Former Mahindra PE Unit Head Parag Shah Sets Up Own Fund

Parag Shah, the former head of Mahindra & Mahindra’s private equity (PE) unit, has founded his own fund, Amara Partners, with industrialist Anand Mahindra as an anchor limited partner. This move signifies a shift in the private investment landscape, with experienced individuals establishing independent funds. This could lead to more diversified investment

options and strategies in the market, potentially influencing various sectors through targeted investments.

REC Solar to Exit Norway Venture, Sell Stake to Elkem for $22 m

REC Solar Holdings AS, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), plans to sell its entire equity stake in REC Solar Norway AS to Norway’s Elkem ASA for $22 million. This exit from the Norwegian joint venture and the sale of the stake represent a strategic shift in RIL’s investment focus. The deal could have implications for REC Solar’s future operations and strategies, potentially influencing the dynamics in the global solar energy market.

Just Looking Like a Wow! Momo Chain Raises ₹350 crore

Wow! Momo Foods, an Indian food services company, has raised ₹350 crore from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad. This significant funding, amid the strong growth of the food services sector and the popularity of momos as a snack in India, suggests robust investor confidence in the Indian food industry. This investment could accelerate Wow! Momo’s expansion, influence competition in the snack food sector, and highlight the potential of Indian culinary offerings in attracting global investment.

S&P Upgrades Vedanta, says Outlook Now Stable

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings has improved the long-term credit rating of Vedanta Resources from ‘SD’ (Selective Default) to ‘CCC+’ (substantial risks). This upgrade follows Vedanta’s successful extension of bond maturities, indicating improved financial stability and a reduced risk of default. A ‘CCC+’ rating, while still reflecting high credit risk, suggests that Vedanta is now in a more stable financial position. This upgrade could enhance investor confidence in Vedanta, potentially leading to better financing terms and more investment opportunities for the company.

Oil India to Capture CO2 Emissions from Rajasthan Natgas Field, Store in Dry Wells

Oil India is planning a pioneering project in India to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its natural gas field in Rajasthan and store them in nearby dry wells. This initiative is part of Oil India’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040. Capturing and storing CO2, a major greenhouse gas, is a critical step in mitigating climate change impacts. If successful, this project could set a precedent for other oil and gas companies in India and contribute significantly to the country’s environmental goals.

Panchayati Raj Min inks Pact with IIM-A

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A). This collaboration aims to provide training to elected representatives and functionaries of Panchayati Raj institutions. Enhancing the skills and knowledge of these local government bodies is crucial for effective governance and rural development. This partnership could lead to more efficient and informed decision-making at the grassroots level, positively impacting rural communities.

Flush With Funds, US Factories Stare At China Challenge

The Biden administration in the United States has initiated a massive investment exceeding $2 trillion into factories and infrastructure. This funding is part of a strategy to strengthen American industry and combat climate change, marking a significant governmental intervention in the economy. However, this move positions the US in direct competition with China, a global manufacturing powerhouse. The implications of this investment could be far-reaching, potentially reshaping global trade dynamics and environmental policies.

‘Majority of India-UK FTA Issues Closed or at Advanced Stage’

The majority of the issues in the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the UK are either resolved or in advanced stages of discussion. This statement from a government official indicates significant progress in the negotiations, suggesting that the FTA may soon be finalized. An FTA between these two nations could have extensive economic implications, potentially boosting trade, investment, and bilateral relations.

Oyo Embarks on Spiritual Journey as Ayodhya Sets Mood for Religious Travel

Oyo, a budget hospitality chain, announced plans to launch 400 new properties in major spiritual destinations in India. This expansion is driven by a surge in domestic travel and a growing interest in spiritual tourism, particularly following developments in Ayodhya. This strategic move by Oyo could significantly impact India’s hospitality sector, catering to a niche yet growing segment of religious and spiritual travelers.

Telcos Seek Reassessment of Draft D2M Networks Policy

Telecommunications companies in India are calling for a reassessment of the government’s draft policy on establishing direct-to-mobile (D2M) networks. Their concern is to ensure a level playing field and avoid potential regulatory arbitrage, which could occur if the policy is hastily implemented. D2M technology involves broadcasting content directly to mobile devices, potentially revolutionizing content delivery but also posing challenges in terms of regulation and market competition.

Boeing to Step up Quality Inspections for 737 MAX Jets

Boeing has announced an increase in quality inspections for its 737 MAX jets, following a recent incident involving a cabin panel blowout in an Alaska Airlines MAX 9. This move by Boeing’s commercial airplanes division is an effort to ensure aircraft safety and restore confidence in the 737 MAX, which has faced significant scrutiny and grounding in the past due to safety concerns. Enhanced quality checks could lead to improved safety standards but might also impact Boeing’s production timelines and costs.

A Prospering Middle Class to Drive Gold Consumption in India: WGC

The World Gold Council (WGC) anticipates a rise in gold consumption in India, driven by the increasing prosperity of the middle class and greater awareness of gold’s role in investment portfolios. As per Somasundaram PR, the regional CEO for India at WGC, this trend indicates a shift

in investment behaviors among India’s growing middle class, who are traditionally inclined towards gold as a safe and valuable asset. The increased demand for gold in India could have significant impacts on global gold markets, potentially influencing prices and investment strategies worldwide.

HCLTech Teams Up with SAP for Gen AI

HCL Technologies (HCLTech), a leading IT services company, has partnered with SAP, a global enterprise software giant, to foster innovation and accelerate the adoption of Generative AI. This collaboration aims to integrate advanced AI technologies into business processes and solutions. Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence that can generate novel content, ideas, or data independent of human input. This partnership signifies a major step in the adoption and implementation of AI in business, potentially transforming how companies operate and compete in the digital age.

Cos in Rights Rush, Seek ₹50,000 crore

Indian companies are increasingly turning to rights issues, aiming to raise a significant ₹50,000 crore. Rights issues, a method for companies to raise capital by offering existing shareholders the right to buy additional shares, have gained momentum after a four-year lull. This resurgence is driven by companies seeking to expand capacities and build capital reserves for future acquisitions. The move toward rights issues suggests a strategic shift in corporate financing, potentially leading to more robust capital structures and enhanced growth capabilities for these companies.

Niva Bupa Health Plans IPO to Raise ₹3,000 crore

Niva Bupa Health Insurance, formerly known as Max Bupa Health Insurance, is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) to raise ₹3,000 crore, according to banking sources. An IPO is the first sale of a company’s shares to the public, often leading to a listing on a stock exchange. This move indicates Niva Bupa’s aim to expand its financial base and possibly invest in further growth or debt reduction. The success of this IPO could be a significant milestone for the company, affecting its market presence and competitive position.

Motilal Oswal MF Sells ₹621.6-cr Zomato Shares in Block Deal

Motilal Oswal Mutual Fund sold shares of Zomato worth ₹621.67 crore in a block deal on the National Stock Exchange (NSE). In block deals, large numbers of securities are traded in a single transaction at a negotiated price. The sale involved 4.5 crore shares at ₹138.15 each. Notable buyers included Societe Generale, Citigroup Global Markets Mauritius, Morgan Stanley Asia Singapore, and Goldman Sachs Investments (Mauritius) I. This sale could impact Zomato’s stock price and indicate the fund’s investment strategy changes.

HDFC Bank Raises $500 m from MUFG

HDFC Bank has raised $500 million from MUFG Bank, Japan’s largest lender. This capital infusion follows HDFC’s acquisition of its parent company last year. Raising funds from such a significant international bank indicates HDFC Bank’s strong market position and the confidence international investors have in it. This funding could support HDFC Bank’s expansion plans, debt management, or other strategic initiatives.

IT Stocks Advance; Wipro, HCL Shine

Large-cap IT stocks like Wipro and HCL Technologies have seen a rise for the second consecutive day, driven by positive third-quarter results. These results have strengthened investors’ confidence, suggesting that Indian software service exporters are well-equipped to handle global economic challenges. This trend in IT stocks indicates a robust sector performance and could impact investment strategies and market dynamics in the technology sector.

RBI Plans to Tighten Norms for HFCs on Accepting Deposits

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to impose stricter rules for Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) like PNB Housing Finance and LIC Housing Finance regarding deposit mobilization. This move aims to bring HFCs onto the same regulatory

platform as other non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), ensuring a more uniform and stringent regulatory environment. Tighter norms for accepting deposits could impact the liquidity and funding strategies of HFCs, potentially leading to more secure and stable financial practices in the housing finance sector. This regulation could also enhance the protection of depositors’ interests, contributing to the overall health and trustworthiness of the financial system.

₹48,000 cr: India Inc’s Buyback Bill in 2023

Indian companies have spent a considerable ₹48,000 crore on share buybacks in 2023, with Bajaj Auto announcing a significant ₹4,000 crore buyback, its second in two years. A buyback is a corporate action where a company purchases its own shares from the marketplace, often leading to a reduction in the number of shares available and potentially increasing the value of remaining shares. This trend indicates that companies are generating enough cash to return capital to shareholders, reflecting confidence in their financial health and future prospects.

Local Funds’ Share of Institutional AUM Rises to 20%

The share of domestic mutual funds in the institutional investors’ Asset Under Management (AUM) in India has risen to 20%, according to the latest data from NSDL. This increase is attributed to growing retail inflows into these funds. AUM refers to the total market value of the investments that a financial institution manages on behalf of clients. The rise in local funds’ share signifies growing investor confidence in domestic mutual funds and a shift in the investment landscape in India.

Fund Managers Position December Portfolio on Private Capex Revival

Fund managers are aligning their December portfolios in anticipation of a revival in private sector capital expenditure (capex). This confidence stems from political stability and expectations of continued policy support following the BJP’s strong performance in state elections. Capex revival is crucial as it indicates increased investment in building and upgrading physical assets, which can drive economic growth and corporate earnings.

Traders Cover Short Positions in Polycab India, Shares Surge

Polycab India’s shares saw a nearly 7% intraday surge as traders covered short positions. Short selling involves borrowing and selling stocks with the expectation of buying them back at a lower price. The stock had previously fallen amid tax evasion reports. Covering short positions usually happens when traders believe that the price of a stock may rise, leading to buying back shares to minimize losses, which can cause the stock price to increase.

Benchmark Yield at 4-month Low on Slower Inflation Rise

India’s benchmark government bond yields fell to a four-month low, indicating a decrease in borrowing costs across the economy. This change is attributed to a slower-than-expected rise in inflation and rising US bonds. Bond yields, which represent the return an investor will get on holding the bond, are inversely related to bond prices. Lower yields can signal investor confidence and a favorable economic outlook.

RBI Eases Concentration Risk Norms With Immediate Effect

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has relaxed the credit concentration risk norms for non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) in the middle (ML) and base layers (BL), aligning them with the norms for larger, upper layer (UL) lenders. Concentration risk norms are regulations to prevent excessive exposure to a particular borrower or group of borrowers. This move by RBI could enable more flexible lending by these NBFCs, potentially boosting credit availability in the economy.

Maruti, Hyundai, Tata Motors and Renault Record Highest Rural Sales in 2023

Several major automakers posted record sales from rural markets in 2023 amid better consumer sentiment and liquidity. Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor, Tata Motors and Renault India saw the highest-ever percentage of sales coming from rural areas. This indicates improving economic conditions in rural India and more purchasing power thanks to factors like good monsoons and higher crop output.

Google India’s Advertising Revenue Grows 12.5% in FY23, Reaches ₹28,040 Crore

Google’s advertising business in India brought in gross revenues of ₹28,040 crore in the fiscal year 2023, marking a 12.49% year-on-year growth. This growth, achieved mainly through platforms like Google Search, YouTube and Chrome, cements Google’s position as the dominant player in India’s digital advertising space. Higher ad revenues signify brands spending more on digital promotions to reach India’s connected consumers.

Hotel Companies Target Navi Mumbai for Expansion, Eye Infrastructure Projects

Several hotel companies across budget to luxury segments are setting up new properties in and around Navi Mumbai. This hotel development activity is being driven by major infrastructure projects in the region such as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) and the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport. These projects are expected to significantly boost connectivity and business activity in the satellite city.

ICMR Seeks Inputs for Revising National List of Essential Diagnostics

In an effort to provide affordable and quality diagnostic access to all Indians, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited suggestions from stakeholders to revise the National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL). The NEDL lists the basic necessary tests needed for diagnosis of common diseases. Its revision will help align it with current healthcare priorities and technological advances.

Disney Star and Viacom18 Gear Up for Fierce IPL 2024 Ad Revenue Battle

Despite ongoing merger talks between their parent companies, media giants Disney Star and Viacom18 are preparing for an aggressive advertising revenue battle during the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Both rivals want to capitalize on the hugely popular T20 cricket tournament to boost ad incomes as well as subscribers for their respective streaming platforms.

Wondrlab Acquires Polish Digital Agency WebTalk, Makes First Overseas Buy

Indian marketing technology firm Wondrlab has acquired Poland-based digital agency WebTalk using a combination of cash and equity. This marks Wondrlab’s first international takeover as it looks to expand globally. WebTalk specializes in services like web development, e-commerce solutions, online campaigns and analytics. The buyout will boost Wondrlab’s European presence.

Rabbit R1 AI Assistant Makes a Splash at CES 2024

A highlight of the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show was the launch of Rabbit R1, a pocket-sized AI-powered digital assistant priced at $200. It became an instant hit, with its first 10,000 units selling out within a day. The retro-styled Rabbit R1 aims to deliver AI capabilities like personalized recommendations and conversational interaction in an accessible form factor. Its popularity signals growing mainstream appeal for AI assistants.

DGCA Issues Guidelines for Airlines to Cancel Flights in Case of Over 3 Hour Delay

India’s aviation regulator has asked airlines to mandatorily cancel flights in situations where the anticipated departure delay goes beyond three hours. This directive by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) comes after severe fog disrupted flight operations at Delhi airport, causing extreme delays and inconvenience to passengers. Mandatory cancellations will prevent travelers being stranded for excessive durations.

Dharavi Redevelopment Project Allots 350 Square Feet Flats to Residents

The Dharavi redevelopment project, a joint effort by the Adani Group and the Maharashtra government, will provide new residential flats measuring at least 350 square feet to eligible slum dwellers in one of Asia’s largest shanty towns. Complete with independent kitchens and toilets, these proposed homes mark a significant upgrade for Dharavi’s current crammed housing. The move will improve living conditions for thousands of families.

Aster DM Healthcare Considers Distributing $903 Million from Sale of Gulf Business

After selling its Gulf operations, hospital group Aster DM Healthcare said its board is mulling distributing 70-80% of the $903 million sale proceeds to shareholders. This distribution, if approved, would be an alternative to an earlier dividend plan following advocacy group Institutional Investor Advisory Services’ (IiAS) opposition to the initial dividend proposal pegged at ₹130 per share.

In 9 Yrs, 250 M Indians Escaped Poverty: Niti

A recent discussion paper by NITI Aayog and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reveals that approximately 248.2 million Indians have escaped multidimensional poverty between 2013-14 and 2022-23. Multidimensional poverty considers various factors like education, health, and living standards, not just income. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan showed the highest decline in poverty. This significant reduction in poverty levels indicates substantial progress in social and economic development, improving the overall quality of life in these regions.

Trade Deficit in Dec Shrinks as Exports Inch Up

India’s trade deficit, the difference between the value of imports and exports, narrowed to $19.8 billion in December, down from $20.6 billion in November and $23.14 billion in December 2022. This decrease occurred as exports rose slightly by 0.96% year-on-year, while imports shrank by 4.8%. A shrinking trade deficit could suggest an improvement in India’s trade balance, potentially strengthening the country’s economic position globally.

Jobs in India Not to be Impacted by AI as Rest of the World: IMF Paper

According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysis, jobs in India may not be as significantly impacted by artificial intelligence (AI) as in other parts of the world. This suggests that the nature of the Indian job market might be more resilient to the automation and technological changes brought about by AI. This resilience could be due to various factors, including the types of industries prevalent in India and the nature of the workforce.

Wholesale Inflation Rises to 0.73% in Dec

India’s wholesale inflation, measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), rose to 0.73% in December, marking a second consecutive month of increase. This rise is primarily attributed to surging food inflation and a low base effect from the previous year. While a moderate increase in wholesale inflation reflects rising costs for businesses, it can also signal growing economic activity, which could be positive for the overall economy.

FASTags with Incomplete KYC to be Deactivated Post Jan 31

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has announced that FASTags with incomplete Know Your Customer (KYC) documentation will be deactivated after January 31. This initiative, termed ‘one vehicle, one FASTag’, aims to enhance the efficiency of electronic toll collection and ensure smooth movement at toll plazas. The move underscores the importance of proper KYC compliance and could lead to improved operational efficiency in toll collections.

India to Gain from Strong Domestic Mkts, Supply Chain Diversification: Moody’s

Moody’s Investor Service, in its 2024 outlook for the Asia Pacific region, has stated that the Indian economy is likely to benefit from supply chain diversification away from China and strong domestic markets. This diversification could make India a more attractive destination for manufacturing and investment, potentially boosting economic growth and stability, especially in the context of global economic challenges.

Geopolitical Tensions, AI Likely to Weaken Global Economy in 2024: Chief Economists

Over 50% of global chief economists anticipate a weakening world economy in 2024, facing challenges from tight financial conditions, geopolitical tensions, and rapid advances in generative AI. These factors could lead to increased economic uncertainty and volatility, affecting global trade, investment, and technological development. This outlook suggests that countries and businesses may need to prepare for a more complex and potentially challenging economic environment in the near future.

RBI Issues Draft Rules for Fintech Industry Self-Regulation

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a framework for setting up self-regulatory organizations (SROs) focused on the fintech sector. These SROs will establish rules and standards for fintech firms to foster better governance and accountability. The draft norms aim to encourage responsible innovation while managing risks. Wider self-regulation could lead to more structured growth for Indian fintech.

Indian SaaS Startups Under Pressure to Adopt AI in 2023

With artificial intelligence gaining widespread adoption, Indian software-as-a-service (SaaS) startups are facing increasing pressure to integrate AI capabilities into their offerings in 2023. They need to leverage AI to enhance products, improve business processes, and stay competitive versus global rivals. However, retooling product stacks to enable AI applications requires significant investments for young firms.

Government May Invest ₹10,000 Crore for Quantum Computing Hubs Under PPP

The Indian government is planning to allot funds up to ₹10,000 crore to establish hubs focused on quantum computing and supercomputing. These hubs for advanced computing will be set up under public-private partnership (PPP) models in collaboration with the private sector. Quantum computing development promises to drive progress in materials, pharmaceuticals, defense and other key sectors.

Software Exports from India Grow 12% in FY23, Touch $227 Billion

Per industry body ESC, exports of computer software and IT services from India rose by 12.2% year-on-year to $227 billion in the 2022-23 financial year. This double-digit software export growth shows the resilience of India’s IT sector amidst global econonic uncertainties. Key export drivers included internet-based and cloud services meeting digital priorities of global clients.

Aakash Institute’s Profits Rise 82% in First Year Under Byju’s Ownership

Test preparation firm Aakash Educational Services saw its profits increase by 82% to ₹79.5 crore in FY22, its first full financial year after acquisition by edtech leader Byju’s. Byju’s coaching expertise and expandable capital are aiding the rapid growth of its subsidiary Aakash. The education sector continues to be a hot investment area as Indian households prioritize learning.

Baidu Refutes Claims of China Military Links for AI Chatbot

Chinese technology firm Baidu denied allegations made in a media report that its AI-based chatbot called Ernie has connections to Chinese military research. Baidu stated the claims are baseless, affirming that Ernie focuses on non-sensitive topics like weather forecasts. The controversy highlights global concerns surrounding AI links with defense agencies, especially relating to China.

Google-Backed Spacetech Startup Pixxel Opens Manufacturing Unit in Bengaluru

Early-stage spacetech firm Pixxel, backed by Google, opened its first satellite manufacturing facility in Bengaluru this week. Located across 30,000 sq ft near the Karnataka capital’s Kempegowda International Airport, this multi-million dollar unit will produce Pixxel’s planned constellation of hyperspectral imaging small satellites. It marks a key milestone as India cultivates local satellite manufacturing abilities.

IT Minister Slams Fake Sachin Tendulkar Video Promoting Online Game

Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar has condemned a “deepfake” video showing cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar endorsing a gaming app. The AI-generated fake audio and visuals misuse Tendulkar’s celebrity status to promote online gambling, the Minister tweeted. Deepfakes pose reputation risks and enable financial frauds, necessitating awareness and prevention.

Nearly 3,000 Indian Startups Avail Tax Exemptions Under DPIIT Recognition

Government data shows that so far 2,975 startups recognized by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) have benefited from tax exemptions introduced in the 2016 Startup India initiative. These include exemptions on capital gains and profit re-investments meant to promote growth of early-stage ventures. Tax breaks lower compliance burdens and improve ease of doing business.

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