Dance of Democracy: Highest ever voter turnout in most places
Whether it is a vote for change or the enthusiasm of many of the first time voters, the fact remains that this election has so far seen one of the highest voter turnouts in most constituencies. India's elections kicked off on Monday. Thursday saw voting in 92 seats across 14 states and Union territories, including Delhi, Kerala and parts of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Delhi saw 64.77% turnout as the contest heated up between Congress, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party. Lakshadweep Lok Sabha constituency recorded 87.05% polling for the lone seat. Kerala saw 76% voters turning up while Odisha saw 67% turnout.
Jharkhand’s turnout stood at 58.30. Uttar Pradesh's first phase polling in ten constituencies saw over 64% turnout. Madhya Pradesh saw an average 56.60% turnout in the nine constituencies that went to polls on Thursday. The polling in Maharashtra’s constituencies was lesser than expected ranging between 62-68%. Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency on Thursday recorded 68% polling. In Bihar the turnout was over 50% on an average. Haryana saw healthy voter turnout of over 73%. Union Territory Chandigarh created a record of highest ever poll percentage of nearly 74%. Chandigarh. The voting for the two parliamentary seats in Goa would be held on Saturday. Tripura's second Lok Sabha seat will see polling on Saturday too.
To ensure stable growth, global rules of the game need to be revisited: RBI
A good way to describe the current environment is one of extreme monetary easing through unconventional policies, Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India, said. Speaking at the Brookings Institution on Thursday, Rajan said, "In a world where debt overhangs and the need for structural change constrain domestic demand, a sizeable portion of the effects of such policies spillover across borders, sometimes through a weaker exchange rate. More worryingly, it prompts a reaction. Such competitive easing occurs both simultaneously and sequentially, as I will argue, and both advanced economies and emerging economies engage in it. Aggregate world demand may be weaker and more distorted than it should be, and financial risks higher. To ensure stable and sustainable growth, the international rules of the game need to be revisited. Both advanced economies and emerging economies need to adapt, else I fear we are about to embark on the next leg of a wearisome cycle.
Below are the excerpts of Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, RBI's speech:
Central bankers are usually reluctant to air their concerns in public. But because the needed change has political elements to it, I take my cue from speeches by two central bankers whom I respect greatly, Ben Bernanke in his 2005 "Global Savings Glut" speech, and Jaime Caruana in his 2012 speech at Jackson Hole, both of whom have raised similar concerns to mine, although from different perspectives...Read More
India's real GDP growth is projected to strengthen: IMF
The global recovery is becoming broader, but the changing external environment poses new challenges to emerging market and developing economies, says the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO). The IMF forecasts global growth to average 3.6% in 2014? up from 3% in 2013?and to rise to 3.9% in 2015. The strengthening of the recovery from the Great Recession in the advanced economies is a welcome development, according to IMF staff. But the latest WEO also emphasizes that growth remains subpar and uneven across the globe. "The recovery which was starting to take hold in October is becoming not only stronger, but also broader," said IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard. "Although we are far short of a full recovery, the normalization of monetary policy—both conventional and unconventional—is now on the agenda." Blanchard cautioned, however, that while acute risks have decreased, risks have not disappeared. In this setting, the global economy is still fragile despite improved prospects, and important risks—both old and new—remain. Risks identified previously include finishing the financial sector reform agenda, high debt levels in many countries, stubbornly high unemployment, and concerns about emerging markets...Read More
Govts must press ahead with spending reform: IMF
Domestic car sales down 5% in March: SIAM
Domestic passenger car sales declined 5.08% to 1,71,489 units in March as against 1,80,675 units in the same month last year. Motorcycle sales increased 16.24% to 9,06,665 units in March from 7,80,022 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Total two-wheeler sales in March rose 21.16% to 13,34,214 units as against 11,01,203 units in the same month last year. Sales of commercial vehicles were down 24.55% to 64,101 units in March, SIAM said. Vehicle sales across categories registered an increase of 12.83% to 16,77,445 units from 14,86,664 units in March 2013, it added. For the fiscal ended March 31, 2014, domestic car sales fell 4.65% to 17,86,899 units as compared to 18,74,055 units in the previous year.
March trade data: March trade deficit at $10.5bn
India released its trade data for March today. The trade deficit narrowed by more than 40 percent from a year ago to $8.13 in February on a sharp fall in imports, further easing pressure on the country's current account balance.
- March non-oil imports at $24.3bn Vs $20.12bn (MoM)
- March trade deficit at $10.5bn Vs $8.13bn (MoM)
- March trade deficit at $10.5bn Vs $10bn (YoY)
- FY14 oil imports up 2.2% at $15.78bn Vs $13.7bn (MoM)
- FY14 Exports at $29.57bn Vs $25.68bn (MoM)
- FY14 imports at 40.08bn Vs $33.81bn (MoM)
- March exports highest in last one year
- Gold & silver imports down 17.27% at $2.76bn YoY
- FY14 gold & silver imports down 40.2% at 33.46bn YoY
- March iron ore exports up at 12.31%
- FY14 iron ore exports up 1.9% at $1.7bn YoY
- March petroleum exports up 0.01% at $60.85bn
- March engg exports down 11% at $661 million YoY
- FY14 engg exports down 6% at $75.8bn YoY...Read More
Piramal Enterprises agrees to sell stake in Vodafone for Rs. 8900 crore
Piramal Enterprises Ltd. announced that it has agreed to divest its entire equity stake, comprising 45,425,328 shares (~11%), in Vodafone India Limited to Prime Metals Ltd., an indirect subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc, for a total consideration of Rs. 8,900 Cr, valuing the shares of Vodafone India Ltd. at Rs. 1,960 per share.
Piramal had acquired these shares at an average price of Rs. 1,290 per share for a total consideration of Rs. 5,864 Cr in two tranches during FY12.
Weekly: Sensex, Nifty gains 1.2% each
An overwhelming number of people came out this time to exercise their franchise even as each major party claimed this large turnout would work in their favour. Markets meanwhile made new highs with the Nifty surging past the 6800 mark for the first time. However, post the breach of 6800 levels, markets were unable to carry the momentum forward as profit booking set in. This perhaps had more to do with weak global cues following a sell-off in Nasdaq and weakness in China’s data. China's exports unexpectedly fell for a second straight month in March and import growth dropped sharply. Moreover, March Trade deficit stood at USD10.5bn, up from USD8.13bn in February.
The market appears a bit tired after a good run. In fact over 75 stocks from BSE-500 have gained as much as 50% from August 2013, when the main indices hit 52-week lows. Sentiment was also slightly hit as the Indian currency weakened against the US Dollar. The Rupee weakened by 1.5% in the past four trading sessions. In the coming week, Indian politics will yet again dominate the headlines as phase five of Lok Sabha polling will cover 122 seats across 13 states. We expect key indices to consolidate in a truncated trading week as corporate earnings will start trickling in...Read More
Job Rejection! A ‘no’ is not the end!
Facebook reject went on to sign a $19 billion deal with the company that once did not consider him worth employing… This story about WhatsApp founder Brian Acton is fast becoming the stuff of legend. However, equally interesting is what Acton posted online in the year 2009 once he was told he wasn’t getting the job – "Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure." Hey, even Twitter didn’t think Acton had what it takes. "Got denied by Twitter HQ. That's ok. Would have been a long commute," is what he had posted on his, ahem, Twitter account after getting to know of the rejection.
As a recruiter, it’s these two sentences by Acton that have really caught my attention in the entire ‘WhatsApp sold to FB" saga. If only our candidates reacted so positively when informed that they were not considered a suitable fit in the companies we had helped them contact for job change. While the more positive ones shrug and move on with a "It’s their loss if they are not hiring a talent… I was doing good in my current company and another new company has recognized my talent," more often than not I’m faced with reactions like "How is that possible? I had an hour long interview with the CEO? Was I being led along for the last 6 months only to be rejected now?" Oh yes, I have had one of these too. Worse, he insisted on speaking directly to the MD about his rejection, only to earn himself a black mark...Read More
Audi Q3 S: Stripped down, but fun
Mercedes was the first of the premium boys to enter the small car market with the launch of the B-Class. With a modest beginning there, Mercedes then threw down the gauntlet with the launch of the A-Class premium hatchback. BMW was quick to respond with the 1-series. The premium hatchbacks boosted sales for the two Germans, and that made Audi sit up and think. But instead of countering this threat with a premium hatch of their own, they decided to test the love affair of modern India with SUVs.
The baby in their SUV pack – the Q3 – has been stripped down off quite a few things, and has been brought into the market as the Q3 S. The stripped down avatar brings the kerb weight down, and the pricing is now at par with the small Merc and Beemer. But at the same time, it provides a bigger option to prospective customers, albeit with a few features being pared. So, does this stripped down version of the Q3 do the trick for Audi? After a couple of months of chasing the Audi communications team for a test drive, I managed to get the S for a day...Read More
Škoda Octavia: The "legend" is back
The Volkswagen Group made its way to the Indian shores in 2001 – not through the well known VW brand, but rather the lesser known Škoda marquee. The Czech Škoda became a fully-owned subsidiary of VW in 2000, and the Škoda was positioned as an entry level marquee for the group, especially for a developing market like India. It was a marquee that could help them test waters without damaging the overall brand equity of VW. I remember that a lot of us smirked at the choice of an unknown marquee like Škoda for India and said that it would die soon. But Octavia proved them wrong, and helped the VW Group establish their beachhead in India. Launched globally in 1996, the Octavia was an instant hit in the executive segment in India, and set the tone for other Škoda models to follow. It also gave confidence to the VW Group to introduce their VW and Audi brands into the country quickly.
The old Octavia was a solid product with a very good balance between performance, looks, price, and features. Once the Octavia started to look a bit jaded, Škoda quickly took the brand out of equation and introduced the Laura to India. While it was still being sold as Octavia in other parts of the globe, Škoda decided to brand it as the Laura here. The lineage was extended and helped launches – Superb, Yeti, Rapid – in other segments. But at the end of 2013, Škoda decided to relaunch the Octavia priced at a premium to its earlier avatar, and retire the Laura, which has been losing market share. My first glimpse of the new Octavia was coming down the ghat on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. And when it came fast behind me on the bend in the fading twilight, I nearly mistook it for a Beemer before I realised the lack of the famed kidney grille!...Read More
Hyundai i10 Grand: Another bestseller
So the Grand i10 has bagged a plethora of awards, and has become another top selling car for Hyundai in India. And it has been 6 months since its debut in India. So why this delay in writing about it? Simply put, I just didn’t get the car on time with me. I have been waiting to get my hands on the new Hyundai small car, get behind the wheel, and drive it to my heart’s content. But it was thwarted due to various factors. I wanted to drive both the diesel and petrol versions before I could write a commentary. While the diesel did come to me, the petrol was a different kettle of fish altogether. All this has meant that my review comes after the Grand i10 is already a bestseller. But that wasn’t going to stop me from giving my views on the car. And I will try and keep it simple and not too elaborate.The small car segment has been getting sub-segmented quite rapidly. Maruti has done its bit to this and now Hyundai has pegged the Grand i10 right between the i10 and the i20. The Grand is the successor of the i10 for most markets globally. But India is an exception. Since the i10 still looks contemporary and its sales have been doing well, Hyundai doesn’t feel the need to replace it. And so the new i10 gets the moniker "Grand" before it. But more crucially it also gets a diesel mill, something that the i10 had lacked. But truth be told – the Grand is a tad longer (100mm in length, 40mm in wheelbase) than what has been launched in Europe by Hyundai. And just before I launch the review, just a thought – the Grand would carry off the i15 branding too!...Read More
Why You should NOT pursue your 'Dream Home'
When you look at the hoardings and advertisements put up by real estate developers, the phrase 'dream home' is almost always part of the promotion. And since we all dream of owning our home one day, this is definitely a useful psychological hook to use in property promotion. But what really constitutes your dream home? Let us examine this in some depth. Home ownership is not a desire we suddenly wake up with one morning - as Indians, it is practically something we grow up with. It is the highest ideal of the Indian Way of Life to own a home, so we dream about ours from very early on. Usually, this 'dream home' is larger than life, beautifully decorated, in an impeccably planned neighbourhood and the envy of our friends and relatives. With the passage of time, our dream home tends to become a little more realistic. For example, most of us have to accept that a bungalow in the classiest part of the city may not be within our means. In other words, the mental imagery of a mansion surrounded by lush lawns and trees lining the compound fade, to be replaced by a spacious, ultra-modern flat. By the time we have launched our career and managed to save enough money for a down payment, even this picture will have moderated in accordance with new realities such as actual spending power...Read More
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