Domestic Air Traffic Rises 18.4% in June

Domestic airlines registered 18.4% growth in passengers flown during June compared to that a year ago. Indian carriers carried 11.3 million passengers during the month, up from 9.6 million in June 2017, which is a traditionally strong month for airlines.

Gurugram-based SpiceJet continued to maintain its pole position in terms of load factor by flying its planes 93.3% full, followed by GoAir, which flew its planes with 88.6%. IndiGo was a close third by flying its planes with 88.3% seats full.

In terms of operating flights on time, IndiGo topped the list by operating 84.1% of its flights on time closely followed by SpiceJet that operated 81.2% flights on time while Jet Airways operated 78.8% of its flight on time. The national carrier Air India was the laggard with only 68.5% of its flights on time.

IndiGo remained the market leader in terms of passenger volumes accounting for 41.3% share of the passengers in the month of June. Jet Airways was second in terms of market share by flying 15% of the passengers flown during the month. India’s national carrier Air India, was the third largest carrier in terms of market share, accounting for 12.5% of the market.


WPI @ 5.8%

Wholesale inflation soared to an over four year high in June on the back of costly vegetables, fuel and manufactured products’ prices, prompting economists to say that the RBI will most likely raise interest rates when it reviews its monetary policy next month. Wholesale price index rose an annual 5.8% in June, higher than 4.4% in the previous month.

This was a 54-month high number for the WPI, since it touched 5.9% in December 2013. Food inflation rose to 1.8% in June, higher than 1.6% in the previous month.

The government also revised upwards the annual rate of inflation for April to 3.6% compared to 3.2% reported earlier.

The RBI largely focuses on the retail inflation or consumer inflation numbers, but the spurt in WPI inflation highlights the price pressure in the economy. Latest data released last week showed retail inflation rose to a five-month high of 5% in June.

The WPI data showed vegetable prices rose an annual 8% in June, higher than 2.5% in the previous month. Potato prices increased 99% in June.

Economists said they expect several factors to influence the inflation trajectory in the months ahead but expect the central bank to raise interest rates, keeping in view the increasing price pressure.


Of India’s 4G Speed....

4G is the talk of the town, but buffering is still a reality in India. The average 4G LTE data speed has remained static for more than a year – at 6.1 Mbps – which is almost a third of the global average of about 17 Mbps, making it among the slowest countries on this metric.

Even as the big telcos step up 4G deployment, brace for 5G and talk of offering fibre-based home broadband at starting speeds of 100 Mbps soon, data junkies have little reason to cheer.

India’s 4G download speeds are even slower than that of neighbours Sri Lanka (13.95 Mbps), Pakistan (13.56 Mbps) and Myanmar (15.56 Mbps), according to UK speed tester OpenSignal. They are much lower than developed markets such as the US (16.31 Mbps), UK (23.11 Mbps) and Japan (25.39 Mbps).

US data speed tester Ookla has ranked India 109th – almost at the bottom of its list of 124 nations – on overall mobile internet speeds, with an average download speed of 9.12 Mbps, which is way below the 23.54 Mbps global average. Ookla’s mobile internet speed test results for any country include measurements of various networks – 2G, 3G and 4G.

OpenSignal analyst Peter Boyland said that the comparatively slower speeds in India are due to the “astronomical growth in terms of smartphone penetration in India, with millions of new users connecting to its mobile networks every month.”

Ookla spokesman Adriane Blum said another possible reason behind India’s slower mobile internet speeds is the challenge of serving an extremely dense population.

“With more people using the internet at any given time, network congestion can certainly be a factor,” Blum wrote.

Experts said a country’s 4G speeds also hinge on how much spectrum is devoted to LTE, whether it has adopted new 4G technologies like LTE Advanced, how densely networks are built and congestion levels.

“The spectrum per operator in India is low compared to other countries, which affects 4G network speeds,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India. He added that “spectrum per subscriber also remained comparatively low, due to high population.”

The COAI represents top telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Mathews also blamed low 4G data speeds on “the frequent shutting down of internet across the country by law enforcement agencies, challenges in securing permissions to install vital telecom infrastructure and undue tower shutdowns by municipal bodies.”

However, ex-Bharti Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor said the current pricing and generous quantum of data on packs offered by telcos, amid continuing price wars, are “probably a lot more than what present networks are designed to handle, which can spoil customer 4G experience in terms of speeds and pervasiveness.”

Another possible reason, he said, is that barring Jio, which is the sole pure 4G player, big telcos continue to run multiple mobile technologies. Accordingly, most networks, he said, “are not offering contiguous 4G coverage, which is why, mobile signals can drop off from 4G to 3G to 2G to fill the 4G gaps that, in turn, can impact speeds and experience.”

Some analysts partly ascribed the phenomenon to higher latency levels of Indian telcos. Latency is a measure of the delay that users experience when their computers/smartphones try to access internet servers.

“In India, Vodafone had the lowest latency in our measurements, with a response time of 66.4 milliseconds, but that’s still relatively high as most operators around the world tend to fall within a range of 30-50 milliseconds,” said an OpenSignal spokesperson.

Almost Every Adult Has an Aadhaar Now

Those with Aadhaar numbers in India has crossed the landmark 2011 census figure. Nearly 92% of the population and almost every adult now has a unique identification number, if one goes by projected population figures as in 2018.

The 2011 census had put India’s population at 121.08 crore, while figures as on July 15 show 121.75 crore have enroled for Aadhaar. The Unique Identification Authority of India puts projected population of India as on date at about 133.5 crore.

“As per our calculations, almost every adult now has an Aadhaar – there are just about 35 lakh adults who have not enroled. This figure too is mostly in states like Assam and Meghalaya, where Aadhaar work is not in full flow,” said a government official.

“With enrolment nearing saturation in adults, focus has gradually shifted to child enrolment (those below the age of 18) and managing updates to ensure currency of the Aadhaar database,” noted a recent UIDAI document outlining the new vision.

ISRO successfully tests new rocket engine

Isro’s rocket engine development programme crossed a significant milestone when it successfully tested a new high-thrust version of the Vikas engine. According to Isro, the engine qualified through a ground test which lasted for 195 seconds. The test was carried out at the organisation’s Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu.

“All the propulsion parameters during the tests were deemed satisfactory and closely matched the predications,’’ Isro stated.

The ground test validated the performance adequacy of Vikas for its use in the upcoming second developmental flight of the Gslv-Mark 3 mission.

This engine will improve the payload capability of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle and Gslv Mark 3 launch vehicles.

The Vikas engine is a liquid rocket engine powering the second stage of the Pslv, the second stage and the four strap-on stages of the Gslv and the twin engine core liquid of the Gslv Mark 3.


India to be $10 Trn Economy by 2030: Garg

The Indian economy is at a “take off” stage and is expected to be the world’s third largest by 2030 with GDP worth $10 trillion, Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg has said. “Good days are ahead and lot of good work is happening in the economy. The economy is on a stage of take off where Indians can legitimately hold their heads high. Eight per cent growth is very much achievable. If we keep that, we can look forward to be an Indian economy of $10 trillion which would be the third largest economy in the world,” Garg said.

Indian cities worst managed

South Asian countries have among the worst managed cities and this, among other things, prevents their full integration with the global economy, Junaid Ahmad, country director-India for the World Bank said.

He said these countries should empower their mayors and make them accountable. “India and South Asia have the worst managed cities in the world because you cannot say who is responsible for the city,” Ahmad said, addressing a gathering of the Pune International Centre at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics.

He said there are two ways to empower a mayor. “The Western way is where mayors are elected, given requisite powers and held accountable for everything that happens in the city. The other one is the Chinese way, where city managers are appointed,” he added.

“In South Asia, you have complete fragmentation of governance of city systems. This is not allowing cities to be managed as a unit,” he said.

Ahmad also said the labour force participation of women in India and in other South Asian countries is dramatically low.