25.9.17

Somewhere in Karnataka....


E-waste: Snapshot


Only 1.5% of electronic waste generated in India is recycled through an `institutional process', industry body Assocham has said. E-waste is growing 30% yearly and set to explode beyond the 1.8 million metric tonnes India generated in 2014, given the rapid penetration of mobiles, computers and other consumer devices.

A snapshot of where India, the world's fifth largest producer of e-waste, stands

Foreign Funds Head for Dalal Street Exit


Overseas funds have soured on Indian equities since the beginning of August because of rich valuations and slower-than expected corporate earnings recovery, prompting them to look for opportunities elsewhere.

They've sold Indian stocks worth a net $2.66 billion between August 1 and the third week of September, making it the most that's been pulled out of any major emerging market that discloses portfolio flows during that period. The outflows exceeded those from major emerging markets such as South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and South Africa. Brazil has bounced back, with investment of $2.17 billion in the same period.

The Nifty and Sensex gained 21.9% and 20%, respectively, this year -among the best-performing emerging market indices. Analysts said some foreign investors, who have been betting on a corporate earnings recovery, lost patience and booked profits. Market strategists said poor earnings growth doesn't justify the steep climb in stock prices. Readjustments in corporate balance sheets as a result of the GST could squeeze the domestic economy further after gross domestic product growth fell to a three-year low of 5.7% in the June quarter as private investment remains a laggard.

Rising geopolitical tensions over North Korea have hastened outflows from emerging markets. Investors are also concerned that the unwinding of the US Federal Reserve balance sheet may lead to the dollar strengthening and a bigger exodus from emerging markets like India. On Friday, the Sensex and the Nifty posted their highest single-day loss in 2017 with the Nifty closing below 10,000.

Indian stocks are among the most expensive emerging market equities. The Sensex is trading at 20.55 times earnings estimates for the current financial year compared with 13.77 times for the MSCI Emerging Market Index.

Brazil's Bovespa index has risen 13.66% since the beginning of August until September 21, compared with the Nifty's 1.49% fall in the same period. But for purchases by domestic investors to the tune of Rs.25,500 crore since August 1, the fall in Indian stocks would have been sharper.

Equity strategists said stability in commodity prices may have also led to improving earnings expectations in other emerging markets including Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. They have seen the benefits of higher commodity prices leading to robust export growth. Earnings growth has returned to these markets, unlike India where export growth doesn't impact the overall market as much. Foreign investors are likely to remain net sellers and may continue to allocate funds to other emerging markets in the coming days.

Even though Indian benchmark indices have scaled new heights recently, a comparison of the Nifty's performance with that of other emerging market peers shows that the Indian index has underperformed the MSCI EM index, which is up 27.8% for the calendar year.

24.9.17

Arvind Subramanian gets 1-year extension

The government announced a year's extension for chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, whose three-year term was due to end on October 16. The announcement by finance minister Arun Jaitley ended speculation about the return of the economist to Peterson Institute, a US-based thinktank. Jaitley said he had cleared the proposal for the extension.

There were reports almost six months ago announcing an extended term for the trade economist. The St Stephen's alumnus was appointed by the Modi government in 2014. Subramanian had agreed to a three-year term and wanted to return to his assignment in the US as he also has family commitments, but the government convinced him to stay back for some more time.

While he has been providing critical inputs on the economy, including to the PM, Subramanian was closely associated with designing the goods and services tax.

For BJP, it's nation first: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the second day of his constituency visit, said development is his government's prime agenda. Modi, who was at Shanshahpur village, 30 km from Varanasi, to inaugurate the Pashu Arogya Mela (cattle health fair), said the BJP , unlike other political parties, does not decide its priorities on the basis of votes. “Some politicians work only when it gets them votes. But we have been brought up in a different culture. For us, the nation is above all and it's our top priority, not votes,“ he said.

The PM, while referring to the mega cattle fair, the first-of-its kind in the district, said, “These animals don't vote. They aren't anyone's voters.“ But, he said, the fair would benefit UP's animal husbandry sector by providing relief to farmers, increasing milk productivity, and improving cattle health.

Modi also laid the foundation of a twin-pit toilet as part of the government's cleanliness drive, and praised the Yogi government for naming it “Izzat ghar,“ which means house of honour. “Jis bhi kisi ghar mein izzat ghar hota hai, wahan ghar ki izzat hoti hai (houses with toilets are always respected),“ he said. Quoting surveys, Modi said that households could save up to Rs.50,000 annually on an average if they started using toilets.

Talking about the Centre's flagship scheme of providing housing for every Indian by 2022, Modi said, “It's an uphill task but if Modi doesn't perform it, who will?“ The PM also praised CM Yogi Aditya Nath implementing the welfare schemes.

23.9.17

New Pune airport plan ready for takeoff

The proposed Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje International Airport project at Purandar near Pune has acquired a fresh momentum with 80% farmers giving their assent for land acquisition. International funding agencies have also shown keen interest in the project, minister of state for irrigation, Vijay Shivtare said.

“Land acquisition for the project will be completed in the next three months as 80% of the farmers have given their nod. We expect the airport to be ready in the next four years,” Shivtare, who represents the Purandar constituency, said.

“Many international agencies have shown interest in bidding for the project and providing soft loan. The new airport would have the biggest cargo facility in the country. It will change the topography of Purandar taluka, south of Pune and boost the economy of the entire region,” said the Shiv Sena MLA, who is a minister in the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet.

India calls Pak `Terroristan' @ UN

In a stinging reply to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's fulminations against India at the United Nations, India described its western neighbour as “Terroristan“ which is home to a flourishing industry producing and exporting global terrorism.

Exercising its right of reply, India emphasised that Pakistan had become a land of “pure terror“ synonymous with terrorism rather than being the “land of the pure“ as its literal meaning suggests.

“Terroristan is, in fact, a territory whose contribution to the globalisation of terror is unparalleled,“ said Eenam Gambhir, first secretary with India's permanent mission to the UN, as she read out India's response. She had been fielded last year as well when she said the “ivy league of terrorism“ was located in Pakistan.

Pointing out that Pakistan is facing the blowback of its actions, Gambhir said, “The polluter, in this case, is paying the price.“

India was forced to exercise its right to reply after Abbasi yet again raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the UN and urged it to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir, claiming that India was violating the ceasefire agreement.

Gambhir said Pakistan's current state can be gauged from the fact that Hafiz Saeed, a leader of the UN-designated terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba, was now sought to be legitimised as the leader of a political party. The Indian official said Pakistan is a country whose counter-terrorism policy was to “mainstream and upstream“ terrorists by either providing safe haven to global terror leaders in its military towns, or protecting them with political careers. “None of this can justify Pakistan's avaricious efforts to covet the territories of its neighbours. In so far as India is concerned, Pakistan must understand that the state of J-K is and will always remain an integral part of India. However much it scales up cross-border terrorism, it will never succeed in undermining India's territorial integrity ,“ said Gambhir.

Brushing aside Pakistan's “gumption“ to play the victim despite having sheltered 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, Gambhir said by now all of Pakistan's neighbours were painfully familiar with these tactics of creating a narrative based on distortion, deception, and deceit. “This august assembly and the world beyond know that efforts at creating alternative facts do not change reality,“ she said. In his speech, Abbasi had also claimed that there were no Taliban safe havens in Pakistan. Attacking Pakistan, Gambhir said having diverted billions of dollars in international military and development aid towards creating a “dangerous infrastructure of terror“ in its territory, Pakistan was now speaking of the high cost of its terror industry . “Even as terrorists thrive in Pakistan and roam its streets with impunity, we have heard it lecture about the protection of human rights in India. The world does not need lessons on democracy and human rights from a country whose own situation is charitably described as a failed state,“ Gambhir said.