Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Orient, was laid low by a series of eight coordinated bombings across the country which, according to early reports, had resulted in 310 or more deaths. The iconic Roman Catholic Cathedral in the capital Colombo and other churches in the cities and cities across the country were bombed during the Easter service leaving many worshippers dead and wounded.
Prominent hotels were similarly attacked leaving dead tourists, some Indian. The Indian embassy in Colombo was also targeted but no deaths or injuries were reported. While no definite proof of the sources of these attacks have been established the finger of suspicion pited to the local Thaweed Jamaat, a hardline Islamist organization with suspected links to Islamic State.
World leaders, including the Pope, Presidents Trump, Putin, Indian President Kovind and Prime Minister Modi have condemned this brutal and senseless outrage. Mr Modi spoke with the Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister and offerd the fullest cooperation (Times of India, Hindu April 22).
Election fever plumbed new depths with the Election Commission imposing a 72-hour campaign bans on Uttar Pradesh BJP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and UP Samajwadi leader Azam Khan, and 48-hour bans on BJP Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, Bahuhjan Samaj party chief Mayawati. They were found guilty of making inflammatory speeches targeting other communities, and hence likely to provoke social unrest and violence (Statesman, Hindu, Times of India April 16)
The second of the seven stage election has ended, with a voter turnout estimated between 66-68 per cent (Statesman, Hindu, Times of India April 19).
Near normal’ monsoon predicted
Kamal Nandi, Vice President, Godrej Appliances, reacted positively to the MET forecast of a ‘near normal monsoon.’ He said: ‘Healthy rains will surely help the agricultural sector. We expect to see the consumption going up front rural, and semi-urban beginning the third quarter.’ He also dilated on increased sales of refrigerators and other electrical appliances. Two-wheeler manufacturers are also optimistic on robust sales.
The positive monsoon prediction led to a Sensex rally. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) backed by its robust quarterly results, along with the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) bank, Kotak Mahindra, Bank, Tata Motors were top contributors to the Sensex rally – which was also boosted by strong buying by foreign and domestic funds (Times of India April 16).
Foxconn to start mass iPhone production
Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou the Taiwanese company’s iPhone will go into mass production in India this year. Gou said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to India as his company unfolded plans to expand its presence in the country. India is now the world’s fastest-growing iPhone market. The Foxconn plant is to be located in Chennai.
With a stagnating Chinese market, the US Apple, which concentrated on China to the neglect of India, is in retreat (Times of India April 16).
Bajaj’s bull’s eye
Bajaj Auto has displayed remarkable resurgence going forward into the new fiscal in motorcycles. The Pulsar has been growing year-on-year attracting customers in search of the 125cc brand, having grown 25 per cent of market share. .Our strategy of invading the middle is paying off and has contributing to volumes and profitability,’ says Rajiv Bajaj, Managing Director, Bajaj Auto. The first quarter of the new fiscal will see three new products.- CT, Platina and Pulsar, all designed to take growth forward. Bajaj is confident that the company’s present 20-odd per cent growth is set to rise to 25-30 per cent (Business Line March 29).
Reaching for the skies
A decade or two ago, Kolkata embodied dereliction, a vast slum of decay with little hope for the future. Its subsequent resurrection borders on the near miraculous: daily power cuts a receding memory, telephone communications that work, flyovers in and around the city that has cut journey-times to the airport from almost two hours to an approximate hour on weekdays and even less on Sundays. Restaurants and shopping malls buzz with customers. Spanking new buildings dot the skyline. The newest at 268 metres, with 65 floors, is now India’s tallest building. It stands on the iconic Chowringhee road, adjacent to the Maidan and provides a memorable view of the Hooghly river beyond. One must hope that the present experience is not derailed’ that the future is secure (Times of India April 16).
India’s largest software exporter, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has reported a 17.7 per cent increase in its fourth quarter (ending March 31, 2019) consolidated net profit to Rs 8.126 crore, riding on 18.5 per cent in revenue to Rs 38,000 crore. Digital services contributed 31 per cent to revenue growing at 46.4 per cent over the same period of the previous year.
‘This is the strongest revenue growth that we have had in the last 15 quarters,’ said Rajesh Gopalan, Managing Director and CEO, TCS. ‘ Our order book is bigger than in the previous three quarters and the deal pipeline is also robust. Despite macro uncertainties ahead, our strong exit positions us very well for the new fiscal,’ he said (Hindu April 13).
Tatas return to Bengal
The Tata Group appears to have exorcized the ghost of Nano and returned to Bengal in a major shift in policy. Tata-Hitachi has moved from Jamshepur to Bengal two years ago. The Group is set to establish four registered offices in the State. Tata Sponge is moving from Odisha to Bengal, as are Tata Global Beverages and Tinplate and Tataliks, with Tata Sponge taking over Kolkata-based company Usha Martin’s steel business (Times of India April 19).
Jet Airways on the brink
Debt-laden Jet Airways aircraft have been grounded and further operations aborted because of debts. Banks have refused until a confirmed deal reached on a prospective buyer of the debt-ridden company. Pilots and other staff are seeking employment with India’s other airlines (Times of India April 19).
A SAT success proud moment: DRDO chief
Defence Research and Development Organization Chairman G.Satheesh Reddy said apropos of India’s recent A-Satellite test, ‘We have been one of four countries in the world …the basic technologies and ideas emerged out of ballistic missile defence programme (which) gave (us) the confidence to take up the critically complex mission test,’ he said. Permission to go ahead with the test was given in 2016. Complex, critical technologies were home-grown. Dr Reddy said the entire mission was designed and built indigenously, with Indian industry contributing around 2,000 subsystems in the mission. About 200 Indian firms contributed to the mission’s success (Business Line April 17).
Mindtree IT in billionaire club
Twenty six years since its creation, mid-tier IT firm Mindtree crossed the $1billion revenue club during the fiscal ending March 31, 2019. Faced with a hostile takeover by engineering major Larsen & Toubro, the Board of Directors of Mindtree declared an interim dividend of 30 per cent per share to be paid before May 10. The Board also recommended a a final dividend 40 per cent in celebration of the twin achievements of exceeding $1 billion annual revenue and the completion of the company’s twentieth year.
Strategy for success
‘Over the course of two decades our strategy of being expertise-led and backed by a unique culture continues to to help us attract world class people to create customer success. Our ability to to consistently grow faster than the sector isa a reflection of the investments we have made to align with technology trends disrupting our industry,’ said Rostow Ravanan, Managing Director and CEO, Mindtree (Hindu April 18).
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance soars
Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) – the oil-to-telecom conglomerate – has registered a consolidated net profit of Rs10, 362 crore – the second such straight quarter - in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal ending March 31, 2018. For the full year RIL posted a net profit of Rs 39, 588 crore, an increase of 13.1 per cent. ‘During the Financial Year 2018-19, we achieved several milestones and made significant strides in building Reliance of the future. RelianceRetail crossed the Rs100,00 crore revenue milestone.
Jio now serves over 300 million consumers and our petrochemicals business deliverd its highest ever earnings,’ said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director Reliance Industries. The last financial ending March 31, saw Jio posting a net profit of Rs 2,964 crore, compared with Rs 723 crore of the previous year (Business Line April 19).