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Weekly Newsletters

Your Gateway to India's Investment & Policy Landscape

Welcome to the India Partnership Forum's weekly newsletter hub! Here, you'll find incisive insights and expert analysis on the issues shaping India's investment, trade, policy, geopolitical landscape, and more.

Apr 7 - 13, 2024

Indian Billionaires Soar To Record Highs

India sets another record on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list, with 200 names, a cumulative total nearing a trillion dollars and Asia’s very first centibillionaire. Their combined wealth is approaching a trillion dollars, with a record total of $954 billion—up 41% from $675 billion last year and well exceeding 2022’s total of $750 billion.

Twenty-five new Indian billionaires made their debut. Among them are Naresh Trehan, a leading cardiac surgeon-turned-healthcare entrepreneur, who owns and runs the Medanta chain of hospitals in north India; Ramesh Kunhikannan, founder of Kaynes Technology, which supplied electronic systems for India’s moon mission in August that powered the rover and the lander; and Renuka Jagtiani, who oversees Middle East retailing giant Landmark Group.

Only four people from last year’s list dropped off this time, including former edtech star Byju Raveendran, whose firm Byju’s was enveloped in multiple crises and its valuation was marked down by BlackRock to $1 billion, a fraction of its peak $22 billion valuation in 2022.

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Mar 25 - 31, 2024
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Meet The 9 Semiconductor Startups Powering India’s Technological Prowess

From the expansion of electric vehicles to the integration of drones and from the ascent of private players in space tech to a notable influx of private funding in technology, these achievements very well underline the vibrant landscape of India’s tech sector.

Presently, India has forged agreements with several global semiconductor manufacturing giants to establish manufacturing facilities in the country. With companies like Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Micron, and Qualcomm making investments in India, alongside the emergence of more venture capital-backed startups, the semiconductor industry in India is poised for further expansion.

In 2021, the Indian government sanctioned the Semicon India programme, allocating INR 76,000 Cr to provide incentive support to companies engaged in silicon semiconductor fabs, display fabs, compound semiconductors/sensors fabs, and semiconductor packaging and design.

Mar 18 - 24, 2024

Absolute poverty: UK sees biggest rise for 30 years

Steep price rises, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, meant hundreds of thousands more people fell into absolute poverty. The figure jumped to 12 million in 2022-2023, a rise of 600,000. This means the rate of absolute poverty in the UK now stands at 18% - a rise of 0.78 percentage points. Nearly fifth of the population struggled with basic needs, it emerges, as charities accuse the government of failing the poorest. 

"Official income statistics have understated the true increase in deprivation during this period" says Sam Ray-Chaudhuri of think tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

 

The number of children and of working-age adults in poverty each rose by about 300,000 people. In these figures, a quarter of children were in absolute poverty. The two percentage point rise in the rate of child poverty is the highest since at least the mid 1990s.

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Mar 10 - 16, 2024
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UK Budget 2024: Key Takeaways from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Announcement

Taxation Changes

  • National Insurance Cut: A reduction by 2p in the pound for both employees and the self-employed.

  • Non-Dom Tax Regime, for UK residents whose permanent home is overseas, to be replaced with new rules from April 2025.

  • New UK ISA Tax Allowance: The introduction of a £5,000 allowance for investments in UK-focused shares could open new investment and tax-saving opportunities for individuals.

Business and Investment Focus

  • Threshold at which small businesses must register to pay VAT raised from £85,000 to £90,000 from April.

  • Covid-era government loan scheme for small businesses extended until March 2026.

  • Tax reliefs for touring and orchestral productions, which had to been due to end in March 2025, made permanent.

Economic Growth and Public Debt

  • Office for Budget Responsibility predicts UK economy to grow by 0.8% this year and 1.9% next year.

  • Growth of 2% predicted for 2026, with 1.8% in 2027 and 1.7% in 2028.

  • UK's inflation rate forecast to fall below 2% target by the end of June, falling to 1.5% next year.

  • Public debt, excluding Bank of England debt, forecast to be 91.7% of GDP this year, rising to 92.8% next year.

Mar 3 - 9, 2024

France makes abortion a constitutional right

Why Macron hopes abortion rights are a political winner

Parliamentarians voted to revise the country's 1958 constitution to enshrine women's "guaranteed freedom" to abort. The overwhelming 780-72 vote saw a standing ovation in the parliament in Versailles when the result was announced. Before the vote, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal told parliament that the right to abortion remained "in danger" and "at the mercy of decision-makers". The constitutional change was prompted by recent developments in the US, where the right to abortion was removed by the Supreme Court in 2022. 

France, however, has remained a shining beacon through recent history. Since 1975 the law has been updated nine times - and on each occasion to extend access. Strong public support, with 86 per cent of French citizens favouring abortion rights, has been instrumental in shaping legislation.

President Macron, lacking a majority in the National Assembly, has faced criticism for unpopular policies. Abortion rights emerge as a unifying issue, boosting Macron’s popularity without significantly altering the legal landscape.

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Feb 26 - Mar 2, 2024
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London's housing crisis burns hot, fueled by a chronic shortage of homes and skyrocketing rents.

Advertised rents are 9.2% higher than a year previously, with renters in London paying nearly double the median monthly rent for the rest of England at £1,625. While Mayor Sadiq Khan's proposed rental freeze offers temporary relief, it's a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. 

 

Official data suggests there are over 260,000 empty homes in London collecting dust! Shops are closing down, leaving empty spaces everywhere. Airbnbification – the process by which short-term Airbnb rentals overtake the housing market – has been linked to the depletion of local housing stocks, increased home prices, gentrification, and exclusionary displacement. Empty houses are more often converted into short-term holiday lets, leaving Londoners in a desperate scramble for even basic accommodation. Learning from cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam, with their enforceable licensing quotas and limitations on rental days, could be a game-changer.

Khan's recent pledge to boost social housing construction is a glimmer of hope, but the scale needs to be truly astronomical. Streamlining planning permission, tackling the labyrinthine complexities of land ownership, and incentivizing smaller, more attainable developments are crucial manoeuvres.

Feb 19 - 25, 2024

Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg has a theory about recent tech layoffs: It’s not AI

Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook parent Meta, said he believes major companies are trimming their workforce because they’re realizing the advantages of operating a more streamlined organization. “I think across the economy, a lot of companies just kind of overbuilt. And then when things went back to pretty close exactly the way they were before it, I think a lot of companies realized, hey, we’re kind of not in a good financial place.”

Google reported that it made a $20.7 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2023, an increase of 52% compared to the previous year, yet its workforce shrunk by 4%. Google's Sundar Pichai also said 'We're not restructuring because AI is taking away roles, that's important here'. 

Cisco is laying off 4,250 people—around 5% of its global workforce. Nike cut around 1,700 jobs. It is about 2% of its workforce. Paramount is also laying off 800 people—around 2% of its workforce. Snapchat has cut around 500 jobs, which is about 10% of the workforce. Grammarly has laid off 230 people.

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Feb 12 - 18, 2024

Nvidia Is Now More Valuable Than Amazon And Google - here's what you need to know

Nvidia, the powerhouse behind AI-powered processors, officially surpassed Amazon in market value to become the 4th most valuable American company. But what does this mean, and why is Nvidia on such a tear?

What Nvidia Does:
Designs and manufactures graphics processing units (GPUs), traditionally used for gaming but now crucial for:
--> Artificial intelligence (AI): Training and running complex algorithms used in everything from self-driving cars to personalized recommendations.
--> Data centres: Accelerating demanding tasks like scientific computing and financial modelling.
-->The metaverse: Powering virtual worlds and immersive experiences.

Why Their Stock is Soaring:
--> AI Boom: The demand for AI chips is exploding, and Nvidia stands as a leader in this rapidly growing market.
--> Gaming Prowess: They still dominate the high-end graphics card market, catering to passionate gamers worldwide.
--> Metaverse Potential: Early positioning in the metaverse, a sector estimated to reach $800 billion by 2025, fuels investor excitement.
Strong Financials: Consistent revenue growth and profitability further bolster confidence in their future.

Feb 5 - 11, 2024

Paytm Payments Bank Blocked by RBI Probe: Unpacking the Situation

The recent block on Paytm Payments Bank by the RBI following a probe has sent shockwaves through the Indian fintech industry. 

What happened?

  • The RBI found "material supervisory concerns" and "persistent non-compliances" at Paytm Payments Bank during an audit.

  • This led to the suspension of onboarding new customers and most other activities and blocked any credit or top-up to the accounts after Feb 29.

  • Fund transfers (irrespective of name and nature of services like AEPS, IMPS, etc.), BBPOU and UPI facility will continue and customers may withdraw and transfer their balance without restriction

  • Reports suggest concerns around money laundering and data flow between Paytm and its payments bank arm.

What does it mean?

  • This is a significant blow to Paytm, potentially impacting its growth and financial standing. 

  • The RBI's action highlights its focus on ensuring regulatory compliance and financial stability in the fintech sector. It raises questions about Paytm's internal controls, transparency and governance practices.

  • The company's market value dropped by $2.5 billion, with stocks falling to their daily limit.

Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2024
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Will the war in Gaza become a breaking point for the rules-based international order?

The scale of death and destruction in Gaza is increasingly viewed as an indictment of a system facing perhaps its most daunting and most stubborn challenge – global perceptions of hypocrisy.

 

The Western response in Ukraine is a clear example of this. The US, UK and EU mobilized global rules, institutions and norms to resist Russian aggression. Hillary Clinton, for instance, warned ‘if Russian leadership would rather not be accused of committing war crimes, they should stop bombing hospitals’. Russia claimed these hospitals were used by the Azov Battalion and other radicals for military purposes.

But the US and UK governments, who believe in Israel’s right to self-defence and classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, are now among only a small handful of countries refusing to call for a ceasefire at the UN

Jan 22 - 28, 2024

India Stock Market Outlook 2024:

India overtakes Hong Kong, becomes 4th largest stock market

  • The total value of shares in India equalled $4.33 trillion at Monday's close, over Hong Kong's $4.29 trillion.

  • While India's retail investor base has grown, Hong Kong has been weighed down by a slumping Chinese economy.

In the backdrop of geopolitical tensions and subdued global economic growth, the Indian stock market showcased remarkable resilience throughout 2023. Throughout the year, investors witnessed a remarkable ascent, with the Nifty 50 and BSE Sensex scaling new heights and marking their second-best performance since 2017.

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Jan 15 - 21, 2024
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Turning Wasted Wind into Clean Hydrogen

The growing fiscal and economic opportunity cost of the growing power grid congestion holding back the UK’s world-class wind fleet

In the absence of sufficient transmission capacity, the UK is losing one billion pounds a year because of system constraints. By the time planned solutions are implemented next decade, the cost of curtailment will have increased to an annual £3.5bn. In 2022 the volume of wasted wind generation was sufficient to produce over 118,000 tonnes of green hydrogen, rising to 455,000 tonnes by 2029. 

The report calls on Westminster to encourage electrolyser adoption in heavily curtailed areas to leverage this wasted energy and supercharge our nascent hydrogen economy.

Jan 8 - 14, 2024

India Is Chasing China’s Economy. But Something Is Holding It Back.

Long-term investment in India by businesses is stagnant, and foreign money is falling, even as the government is driving growth with infrastructure spending. China’s geopolitical tensions with the West present an opening for India, by motivating foreign companies to move production in China to other countries.

Last year, the bank said it anticipated an imminent crowding-in, as it has forecast for almost three years running. At some point soon, the government will need to reduce its extraordinary spending, which could weigh on the economy if private sector money doesn’t pick up.

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