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Jottings: Smart Numbers

The actual number of domestic passengers in the Indian aviation sector almost touched the 100 million mark in the 2016 calendar year. By the end of 2017, the volume will almost certainly be well over 100 million

The power of being the largest or the biggest does help companies in times of adversity. Take Maruti Suzuki India, for instance. The company reported a net profit of Rs 1,744.5 crore in the third quarter of the 2016-17 financial year, which was a 47.5 per cent jump over its net profit of Rs 1,183 crore in the October-December quarter of the previous fiscal. Most of the automobile manufacturer’s peers have witnessed a decline in sales, poor bookings and a general slowdown since the demonetisation announced on November 8 — which, incidentally, was virtually in the middle of the third quarter!

But a closer scrutiny of Maruti’s financials reveal that the company too saw a decline in sales of vehicles in most categories in Q3 of FY 17, when compared with Q3 of FY16. Sales in the mini segment, which accounts for more than 29 per cent of the domestic sales of Maruti Suzuki, dipped by nearly six per cent. The compact segment also reported a marginal dip and shrank as an overall percentage of domestic sales, from nearly 42 per cent in Q3 of FY16 to 40 per cent in Q3 of FY17. The super compact and utility vehicles segment also contracted. Only mid-sized vehicles and vans have reported growth as a segment. An analyst aptly summed up the situation. “Overall Maruti’s sales reported a 3.5 per cent growth because of a backlog in delivery,” he said, adding, “Going forward, the new bookings may see some impact.”
— Ashish Sinha


FULL AUTONOMY FOR IIMs

In the din and bustle of election rhetoric and assorted controversies, many missed a significant decision of the government. On January 24, the Union Cabinet approved and cleared the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017 that promises complete autonomy to the premier management education institutions of India. The Bill will be tabled in the Budget session of the Parliament and is expected to be passed without any glitches. Autonomy has been a long pending demand and there have been differences between the PMO, which wanted full autonomy, and the HRD ministry, which wanted some control. Now the IIMs will be run by an independent 15-member board, which will have one representative from the HRD ministry and four from State governments. Significantly, since the new Bill declares the IIMs to be institutions of national importance, the Central government will continue to fund the IIMs, just as it has been doing in the past.
— Sutanu Guru

AN ACTIVIST AND A MINISTER
The NDA government’s sabre slash on black money has had many casualties. As in any battle, some felled in the war on unaccounted cash and counterfeit currency notes were unintended bystanders — the real estate and automobiles industries, among them. Industries stung by the demonetisation of 86 per cent of the currency in circulation cut back on advertising expenses along with other heads of expenditure, which in turn, squeezed the revenue of media companies. In January, media barons went on a cost cutting spree. Some national dailies shut down editions, put a freeze on new recruits and retrenched staff drastically. Media owners have hinted that the contraction was necessary to cope with the burden that the Majithia Wage Board and the Goods and Services Tax would bring.

So, when Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Venkaiah Naidu, consented to a tête-à-tête with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps, he was understandably harangued for his views. Naidu, whose activism as a member of the RSS and a student leader, had spurred his rise in the ranks of the BJP, did not disappoint scribes. “Proper wages must be paid, since the inflation indices are rising,” he said. “I am surprised at how the so-called champions of the working classes are supporting this,” was Naidu’s barb at the resistance to the wage board recommendations.
— Madhumita Chakraborty

AIR TRAFFIC CROSSES THE 100 MILLION MILESTONE
The actual number of domestic passengers in the Indian aviation sector almost touched the 100 million mark in the 2016 calendar year. By the end of 2017, the volume will almost certainly be well over 100 million, since domestic passenger traffic continues to grow at a double digit rate. This is a significant milestone for the aviation industry in India, just as touching the threemillion mark in sales was for the automobile (four-wheeler) industry and 100-million mark was for the Indian telecom industry. Having crossed that milestone, don’t be surprised if growth gathers momentum at a faster rate.

Very soon, the Udaan scheme, that promotes air traffic from small cities and towns, will be operational and there could be a substantial jump in the number of Indians taking to the air. If implemented well, the scheme could make more than 50 new airports active in the country.
— Sutanu Guru

FIRST TO JOIN, FIRST TO DEFAULT
The Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd was the first State utility to join the very ambitious UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme of the Union government. It is now the first utility to default on its dues as well. Jharkhand had raised a loan using the scheme and cleared all its dues since 2001. Just a year later, though, the State Discom has piled up Rs 1,300 crore of new dues to the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and another Rs 32 crore to Coal India. The scheme was intended to improve the performance of power utilities — but now that 90 per cent of the State Discoms have availed of it, will UDAY be in peril because of them? — Naina Sood



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