Data recap: Monsoon bet, TCS headcount, health drinks

The IMD has said that India will likely receive above-normal monsoon rainfall this year. (Image: Pixabay)
The IMD has said that India will likely receive above-normal monsoon rainfall this year. (Image: Pixabay)

Summary

  • News and developments from the week gone by, through numbers and charts.

Every Friday, Plain Facts publishes a compilation of data-based insights, complete with easy-to-read charts, to help you delve deeper into the stories reported by Mint in the week gone by. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that India will likely receive above-normal monsoon rainfall this year. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is not filling up vacant roles, resulting in the company ending the year FY24 with fewer employees than it had at the beginning.

Monsoon outlook

The weather office has forecast an above-normal monsoon for 2024, marking only the second such prediction in the 21st century. The last time it did so, in 2016, the rainfall was much lower. Rainfall during the official southwest monsoon season (June to September) is expected to be 106% of the long-period average (LPA). A Mint analysis shows that since 2001, the IMD has over-projected the rainfall nine times, under-projected seven times, and was in its acceptable error range only seven times. However, the accuracy has become better over the years.

Declining headcount

TCS, India's biggest IT services company and the largest private-sector employer, ended FY24 with 601,546 employees, a decline of 13,249 heads in a year as the company is not filling up many of its vacancies, a Mint report said. This is a first for the company since it went public in 2004. A fall in headcount for IT firms is usually linked to lower earnings, but TCS has dismissed concerns, saying that the dip was nothing unusual, especially after an earlier hiring spree. Some experts believe that this may be a sign of things to come, with artificial intelligence increasingly replacing employees in big IT services firms.

Healthy choice?

$1 billion: That's the size of the health food drinks market in India, which may experience a sales shift following the government's directive to eliminate the "health drinks" label from select popular brands. On 10 April, the Centre had directed all e-commerce platforms to remove the “health drinks" label from their products, citing lack of standards and definition of the term under India’s food laws. Earlier this month, the food safety regulator had also asked e-commerce firms to ensure proper categorization of certain products sold under health and energy drinks.

Narrowing deficit

India's goods trade deficit contracted by nearly 17% in March to an 11-month low of $15.6 billion, data released by the commerce ministry showed. The decrease was mainly driven by a sharp drop in imports, which fell to $57.28 billion in March from $60.11 billion the previous month. Meanwhile, goods exports saw a marginal rise to $41.68 billion, up from $41.40 billion in February. The uptick occurred against the backdrop of a sluggish global trade recovery in 2024, after a contraction in 2023 due to the lingering effects of high energy prices and inflation.

Reviving sales

Lockdowns and remote work during the pandemic fuelled a surge in smartphone demand in India, but as the world began to return to normalcy, this trend waned, a Mint report said. After enduring a two-year slump, smartphone sales showed signs of recovery in the March quarter, offering hope to manufacturers in the world's second-largest smartphone market. Data compiled from four industry analysts showed that shipments during the quarter increased by 5% compared to the previous year, ranging between 32.5 to 35 million units.

Poll baits

4,650 crore: That's the value of inducements that the Election Commission of India (ECI) seized between 1 March and 13 April. The inducements include items such as cash, drugs, liquor, precious metals and freebies ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The value of items seized during the entire 2019 election campaign was 3,475 crore. Drug seizures saw a sharp increase, valued at 2,068 crore. Rajasthan recorded the highest seizures, at 778 crore, followed by Gujarat ( 605 crore), and Tamil Nadu ( 460 crore).

Privatization 3.0

An increasing number of airports in India are set to come under private ownership, as the Airport Authority of India (AAI) prepares to privatize an additional 13 airports in the upcoming months. The state-owned airport operator also plans to initiate the third phase of airport privatization after the general elections, and sell its remaining stake in the larger airports of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, a Mint report said. As part of the plan, AAI plans to invite bids for operation, management and development of 13 other airports in public-private-partnership mode. The process will commence with the sale of its remaining 13% stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) this year.

Chart of the week: Hefty pay

Cognizant's chief executive officer (CEO) Ravi Kumar Singisetti got $22.56 million or about 186 crore in compensation last year, making him the highest-paid Indian boss at a technology services company. Wipro’s former CEO Thierry Delaporte, who stepped down earlier this month, got $10.1 million ( 83 crore).

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