Key events and trends to watch out for in 2024: Part 2

The new year will see the launch of ISRO's ambitious Venus Orbiter Mission, tentatively scheduled for December (Photo: PTI)
The new year will see the launch of ISRO's ambitious Venus Orbiter Mission, tentatively scheduled for December (Photo: PTI)

Summary

  • In the second part of our preview, we look at what could be in store for stock markets, the EV race, India's space program, and China’s 75th anniversary next year.

One of India’s most important achievements in 2023 was successfully landing Chandrayaan-3 on the moon in August. The coming year could see India take its space program to the next level with a mission to Venus.

The new year will also see India’s share markets contend with the uncertainty that comes with national elections. The 2024 Olympics will be a test of Indian sports’ growing stature.

Here's the second part of our series on 10 key events to watch out for in 2024. Read the first part here.

1. What’s next for Sensex?

As central banks shift to a dovish stance, overseas investors are ploughing money back into Indian stocks and benchmark indices have scaled new lifetime highs, with the Sensex crossing 70,000.

Amid this bullish narrative, and with most macroeconomic factors in India's favour, optimism is set to surge in 2024. All eyes are now on the the general elections. Encouraged by the BJP's triumph in recent state polls, markets may shrug off uncertainty if the party returns to power at the centre. Markets love political continuity, and the run-up to the past few elections have delivered smart returns to investors.

The primary market is also getting its groove back, with a string of new offerings awaiting their debut on Dalal Street next year.

2. The EV race

Electric vehicles (EVs) are growing in popularity as governments push for clean and green mobility. India has made big strides, crossing a million sales in 2022 and hitting the same mark in just the first nine months of 2023.

But the share of EVs in new vehicle purchases has been flat of late as traditional vehicles have retained their dominance. EV growth still relies heavily on three-wheelers.

The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which had helped the uptake to some extent, is due to end in March. The government had been reluctant to extend it, citing improper use of the subsidies, but a parliamentary panel has now recommended a three-year extension.

Meanwhile, large automakers such as Tata Motors expect record sales in 2024, and big cities are racing to adopt electric buses. Despite the subsidy row, India is expected to become one the world's largest EV markets.

3. China at 75

India’s biggest and increasingly most consequential neighbour, China will complete 75 years of rule by a one-party communist regime on 1 October. In 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the formation of the People’s Republic of China at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, ending a two-decade-long bloody civil war between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintang.

After decades of failed experiments, the country’s economy has been on an extraordinary growth path since the 1980s, intimidating the West and gaining sway over the global south, even as concerns remain over its restrictive regime.

The world’s second-biggest economy and a manufacturing powerhouse has lifted over 800 million out of poverty. It's now an upper-middle-income country and close to high-income status. But its economy has struggled to rebound since it dropped its strict zero-covid restrictions. Worryingly, China also has a declining population. The next 75 years may not be the same as the past 75 for the Chinese juggernaut.

4. Deeper into space

The new year will see the launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) ambitious Venus Orbiter Mission, tentatively scheduled for December. This endeavour follows the triumphs of ISRO's historic 2023 missions, namely Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya L1.

The Venus mission, unofficially known as Shukrayaan, holds immense promise in shaping India's space-exploration narrative. Its primary objective is to delve beneath the surface of Venus, the solar system's hottest planet, and investigate the mysteries hidden under its sulphuric-acid clouds. It will also scour Venus's atmosphere for oxygen.

A successful mission would put ISRO in an elite group of entities that have sent missions to Venus: the Soviet Union, the US, Europe and Japan. Other significant space missions on which ISRO may provide updates in 2024 are Gaganyaan (a human spaceflight programme), and Mangalyaan 2 (second Mars mission).

5. Paris Olympics

France claims the upcoming summer Olympics in Paris will be the cheapest so far this century. The government has said the private sector is funding a large part of it and that public coffers will only contribute a quarter of the total cost.

Previous Olympics have left a large hole in finances of host countries. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is considered to be the most expensive to date, costing $59.7 billion. High costs have deterred several countries from even bidding for the Olympics. A dearth of candidates for the 2024 games prompted the International Olympic Committee to choose the 2024 and 2028 host cities at one go. France’s promises will be put to test in 2024 after a long streak of high living costs. There are already concerns that cost overruns could inflate the taxpayers' contribution.

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