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Business News/ Weekend / Best of the Week | Has this bull rally peaked and climate change’s impact on society and growth ⛈️
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Best of the Week | Has this bull rally peaked and climate change’s impact on society and growth ⛈️

Best of the Week, 13 April

Best of the WeekPremium
Best of the Week

Dear Reader,

When I was 17, I got to meet the then President of India, the late APJ Abdul Kalam, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. This was because President Kalam invited our school to visit the president’s palace, which stands on Raisina Hill in the heart of our nation’s capital. So 72 of us from various batches and backgrounds, accompanied by our principal, made the trip from Bangalore to Delhi.

Even before entering Rashtrapati Bhavan, we were in awe of it as we approached from a distance. It is a grand structure, built at an exaggerated scale in the style of the early twentieth century architect Sir Edward Luyten. After a short tour of the place, we were seated in a medium-sized reception hall. We were told this is where President Kalam would meet us.

Rashtrapati Bhavan
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Rashtrapati Bhavan

In a few minutes, he emerged in front of us with his characteristic silver locks hanging down by the sides of his face. What surprised me when I saw the president was how diminutive he was compared to the room we were in.

President Kalam greeted everyone individually and shook our hands. He spoke to each person for what seemed like a minute. Once he was done, he spoke to all of us collectively. I was among the older students in the group and some of us at the back started having trouble concentrating.

The thing is, President Kalam was not a great orator. He was not a physically impressive person, nor did he really have ‘stage presence’ like most mainstream political leaders. When he started speaking to us as a group, his focus soon settled on the young kids in the front rows, who were about 8-10 years old.

He spoke mostly about the cosmos. He asked the names of the planets, stars and galaxies. He elicited responses from us.

Then he posed what seemed like a question targeted at the young ones in the front: “So what is the law of the universe?" he asked.

No one knew.

So the president looked up at us older students and asked again. “Observe carefully, each of the heavenly bodies. What are they doing?" he asked, searching for a response.

Someone finally said, “They are rotating – on their axes."

“They are revolving around larger bodies – the Moon around the Earth and the Earth around the Sun," said another.

Heavenly bodies in space.
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Heavenly bodies in space.

“Yes, that is correct," said President Kalam, and asked, “How do we describe that in simple terms?"

He waited for us to respond, and answered his own question, “Heavenly bodies are always moving. Whether they are satellites or planets or stars – they are always moving, either rotating around their own axis or around another body or both."

The law of the universe is that we are all always moving, one way or another," he said, slowly, emphasising each word.

Shortly thereafter, President Kalam left the room. We were escorted to a courtyard and given high tea. Our trip to the Rashtrapati Bhavan ended.

The remarkable thing about that occasion is that nearly everyone who went on it remembers it well. But it wasn’t so much for the grandeur of Rashtrapati Bhavan. It was the simplicity of the idea that President Kalam left with us at the end – that we need to always keep moving. That is the universal law.

~~~

Here are Mint’s best stories from the week gone by, organised in three and a half themes:

Wipro

Our first major theme for this week is change at the helm of Wipro, the Bangalore-based IT services company. Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte departed last weekend and was replaced by insider Srinivas Pallia. Delaporte’s exit made him the fifth Wipro chief executive to prematurely leave the role, and the eighth CEO since 2000. Delaporte’s removal came at the behest of company chairman Rishad Premji. Premji declined to offer Delaporte a second term and expressed unhappiness at the company’s underperformance.

Srinivas Pallia, the new CEO of Wipro.
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Srinivas Pallia, the new CEO of Wipro.

Mint’s Varun Sood brought us the details of what went down between Wipro’s chairman and its former Frenchman chief executive over a phone call. In this backdrop, Mark to Market analyst Harsha Jethmalani dissects the various issues facing the company and what the new CEO Srinivas Pallia will need to do. We also have two pieces by our new correspondent Shelley Singh – an explainer on why expat CEOs don’t last the distance in Indian IT companies, and a deep dive into whether Srinivas Pallia has what it takes to steer Wipro forward. Shelley looks into Pallia’s background and the corporate culture that he’s steeped in – he’s only ever worked at Wipro. We also provided a house view of the developments at Wipro in this Mint editorial, where we argue that the CEO switch had to do with business performance, rather than how the market seems to have reacted (or not) to this change.

Markets

This week’s coverage and analysis brought home the idea that the markets could be close to their peak.

We began the week with the news that the Indian stock market valuation crossed INR 400 trillion for the first time, with the last INR 100 trillion having been added in just 9 months. Dipti Sharma and A Ksheerasagar spoke to experts to decode why this happened and what it means for the Indian economy.

Another piece of analysis by Mayur Bhalerao on public markets investing revealed that retail investors have really piled into public issues by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which has led to them to raise INR 5961 Cr in FY24. This is despite the regulator cautioning against stock manipulation in SME IPOs.

Mint’s Dipti Sharma also wrote about how the capital goods sector (S&P BSE Capital Goods Index) has performed with a return of 77% over the past year. While many of the stocks are at record highs, analysts believe there is scope to grow further, especially after the elections this summer, because projects are likely to take off – the government’s continued thrust on capital expenditure.

We published a Snapview on why the markets seem to be behaving oddly on the eve of a general election. Typically markets on the eve of an election tend to show more volatility and nervous trader behaviour. However, there appears to be a multitude of reasons for this calmness – at least on the surface. This piece dives in to explain the factors at play.

We argue in an editorial this week that one of the novel ways in which to fix the growing wealth inequality in India could be to get the aam aadmi into investing. Our opinion is that the government could experiment with direct transfers of public sector companies’ shares into demat accounts for every Indian household that isn’t already invested in the markets – broaden our investor base and get more people to participate.

And we round off the week with a report by Ram Sahgal on the markets possibly nearing their peak, going by the signals from futures contracts. High net worth and retail investors turned bearish for the first time in three months, as they turned net sellers of Nifty and Bank Nifty futures contracts.

Elections

Our third and final theme for this week: India will start voting in a few places next week in the world’s largest, longest election.

Mint’s Sayantan Bera travelled to eastern Maharashtra to understand voter sentiment in this crucial belt – the state sends 48 MPs to Parliament and it has five major political parties vying for it. Bera returned with learnings on gender, unemployment and a granular understanding of the socio-economic scenario. Read this deep dive for the insights on how politics works in this central part of the country.

Meanwhile, Priyamvada C, Jas Bardia and Devina Sengupta teamed up to understand the various steps being taken by companies to nudge their employees to vote. These include giving employees leave, remote work options and enabling them to travel to their hometowns where they are registered to vote.

Shouvik Das reported that the Indian government is working with big technology companies to try and spot the use of AI to create deep fakes and mis/disinformation on online platforms. This includes OpenAI, Google and Meta as well as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Read on to understand how big tech and government have teamed up.

Lata Jha tells us about how political parties turned digitally native to woo young Millennials and GenZ voters, some of whom will be voting for the first time in their lives. Political parties have signed up with social media influencers and channels whose audiences speak directly to these younger voters. In addition to the traditional modes of campaigning and publicity that parties undertake including billboards and buntings, this time the digital battleground is alive, especially on social media.

~

We also recommend reading these two important pieces on climate change by Puja Das:

  1. Milk prices are expected to rise because of the nation-wide water scarcity. Thirsty cows and buffaloes are likely to produce less milk, driving up prices. This is because of the heat waves that are predicted to last 10-20 days against the normal 4-8 days.
  2. Das interviewed the director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, who forecasted a harsh Summer as well as more extreme weather events across India. March 2024 was reportedly the warmest March on record globally. Experts say climate change is due to rapid urbanisation and loss of green cover, and it may slow economic growth. Das cites an expert who said India is already losing 5-6% of GDP due extreme weather events and pollution.

 

That’s all for this week.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of our newsletter.

As President Kalam said, we must always keep moving. This will be my last newsletter as a full-time member of the Mint newsroom, before I begin a new chapter. We began this newsletter in January last year. It’s been a wonderful privilege to bring you Mint’s best journalism each week since then. And it is most satisfying to receive feedback from various quarters – both, good and bad.

The good news is that my able colleagues, Shashwat Mohanty and Siddharth Sharma, will continue to bring you the best of our journalism each week via this newsletter.

Please share your feedback on our curation, journalism or on any aspect that relates to Mint. You can write to me at nikhil.k@livemint.com or feedback@livemint.com.

Thank you for your time, feedback and appreciation. Here’s wishing you a great weekend.

Best,

Nikhil Kanekal

Head of Subscriber Experience

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikhil Kanekal
Head of Subscriber Experience
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Published: 12 Apr 2024, 08:51 PM IST
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