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News in Brief


Aircel files for bankruptcy
India has been found to have the lowest 4G speed in the world, coming in after Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Algeria. India's 4G speed was measured at 6.07 mbps, while Singapore has the fastest speed at 44.31 mbps, followed by Netherlands with 42.12 mbps, Norway with 41.20 mbps, South Korea with 40.44 mbps and Hungary with 39.18 mbps. However, when it comes to 4G connection availability, India has been ranked at 14 out of 88 countries, with 86.26%. In this ranking, South Korea tops the list with 97.49%, followed by Japan with 94.70%, Norway with 92.16%, Hong Kong with 90.34% and United States of America with 90.32%.


Putin wins election again
Russian president Vladimir Putin won the presidential elections again, ensuring that he will remain in office till 2024. Putin secured a landslide victory with around 76.7% of the votes, as opposed to rivals Pavel Grudinin with 11.8% Vladimir Zhirinovsky with 5.7%.

There were press reports of ballot stuffing associated with the election, with another rival, Alexei Navalny not appearing in the ballot. Navalny was barred from contesting after being convicted in a fraud case that was allegedly a political move.

Indigo aircraft grounded due to engine failure concerns
As many as 11 A320 neo aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines are grounded due to safety concerns regarding engine failure. Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered the grounding of 11 A320Neo planes fitted with P&W 1100 engines due to recurring problems, including mid-air shutdowns. Of these, 8 belong to IndiGo while 3 belong to GoAir. Another three A320 neos of IndiGo are already on the ground since February.

Meanwhile, reports have revealed that an aircraft servicing facility in Gondia in Maharashtra is operating without regulator permission. Embraer Lineage aircraft owned by the company Air One is opened up at a hangar, despite the fact that Embraer has not authorised the service center; these centers have to be sanitised before servicing to such a high degree that Embraer aircraft owned by the Indian Air Force are flown to Brazil for servicing. Notably, these aircraft fly VVIPs, including Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Hero MotoCorp’s Pawan Munjal, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President Amit Shah and Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Facebook data leak
Facebook, the world’s biggest social media network, was embroiled in a data breach controversy with Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics and messaging company, and also a political consultant for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Reports as early as December 2015 in publications such as Guardian, The New Yorker, etc have revealed that Facebook data of around 50 million users was being exploited by Cambridge Analytica, without the users’ knowledge. The data was then reportedly used by the firm to identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behaviour during the 2016 US election, after the company was hired by the Trump campaign to run its data operations. The Facebook accounts were mostly culled from the friend networks of people who clicked on a personality quiz, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called this a serious breach of trust and confidentiality.

Following the revelations, and reports that Facebook was being probed by the US Federal Trade Commission, the Facebook’s stock fell in its most drastic drop since 2012, as the company lost over $54 billion in market value.

ICICI securities show strong IPO movement
India’s largest equity broker ICICI Securities subscribed 29% on Day 1 of its initial public offering (IPO), with the price band of the issue fixed at `519-`520 per share. ICICI Bank is looking at raising around `4,017 crore at the upper end of the price band by selling 7.7 crore shares, or 24% stake in ICICI Securities. ICICI Securities has reported a CAGR of 18.8 percent and 47.4 percent on revenue and net profit fronts respectively over FY13-17.

Other brokerage stocks, however, came under high pressure ahead of the IPO, with stocks of companies such as Emkay Global Financial Services, Edelweiss Financial Services, Motilal Oswal Financial Services and IIFL Holdings closing down 1 to 3%.

Coal shortage to hit India this summer?
Coal India is slated to end the year with a mere 1.8% production growth at 560-565 million tonnes, against a target of 600 million tonnes. Though the off-take increased by 7%, it is barely sufficient to meet demand.

As on March 6, when the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) last published its coal position, power plants were left with just 10 days of stock on an average, and 20 out of the 113 power stations listed by the CEA have critical stock (less than 7 days). Out of the total, 14 have less than four days of stock. Non-power customers – fertiliser and cement companies – are also starving, getting less coal than last year and dependent on imports.

SC says passive euthanasia is permissible
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India has provided its legal nod to passive euthanasia, allowing ‘living will’ by patients on withdrawing medical support. The guidelines laid down by the apex court will remain in force until legislation is brought on the matter. According to the judgment, the bench was unanimous in its opinion that a person should be allowed to die — through passive euthanasia — if they are suffering and wish to die or are in a irreversible coma.

A living will is a written document through which patients can provide explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered in case they are terminally ill or are no longer able to express informed consent. Passive euthanasia, as opposed to active euthanasia, is the withdrawing of medical treatment with the intent to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient.

Indians lack creativity, says Apple  co-founder
Co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak recently created a furore of sorts when he remarked that while Indians measure success with academic excellence and a good job, they lack creativity. Wozniak also said that he doesn’t believe that there will be any big tech company or breakthrough in India similar to Google, Facebook or Apple. Citing Infosys as an example of a big tech company, Wozniak called it un-innovative, and said he does not expect Infosys to be in the league of global tech giants anytime soon.

Wozniak’s comment caused several reactions from Indians, both in agreement and otherwise. Naysayers deemed it typical arrogance, and cited examples of innovation, while others agreed with Wozniak’s assessment, saying the Indian education system is to blame. Either way, given his stature in technological innovation, Wozniak’s words cannot be ignored.

Flipkart’s losses amount to half the investment raised
In a revelation that has raised quite a few eyebrows, Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart’s losses are equivalent to over half of the $6.1 billion the company raised from investors since its inception. This revelation comes at a time when the company is wooing Walmart in its battle for supremacy with rival Amazon. The accumulated losses of India’s largest online retailer stood at nearly `24,000 crore ($3.6 billion) as of March 2017. This has widened from nearly `10,000 crore a year ago. Interestingly, the e-commerce industry grew at 180% in 2015, but at only 12% in 2016, according to data from advisory firm RedSeer Consulting. The growth picked up in 2017 but still remained lower at 23%.

Uber self-driving car kills woman in US
In the first such incident involving a fully autonomous vehicle, a woman was killed in Tempe in Arizona, US after a self-driving car being tested by Uber crashed into her and her bicycle. A driver was present behind the wheel, but had taken eyes off the road when the mishap occurred. According to a video of the incident, the environment was dark; however, analysts have stated that the laser guidance system and the radar onboard the vehicle should have identified the cyclist. According to a University of South Carolina professor who studies autonomous vehicles, the incident is “strongly suggestive of multiple failures of Uber and its system, its automated system, and its safety driver”.

Monthly mobile data usage at 11GB: Nokia
According to a report released by Nokia, mobile data usage in India has jumped by nearly 144% year on year. The average consumption per user in 4G broadband touched 11 gigabytes per month in December 2017, indicating a huge opportunity in the market. Of this total mobile data traffic, video content constituted nearly 65%. Hindi and regional languages comprised more than 90 per cent of popular videos watched online.
On average, an Indian subscriber consumed 7.4 GB of data per user per month on their mobile devices over mobile networks alone, placing India ahead of developed markets like the UK, South Korea and France.

Chinese smartphone makers grab lion’s share of Indian market
With Chinese phone manufacturers starting to manufacture or assemble nearly all their products sold in the country, Indian players have been left with less than 15% market share. According to a report by Counterpoint Research, as of 2017, Chinese firms, including Xiaomi, Vivo, Lenovo, Oppo and Huawei, have grabbed as much as 53% of the market, while the combined market share of the top four Indian brands — Micromax, Lava, Intex and Karbonn — was barely 12.5%. Interestingly, Xiaomi alone had 20.9 per cent market share.
This is after the period between 2013 and 2014, when Indian brands enjoyed up to 45% of the market before the entry of the Chinese heavyweights.