Citizens' Issues
Farmer suicides averaged 9 a day in parched Maharashtra
A staggering 3,228 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2015, the highest since 2001, according to data tabled in the Rajya Sabha on March 4, 2016 – that is almost nine farmers every day.
 
The number of suicides almost equal the number of people killed (3,477) by the Taliban in 2014, IndiaSpend had reported earlier.
 
Vidarbha and Marathwada, with 5.7 million farmers, accounted for 83 percent of all farmer suicides in Maharashtra in 2015.
 
Maharashtra is divided into five geographical regions, comprising six administrative divisions — Konkan, Pune, Nashik, Marathwada (Aurangabad) and Vidarbha (Amravati and Nagpur).
 
The Vidarbha region reported the most farmer suicides, 1,541, in 2015. Nagpur (362) and Amravati (1,179) witnessed the maximum farmer suicides in the Vidarbha region.
 
Vidarbha was followed by Aurangabad (1,130) that forms the Marathwada region.
 
As many as 89 farmers ended their lives in Marathwada in January this year. The Farmers Distress Management Task Force, appointed by the state government, blamed the deaths on the “collective failure of government officials”.
 
Farmer suicides averaged 15 a day in 2014
 
As many as 5,650 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2014, or 15 farmers a day, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
 
The top five major causes of farmer suicides in 2014 were bankruptcy or indebtedness (1,163), family problems (1,135), farming-related issues (969) – such as failure of crops, distress due to natural calamities, inability to sell produce, illness (745) and drug abuse and/alcoholic addiction (250).
 
Bankruptcy or indebtedness was also a major cause for farmer suicides (857) in Maharashtra in 2014.
 
Bankruptcy or indebtedness from crop loans accounted for 765 deaths, followed by non-agricultural loans (76) and equipment loans (16).
 
The estimated average amount of outstanding loan per agricultural household in Maharashtra was Rs 54,700, above the national average of Rs 47,000/-, based on the Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households during January-December 2013 by the National Sample Survey Organisation of the Ministry of Statistics.
 
Bankruptcy was followed by family problems (671), farming-related issues (352), illness (241) and drug abuse/alcoholic addiction (173) among the top five causes for farmer suicides in Maharashtra.
 
Five states account for 89 percent of Indian farmer suicides
 
Of the 5,650 farmers who committed suicide in 2014, 66 percent (3,712) were between 30 and 60 years of age, while 23 percent (1,300) were 18 to 30 years old.
 
Maharashtra reported the most (2,568) farmer suicides, in 2014, followed by Telangana (898), Madhya Pradesh (826), Chhattisgarh (443) and Karnataka (321).
 
These top five states account for 89 percent of all farmer suicides in the country in 2014. With a hard year ahead, those figures are unlikely to improve.
 
As worst water crisis in decade unfolds, farmers will struggle
 
India is facing the worst water crisis in a decade with 91 major reservoirs having no more than 29 percent water, IndiaSpend reported recently.
 
Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad district in Marathwada, which is witnessing the worst drought in a century, has only one percent water left of its 2.17 billion cubic metre capacity, IndiaSpend reported in January.
 
As many as 246 districts in 10states across the country have already been declared drought-affected in 2015-16, according to this Lok Sabha reply on March 10, 2016.
 
Of these, 21 districts in Maharashtra, or 15,747 villages, are drought-affected.
 
The Maharashtra government recently declared 11,962 villages in Vidarbha as drought-affected, according to this Mint report. So 27,723 villages of 43,000 Maharashtra villages in the state are drought-hit.
 
“The drought in Vidarbha is more of an agriculture drought and not hydrological. In Marathwada, it is both agriculture and hydrological,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said. “The government has allocated Rs 1,000 crore for immediate relief measures in these villages and more funds will be provided after assessment of losses.”

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Muted quarter for IT sector
Expect low single digit growth from the IT majors
 
The quarterly results season is back and all eyes will be on the quarterly results of the information technology (IT) sector, which accounts for around 16% of the market capitalisation of CNX Nifty, making it a keenly watched sector. A research report by Edelweiss expects that majority of the large-cap IT companies will show modest revenue growth on a quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis. It anticipates that large-cap IT companies will post revenue growth of 0.4 - 3.0% in constant currency (CC) terms and -0.2% to 2.5% in US dollar terms during fourth quarter of FY2016. Religare Capital Research too estimates muted revenue growth of -0.7% to 3.2% in US dollar terms. On an overall basis, Religare expects Q4FY15-16 to be a weak quarter for the IT sector on a sequential quarter basis. On the mid-cap front too, Religare sees weak organic performance from mid-caps.  
 
 
Edelweiss expects the EBITDA margins of all the IT companies except Tech Mahindra to expand on a q-o-q basis. The margins of Tech Mahindra are expected to remain the same. “The margin expansion will be on account of two reasons. Firstly, it is on account of sharp depreciation of rupee to the US dollar by 2.3% on a q-o-q basis. Secondly, due to low base effect as earlier quarter results were influenced by Chennai floods and weak seasonality,” Religare says.
 
On the other hand, Religare expects EBIT margins of Infosys, TCS and HCL Tech to remain flat on a q-o-q basis. It expects margins of Tech Mahindra to decline by 77 basis points (bps), while margins of Wipro to expand by 47 basis points. The IT sector has been to some extent, aided by rupee depreciation in the last 2 years. The Indian rupee has depreciated by more than 10% to around 66.2 to an US dollar in Q4FY15-16 from around 59.9 in Q4FY13-14.
 
Edelweiss expects a robust guidance of 12-14% by Infosys in its constant currency growth and positive commentary on demand by TCS. It would be interesting to note the extent of trimming of non-core part of Lightbridge Communications Corp (LCC) business by Tech Mahindra. Tech Mahindra had acquired US-based global telecom network services provider LCC in late 2014.
 
Edelweiss expects the revenue growth of companies taken up for research in the report to be in single digits on a q-o-q, with the exception of InfoEdge. It expects Info Edge's revenue growth to be 16% y-o-y, while its EBITDA margin is expected to grow by 470 basis points to 36% from 31.3% due to growth of its flagship business Naukri.com. InfoEdge is trading at a premium price-to-earnings (PE) multiple of 56. It expects the revenues of Eclerx to grow by 40.7% y-o-y, while its corresponding PAT to grow by 72.1%.
 
The IT Index has slightly outperformed the benchmark index in calendar year 2016. The CNX IT index has been nearly flat in 2016 as compared to a fall of more than 4% for the benchmark index. Among the large-cap IT companies, Infosys has been a clear outperformer with it delivering around more than 10% returns in 2016. Though HCL Tech has been a laggard in 2016, it rose on Monday by 2.35% to Rs840 on news that it has agreed to buy out shares of mid-cap IT firm Geometric for $200 million in a share swap deal. Correspondingly, Geometric rose by around 19% on Monday. Coming to mid-cap IT companies, most of them have underperformed the benchmark Sensex in 2016. These include MindTree, KPIT Cummins, NIIT Technology and Oracle Financial Services Software. Mphasis has marginally outperformed the Sensex. 

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Jio soft launch this month, full roll-out by December: UBS
Mumbai : Amid speculation over the actual date of the roll-out of Reliance Jio 4G telecom services, a top global financial services firm, UBS, said while soft launch was expected by the end of this month, the full commercial offering was expected by December.
 
"Contrary to market belief that Jio has started rolling out 4G SIMs commercially, our channel checks in Mumbai and Delhi suggest that although SIMs have been shipped to the retail outlets, they are not yet available for sale," the consultancy said in a report.
 
"At present, Jio SIM cards are only available to Reliance employees, post its beta launch in December 2015. Our speed test on trial SIM cards in Reliance outlets indicate network speed of 18-20 Mbps versus Vodafone's 4G speed of 8-10 Mbps."
 
The report said Jio was expected to initially roll-out bundled 4G offering on a limited basis with LYF-branded devices -- as also SIM sale on standalone basis -- only in the second half of 2016, even as all the market leaders have already launched theirs.
 
Airtel was the first to launch 4G giving it a significant first-mover advantage with footprint in 15 circles, Idea started in 575 towns across its 10 circles, while Vodafone is has a presence in five circles. 
 
"We believe the delay in Jio launch has helped market leaders to strengthen their 4G offerings," said the report, adding while also suggesting that the market may be overly concerned over Jio's disruptive impact and ignoring rapid data growth in Indian mobile market.
 
The report forecast the Indian data market to grow nine times to $38bn by 2026.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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