30 Under 30 2024

From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week

Byju's battle to survive and Paytm's life after BNPL are some of the stories that piqued the interest of our readers this week

Rucha Sharma
Published: Jan 27, 2024 10:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Jan 25, 2024 10:33:20 PM IST

From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the weekImage: Shutterstock

1) Long road to fiscal consolidation

From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the weekFinance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman ruled out any big announcements for the upcoming budget while speaking at the Global Economic Policy Forum in December 2023. She said, "I am not going to play spoilsport, but it is a matter of truth that the February 1, 2024, budget will just be a vote on account because we will be in election mode. So, the budget that the government presents will just be to meet the expenditure of the government till a new government comes into play." The aim is to reduce the gap between revenue and expenditure to 5.3 percent and 4.5 percent in FY25 and FY26, respectively. So, will the election pressure derail the government's efforts to meet its fiscal deficit target? Let's take a look at what the experts predict.

2) Can the budget help the EV sector?
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
From a meagre penetration of 0.09 percent in 2018 in the two-wheeler segment and 14 percent in the three-wheeler category, EV penetration now stands at over 5 percent in two-wheeler sales and over 54 percent in the three-wheeler segment. In the four-wheeler segment, from a market penetration of 0.05 percent in 2018, selling a little over 1,500 vehicles, the penetration has risen to 2.13 percent, totalling sales of over 80,000 four-wheelers a year. The numbers suggest that automakers are moving towards electric power trains and incumbents to newbies. Everyone is leaping ahead to build up an electric portfolio. The sector still needs a leg up from the government. Here's how Union Budget 2024 can help.

3) Effects of elections on Budget 2024
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
The nation is gearing up for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in a few months. That makes the interim budget, to be tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, a formality and a roadmap for the actual budget to be presented after a new government is elected. In an economic environment of uncertainties due to volatile inflation, the government has very little room for fiscal spending. Any big reformative announcement is not expected from this interim budget. However, there could be some populist measures with some announcements for the farm economy and lower income class, but any substantial allocations are unlikely. Here's an overview of what experts are looking forward to.

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1) Why are markets bleeding?
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
The bull market was triggered when election results in five states showed the potential for the re-emergence of a stable government at the centre after the general elections in 2024 (read that markets are expecting the return of BJP as the ruling party in the centre). But it came to a sudden halt last week before bouncing back and surpassing Hong Kong to become the world's fourth-largest stock market by market capitalisation on Tuesday. Are these changes happening because the markets in India started to consolidate ahead of the union budget 2024, or are investors cutting bets on equities due to lower expectations of interest rate cuts? Let's take a look.

2)  Paytm after BNPL
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
After RBI's crackdown over the Buy Now Pay Later lending segment, Paytm had to rejig its lending portfolio and lean more on merchant and high-ticket personal loans. As Paytm has chosen to pull out of its postpaid small-ticket BNPL lending activity, it has impacted the overall disbursement of loans in the quarter gone by. The total number of loans disbursed by Paytm in the December-ended quarter fell to 1.14 crore loans from 1.32 crore loans in the previous sequential September 2023 --ended quarter. Yet, regulators and investors will be watching the demand for big-ticket lending and the onboarding of new lending partners. Here's why analysts are forecasting a path towards profitability by FY26 for Paytm.

3) Can Aakash keep Byju's afloat?
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
Byju's recently announced its earnings for FY22, which was delayed way beyond the deadline. It revealed that its operational loss has widened to Rs6679 crore, and the consolidated loss stands at Rs8245 crore on an operating revenue of Rs5014 crore. This dip comes mainly due to the losses incurred by subsidiaries White Hat Jr and Osmo. But it looks like Byju's other valued acquisition, Aakash Institute, might be the saving grace of an embattled edtech giant. It has reported a 40 percent increase in revenue and a profit close to Rs80 crore. But is it enough to save the fast-sinking ship? What are the other options Byju's can explore? Here are some insights.

4) Ayodhya's new beginnings
From interim budget expectations to Ayodhya's new beginnings, here are our most-read stories of the week
Ayodhya's 500-year tumultuous legacy, unmarred by the passage of time, has come to pass with the consecration of a grand new temple to Ram Lalla. This is also a firm bet on a town's future potential in spiritual tourism and to accelerate the fortunes of a temple town by the new devout. Come and take a look at the ongoing transformation.

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