By Ruma Dubey
As 2017 hobbles its way to the exit door, one cannot help but heave a sigh of relief. This was a tumultuous year all around, what with India reeling under GST, growth pangs, Parliament logjam, North Korea, Trump. The shoot-out in Las Vegas left everyone numb while movies like Secret Superstar and Tumhari Sulu instilled some hope.
We step into 2018 with some trepidation as major changes are expected in USA and 8 regional elections in India. As we get ready to sit back and reminiscence about the year gone by, let us do the ritual of taking a quick look at the year that was. Its back to basics - an A,B,C,D... of 2017.
A – Aadhaar was the big thing of 2017; its linkage with PAN and then bank account, insurance policies and all other financials, the flip-fops on dates, kept people in queues.
B – Bank recapitalisation. The Govt announced a huge Rs 2.11 lakh crore two-year road map for strengthening NPA-hit public sector banks, which includes re-capitalisation bonds, budgetary support, and equity dilution
C – Catalonia. This push for freedom shocked the world and this separatist crisis was Spain's biggest political crisis since democracy was restored in 1975, after the death of military dictator Gen Francisco Franco.
D – Deregulation. There was complete deregulation of fuel prices. India joined the league of select countries like the US and Australia where petrol and diesel prices are revised on a daily basis in sync with global crude oil price.
E – Ease of Doing Business. India jumped up 30 notches into the top 100 rankings on the World Bank's 'ease of doing business' index, thanks to major improvements in indicators such as resolving insolvency, paying taxes, protecting minority investors and getting credit.
F – Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill and more importantly, the “bail-in” clause has created a huge furor, giving Fixed Deposit holders some sleepless nights.
G –GST. The country’s biggest tas reform since Independence, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) finally got implemented and the ensuing chaos was a thing of history books! People say things have settled but we will know only once the fiscal ends.
H – Hats off to the BJP! The Govt remained focussed only on regional elections in 2017, winning with a landslide majority earlier in Uttar Pradesh and winning for the sixth straight time in Gujarat and wresting control from the Congress in Himachal. Next year, 8 regional elections to go!
I – Infosys. The IT company finally got its new CEO in December. It appointed Salil S Parekh as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the company; he takes charge from
J – Jio. This telecom giant and a new entrant shook up the market, leading to consolidations. It has set itself a target of 50% market share by 2021 and we see only four standing next year - Bharti, Jio, Vodafone and maybe the combined entity of BSNL and MTNL.
K – Kim Jong-un. The North Korean dictator is intent on developing a nuclear arsenal or provoking an unwinnable conflict with the US and throughout the year, kept all on tenterhooks.
L – Layoffs. This has shaken up the entire dynamics of the Indian IT sector. There have been some 56,000 layoffs and still counting.
M – Mania. That’s the only way to explain the feeling unleashed by Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency rose around twentyfold since the start of the year, climbing from less than $1,000 to as high as $19,666 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange this month and to over $20,000 on other exchanges.
N– NPA resolution. This got off and kicking, with RBI giving it an aggressive tone, naming the now famous “Dirt Dozen”.
O – Oil. The price did a lot of ups and downs but mostly remained around the $50/barrel. The production cut of last year remains in place and one can only hope that in 2018 too, the price remains benign.
P – Presidential election. There was so much brouhaha over the Presidential election, mostly by the media, which could smell an overpowering political story, drowning all other stories. Giving it only a caste angle, we cannot help but wonder what was this election all about anyway. arliament logjam.
Q – Quick! That’s how one would describe the Railway Budget of FY18, which was for the first time in history, combined with the Union Budget. The Railway Budget announcements took exactly three and half minutes in all!
R – Ratings! India’s sovereign rating was big news in 2017 after Moody’s Investors Service in November raised India’s sovereign rating for the first time in over 13 years though this did not influence S&P’s rating.
RERA or Real Estate Regulation Act got implemented. It is the best thig that could have happened for the Indian property buyers – it more pro-buyer than it has ever been. For once the interest of the buyer has been kept in mind and it is not merely from the builder/developer perspective.
S – Shootouts. The shootouts in USA were worse than acts of terrorism. The mass killing of people in Las Vegas and then a few more to follow, makes one wonder what it would take for USA to ban freedom of weapons? Something that might never happen.
T – Trump. The US President remained in news all through the year and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Right from the travel ban to Jerusalem, he has hurt sentiments across the world. Efforts to repeal Obamacare, the firing of an FBI chief and investigating Russian meddling all in the name of “making America great” again.
U – UK. The country held its general elections where Theresa May’s gamble backfired – the governing Conservative Party won most seats but lost its majority and was forced to form a minority government with the DUP.
V – Vodafone. The biggest merger in the Indian telecom sector was announced between Vodafone and Idea Cellular, going on to become the largest telecom company, surpassing Bharti.
W – Wonderful year for the IPOs! Some 167 IPOs hit the market in 2017, going on to raise Rs.68,810 crore, which is 35% more than the total of Rs.50,930 crore raised for the past 5 calendar years.
X – Xenophobia. This is supposed to be a dislike for people of other countries. But in India, we witnessed this feeling for our countrymen. Scarily, it is only increasing…not just in India but all over the world.
Y – Yellen was very much the woman of the year! She should receive a standing ovation for her remarkable tenure. She seamlessly navigated America through a very turbulent financial crisis to an exit from that crisis, without causing any upheavals. In an ideal world, she should have been reappointed as has always been the case but currently America is anything but ideal.
Z – Zero. It is zero tolerance to the word, “intolerance”. It was the most abused and used word of 2017, creating huge controversies and needless debates when there are really more issues at the core leading to this intolerance.