On this podcast, we take a look at some of the biggest stories that made the most noise in India Inc.
Sticky situation: India to stop importing oil from Iran
US President Donald Trump, himself in an oily mess thanks to the fallout of the Mueller Report, has decided to drag others into a similar situation because that is what he does. After withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers -- mostly because it was an Obama era deal and Trump's only gameplan is to undo everything Obama did -- Trump revived a range of sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation. He also issued caveats to allies asking them not to import oil from Iran. India is one of the largest importers of Iranian oil. His administration did, however, grant a waiver from sanctions to eight countries - India, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, and Greece - but with a condition that these countries would reduce their purchases of Iranian oil. India certainly did reduce the amount of oil it bought from Iran. The waiver began in November 2018 and was to expire on May 2. And now that waiver is gone with the Trump administration deciding to not renew it.
Crude oil price is rising and the stock markets in India have seen the effects of it for a few days now. The price of Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, gained 0.6 per cent to USD 74.46 a barrel, the highest in almost six months. It had risen by 3 per cent on Monday. SpiceJet and Interglobe Aviation stocks both fell in intraday trade due to the price rise.
India, the world's third biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80% of its oil requirements through imports. After Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Iran was the third largest supplier, meeting about 10% of its total needs. It used to be the second biggest until 2010-11, but sanctions imposed back then brought down the amount over the years. However, in the past few years, that number had increased steadily with Iranian supplies amounting to 27.2 million tonnes in 2016-17. Before the sanctions were imposed in November 2018, so robust had the Indian purchases been that India's overall crude imports from Iran had touched 24 million tonnes. There is a reason why Iranian oil is a lucrative buy for refiners - it provides 60 days of credit for purchases, terms not available from suppliers of substitute crudes -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria, and the US.
With the waiver no longer renewed, India needs to either ask for a top up from existing suppliers or look for new ones. "Until the waivers are not restored back, I don't think India can buy oil from Iran. We will stop importing oil from Iran," a top official said. There are meetings scheduled later this month where New Delhi is likely to press with the US government for an extension beyond the 2nd of May, but things remain uncertain still. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a tweet said "a robust plan for an adequate supply of crude oil to Indian refineries" is in place. "There will be additional supplies from other major oil-producing countries; Indian refineries are fully prepared to meet the national demand for petrol, diesel & other petroleum products," he said.
Sanjiv Singh, Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) said, "We have optional volumes (over and above the term contracts) from a number of suppliers which we can exercise to make up for any shortfall from Iran. We can also go to the spot (or current) market to source crude. As far as Indian Oil is concerned, supplies will not be a problem. We have already lined up alternate sources."
IOC has the option to take 0.7 million tonnes of crude oil from Mexico on top of its committed purchase of 0.7 million tonnes during the year. From Saudi Arabia, it has an optional volume of 2 million tonnes on top of a term contract of 5.6 million tonnes. Similarly, it has optional volumes of 1.5 million tonnes from Kuwait and another 1 million tonnes from the UAE.
How this will further impact crude oil prices and the prices of petrol and diesel in India, especially in the election season, will be interesting to see.
Drug High: Pharmaceutical exports rise 11% to $19.2 billion in 2018-19
According to a report on PTI, the country's pharmaceutical exports rose by 11 per cent to USD 19.2 billion in 2018-19, mainly driven by higher demand in regions such as North America and Europe, as per a commerce ministry data. The pharma exports in 2017-18 stood at USD 17.3 billion and USD 16.7 billion in the previous fiscal.
North America constitutes about 30 per cent of Indian pharma exports, followed by Africa and the European Union with 19 per cent and 16 per cent share, respectively, according to the data.
According to industry experts, Chinese market is also gradually opening up and the government is working to push India's exports there as it holds huge potential. The other important destinations include South Africa, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil and Germany, where exports are registering growth.
The sector accounted for about 6 per cent of the country's total exports of USD 331 billion in 2018-19. It is one of the top five sectors in the exports segment.
Generic drugs form the largest segment of the Indian pharmaceutical sector, with 75 per cent market share (in terms of revenues). India supplies 20 per cent of global generic medicines in terms of volume, making the country the largest provider of generic medicines globally.
Over 55 per cent of the country's exports go to highly regulated markets. Higher growth in outbound shipments helps create employment opportunities, earn foreign exchange and boost economic activities.
Dilli tote tote ho gaya: Hans Raj Hans is a BJP candidate in Delhi
Gautam Gambhir's weird flex has ended in a BJP seat after all. He will be going against educationist and Oxford alum Atishi Marlena of the AAP and Arvinder Singh Lovely of the Congress in East Delhi.
Continuing the trend of inducting stalwarts from the film industry, the BJP rolled out the red carpet and kept a seat reserved for Hans Raj Hans, who will be contesting from North West Delhi. HRH joined the BJP in 2016. He had earlier contested from the Jalandhar constituency on a Shiromani Akali Dal ticket in 2009. Between SAD and BJP, he also stopped over at the Indian National Congress for two years, losing an election on a Congress ticket. Will third time be the charm? He is up against Guggan Singh of the AAP and Rajesh Lilothia of the Congress.
HRH (because why not?) has been chosen instead of former IRS officer Dr Udit Raj. Earlier in the day, Udit Raj had tweeted, "I am waiting for ticket if not given to me I will do good bye to party [sic]". He was not given a ticket, and he has not yet quit the party, although he claims Mr Kejriwal of AAP has been asking him to join them for four months now and that Rahul Gandhi had told him in parliament that he was in the wrong party. The Chowkidaar against his name is back on, at the time of writing this. He did give us a Gretchen Wieners moment though when he said, "Is it my fault to be known as a 'Tall' Dalit Leader?"Meanwhile, Meenakshi Lekhi (who , incidentally, has taken Rahul Gandhi to court on defamation charges) will contest from South Delhi. She faces Congress's Ajay Maken and AAP's Brajesh Goel. Union Minister Harsh Vardhan and BJP state unit president Manoj Tiwari will contest in Chandni Chowk and North East Delhi. Former Delhi Chief Minister Saheb Singh Verma's son Parvesh Verma has been fielded in West Delhi and Ramesh Bidhuri in South Delhi. Of the six candidate names released by the Congress, the other three are Sheila Dikshit from North East Delhi, JP Agarwal from Chandni Chowk, and Mahabal Misra from West Delhi.
Get Lok Sabha 2019 Live Election Results, constituency-wise tally, news, views and analysis
Follow our Lok Sabha Election Result Live Blog here.