The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jan 15, 2017

Gearing up for the polls

After sulking for long periods within the BJP and unsuccessfully negotiating with the AAP, former cricketer and politician Navjot Sindhu finally has a new political home. Sidhu met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi this past week and has now joined the Congress Party. Sidhu's wife, an ex BJP MLA in Punjab, had joined the Congress back in November. It remains to be seen though whether either Mr or Mrs. Navjot Sidhu are granted a ticket in the assembly elections in Punjab that commence on Feb 4. The AAP meanwhile is expanding its frontiers in looking for support. About 90 volunteers from Canada will fly into the state in the coming weeks to support the party's poll campaign.

Amazon 'flagged' as troublesome

E-commerce giant Amazon found itself in a center of a storm this past week when a Twitter user shared a picture to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of doormats having the Indian flag being sold on Amazon Canada's website. The Minister wasted no time in warning Amazon, on Twitter itself, of cancelling its visas if the flag colored doormats were not withdrawn. Other government officials have also weighed in asking online commerce companies to 'respect Indian sentiments'. Some voices though have questioned whether the entire furore was an over-reaction on part of the government. The company meanwhile expressed regret and has offered to withdraw the doormats from its Canadian website.

Tata Sons has a new Chairman

TCS CEO N.Chandrasekaran has been appointed as the new Chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the entire Tata Group. Chandrasekan becomes the first non-parsi to occupy the position and his appointment comes in the backdrop of the ugly boardroom fight that ensured in 2016 to oust Cyrus Mistry, his predecessor. Chandrasekaran's first challenge will be to reinstore confidence within the health of Tata Sons whose group companies have lost 5% of their market cap since Mistry's exit. While Chandrasekaran gets ready to occupy a new post, investors are worrying whether TCS will continue to keep growing in his absence.

Opinions you must read:

  • Mint asks whether N.Chandrasekaran's appointment as Tata Sons Chairman is a short sighted move reflecting leadership inadequacies?
  • Tavleen Singh calls out of the hypocrisy behind the multitude of pro-poor Indian politician and the continuing poverty in the country
  • The Financial Express calls out the RBI for failing to rise up to the mark during the demonetization crisis

Chart of the Week

2017 did not start off with the brightest of prospects for most people around the world. WIth civil wars raging around the world, global growth slowing and nationalism and populism on the rise, the world looks decidedly gloomier than it did at the beginning of 2016. Now there is a survey that confirms that people around most of the word think their country is headed int he wrong direction.

We looked at data from a survey conducted by Ipsos/Mori from October 20 to November 4. This week's chart shows the sentiment in major countries around the world. China is the most optimistic by a large margin. 90% of Chinese citizens surveyed think their country is headed in the right direction. Next are Saudi Arabia and India with 80% and 76% of respondents from these countries respectively agreeing with the sentiment that their country is headed in the right direction. It is important to note that the survey was conducted before the November 8 note-ban move from the Indian government. Although recent reports indicate, the Indian public is largely in support of the government despite the hardships it faced. Surprisingly, Russia figures in the 4th spot with 58% of Russian survey respondents thinking that their country is headed in the right direction. With recent international sanctions, reduced foreign investment, and the trouble faced by the Rouble it does come as a surprise. Brazil, the other quarter of the BRIC, draws a sharp contrast with Russia, India, and China- only 17% of Brazilians think their country is headed in the right direction. Given the sharp decline in the local economy and political turmoil (President Dilma Rousseff was ousted late last year), this is no surprise.

The United States is in the middle of the pack with just over a third of the respondents thinking the country i is headed in the right direction. So almost two-third of the respondents thought the country was headed int he wrong direction. This explains the surprising (at least per the predictions in the media) win of Donald Trump. Most Europeans countries also believe their country is headed in the wrong direction. To see what specific issues are important in some of these countries, you can explore the detailed survey results here.