Top Business News Today: Indian Railways Seeks to Corporatise its Production Units. India Likely to Miss the Budget Deficit Target.

Indian Railways seeks to corporatise its production units. India likely to miss the budget deficit target. US says it has no plans to place a cap on H1B visas issued to Indian students. It could have been a bad idea for American companies anyway. Maharashtra welcomes the monsoon, allaying drought fears. Meanwhile, Chennai is experiencing abject water shortages. Slack closes 48.5% up in public debut. Li-Fi set to overtake Wi-Fi, promises to reduce network congestion by using light waves instead of radio waves. Walmart and its Brazilian subsidiary to pay $282m to settle seven-year global corruption probe.

 

Moving on to the top Business news today:

 

 ECONOMY 

 

Indian Railways seeks to corporatise its production units. India likely to miss the budget deficit target

 

Sprucing Up: The Indian Railways is looking to hive off its rolling stock and locomotive production units and associated workshops into a new government-owned entity called “Indian Railway Rolling Stock Company” in an attempt to corporatise its production units.

 

The proposal is a part of the Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways 100-day roadmap document.

 

The Aim: The objective then is to use the new entity to drive technology partnership and modernisation for world-standard coaches and locomotives production. 

 

Details on the proposal can be read here.

 

It’s a Miss!: The Indian government is likely to miss the budget deficit target on the back of falling tax collections and an increasing number of stimulus plans. 

 

As per this report, there is no option left with the government but to defer the fiscal consolidation target at a crucial time when the slumping Indian economy needs a boost and a revival of private investment. 

 

As per experts this could mean raising the fiscal deficit target to as much as 3.6% of GDP from an already upwardly revised target of 3.4%, set in February's Interim Budget. The original goal, set in February 2018, had been 3.3%.

 

 IMMIGRATION 

 

US says it has no plans to place a cap on H1B visas issued to Indian students. It would have been a bad idea for American companies anyway.

 

Despite numerous reports that the Trump administration was planning to place caps on H1B USA visa, the US State Department said it has no such plans.

 

Viva la Visa: Previously, media reports claimed that Washington was mulling country-specific caps on H1B USA visa to penalise nations with data rules that forced foreign companies to store data locally. Last year, India had adopted a new policy of data localisation, a move that drew protests from many foreign firms - including Mastercard, Visa and American Express - and from many American politicians and lobbyists.

 

Earlier reports had asserted that the H1B cap on India could be around 10-15% of all USA visa issued in a year. Currently, almost 70% of the visas issued are claimed by Indians.  

 

Bad Idea Averted: Some commentators argue that, had Washington enacted the cap on H1B USA visa for Indians, it would have only hurt American companies in the end.

 

This is because the majority of Indians who are hired through this visa join American companies. Only a few are employed by Indian firms.

 

 MONSOON 

 

Maharashtra welcomes the monsoon, allaying drought fears. Meanwhile, Chennai is experiencing abject water shortages.

 

It’s Raining Rain: The Southwest Monsoon has finally reached drought-hit Maharashtra. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the seasonal rains, which were delayed in the state including in Mumbai, due to Cyclone Vayu, will cover other parts of the state and South India in the next few days and spread over other parts of the country in a few weeks.

 

These new predictions have eased concerns that Maharashtra – and almost half of India - was heading for a drought due to a deficient and delayed monsoon.

 

After all, the Southwest Monsoon provides 70% of India’s rainfall and is a critical engine of the national economy.

 

The Dearth of Water: Chennaiites were celebrating on Thursday. After almost 200 days, their city finally received some rain. It was too little and too brief, but the rainfall provided some respite to the city, which is reeling under its worst water crisis in three decades.

 

Satellite images of water reservoirs chillingly show their depletion from full tanks to dry beds. IT companies are asking employees to work from home to cope with water scarcity in their offices, books are battling water bottles for space in children’s schoolbags, water supply from pipes is a tenth of what it was before, wells have dried up, entire lakes have been lost, and canals through crop fields have disappeared.

 

As throats run dry, the screams grow louder. On Wednesday, around 400 people were arrested for protesting with empty water containers in front of government headquarters, accusing officials of mismanagement. Agrarian distress and popular discontent will only become aggravated if the situation worsens.

 

 TECH 

 

Slack closes 48.5% up in public debut. Li-Fi set to overtake Wi-Fi, promises to reduce network congestion by using light waves instead of radio waves.

 

Up & Up: Workplace communication software Slack, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday, closed 48.5% up at $38.50 supported by reports that the giant had agreed to a reference price of $26 per share.

 

Slack’s market cap now sits well above $20bn, nearly 3 times its most recent private valuation of $7bn.

 

You’ve Got Competition: Light fidelity promises to make significant inroads by reducing network congestion around the globe using light waves instead of radio waves.

 

LiFi transmits broadband internet through lights, using LEDs to move data and bypass radio signals.

 

In India, Wipro Lighting, a unit of Wipro’s consumer care business, has begun offering this technology to Indian customers in partnership with PureLifi Scotland.

 

Know more about this emerging technology here.

 

 WALMART 

 

Walmart and its Brazilian subsidiary to pay $282m to settle seven-year-long global corruption probe.

 

Plead Guilty: Following one of the biggest investigations ever under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, retail giant Walmart and its Brazilian subsidiary WMT Brasilia have agreed to pay a combined penalty of $137m for indulging in corrupt practices in India, Mexico, China, and the Latin American country.

 

In a settlement agreement, US prosecutors have revealed that Walmart for more than a decade used middlemen to make dubious payments to governments around the globe in an attempt to accelerate its expansion process.

 

“In numerous instances, senior Walmart employees knew of failures of its anti-corruption-related internal controls involving foreign subsidiaries, and yet Walmart failed for years to implement sufficient controls comporting with U.S. criminal laws," quoted Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.

 

A ‘Sorceress’ in Brazil, a ‘Wink’ in India: Regulators said that it was not only Walmart’s drive to grow quickly but its “low-cost philosophy” that led to poor internal controls. 

 

In a related resolution with the US SEC, Walmart will also disgorge $144m in profits.

 

(Don't want to miss out on these End Of Day Wrap Ups?  Subscribe Now to our WhatsApp Feed and get the day's Top Business stories straight on your favourite messaging app.)