The Steep Learning Curve


Children between the age group 14-18 in rural India are having a hard time doing the basic maths or reading text, according to a survey that spanned 26 rural districts. According to several estimates, India is projected to become a manufacturing powerhouse due to its huge demographic dividend. But, to really reap the benefits from our upcoming millennial generation, government would need to focus on their foundational education, without which this dividend could become a massive deterrent in the future.



What is it? The number of Indian children in the age group 14-18 years who could not do a division problem (3 digit by 1 digit) correctly.

Why is it important? This shortcoming in a key foundational skill is one of the many findings of the Annual Status of Education (ASER) Report 2017, released yesterday, and illustrates the deficiencies that plague the Indian educational system. According to the report, “even among youth in this age group who have completed eight years of schooling, a significant proportion still lack foundational skills like reading and arithmetic.”

Tell me more: This year’s survey focused on 14-18 year olds, and interviewed 28,323 youth in that age group in 26 rural districts across 24 states. Information was collected for four domains: activity, ability, awareness and aspirations.



What is it? The price drop in top cryptocurrencies—Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple—during trading on Tuesday.

Why is it important? The latest fall came in the backdrop of news trickling in that more countries, led by South Korea and China, were looking to step in to regulate trading in cryptocurrencies, including taking drastic action like banning trading. Elsewhere, a research paper laid bare instances of, what it said were, price manipulation in Bitcoin on the Mt Gox Bitcoin currency exchange.

Tell me more: According to this paper, a single actor likely drove the USD/BTC exchange rate from $150 to $1,000 in 2 months in late-2013, volumes on all exchanges increased greatly on days with suspicious activity and unregulated cryptocurrency markets remain vulnerable to manipulation.



What is it? The number of e-commerce portals that Patanjali Ayurved tied up with yesterday to sell its wide range of products.

Why is it important? Offline, the Baba Ramdev company has made its presence felt in several FMCG spaces that were the strongholds of multinationals, and a presence on some of the most popular e-commerce portals could help it open another distribution flank against them. In the first year, the company is targeting Rs 1,000 crore sales from these online channels.

Tell me more: Patanjali’s revenues have rocketed from Rs 2,006 crore in 2014-15 to Rs

Rs 10,561 crore in 2016-17, which made it about one-third the size of Hindustan Unilever. On the sidelines of yesterday’s announcement, Baba Ramdev said he was looking to convert Patanjali, currently a company, to a “non-profit organisation”, which some experts saw as an objective to save tax.


$690 million

What is it? The value of a 10-year outsourcing contract that technology major TCS yesterday said it had bagged from M&G Prudential, the European savings and investments business of Prudential.

Why is it important? This is the third big, multi-year contract that TCS has secured in the past month or so, following a $2.25 billion renewal—its largest ever by an Indian IT firm, spread over 10 years—from Nielsen and a $2 billion win from Transamerica. The Tata Group IT major needs these wins to lift up growth, which was underwhelming in the latest results announced earlier this week.

Tell me more: Earlier this week, TCS COO N Ganapathy Subramaniam said TCS would record double-digit growth in 2018-19, aided by the kicker provided by the new contracts. In the third quarter, it reported net addition of 1,667 employees.



What is it? The stake that Bajaj Finance is acquiring in MobiKwik, a mobile wallet firm, which is more than the 10.8% it had said it would when it invested Rs 225 crore in August.

Why is it important? Bajaj Finance told the Bombay Stock Exchange yesterday that the higher stake was the result of a change in price of the compulsory convertible cumulative preference shares. The lower conversion price suggests the valuation of MobiKwik has fallen in the intervening period, from $327 million to $279 million.

Tell me more: MobiKwik competes against the likes of Paytm and Freecharge. For 2016-17, it reported declining revenues and increasing losses. Its revenues stood at Rs 37.3 crore (against Rs 38 crore in 2015-16) and loss at Rs 131 crore (Rs 109 crore).


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