Here are the top business stories that shaped 2020 – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The year 2020 has been tumultuous in every possible sense. Apparently, there hasn’t been a year like this in the recent past that dealt with as many challenges and established a fresh concept of ‘new normal’.
But, it wasn’t the same when 2020 began as the start bought some cheer for the masses too. For instance, cheaper online fund (NEFT) transfers and GST (goods and services tax) getting a complete makeover.
Also, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) process to be completed through a mobile video conversation. The central bank has also facilitated eKYC and digital KYC by allowing use of Aadhaar or other e-documents in the customer due diligence process.
Budget 2020 presentation in February brought a historic change with a ‘simplified tax regime’, giving taxpayers an option to choose between the new and the old regimes.

Here’s a quick recap of some other top business related developments of 2020:
1

Fall in GDP; ‘technical recession’:

The GDP recorded the steepest fall in more than 40 years in June quarter (Q1 2020-21) due to lockdown measures. In September quarter (Q2 2020-21), economy contracted by 7.5 per cent but the pace of contraction was considerably slower than the slump of 23.9 per cent in Q1.

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Though certain green shoots are visible in the economy, GDP figure remained in the negative zone for two successive quarters. This pushed India into its first technical recession, based on records going back to the year 1996.

However, a sharp recovery held out hopes for the economy turning around.

2

Coronavirus infecting markets:

Stock markets registered wild swings in 2020. Both BSE and NSE indexes plunged to their biggest-ever levels — over 10 per cent — on March 19. The benchmark BSE sensex hit an intra-day low of 29,389. Though, it recovered 5,380 points on that day and settled 1,325 points or 4.04 per cent higher at 34,103.

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Both the indices regained some momentum as and when the Centre announced economic relief packages to cushion the Covid-19 blow. Domestic indices climbed to fresh lifetime highs later in the year amid progress in Covid vaccine trials.

On the global front, world-wide stocks felt the pain too but recovered on stimulus packages’ boost and vaccine hopes.

3

‘Largest FDI deal’:

Reliance Industries chairperson Mukesh Ambani sold 10 per cent stake in Jio Platforms to Facebook for $5.7 billion or Rs 43,574 crore. This transaction is among the largest FDI (foreign direct investment) deals in India’s technology sector.

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Joining the list of global investors, Google paid Rs 33,737 crore for a 7.73 per cent stake in Jio. The transaction also marks Google’s biggest-ever investment in an Indian firm.

In total, Jio raised a total of Rs 1.52 lakh crore by selling nearly 33 per cent stake to 13 financial and strategic investors.

4

Leadership change at HDFC Bank:

Aditya Puri retired as managing director of HDFC Bank. Puri has led HDFC Bank since its inception over 25 years ago. Under Puri’s leadership, HDFC Bank turned into India’s largest private sector lender.

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Separately, the lender faced around three system outages since November 2018 which affected mobile, netbanking and power-outage at its data centre.

Then, the RBI ordered a halt on the launch of IT initiatives and on issue of new credit cards until the bank fixes it’s IT systems.

5

RTGS payment; cheque security:

The RBI made RTGS (Real-Time Gross Settlement) system round the clock from December 14. RTGS is meant for large-value instantaneous fund transfers.

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RBI also introduced a ‘Positive Pay’ to make cheque payments more safer and reduce frauds. Issuers can now send all details to their bank, and thereby ensure faster clearance of cheques above Rs 50,000.

It cross verifies all details of the cheque issued before funds are encashed by the beneficiary.

6

Troubles at Yes Bank & Lakshmi Vilas Bank:

Yes Bank was placed under a “moratorium” in February, with the RBI superseding the board.

Grappling with mounting bad loans, the private lender saw a range of other changes along with a total management rejig.

In a similar move later in the year, the RBI announced a plan to merge Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) with DBS Bank India.

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The merger with the Indian subsidiary of Singapore’s DBS Bank marked a shift in RBI and the government’s stand. Instead of relying on public sector players to take over a problematic rival, a foreign bank was picked to revive an ailing old-generation private lender.

7

Travel ban:

Travel and hospitality industry faced major challenges during the pandemic. International schedule flights were suspended to prevent the spread of the Wuhan-origin virus.

Other aviation authorities around the world also announced similar suspension. This led to a drastic drop in hotel stays and dining out places.

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Eventually, they got a breather when flight restrictions were eased.

Currently, India is enabling international travel by eligible categories of passengers through ‘air bubble’ arrangements and Vande Bharat Mission flights.

8

Measures taken by RBI:

The central bank slashed the repo rate by 115 basis points (bps) since late March to cushion the Covid shock.

It necessitated off-cycle Monetary Policy Committee meetings — first in March and then again in May.

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It also allowed moratorium on payment of instalments of term loans falling due between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Later, the moratorium was extended till August 31.

Further, to help small businesses, the Centre promulgated emergency credit-linked guarantee scheme of Rs 3 lakh crore.

9

H-1B ban:

In June, outgoing US President Donald Trump issued an order to put a temporary bar on issuing of new H-1B and other foreign visas till the end of the year.

The US President had argued that the US needs to save and protect jobs for its domestic work force.

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A number of IT companies and other US firms had voiced their opposition to the temporary ban.

Later in October, a US federal judge blocked the enforcement of the H-1B visa ban issued by Trump.

10

India’s ban on Chinese apps:

The Centre launched a series of ban against Chinese apps amid continued tension at the border. India has so far banned 267 apps in addition to getting countries such as the US to follow suit.

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Those ordered blocked include AliExpress, TikTok, PUBG, UC Browser, WeChat, CamScanner, Baidu Search and Weibo.

Further, telecom equipment from China may face curbs as the Centre approved buying only from ‘trusted source’.

11

Tatas eyeing Air India:

Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate, may have submitted an expression of interest for the beleaguered national carrier Air India.

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Tata Group founded AI as Tata Airlines in October 1932 and the government took control of the carrier in 1953.

The government has this time substantially sweetened the sale terms for AI.

(With inputs from agencies)

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