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Will slow and steady win this race?

Also in today’s edition: Silver lining for India Inc.; NEET is a failure

Good morning! ‘Tis the season for the repatriation of Indian cultural artefacts — though to be fair, it’d take years for western institutions and collectors to return every stolen antique to their countries of origin. Oxford University has agreed (how gracious) to return the 500-year-old bronze idol of Tamil saint Tirumankai Alvar after a claim from the Indian High Commission, PTI reports. The sculpture, stolen from a temple in Tamil Nadu, had made its way into the university’s Ashmolean Museum in 1967 via a Sotheby’s auction. The Tirumankai Alvar idol is the latest Indian artefact being restored from the UK to India. Is the British Museum, which has a long history of housing stolen antiques from former British colonies, listening?

🎧 Apple is back with an AI bang. Also in today’s episode: Japan’s newest bid address its tanking fertility rate. Tune in to SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusicGoogle Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Market Signal*

Stocks & Economy: It is not often that two events coincide to give sleepless nights to investors. But that is happening today as they await US retail inflation data as well as the Federal Reserve’s latest “dot plot”, a graphic representation of the monetary policymakers’ long-term rate expectations. 

Bloomberg reports that traders across Asia have set early-morning alarms to make sure they do not miss any quakes. A US rate decision will also impact the Indian rupee, HDFC Bank principal economist, Sakshi Gupta, told the news wire. 

US equity indices rose undeterred, setting new highs as tech stocks led by Apple soared. The S&P 500 technology index climbed 1.7% to a record close. The Asian counterparts, however, were largely languishing in the red in early trade, Shanghai being the sole exception. The GIFT Nifty hints at a muted start for Indian equities.

ECONOMY

The Ball Is In The Boardroom

India Inc. may be poised similar to how it was in 2004 when the Manmohan Singh government took office. Broking firm Motilal Oswal says corporate profit to GDP ratio for the Nifty-500 companies rose in FY24 to 4.8%, a 15-year high. 

The ratio for all listed and unlisted firms had slipped from 7.9% in FY08 to 1.9% in 2020 before reviving. Nifty-500 companies’ profits surged 30% in FY24, the same rate at which they grew in 2003-2008.

DK Joshi, chief economist at rating agency Crisil, estimates that 53% of India’s expected average annual GDP growth of 6.7% in this decade will come from capital because investment is a key driver. Efficiency will contribute 30% and labour another 17%. So will India Inc. begin to spend and create jobs? That really is the question. Head to The Core for more.

Not So Neat 

The sanctity of the test for those aspiring to be doctors was compromised, the Supreme Court has said. Without stopping counselling for qualified candidates, it has sought answers from the National Testing Agency, responsible for the NEET-UG 2024 exams for entry into the country’s medical colleges. 

What: Question papers of the exams held on May 5 were allegedly leaked beforehand. An improbable 67 candidates scored a perfect 720, the maximum. 

Alakh Pandey, founder of Physics Wallah, has alleged that over 1,500 students got 70 to 80 extra marks, ostensibly to compensate for an erroneous entry in one of the text books. 

Flashback: The case reminds one of the mess of 2013 when NEET was first introduced and met with vehement protests from states and private institutions. Long-running disputes in the Supreme Court then led to its cancellation, putting the academic progress of thousands of students in jeopardy.

TECHNOLOGY

Getting It Right Vs. Getting There First

Wall Street seems undecided about Apple’s AI announcements at its recently-concluded Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Its shares fell by 2% after the event — apparently the worst drop since WWDC launched in 2010 — and those of its suppliers fell too. But its stock closed on a record high on Tuesday.

The unveiling of “Apple Intelligence” and announcements such as free ChatGPT integration with voice assistant Siri, customisable home screens (finally), text scheduling, and the international launch of augmented reality headset Vision Pro failed to enthuse investors. That Apple may integrate other AI models such as Google’s Gemini into its devices someday isn’t a big deal. For them, AI features such as call transcribing, image generation, equation solving, and email sorting and composing are already offered by the likes of Microsoft.

But Apple has an ace, contingent on sound execution of course: Private Cloud Compute (PCC).

The Signal

Analysts aren’t gung-ho about AI boosting stagnant iPhone sales. Then again, trigger-happy analysts rarely see the long-term picture.

Apple’s privacy pledge for AI matters because privacy is one of the lowest priorities for AI frontrunners. Complex tasks that can’t be processed on-device will be done so on PCC, specifically designed for secure processing on custom Apple silicon. The Information had reported on Apple’s ‘black box’ approach to AI processing, where data would be inaccessible even to employees.

Cutesy AI is just a start. If Apple builds features that are truly indispensable, with processing that stands out from others whose practices are opaque, it will have a win on its hands.

FYI

New head of state: Four-time BJP MLA Mohan Charan Manjhi has been appointed as the new Chief Minister of Odisha. Pravati Parida and Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo will serve as Deputy Chief Ministers.

Green light: Indian EV major Ola Electric has secured Sebi’s approval for a Rs 5,500 crore IPO, The Economic Times reports. State Bank of India’s board has approved the lender raising up to $3 billion (Rs 25,076 crore) via debt in the current financial year.

No respite: The India Meteorological Department has issued a heatwave warning for Delhi, where temperatures could reach 47°C until June 14. The national capital also suffered widespread power outages on Tuesday due to a fire in the Mandola substation, Uttar Pradesh.

Big Brother is watching: China has issued draft rules for cross-border e-commerce to “improve… data management and optimise the supervision” of exports from majors such as Shein, AliExpress, and Temu.

Tragedy: Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine others died in a plane crash in the country. The cause is currently attributed to bad weather.

THE DAILY DIGIT

$41 billion

Damage across the globe due to climate change in the past six months. (Business Standard

FWIW

Tokyo’s Seema Aunty…: …is its metropolitan government. Japanese Matchmaking isn’t a show just yet, but the thread that binds is bringing two people together in a culmination of (hopeful) holy matrimony. Japan’s declining fertility rate has been written about to death, but the Tokyo government’s move to launch its own dating app hasn’t. The hope is that people who sign up will eventually have kids after getting married — a differentiator in an otherwise crowded space where dating apps’ main priority is to keep people hooked, not find the right person. Tokyo’s official app even asks for salary and family register proof to keep out potential scamsters. Whatever it takes to make babies, we guess. 

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