22 October 2019

Newsbreakers

 

BANKING BARONESS

 

If one woman has dominated India’s banking firmament in the last decade like no one else it is Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank, India’s second-largest bank and the largest in the private sector. And it is not for nothing tht she has been ranked 2nd in Fortune’s list of Most Powerful Women of Asia – Pacific. Kochhar began her career, with erstwhile ICICI Limited in 1984. Today she oversees nearly $125 billion in assets and has been credited with leading a remarkable transformation at her firm, which experienced major setbacks after the 2008 financial crisis. ICICI Bank boasts of a market cap of Rs 2.1 lakh crore which is over 70 per cent of the market valuation of all the 19 nationalised banks, save SBI, put together. She is widely recognised for her role in shaping the retail banking sector in India and for her leadership of the ICICI Group, as well as her contributions to various forums in India and globally.  Her emphasis on mobile banking in rural areas to extend the reach of the bank to more clients has been praised as a model for low cost expansion. She was elevated as Managing Director & CEO of ICICI Bank in 2009 and is responsible for the Bank’s diverse operations in India and overseas. She also chairs the boards of the Bank’s principal subsidiaries, which include India’s leading private sector life and general insurance companies. Kochhar, who was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, the nation’s highest civilian honour, has been a very vocal proponent of clearer banking laws. It is obvious that the business savvy prime minister seeks her counsel in his mission to take the country forward.

 

 

 

BUDGET BADSHAH

This is the time of the year when the country awaits the annual jamboree – the Union Budget – and Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister is the man who will engage the attention of close to a billion people. The much-anticipated Budget is expected to unveil a comprehensive package of measures to lift investment sentiment and turn the country into a preferred destination for foreign capital. The highly articulate Jaitley who has been vocal in his criticism of the Congress when it was in power will now to do some delicate manoeuvring to deflect from the expected barbs. More importantly he has the enormous challenge of not just getting the economy back on the rails but to ensure that the prime minister’s promise of taking the country forward on the back of development projects stays afloat. The brilliant lawyer politician is expected to be severely tested from the opposition benches as he holds forth in his new avatar as finance minister.  Jaitley unsuccessfully ran for a seat from Punjab in the 2014 Parliamentary elections and managed to find himself being handed down important portfolios in Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet – defense, finance, and corporate affairs – following the BJP’s landslide victory at the polls. Stewarding the economic fortunes of a nation that has somewhat managed to emerge from the umbra of the global economic meltdown will be quite another thing.  The briefcase he will take to Parliament will doubtless feel more than usually heavy.

 




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