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Microsoft Will Train 2 Million Indians In AI In A Year: Satya Nadella

Nadella has highlighted how Microsoft Copilot, along with the company’s other AI solutions, is driving measurable productivity gains for people and organisations by helping them complete work faster and with superior quality

By Govindraj Ethiraj
New Update
Satya Microsoft AI
On today’s episode, financial journalist Govindraj Ethiraj talks to Kunal Shah, Head of Commodities Research at brokerage Nirmal Bang.

Our Top Reports For Today

  • (00:00) Stories Of The Day
  • (00:50) Global shares hit highs, India skids and China sacks its markets regulator
  • (03:09) India will be largest driver of global oil demand growth in the next 7 years, International Energy Agency
  • (06:46) Satya Nadella says Microsoft will train 2 million Indians in AI In A Year.
  • (09:22) How energy transition demand will drive copper prices up sharply. 
  • (17:08) Why India is Going Bananas With Russia

NOTE: This transcript contains only the host's monologue and does not include any interviews or discussions that might be within the podcast. Please refer to the episode audio if you wish to quote the people interviewed. Email [email protected] for any queries.


Markets World, India & China

Global shares hit their highest in over two years on Wednesday, thanks to strong earnings and of course continuing expectations that interest rates will remain where they are for some time.

On Wednesday, the MSCI All-World index rose 0.1% to reach its highest since mid-January 2022, led in part by a rally in Chinese blue-chips, which have gained almost 5% in the last two trading days alone, reported Reuters.

Back home, the stock markets gave up early gains and swung before sliding down. The BSE Sensex, eventually, settled at 72,152, down 34 points while the Nifty50 ended at 21,931, up 1 point. Yes you heard that, just one point up, one of the flattest markets in a while. 

Elsewhere in the region, China has announced further curbs on short selling while state investors said they were expanding their stock buying plans.

Meanwhile, in an unusual move because market regulators manage market safety and integrity and not prices, China replaced the head of its securities regulator.

Bloomberg reported that Wu Qing, a banking and regulation veteran who earned the reputation as “the broker butcher” when he led a crackdown on traders in the mid-2000s, is replacing Yi Huiman as chairman and party chief of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

About $5 trillion of market value had been wiped out from onshore equities from their peak in 2021, adding to the urgency for policymakers to do more as the country enters the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

As we spoke yesterday in The Core Report, many long term and large investors are switching from China to India.

In the US, Federal Reserve Presidents Loretta Mester and Neel Kashkari acknowledged the progress on inflation but indicated that there was more work to do before policy was eased, or, interest rates would be cut.

The probability of a U.S. rate cut as early as May now stands at just 39%, when it was considered a done deal only a week ago, Reuters reported.

Back home, the rupee strengthened on Wednesday, thanks to a drop in U.S. bond yields which also helped lift most Asian currencies.

The rupee was at 82.98 against the U.S. dollar as of 09:45 a.m. IST.

India Biggest Oil Demand Driver

India is set to be the largest driver of global oil demand growth in the next 7 years to 2030 overtaking China narrowly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday.

India is the world's third-largest oil importer and consumer is on track to post an oil demand increase of almost 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) between 2023 and 2030, the IEA said in a report released at the India Energy Week in Goa, according to Reuters.

The agency forecast India's demand would reach 6.6 million bpd in 2030, up from 5.5 million bpd in 2023.

"India will become the largest source of global oil demand growth between now and 2030, while growth in developed economies and China initially slows and then subsequently goes into reverse in our outlook," it added.

Diesel fuel will be the single largest basis of India's oil consumption, representing more than one-sixth of total global oil demand growth through 2030.

Jet fuel is poised to grow 5.9% annually on average but this will be from a low base compared with other countries, it added.

Interestingly, the IEA is also projecting that the electrification of India's vehicle fleet will lead to a more muted 0.7% annual growth average through 2030 for gasoline, the IEA said. 

New electric vehicles and energy efficiency improvements in India will avoid 480,000 bpd of extra oil demand from now to 2030, it added.

G Krishnakumar, the chairman of state run refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp , said that petrochemical demand for the company will also be a factor in India's oil consumption increase, as demand growth for petrochemicals is "directly proportional to the gross domestic product of the country." The IEA report estimated India's oil inventories were at 243 million barrels, with 26 million barrels held at strategic petroleum reserves sites while the rest are industry stocks.

"This equates to 66 days of net imports, based on IEA methodology. Indian oil import requirements will rise rapidly toward 2030 and beyond," the IEA said in the report.

Nestle Sales Slow

FMCG major Nestle India Ltd on Wednesday reported an increase of 4.38 per cent in net profit at Rs 655.61 crore for the quarter ended December 31 but missed estimates. 

Nestle India Chairman Suresh Narayanan said that domestic sales grew by 8.9 per cent on the back of pricing and mix growth, with strong growth momentum in e-commerce and out-of-home channels. The quarter was marked by an increase in brand investments across all product groups,"

Earlier, Nestle India, which followed the January-December financial year, had approved the change of the financial year commencing on April 1 and ending on March 31 of the next year.

E-commerce contributed to 7% of domestic sales in this quarter. 

For calendar year 2023, the company's overall sales rose 13.3% from last year and crossed the mark of Rs 19,000 crore. 

Beverages witnessed double-digit growth. Nescafe gained significant market share and increased household penetration. Milk and nutrition product group posted double-digit growth while Confectionery, one of Nestle's strong growth drivers—led by Kitkat and Munch—delivered good growth, the company said.

Satya Nadella Makes AI Pitch To Indian CEOs, Will Train 2 Million Indians

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said yesterday that India has an unprecedented opportunity to drive economic growth by capitalising on AI’s promise.

“AI is really in the air now,” Nadella said during a keynote speech at the Microsoft CEO Connection event which hosted industry leaders in Mumbai. 

 “I have never seen a rate of diffusion of any technology like this in the 70-year-long computer age.”

He said Microsoft will help train 2 million people in India with AI skills by 2025. 

“This new capability, AI, is going to have an impact on GDP,” he said.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of driving adoption of AI and commercialising the technology through its suite of software offerings. 

The Redmond, Washington-based company invested more than $10 billion in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, and works with the startup on new products and services.

India has more than 5 million programmers.

“The AI engineering community in India is second only to the US,” he said.

Nadella highlighted how Microsoft Copilot, along with the company’s other AI solutions, is driving measurable productivity gains for people and organisations by helping them complete work faster and with superior quality. 

For instance, recent research on early users of Copilot for Microsoft 365 found that they were 29 percent faster in a series of tasks, including searching, writing, and summarising. 

Many organisations in India are already boosting their productivity and accelerating innovation using Copilot for Microsoft 365 and GitHub Copilot, he said. 

They include: Axis Bank, Infosys, HCL Tech and LTMindtree

While companies like ITC, Arvind and Air India are using Azure OpenAI Services.

ITC has built a chatbot called Krishi Mitra for farmers using Microsoft’s voice to text technology while Air India has deployed a generative AI virtual agent called AI.g which has answered over half a million customer queries since its launch in March 2023, and manages over 6,000 queries a day in four languages.

Nadella has completed 10 years at the top in Microsoft and has presided over a 1,000% stock-market run over the last decade, pushing it past Apple Inc. to become the most valuable company in the world, Bloomberg reported.

India’s Copper Story

The good news is that energy transition to renewables is picking up pace.

The not so good news is that this will drive copper prices to new highs in the coming year.

Copper provides superior electrical conductivity and is a key input in the manufacture of electric vehicles, storage systems and batteries, solar panels and wind turbines.

And of course buildings and homes, of which India is seeing unprecedented fresh supply across the country. 

Analysts are now forecasting a copper supply-demand deficit of 35,000 metric tons this year, compared to an expected surplus of 302,500 tons in the previous poll in October, according to Reuters.

CNBC quoted Goldman Sachs analysts saying the copper market is entering a period of much clearer tightening and predicting copper prices hitting $10,000 per ton within the year, and much higher in 2025.

Both Chile and Peru, incidentally have large reserves of green transition minerals such as lithium and copper that are poised to benefit from increased investment and higher export demand. 

Chile holds around 21% of global copper reserves, according to CNBC.

Copper ores are extracted from the earth and then converted into copper concentrates. From there they are sent to smelters to be purified into refined copper, which sets the benchmark LME price.

To get a sense on how it was looking from an India perspective, I spoke with Kunal Shah, keen copper tracker and Head of Commodities Research at brokerage Nirmal Bang and began by asking him how he was anticipating demand.


Going Bananas

Russia has begun buying bananas from India and will boost such imports, its food safety watchdog said on Tuesday, after it fought with its biggest supplier Ecuador over the latter's decision to swap Russian-made military hardware with the United States, Reuters reported.

The first batch of bananas from India was shipped to Russia in January and the next is planned for end-February, Russian watchdog Rossel khoz nadzor said, adding that "the volume of exports of Indian bananas to the Russian market will increase."

The suspensions came after Moscow condemned a pact under which Ecuador will hand over Russian-made military hardware, dubbed by Ecuador as "Ukrainian and Russian scrap metal," to the United States in exchange for advanced U.S. equipment worth $200 million.

Russia was the largest importer of Ecuadorian bananas in 2022, and Ecuador supplied 20-25% of its yearly banana exports to Russia prior to the 2022 invasion, according to the FAO.

India, a major banana producer, has also expressed interest in supplying other fruit such as mangoes, pineapples, papaya and guava to the Russian market, Rosselkhoznadzor said.