Long Reads

Parallel to the urban economy is urban design which, too, will see changes as Mumbai reopens (Photo: Aalok Soni/Hindustan Times)
Parallel to the urban economy is urban design which, too, will see changes as Mumbai reopens (Photo: Aalok Soni/Hindustan Times)

A battered Mumbai is trying to regain its mojo

  • When the city that never sleeps finally reopens, it will have to deal with a structural shift in its economy
  • Labour shortages will be par for the course. The exodus of migrants could shift the balance between capital and labour in the city, at least for a while

Workers at AkzoNobel India’s factory in Gwalior
Workers at AkzoNobel India’s factory in Gwalior

How the sales pitch is changing in the covid age

  • The art of selling is going through a massive disruption. Some of these changes will outlive the pandemic
  • While digital sales have become a global phenomenon, some feel the trend may not be sustainable when the pandemic is contained

The closed sets of Film City studio amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus in Mumbai
The closed sets of Film City studio amid concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus in Mumbai

On the frontlines, the Indian dream factory is turning into a nightmare

  • With no intimate scenes and strict limits on the size of film crews, will Indian cinema ever be the same again?
  • Masks are in, at least off-camera, and hugs are out. There is even talk of strict limits on the size and age profile of film crews, since the elderly are more vulnerable to covid-19

Residents of Kherwa village at a hunger strike last week (Photo: Sayantan Bera/Mint)
Residents of Kherwa village at a hunger strike last week (Photo: Sayantan Bera/Mint)

Bharat's lockdown diet is boiled rice, salt

  • A ground report reveals pervasive hunger and undernourishment in rural India awash with returning migrants
  • Just providing rice and wheat at a highly subsidized price may not be enough when day jobs are scant and families have no cash in hand

An employee at Russia’s biotech company BIOCAD, which is developing a vaccine against covid-19, in Strelna
An employee at Russia’s biotech company BIOCAD, which is developing a vaccine against covid-19, in Strelna

Inside the race to crack the vaccine

  • It’s early days but there are promising signs about vaccines to tackle covid-19. Here’s all you need to know.
  • Getting a vaccine that works is only half the battle. We also have to ensure that 8 billion people, of which 1.4 billion are Indians, can get vaccinated rapidly

Employees at a Lava mobile phone manufacturing unit in Noida which resumed operations on 12 May after 40 days of closure due to the lockdown (Photo: PTI)
Employees at a Lava mobile phone manufacturing unit in Noida which resumed operations on 12 May after 40 days of closure due to the lockdown (Photo: PTI)

The business plan for Make In India 2.0

  • The govt seeks to push domestic manufacturers up the value chain. But that needs a lot of work on the ground
  • Besides consistency in policy, the success of the strategy would need relief from what the industry calls ‘disabilities’ from poor infrastructure and inefficient logistics

Villagers of Kalahandi, Odisha, working on water body restoration under the NREGA scheme.  (Photo: Mint)
Villagers of Kalahandi, Odisha, working on water body restoration under the NREGA scheme. (Photo: Mint)

Why cash can save the rural jobs scheme

  • India is set to spend over 1 tn on the world’s largest rural employment programme. Can it be made to work better?
  • Large work sites should be opened proactively in each panchayat without waiting for applications. Anyone who shows up should be allowed to work and payments should be in cash

(From left): Shashank N.D., co-founder and CEO, Practo; Ananth Narayanan, co-founder and CEO, Medlife; Dharmil Sheth, co-founder, PharmEasy; Mukesh Bansal, co-founder and CEO, CureFit. (Photos: Mint)
(From left): Shashank N.D., co-founder and CEO, Practo; Ananth Narayanan, co-founder and CEO, Medlife; Dharmil Sheth, co-founder, PharmEasy; Mukesh Bansal, co-founder and CEO, CureFit. (Photos: Mint)

The coming of age of e-health platforms

  • Most healthcare startups are seeing an unprecedented surge in demand. Is a unicorn around the corner?
  • Despite the regulatory environment becoming clearer and increasing customer interest, startups could face opposition from local pharmacy groups

Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

The healthy way to fix the economy

  • India must use this moment to redirect government energies towards truly improving public health for all
  • India has the legal and industrial infrastructure to produce high-quality and affordable medicines, but we have hobbled it. The Indian patent system needs urgent attention

Workers in a textile workshop in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China.  (Photo: Bloomberg)
Workers in a textile workshop in Dongguan, Guangdong province, China. (Photo: Bloomberg)

India is chasing an elusive China dream

  • India’s attempts to attract factories from China have underestimated the Middle Kingdom’s competitive edge
  • Post covid-19, companies will increase inventories or relocate some supplies to locations closer to home markets rather than move production in a big way

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur leaving a news conference in New Delhi last week.  (Photo: Bloomberg)
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur leaving a news conference in New Delhi last week. (Photo: Bloomberg)

Why India needs more than liquidity dreams

  • By focusing on access to easy loans, the government has missed the bus to revive consumer demand
  • Instead, much more money could have been put in the hands of people. One way of doing that would have been depositing money into all Jan Dhan accounts

Migrant workers walking along NH24 near New Delhi earlier this month.  (Photo: Hindustan Times)
Migrant workers walking along NH24 near New Delhi earlier this month. (Photo: Hindustan Times)

Why India’s migrants deserve a better deal

  • Roughly 100 million migrant workers are directly responsible for 10% of the GDP. Why are they still so invisible?
  • There has been an unwillingness to collect better data on circular migrants and understand how they affect the economy. This is shocking for a country that runs on migrant labour

Officials wearing protective suits check documents of an Indian national who arrived from the Gulf earlier this month as part of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission.  (Photo: PTI)
Officials wearing protective suits check documents of an Indian national who arrived from the Gulf earlier this month as part of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission. (Photo: PTI)

Paradise lost: The exodus from Gulf

  • Over 1 trillion flows into Kerala as remittances from West Asia each year. Will covid-19 change everything?
  • Whether they will return to the Gulf is uncertain as of now. Past shocks have been blips in the steady exchange of migrants and money. Will covid-19 leave more permanent scars?

Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

India’s revival plan must focus on cities

  • As the migrants crisis has shown us, India needs to create new urban spaces that are more spatially spread out
  • The problem of migrants during the lockdown also points to the importance of regional development in contrast to building islands of economic growth in the form of cities

(Left) A man carries alcohol cartons outside a liquor shop during the lockdown in Gurugram, Haryana, and (above) a man and a woman walking back with beer and alcohol bottles after liquor shops had opened for business earlier this month
(Left) A man carries alcohol cartons outside a liquor shop during the lockdown in Gurugram, Haryana, and (above) a man and a woman walking back with beer and alcohol bottles after liquor shops had opened for business earlier this month

How India binges on its booze economy

  • An average Indian drinks 5.7 litres of alcohol a year and  states earn over 2 trillion
  • Covid may make the attraction stronger

(Left) A security guard sprays a worker with disinfectant as his colleagues use social distancing markers at the entrance to a factory in Sonipat, Haryana, and a trade union activists take part in a protest, which took place near the labour department in Bengaluru, against the increase in working hours of employees in various industrial sectors.
(Left) A security guard sprays a worker with disinfectant as his colleagues use social distancing markers at the entrance to a factory in Sonipat, Haryana, and a trade union activists take part in a protest, which took place near the labour department in Bengaluru, against the increase in working hours of employees in various industrial sectors.

Why labour law rejig is no reform

  • In the race to replace China as the new factory hub, will India’s workers lose even basic protections?
  • Several states have made a push for increasing working hours from the existing 8 hours to a new 12-hour shift. But the question is: Don’t workers deserve at least some minimum protections?

Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint

White-collar jobs and that sinking feeling

  • As the pain from covid-19 intensifies, the higher layers of India’s job pyramid are facing the heat
  • While variable pay will disappear, a few organizations are delaying a part of the fixed compensation. It would be paid out at the end of the year as a ‘longevity payment’.

Many struggling fintech companies could become ‘zombie’ firms in this slowdown, prompting their investors to push for distress sales or to cut them loose (Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint)
Many struggling fintech companies could become ‘zombie’ firms in this slowdown, prompting their investors to push for distress sales or to cut them loose (Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint)

As heat rises, startups head to the deals table

  • Led by investors’ attempts to cut losses and save face, a rash of mergers and acquisitions are in the works
  • India’s unicorns are less likely to strike big deals among themselves, with one factor being the fear of the antitrust regulator

(Clockwise from left) Small carrot growers are now selling the crop for a mere  ₹2-3 per kg; Surendra Panwar gave away pumpkins for free as farm gate prices did not cover the transport costs to reach the crop to the wholesale market; and another farmer, Vikrant Chaudhary, has ploughed spinach back into the field with a tractor.
(Clockwise from left) Small carrot growers are now selling the crop for a mere 2-3 per kg; Surendra Panwar gave away pumpkins for free as farm gate prices did not cover the transport costs to reach the crop to the wholesale market; and another farmer, Vikrant Chaudhary, has ploughed spinach back into the field with a tractor.

Money for nothing, pumpkins for free

  • A ground report reveals deep distress among vegetable and fruit farmers. Is this the right stage for agri-reform?
  • Despite repeated attempts to weaken state regulation, no competing agency can aggregate large volumes of produce and also help in price discovery

Illustration: Jayachandran/Mint
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