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UPI processed more than 2 billion monthly transactions in October and November. When it was launched in 2016, few expected such explosive expansion. (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)
UPI processed more than 2 billion monthly transactions in October and November. When it was launched in 2016, few expected such explosive expansion. (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

India’s quest to fix its payments puzzle

  • Amid suspicion about foreign firms and a new 30% market share cap in UPI, fintech is headed for upheavals
  • The recent moves have evoked analogies with the licence raj and prove how vexatious internet regulation in India is becoming. Critics say the 30% cap is arbitrary

Even outright sale of chosen PSUs by the government is proving to be quite a task. The government is struggling to sell the laggards. (Photo: AFP)
Even outright sale of chosen PSUs by the government is proving to be quite a task. The government is struggling to sell the laggards. (Photo: AFP)

India can’t make up its mind on PSUs, 30 years after liberalisation

  • 30 years after liberalization, India’s muddled thinking on PSUs continues. This year, things may only get worse.
  • The tension is only likely to increase further in 2020-21 because of the pandemic. PSUs have already contributed over 2,000 crore to the newly launched PM CARES Fund

The drum-beat for allowing corporates to own banks has been growing steadily. The oft-cited excuse is more banks are needed to grow credit volumes, and thereby India’s growth potential. (Photo: Mint)
The drum-beat for allowing corporates to own banks has been growing steadily. The oft-cited excuse is more banks are needed to grow credit volumes, and thereby India’s growth potential. (Photo: Mint)

Myth of safeguards for corporate banks

  • Amending existing laws to check connected lending by corporates in banking could present challenges
  • Going by precedence, it is likely that a few regime-friendly corporate groups will launch banks, after which the doors will be shut again, allowing them to consolidate their presence

F.C. Kohli at the Gateway of India, Mumbai
F.C. Kohli at the Gateway of India, Mumbai

The house that Faqir Chand Kohli built

  • The inside story of the moves and strategic vision that led to the birth of India’s software industry
  • Kohli’s out-of-the-box thinking made TCS the first Indian software and services company to set up an overseas unit in New York. Over time, it would become a global IT giant

Hiring a higher number of native workers implies that companies have to get a handle on discipline, particularly in volatile belts like Gurugram-Manesar.  (Photo: Yogendra Kumar/HT)
Hiring a higher number of native workers implies that companies have to get a handle on discipline, particularly in volatile belts like Gurugram-Manesar. (Photo: Yogendra Kumar/HT)

India Inc feels the rising pressure to serve up jobs for locals

  • While bills seeking job reservations for locals don’t stand the test of law, industry can’t ignore the wider issues
  • Such bills do set a tone. The broader message some in industry feel is to make sincere efforts to hire additional native workers in some sectors since not all migrants are skilled

Uddhav Thackeray is prodding his party of belligerence and nativism towards reason and inclusivity, save the occasional dial-back to Hindutva. (Photo: HT)
Uddhav Thackeray is prodding his party of belligerence and nativism towards reason and inclusivity, save the occasional dial-back to Hindutva. (Photo: HT)

How Uddhav Thackeray is becoming a man for all seasons

  • After a year of vendetta politics, the first-time CM has become the BJP’s nightmare. How will he govern the state?
  • The bets are off the table on how long the government will last but Sena, NCP and Congress are glued by the purpose of keeping the BJP out of power. The road ahead is anything but smooth.

India’s fears appear facile since RCEP is, in its current form, a shallow agreement riddled with exceptions, exemptions, exclusions and transition periods on many issues. (Photo: AFP)
India’s fears appear facile since RCEP is, in its current form, a shallow agreement riddled with exceptions, exemptions, exclusions and transition periods on many issues. (Photo: AFP)

Why India must open its doors for RCEP

  • India’s absence from the Asia-Pacific trade treaty will solidify its insular economic orientation and hurt innovation
  • Positive institutional effects of RCEP must not be underestimated as trade patterns evolve in this region. Indian firms will find it tough to adapt to a regional market

The old private sector banks are closer in performance to public sector banks who suffer from several government mandates and constraints
The old private sector banks are closer in performance to public sector banks who suffer from several government mandates and constraints

LVB deal showcases new M&A battlefield

  • After RBI’s decisiveness with LVB, it should focus on India’s old private banks. Many need urgent fixing
  • The RBI should execute a grand clean-up of Indian banking system. With each passing failure, retail investors are losing trust in the banking system. This could be fatal going forward

Poultry is retailing at over  ₹200 per kg while eggs are selling between  ₹7 and  ₹10 per piece, a steep rise from last year.
Poultry is retailing at over 200 per kg while eggs are selling between 7 and 10 per piece, a steep rise from last year.

The peculiar rise of protein inflation

  • The supply chain disruption in poultry continues, further hurting the nutritional standards of poorer households
  • The current steep prices of items that make up the retail food basket—be it eggs, pulses or vegetables—is evidently taking a toll on millions of Indian households

Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal says there has never been a discussion (among shareholders) about getting a professional CEO and the company has been very focused on building the business and getting through the pandemic (Photo: Getty Images)
Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal says there has never been a discussion (among shareholders) about getting a professional CEO and the company has been very focused on building the business and getting through the pandemic (Photo: Getty Images)

Battered Oyo’s plan for life after covid

  • Though demand remains weak, India’s hotel unicorn has used the crisis to build a lean firm with fat margins
  • Some hotels on Oyo’s platform are struggling to survive. More than 40% comprises leased hotels, which are operated by local entrepreneurs who do not own the properties

The heady run-up to the IPO might explain Jack Ma’s outspokenness in Shanghai. (Photo: AFP)
The heady run-up to the IPO might explain Jack Ma’s outspokenness in Shanghai. (Photo: AFP)

How Jack Ma blew Ant’s $35-billion IPO

  • The story of how the charismatic e-commerce icon forgot the basic rules of doing business in China
  • For some years now, there have been discussions between Ant and China’s regulators seeking to understand its financial model and the algorithms. Ant would not reveal much

The key point is that we now have evidence that targeting the spike protein, which is what these vaccines do, is an effective way to produce neutralizing antibodies. (Photo: AP)
The key point is that we now have evidence that targeting the spike protein, which is what these vaccines do, is an effective way to produce neutralizing antibodies. (Photo: AP)

Beginning of the end of the pandemic

  • A year from now, India is likely to be in the midst of a massive vaccination initiative. What’s the fine print?
  • There are long days ahead. But there’s reason to remain positive about prospects of getting vaccinated in India. In the meantime, continue to socially distance, wear masks and so on

Some hotels are trying to reimagine rooms as co-working spaces, and are trying to attract guests who would want to work out of a hotel.
Some hotels are trying to reimagine rooms as co-working spaces, and are trying to attract guests who would want to work out of a hotel.

Desperate times birth the new flexi hotel

  • Given that most business has vaporised, hotels are exploring revenue streams that didn’t exist earlier. Will it work?
  • Whether these pivots can help hotels tide over the next 24 months is uncertain. Is the staycation a sustainable trend?How many holidays can India’s middle class afford in a year?

A host of startups have brought foreign investing to the masses through tie-ups with large brokerage houses. (Photo: Bloomberg)
A host of startups have brought foreign investing to the masses through tie-ups with large brokerage houses. (Photo: Bloomberg)

The pros and cons of investing global

  • Indians are taking tentative steps into international stock markets. What are the rewards—and the risks?
  • Some experts are also wary of the heightened valuations in the red-hot US markets. Also, while investing in international stocks, picking the right market at the right time is vital

For now, the pandemic seems to have sharpened the prevalent gender divide in the workforce. (Photo:  Biplov Bhuyan/Hindustan Times)
For now, the pandemic seems to have sharpened the prevalent gender divide in the workforce. (Photo: Biplov Bhuyan/Hindustan Times)

The price of pandemic is being paid by women

  • Nearly two-thirds of India’s working women lost their jobs in April 2020. Very few had returned by August
  • If a large chunk of a young nation’s population doesn’t participate in economically productive wage-earning work, collective prosperity and growth become that much harder

Rural India may not be on as strong a wicket as is commonly believed and the government isn’t in a position to do much given that its tax revenues have collapsed. (Photo: Mint)
Rural India may not be on as strong a wicket as is commonly believed and the government isn’t in a position to do much given that its tax revenues have collapsed. (Photo: Mint)

Clearing the fog on economic recovery

  • Green shoots of revival are apparently here. But the numbers show India’s economy is not out of the doldrums
  • Parameters like new investment and demand for MGNREGS tell us that the economy is on a weaker wicket despite attempts to put a positive spin using month-on-month improvement

There are reasons to believe that the indirect tax collections may continue to be buoyant in the coming months.  (Photo: Mint)
There are reasons to believe that the indirect tax collections may continue to be buoyant in the coming months. (Photo: Mint)

Why it’s the right time to reform GST

  • Now that tax collections have turned the corner, rationalizing the structure will accelerate the recovery process
  • It is desirable to reduce the number of tax slabs into three. Also, building materials and passenger automobiles should ideally be removed from the ‘sin’ list which attracts a 28% tax

Police pitch this AI-based integrated safe city solution as a necessary means for social control and maintaining order, but many don’t buy it. (Photo: )
Police pitch this AI-based integrated safe city solution as a necessary means for social control and maintaining order, but many don’t buy it. (Photo: )

The Hyderabad model of CCTV surveillance

  • Telangana is leading the way in using tech to track citizens. Other Indian cities are looking to emulate the model
  • Several cities are already in the process of setting up integrated command-and-control centres. The new hardware, combined with AI and facial recognition, could easily be misused

Volunteers receive covid-19 health kits from companies.  (Photo: Raj K. Raj/Hindustan Times)
Volunteers receive covid-19 health kits from companies. (Photo: Raj K. Raj/Hindustan Times)

India Inc can’t let this crisis go waste

  • The pandemic has changed everything for business globally. Ignoring sustainable goals is no longer an option
  • In India, presently these ESG metrics are mostly relegated to the fine print but many business failures point to the absence of tight corporate governance standards

From left: Posters of ‘Dracula Sir’, ‘Mookuthi Amman’ and ‘Soorarai Pottru’.
From left: Posters of ‘Dracula Sir’, ‘Mookuthi Amman’ and ‘Soorarai Pottru’.

How regional cinema is taking the game away from Bollywood

  • With a spike in regional language streaming, non-Bollywood cinema is likely to come out of covid in better shape
  • The path to recovery is already looking easier for regional cinema, since it can dish out new offerings in specific states without having to wait for pan-India theatre re-openings

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