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Business News/ Weekend / Best of the Week | A colonial sport in ‘the land of the free’

Best of the Week | A colonial sport in ‘the land of the free’

Best of the Week, 15 June: New government, independent movies and Cricket in the USA

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Best of the Week

Last Sunday, a vibrant crowd of about 30,000 filled the newly erected Nassau Country International Cricket Stadium in New York to witness one of the greatest rivalries in world sports. It was a clash between Rohit Sharma’s India, adorned in blue and (orange), and Babar Azam's Pakistan. This high-octane match marked cricket’s grand debut on American soil.

The T20 World Cup, co-hosted by the US and Caribbean countries, quickly delivered a thrilling surprise. Team USA — largely comprised of non-resident Indians, some sharing alma maters with their Indian counterparts — stunned Pakistan with an unexpected early victory in the tournament.

Cricket, overshadowed by America's beloved baseball, is experiencing a remarkable revival. Last year's launch of Major League Cricket has ignited a wave of enthusiasm, drawing significant investments from notable South Asian-Americans like Satya Nadella and Sundar Pichai.

A sea of blue and green: Scenes in Lower Manhattan during the India-Pakistan clash
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A sea of blue and green: Scenes in Lower Manhattan during the India-Pakistan clash

What's behind this cricket craze in America? While the sport is still warming up to locals, its resurgence is fuelled by the fervent support of the South Asian diaspora. Looking ahead, cricket's integration into the 2028 LA Olympics as a primary sport — the first such occurrence in over a century — signals a bright future.

This scenario presents a win-win: South Asians in the US can indulge in their beloved sport, while the International Cricket Council (ICC) taps into a lucrative new market, expanding cricket’s global footprint.

On to best of Mint’s journalism this week:

Finally, after seven weeks of marathon elections, the new government was sworn in on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted for continuity over sweeping changes as he began his third term. Modi reaffirmed his confidence in key ministers like Amit Shah and Nirmala Sitharaman, retaining them from his previous Union cabinet. Key allies, including the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United), also secured Cabinet posts, indicating a coalition setup. Mint’s Rituraj Baruah, Manas Pimpalkhare, and Subhash Narayan report on the swearing in and appointments, which took place amid a sizable gathering of around 9,000 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, with political figures and celebrities in attendance. The new Union cabinet consists of 30 ministers, featuring a notable presence of veterans from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and leaders from allied parties who have demonstrated strong electoral performances in their regions. This composition is seen as an effort to stabilize the government's position, given the BJP's reduced majority.

🎥 India's independent films, celebrated at international festivals, struggle to secure a spot in domestic theatres, overshadowed by blockbuster hits. Titles like the recent Cannes winner All We Imagine As Light and other festival favourites such as All That Breathes, Agra, and Kennedy find themselves eclipsed by mainstream blockbusters. The business model of cinema in India has shifted, favouring multiplexes with high ticket prices, making it harder for indie films, which often lack big stars and mass appeal. Unlike in the past, when ticket costs were low and films reached a bigger audience, today's indie films face prohibitive marketing costs that many cannot afford. This need for significant marketing investment, often in the millions, puts these films at a disadvantage, confining them to less than 100 screens in major cities, compared to thousands for mainstream films. Mint’s media and entertainment correspondent Lata Jha reports on the challenges indie flicks face in their bid to reach mainstream audiences.

💼 Maniraj Pattamsetti, a mechanical engineering graduate from Bengaluru, hoped that Simplilearn Solutions’ job guarantee programme would be his gateway to a new career in data science. Despite investing over 2 lakh in a six-month course, Pattamsetti found himself working a customer support role in a BPO, earning far less than promised and without any job offers in his field of study. Simplilearn had assured Pattamsetti and others a job with a minimum salary of 5 lakh per year upon completion of the programme—and a full refund if they failed to secure employment. However, two years on, only 271 out of 900 enrollees have landed jobs through the programme. Many, like Pattamsetti, feel cheated, having invested significant amounts in an education that didn’t pay off as expected. Mint’s startup correspondent Samiksha Goel reports on the situation, which has led to numerous complaints, with some students considering legal action against Simplilearn, a company valued at $600 million and backed by private equity giant Blackstone. Simplilearn has since discontinued the programme, leaving many students grappling with debt and disappointment. This scenario underscores the challenges within the edtech sector, where aggressive sales tactics and overpromising can sometimes lead to significant consumer dissatisfaction.

📊 N. Chandrababu Naidu was sworn in as the 18th chief minister of Andhra Pradesh on 12 June. Naidu’s term begins under challenging conditions, as he inherits a financially strained state that has been largely overlooked industrially. His Telugu Desam Party (TDP), along with its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners, secured a sweeping victory, capturing 164 out of 175 seats in the state assembly. During his campaign, Naidu promised to enhance governance and kickstart economic development, aiming to revive industrial activity and generate 2 million jobs. However, the financial reality of Andhra Pradesh could complicate these plans. The state is grappling with a high debt level—44% of its GDP—and its finances are stretched thin, primarily going towards revenue expenditures rather than building productive assets. This fiscal strain makes the ambitious welfare promises and the revival of the Amaravati capital project, initially estimated to cost 50,000 crore, particularly challenging. Mint’s senior editor N. Madhavan explains the hurdles Naidu faces as he takes over from Jagan Mohan Reddy as the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

✅ During the recent Lok Sabha election, many urban voters seemed reluctant to visit their polling booths. The Election Commission highlighted this trend, noting a particularly low turnout in urban areas. Ultimately, only about 65.8% of eligible voters cast their ballots, down from 67.2% in 2019. Regions like Nagaland and Manipur saw significant decreases in turnout, while Jammu and Kashmir experienced an increase. Why does this matter? Niti Kiran from Mint’s data team explains through charts and maps. Lower turnouts can sometimes indicate voter satisfaction with the current government, which appeared to be the case in this election. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) held more seats in areas with lower voter turnout. However, it's not just about the numbers—it's about who shows up, or rather, who doesn’t. Metros saw a sharper decline in turnout compared to rural regions. Despite this, the overall gender gap in voting was virtually non-existent, similar to the previous election. Women turned out in higher numbers than men in nearly 20 states. The reasons behind voter participation or apathy can vary widely from state to state, influencing everything from local policy to national politics.

🫀 India is on the verge of significant changes to its organ transplant policies, aiming to address the massive shortfall between the supply and demand of organs. The Union government is considering allowing organ exchanges between unrelated individuals to bridge the gap when blood groups within families do not match, potentially shortening the long wait times endured by patients. Currently, India faces a significant disparity between the demand for transplants and the number performed each year. While the country needs approximately 200,000 kidney transplants annually, only 6,000 are carried out. The situation is even more dire for heart transplants, with just 10 to 15 procedures conducted yearly One significant move under consideration is the introduction of "swap" donations, where families could exchange organs with one another if they are compatible, a practice currently not allowed for non-relatives. Additionally, the government is in talks with the insurance regulator to extend health insurance coverage to organ donors, who are presently excluded from most health insurance plans. Mint’s Priyanka Sharma reports on these pivotal policy changes.

🦹‍♂️ The 2024 Lok Sabha election brought a significant political shift, yet the prevalence of criminal charges among newly-elected Members of Parliament (MPs) remains a concerning issue. With 46% of the MPs having declared criminal cases against them, this marks a slight increase from the previous assembly. The data suggests a persistent and troubling connection between politics and crime in India's legislature. More alarming is the nature of these cases. A significant portion of the MPs face 'serious' criminal charges involving severe crimes such as murder and rape. This situation casts a shadow over the credibility of the lawmakers and raises ethical questions about the integrity of those elected to represent the public. Mint’s Manjul Paul illustrates, with charts and maps, the extent to which individuals with criminal cases have been elected as public representatives in the 18th Lok Sabha.

📉 For India's IT sector, FY24 has been a year to forget, and FY25 doesn't look much brighter. Discretionary IT spending, crucial for the sector's growth, remains subdued amid weak global macro-economic situation. This gloom is reflected in the muted performance across key business verticals like banking, financial services, insurance (BFSI), high-tech, and retail. Even robust deal wins in the March quarter haven't translated into expected revenue growth, adding to the uncertainty, Mint’s Harsha Jethmalani reports. Cost-efficiency measures and sluggish client decision-making, making the revenue recovery timeline unpredictable, has exacerbated the situation. Notably, projections for technology spending in 2024 by major US banks suggest a slowdown compared to the previous year. This has led to a cautious outlook for FY25, with leading IT companies like Infosys and HCL Technologies setting modest growth targets that have failed to boost investor confidence. Amid these challenges, there's a silver lining. Possible interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve could revive the BFSI sector, potentially increasing IT spending.

🔋 On 9 February 2023, the Geological Survey of India announced a groundbreaking discovery of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir, catapulting India into the top 10 nations with lithium resources and sparking immediate interest from major companies like JSW Group and Hindalco Industries. This announcement shifted the dynamics of India's mineral exploration focus, as lithium is essential for batteries used in various technologies, including electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage. However, the excitement was tempered by the auction for these reserves, which saw only two bidders and had to be cancelled due to insufficient interest. This highlighted the speculative nature of the unproven reserves, still classified under G3, indicating a low level of confidence and substantial further exploration needed. Exploration of the lithium reserves in Kashmir—the least mined region of India—remains a tricky situation many companies are reluctant to engage in. The reserves were found merely 50 km from the Line of Control (LoC), a highly volatile geopolitical location. Mint’s Sumant Banerji examines the reasons behind the lack of interest in India’s white gold reserves.

👩‍🎓 🧑‍⚕️ The recently concluded National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), crucial for admissions for medical course,has faced serious scrutiny. An unusual outcome where 67 candidates, including six from one centre, topped the rankings triggered allegations of leaked papers, and in turn protests. This scrutiny led to the National Testing Agency (NTA) scrapping grace marks for 1,536 students due to procedural issues and announcing a re-test option. Coaching institutes across the country, have now made their apprehensions clear about the irregularities in the NEET exam. Mint’s Krishna Yadav and Devina Sengupta report.

Soumya Rajan, chief executive of Waterfield Advisors, has strategically diversified her investment portfolio, which includes equity, debt, real estate investment trusts (REITs), infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), and funds of funds that invest in venture capital and private equity.Mint Money’s Neil Borate writesabout how over the past year, Rajan has shifted her focus from small-cap to large-cap stocks due to concerns about overvaluation in smaller company stocks. She has also increased her investments in REITs and InvITs, seeking stable yields from these assets. Her portfolio adjustments reflect a cautious approach to market volatility and an emphasis on capital preservation. Rajan's firm, Waterfield Advisors, manages about 45,000 crore in assets and is exploring fresh equity funding from global family offices.

That's all for this week, I hope you have a pleasant weekend!

If you have feedback, want to talk about food, or have anything else to say about our journalism, write to me or reply to this mail. You can also write


Siddharth Sharma

Community Editor

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Siddharth Sharma
Siddharth works as a Community Editor for Mint. He is a co-writer of Mint's flagship newsletter, Top of the Morning. Siddharth also co-writes the script of the podcast by the same name, and contributes to the Best of the Week newsletter. In his free time, can be found looking for a new street food joint.
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Published: 15 Jun 2024, 06:18 AM IST
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