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Business News/ Weekend / Best of the Week | Mint's best works from last week

Best of the Week | Mint's best works from last week

Best of the Week, 2 March: GDP numbers, RBI notices, and a ray of hope.

Best of the WeekPremium
Best of the Week

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mint’s Best of the Week, a review of our best journalism from the week gone by.

Why are relatively rich farmers in Punjab (farm household income stands at INR 26,000 per month v. 10,000 in the rest of India) committing suicide? Why does Punjab, India’s most highly irrigated state, continue to be a home for farmer protests? Sayantan Bera, Mint’s resident expert on India’s rural economy, dives into Punjab’s farming communities to explain the crisis unfolding in the land of the five rivers. A groundwater crisis and the persistently broken economics of farming in India make for a distressing picture. But what can be done about it? Are the demands of protesting farmers reasonable? What makes them so dogged in their pursuit of these demands? Bera tries to find answers to some of these burning questions.

Payal Bhattacharya and Pragya Srivastava report on India’s latest gross domestic product (GDP) or economic growth numbers for the December quarter that were released earlier this week. While the GDP growth came in at 8.4%, beating estimates, the details have surprised economists. A Mint poll by 17 economists had projected GDP growth at 6.6%. While GDP has shown an impressive rise, the sharp slowdown in gross value added (GVA) looks worrisome, they report. GVA growth was just 6.5% in October-December, down from 7.7% the previous quarter. Gross value added is GDP minus net taxes on products. “The October-December data on India's growth threw up a divergent trend, with the GVA growth moderating broadly on expected lines and the GDP expanding higher than anticipated," said Aditi Nayar, chief economist, ICRA. Read this report and accompanying charts to know more.

Gaurav Laghate, Mint’s consumer bureau chief, dives in to explain how India’s largest media enterprise by scale and value was born – the coming together of Reliance and Disney to construct a media-tech empire. The JV is valued at $8.5 billion and brings into its fold 100 linear TV channels, two streaming platforms in Disney+Hotstar and JioCinema, and a massive library of content. Nita Ambani will be the chairperson of the business, with Uday Shankar as its vice chair. Interestingly, this places Shankar atop a business he built up when it was under the aegis of Star India. Read this explainer by Gaurav to understand the valuations of the various parts of this media behemoth, and this report by him and Lata Jha for an overview of the deal and how it took place.

It’s always great to observe a well-established business category get disrupted by a new entrant. The incumbents in India’s lucrative paints sector – Asian Paints and Berger Paints – are contending with the arrival of the Aditya Birla Group’s Grasim Industries. Harsha Jethmalani from Mint’s Mark to Market team analyses what this means for the sector. She also speaks to industry observers about the impact it will have on the margins in the business, especially for the large listed companies. Will consolidation follow the race for market share? Read this piece to know more about the paint industry.

Varsha Bansal, a freelance journalist, reports on Urban Company, a platform for a swathe of miscellaneous home-based services including cleaning, plumbing and haircuts. The platform’s latest move of making its gig workers ‘auto-accept’ a task or assignment has sparked protests amongst the workforce, especially women. Bansal speaks to salon workers or beauticians, who provide these services at people’s homes. Urban Company wants to attain profitability before it goes for a public issue. And so it tried to convince its workers that the ‘auto-accept’ feature was in their best interest. The gig workers have seen through the company’s attempt to take more control of their time, and push its finances into a better place. Read this article for insights on the twenty-first century version of union versus management tussle in the realm of industrial relations.

Pragya Srivastava and Tanay Sukumar from Mint’s Data team explain why the Indian government’s new household consumption survey might not add up. The latest survey data comes after a 11 year gap. Why can’t it be compared with the data that was reported previously? What is the difference in the methodology? How do we measure the growth of household consumption, both in rural and urban India? When adjusted for inflation, the growth rate in rural areas is 3.1% and urban areas is 2.7%. While not a dramatic improvement in living standards, it does suggest that rural consumption saw faster growth, write Pragya and Tanay, adding that a more detailed report and household-level raw data is expected in the coming months. This may offer a better analysis. For now, here’s how to understand how India’s consumer economy is doing.

Green hydrogen has been touted as a panacea to India’s energy needs and the decarbonisation of the refining process, among other large scale applications. However, the nascent steps that the country tried to take resulted in a cancelled tender, with many questions left unanswered. Mint’s energy correspondent Rituraj Baruah reports that Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s (IOCL’s) tender to set up a green hydrogen production plant had to be scrapped due to poor interest and allegations of bias.

New economy writers Ranjani Raghavan and Sneha Shah unpack a complex story with elan: how a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular has caused big banks to renege their money commitments to venture capital and private equity funds. The RBI’s latest move has amounted to a crackdown on alternate investment funds (AIFs), which is the legally-approved vehicle (or asset category) used by VC and PE firms for investing. It turns out that a case of regulatory caution against a practice known as evergreening of loans has inadvertently hit the capital calls made by about 100 VC and PE firms. Capital calls are the payment drawdowns made by firms from investors. These calls are made by AIF managers over a planned investing schedule. The RBI’s circular against evergreening of loans is meant to prevent banks from investing in the AIFs that have positions in companies with links to the bad debt of the same banks. However, the move hit legitimate funds as well, who aren’t involved in any troubled practices. Banks, which are limited partners (LPs) or investors in these funds, have referred to the RBI circular and invoked “force majeure" or “An Act of God" to decline the promised capital, report Ranjani and Sneha.

Mint Money’s Jash Kriplani sat down with DSP Mutual Fund’s Kalpen Parekh for the latest in our Guru Portfolio Series. In this freewheeling chat, which includes a close look at Parekh’s personal investing style, the well-known fund manager and CEO of DSP MF explains why he is bullish on long duration debt. “A lot of my incremental investments have been channelled into hybrid funds as markets are expensive right now," he says. He likes hybrid funds, especially during expensive markets, as they come with a built-in feature to re-balance asset allocations as per market valuations -- cheap market valuations: higher equity and lower debt; expensive markets: lower equity and higher debt. Read on for more investing wisdom.

I’d recommend rounding off your reading for the week with this story brimming with hope from small-town Tamil Nadu. This is a story of industrialisation and how it could be changing women’s place in society. Three factory setups – Ola Electric, Tata Electronics and Fairway Enterprises – in Krishnagiri, a city close to Bangalore across the state border, employ primarily women. These jobs have empowered the women working there to gain a previously unseen respect in their communities. Notably, this wave of industrialisation has also had an impact on social evils like child marriage, with a corresponding change in enrolment in technical education. N Madhavan travelled to one of Tamil Nadu’s most backward districts to bring us this report at the intersection of industrial and social change.

That’s all for this week.

We hope you enjoyed this special edition. Please share your feedback on our curation or about anything. You can write to me at or



Nikhil Kanekal

Head of Subscriber Experience

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Published: 02 Mar 2024, 01:54 AM IST
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