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Business News/ Weekend / Best of the Week | Why I have been carrying my voter ID everywhere
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Best of the Week | Why I have been carrying my voter ID everywhere

Best of the Week, 20 April: Elections, poor annual results, and the next healthy superfood.

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Best of the Week

About a month ago, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my door to find a postwoman from India Post, a change from the usual delivery personnel. She handed me an envelope from the Election Commission of India containing my voter ID card.

Having lived away from my hometown in Madhya Pradesh, the distance had made it challenging to return just to vote. This year, determined to exercise my right, I applied for a change of address on my voter ID through the Election Commission's website in January. The process was fairly easy and straightforward.

According to the 2011 Census, India had approximately 450 million internal migrants, a figure that is estimated to have risen to 600 million by 2023. Unfortunately, many of these migrants are unable to exercise their fundamental right to vote due to logistical and bureaucratic hurdles. At least I wasn't alone.

The implementation of universal suffrage in India in 1950 was a landmark decision for the nascent democracy. As one of the 960 million members of India's electoral college, I deeply value the right to universal suffrage. It empowers me to actively participate in the democratic process and choose my own representatives, reflecting the true spirit of democracy and individual freedom.

We hope you make the effort to cast your ballot.
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We hope you make the effort to cast your ballot. (Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

And that is why I’ve been carrying along my voter ID card, as a reminder of that privilege.

On to the best of Mint’s journalism from this week:

Recent tensions in West Asia have escalated dramatically after Iran launched a direct attack on Israel. The attack came as a retaliation for the Israeli bombing of Iran’s consulate in Damascus, which resulted in the death of senior Iranian military commanders. The instability has driven crude oil prices close to six-month highs, with the potential to exceed $100 per barrel. This surge threatens global economic stability, risks major supply chain disruptions, and could significantly impact inflation rates worldwide. Notably, the conflict could prove to be a bump in the road for India’s upwards economic trajectory. Mint’s senior editor N Madhavan explains what a geopolitically unstable Arab world could mean for India’s oil imports, and subsequently the economy.

Tata Consultancy Services, one of the biggest employers in the private sector, saw a major deduction in its workforce during FY24. The Tata Group-owned company's employee count decreased by 13,249 from the previous year to 601,546. The reduction in headcount is part of what TCS describes as a recalibration after years of heavy recruitment. Mint’s Jas Bardia, Varun Sood and Devina Sengupta spoke to TCS insiders who put the recent development as a response to record hirings in recent years. They also spoke to analysts and industry insiders who see the downturn in TCS’s workforce as a sign of delay in demand inflection for the industry. Last week, the company announced its results for the last quarter of FY24. The company's consolidated revenue from operations reached 61,237 crore, marking a 3.5% year-on-year increase.

TCS’s rival Infosys reported its quarterly results this week. The Bengaluru-based IT company’s revenue increased by only 1.4% over the previous financial year. Its FY25 doesn't look much better either: revenue is likely to grow less than 3%. Analysts remain disappointed, write Shouvik Das and Jas Bardia. A marginal increase in revenue, lower profit, and poor projections: the situation is not kind for Infosys right now.

Tata Electronics has sealed a deal with Elon Musk’s EV manufacturer Tesla to produce crucial components for the car company. This partnership marks a significant boost for Tata in the electronics manufacturing space. The Tata Group company is also gearing up to set up a new facility dedicated to crafting essential parts such as printed circuit board assemblies for Tesla vehicles. Interestingly, Tesla decided to go with Tata Electronics over its usual global partners like Foxconn and Jabil Inc. This choice seems to hinge on a couple of key factors: Tata’s aggressive expansion in semiconductor fabrication and its strong stance in securing government incentives in India. This strategy is a win for Tesla too, as it aligns with Indian policies that lower import duties for EV makers ramping up local production. These policies require that EVs achieve 50% local sourcing within five years to enjoy these benefits. Mint’s autos correspondent Alisha Sachdev reports on the development,quite a crucial one for India’s EV and manufacturing landscape.

In the early 1960s, India was in search of its national bird. Renowned ornithologist, the late Salim Ali, championed the Great Indian Bustard, a towering bird reminiscent of an ostrich, commonly found in the arid regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, due to concerns about potential misspellings of its name, the government ultimately chose the peacock as the national bird in 1963. Fast forward nearly six decades, and the Great Indian Bustard is now facing extinction, primarily due to the expansion of India's renewable energy sector. The bird's natural desert habitat overlaps significantly with areas being used for wind and solar energy projects—energy sources that are pivotal in India's efforts to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Mint’s Sumant Banerji writes about the dwindling numbers of the bustard, and about the ongoing legal battle to save one of India’s most iconic bird species.

Taxpayers in India are facing a crucial decision as the April 30 deadline approaches, determining whether to stick with the old tax regime or adopt the new one for the current financial year. Failing to make a choice will automatically place them under the new tax regime, which may influence how taxes are deducted at source for salaried individuals. The new tax regime, introduced in the 2022 Budget, includes several appealing changes such as a tax rebate for incomes up to 7 lakh, a 50,000 standard deduction for salaried individuals, and generally lower tax rates. Mint Money’s Shipra Singh breaks down the two tax regimes and takes a look at which regime is better for salaried individuals. Read this if you are confused about choosing your tax regime.

India is gearing up for the third phase of its airport privatisation plan. More airports are expected to see private stakeholders after the upcoming election. Officials close to the matter told Mint’s aviation correspondent Anu Sharma of Airports Authority of India’s plans to sell off its remaining 13% stake in Bangalore International Airport Ltd. That’s not all—AAI is also planning to throw the doors open for private bids to manage, operate, and develop 13 other airports, including popular ones such as Bhubaneswar, Trichy, Indore, Raipur, Amritsar, and Varanasi. There’s also talk of selling stake in Hyderabad airport. The authorities are planning to bundle six profitable airports with seven smaller, not-so-profitable ones like Kushinagar, Gaya, Hubballi, Aurangabad, Jabalpur, Tirupati, and Kangra. This mix-and-match might just make the deal more attractive to potential investors. This push towards privatisation is part of a bigger picture—India’s National Monetisation Plan which was rolled out back in 2021. The plan is ambitious, aiming to privatise around 25 airports and offload AAI’s shares in big metro airports like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru. The government is hoping to unlock 21,000 crore rupees from these sales between 2022 and 2025.

It’s election season. Politicians are leaving no stone unturned to boost their outreach to the public. Massive rallies and gatherings are the flavour of the season. This election season, though, politicians are being overshadowed by their chartered jets in popularity. The demand for private jets could be seen spiking as early as December, when the Bharatiya Janata Party had freshly taken claim to key Hindi belt states in the assembly elections. The overwhelming demand from political parties, particularly from the BJP, which has booked about 80% of the available aircraft, illustrates the central role of air travel in election strategies. This trend is not only indicative of the logistical challenges faced by parties but also highlights the evolving dynamics of election campaigning in India, where efficiency and image management play critical roles. Mint’s Mihir Mishra examines how the ongoing election is impacting the private jet business in this Long Story.

Tamil Nadu went to polls this week. The state, home to the Dravidian movement, has always been reluctant to accept the Bharatiya Janata Party in past elections. In 2019, 38 out of the state’s 39 parliamentary seats went to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led opposition alliance. The BJP faces a significant challenge in the state for the upcoming election. However, in a stark contrast from five years ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's campaigns in Tamil Nadu are attracting crowds of at least 10,000 voters, indicating a shift in public perception and political engagement. The party is actively courting support in this Dravidian stronghold, particularly focusing on young and first-time voters. This marks the first time in decades that the BJP has emerged as a serious contender in Tamil Nadu's political arena. N Madhavan highlights this transformation, discussing the state's deep-rooted history with regional parties and the current political dynamics.

If you ever find yourself in the healthy snacking section of quick-commerce apps, you’ll find that the entire section is dominated by one snack—the foxnut, ormakhanaas it is popularly known in India. This humble seed of a species of waterlily, when popped, makes for a snack that is emerging as a new global superfood. This underdog product sits at the ‘hero product’ spot for several D2C snack brands. Some even started out with selling just themakhana. These brands are positioning makhana as an alternative to the usual snacking options, most of which are full of potato chips and other fried munchies which are considered unhealthy. The industry is poised for expansion with companies exploring innovative products like makhana-based pasta and other snacks, contributing to the snacking market's potential growth to $30 billion by 2026. Mint’s Alisha Sachdev takes a deep dive into the booming makhana industry of India. She takes a look at how despite supply chain issues the makhana - 90% of which is grown in Bihar, is going all around the globe.

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

If you have any feedback, want to talk about food, or have anything else to say about our journalism, write to me atsiddharth.sharma1@htdigital.in or reply to this mail. You can also write tofeedback@livemint.com.

 

Best,

Siddharth Sharma

Community Editor

Subscriber Experience Team

You are on Mint! India's #1 news destination (Source: Press Gazette). To learn more about our business coverage and market insights Click Here!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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: 20 Apr 2024, 12:05 AM IST
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