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Business News/ Weekend / Mint's Best of the Week | Why do we write?
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Mint's Best of the Week | Why do we write?

Best of the Week, 25 November: Board vs founders, election spending, and duty-free alcohol.

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Best of the Week

Over the past few weeks, I've spent some time with the Mint Lounge team, our award-winning intelligent lifestyle section. I've listened in on their calls, and even had the chance to pitch a story of my own.

It's been a while since I've seen a team actively pitch stories to each other, improve each other's ideas, and sharpen the narrative. The constant collaboration is evident in the team's work; pick up any story on a Saturday, and you'll realise the effort almost immediately.

That's when it struck me: this is why writers do what they do. The joy of knowing that readers will pick up the paper, scour through the pages, and maybe pick up something that's written by you. Years ago, I spotted someone in Mumbai's locals who had folded up a pink daily neatly, and noticed my byline. I must have texted everyone I knew: my family, friends, colleagues. Many badhais were had. What a thrill!

A few days later, I saw the same byline wrapped around a sandwich. So it goes. “Panta Rhei" as they say in Greek.

Our newsroom draws motivation for similar reasons – the joy of people reading our work, street-side sandwiches and the kindness of strangers. Here is our best work from the week gone by:

🏗️ With the general elections on the horizon, the central government wants to ramp up capital expenditure. Rhik Kundu and Subhash Narayan report that various departments will look to exhaust their budgets fully, leading up to April next year. Record tax collections over the past year will help in this endeavour, and budgets across departments might be diverted if needed. Get ready for more construction over the winter.

🚕 Troubled by lack of cabs? You might be able to search for one on ONDC. Another government initiative, the Open Network for Digital Commerce, might soon host last-mile transport. The platform already hosts e-commerce and food deliveries — with the addition of transport, it might really turn into a "super app". In Bangalore, where I live, you can already hail an auto using the ‘Namma Yatri’ app, that runs on the ONDC framework. Varuni Khosla and Dhirendra Kumar, our newsroom's newest member, report that this initiative is set to take off in Tier 1 cities, before being launched elsewhere across the country.

🤬 If you're "terminally online" like me, the drama around OpenAI and its founder/CEO Sam Altman was unmissable. If you missed it, here's a great recap written by our partners at the Wall Street Journal. There's some analysis in it too: the piece details what's next for the main characters involved.

🤖 Leslie D'Monte interviewed Andrew Ng, founder and CEO of DeepLearning.AI, and a host of other AI-related startups, to get his views about artificial intelligence regulation, and the fracas at OpenAI. Altman was Ng's student at Stanford — his insights are not to be missed out on!

🪓 Never one to avoid the limelight, ex-BharatPe CEO Ashneer Grover compared his case to Altman's. After all, both were kicked out by their Board of Directors. Alas, the comparisons stop there. But Grover and Altman weren't the first founders to be ousted from the company they helped create and succeed; and definitely won't be the last. Shouvik Das explains why Boards feel that it's necessary to boot their founders sometimes; and also writes about the regulations involved in such a decision.

I hope someone has my back like Nadella had Altman's.
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I hope someone has my back like Nadella had Altman's. (AP)

🧑‍🏫 Many on social media clamoured for a TV show to be commissioned based on this saga. But there's lessons to be learnt, too. This altercation between Altman and OpenAI's board could soon be taught in IIMs, reports Devina Sengupta. She spoke to various professors at IIMs, all of whom agreed that the incident would make for a good case study. I don't say this much, but that's one lecture I'd like to attend!

🛟 From one highly-valued, controversy-laden startup to another: moving closer to home, Byju's can't seem to escape troubles of its own. Ranjani Raghavan writes about the three men on the Byju's advisory council: Rajnish Kumar, Mohandas Pai, and Ranjan Pai (unrelated to Mohandas), who are trying to correct the edtech's path. All three are trying to combine their experience and skillset to help Byju's achieve its potential.

📈 Last month, Groww became the largest stockbroker in India, passing Zerodha. Madhurima Nandy profiled the company, and its founding team, to find out how they achieved this feat. Starting out with just mutual funds, Groww now is marketing stocks, insurance, and loans. Profitable, it is looking to expand and act on its widespread user base. Read this piece to find out about Groww's growth plans.

💿 Any business these days collects heaps of data: phone numbers, email IDs, even Aadhar cards. But what to make of it? That's the question posed by TN Hari, author and a core member of top startups – the last one being Big Basket: collecting data hasn't been an issue. But as regulations compound around collecting and storing data because few companies know what to do with personal customer data. Monetising is difficult, he argues, and the adtech model keeps evolving. Turns out, data may not be the new oil after all.

TVS' iQube is a boxy EV that is quite popular amongst buyers.
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TVS' iQube is a boxy EV that is quite popular amongst buyers.

🛵 You can't tell the story of India's two-wheeler journey without TVS Motor. The stalwart has been a staple across both scooters and motorcycles. But it has lost some ground in the traditional ICE market. It is now shifting its focus to the EV 2W market, trying to compete against Ola and Ather. Alisha Sachdev writes that the company hopes to count on its legacy branding and advancements in technology to beat out the two younger upstarts. Will it work? Future quarterly sales data will tell, but TVS' focus is set firmly on the sustainable market.

💸 Many individuals buy an EV scooter on EMIs. The centre's subsidies, combined with bank offers, make an EV purchase convenient: a monthly instalment starting from around INR 3,000 makes it a very attractive proposition. But every purchase imaginable can now be had on EMIs: from electronics to household items to even meals. The emergence of buy now, pay later or BNPL only made EMIs endemic. But as Shipra Singh outlines, the additional costs and taxes associated with EMI-ing any transactions ultimately lead to losses by the time the loan is repaid. This is applicable even to zero-cost EMIs — after all, try as banks may, every such plan is ultimately a loan.

🥃 Since it's the weekend, I'll leave the indulgers with some good news: you may soon be able to buy domestic alcohol, tax-free, at departure areas in airports. With the rise in recognition across the globe for Indian-made liquor, private airport authorities have written to the government to allow duty free stores to sell domestic alcohol sans taxes at airports. Both foreign and Indian tipplers would be happy if it goes through. I'm not looking forward to the long queues at the duty free counters, though.

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

If you have any thoughts, credit card-related discussions, ideas, or feedback on our journalism (or subscription), please feel free to write to me (shashwat.mohanty@htdigital.in). We're a perpetually evolving news product, so any and every input is appreciated!

Best,

Shashwat Mohanty

Assistant Editor

Subscriber Experience Team

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shashwat Mohanty
Shashwat works in the Subscriptions team, often thinking and executing ideas that could get people to pay for news. He is interested in editorial-led iniatives, as he believes that genuined journalism is still extremely valuable. He is a co-writer of Mint's flagship newsletter, Top of the Morning, and also writes the script of the podcast by the same name. Shashwat is also the producer and acontributer to the Best of the Week newsletter. When he's not missing deadlines, he likes attending live music gigs, discussing baseball, and complaining about the mileage of his car.
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Published: 24 Nov 2023, 07:48 PM IST
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