Meet the Jonases — Priyanka & Nick walk the aisle
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas got married in a Christian style wedding ceremony on Saturday at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. The ceremony was conducted by Nick’s father Kevin Jonas Sr. who is a pastor himself. Both Priyanka and Nick were dressed in Ralph Lauren ensemble for the function. The Hindu wedding rituals were scheduled for Sunday, for which pictures are not yet out. Priyanka has shared pictures from the Mehndi and the Sangeet ceremony however, which saw an intense dance competition between the families of the bride and the groom.
Both families recreated the couple’s courtship story through song and dance. Priyanka wore a sequinned saree and apparently performed on her hit ‘Desi Girl’ song. Nick also showed a strong penchant for Bollywood dance moves. Nick’s brother Joe Jonas sang on the occasion while his fiancée Sophie Turner and Parineeti Chopra gave solo dance performances. Another interesting aspect of the Mehndi ceremony was a cricket match between the families of the bride and the groom. Priyanka wrote on her Instagram handle, “One of the most special things that our relationship has given us is a merging of families who love and respect each other’s faiths and cultures.”
US-China declare 90-day truce
The US and China have declared a truce in their trade dispute, which has led to a major disruption in global financial markets and also threatened to derail global economic growth.
This was decided after a dinner meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Trump has agreed to not go ahead with raising tariffs on January 1 on US$ 200 billion in Chinese products. China, on the other hand, has agreed to import a substantial amount of agricultural, engineering and industrial products from the US to bring down the trade deficit. With this truce, the two countries also have time to work their way through a dispute over China’s attempts to displace US technological supremacy, wherein US has accused China of using predatory tactics — stealing trade secrets and compelling American firms to give technology in return for market access to China. In addition, China has also agreed to label fentanyl, which is responsible for thousands of deaths in the US as a controlled substance. US also seems to have backed down from its threat to link trade to security concerns like China’s expansive designs in the South China Sea. Trump has already imposed 25% in import taxes on US$ 50 billion worth of Chinese products, and 10% on another US$ 200 billion worth of product imports from China. In retaliation, China has imposed tariffs on US$ 110 billion worth of US goods.
The fact that US had a trilateral meeting with India and Japan before China is also seen as a symbolic of US efforts to leverage the two countries to counter China’s dominance in the region.
China refuses India’s proposal for Rupee-Renminbi trade
Exports from India to China were at US$ 13.4 billion in 2017–18 and exports were a whopping US$ 76.4 billion in comparison, which implies a trade deficit of US$ 63 billion. This is a drastic increase from US$ 51.1 billion in 2016–17. India has been looking for ways to collaborate with China to reduce the huge trade deficit between the two countries. India had given the Chinese government a proposal to conduct bilateral trade in local currencies during an inter-ministerial meeting in the month of October. , but this has been rejected by China. Actually, there are contrarian views on the issue itself. While FIEO President Ganesh Kumar Gupta states that this will reduce India’s trade deficit, Biswajit Dhar, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University states that this will only work in cases where India has a trade balance with the country in question. He adds that the partner country must have an opportunity to invest in India to be able to utilise the rupee. China has allowed exports of rice and sugar, but India is looking at increasing exports in areas including pharmaceuticals, engineering and services. India has also been proposing a similar agreement with Russia, Iran and Venezuela, where it faces a trade deficit as well.
Whatsapp payments await RBI approval
Whatsapp CEO Chris Daniels has written a letter to RBI, requesting a formal approval for expansion of payment services to all 200 million Whatsapp customers in India.
The company had begun discussions on the matter with the government two years ago, and had also run a pilot test months back, which gained it almost a million users. Meanwhile competitors like Google have wrested the first mover advantage with their payment offerings. Daniels wrote to the RBI Governor , “I write to request your formal approval to immediately expand WhatsApp’s BHIM UPI (Unified Payments Interface) compliant payments product to all users in India, giving us the opportunity to offer a useful and secure service that can improve the lives of Indian people through digital empowerment and financial inclusion.” The letter also mentioned how Whatsapp had immediately ensured that its payments data would be stored in India after RBI’s directive. According to a company spokesperson, they are working with the Government of India, National Payments Corporation and several banks to provide digital inclusion services to Indians. Whatsapp has also pointed to the gains in productivity being experienced by small businesses with this tool.
The company’s plans have suffered a setback amid allegations against its data storage practices and authentication, in particular from Indian competitors. It has also been repeatedly warned to take effective steps to control the spread of fake news on the app.
Honda ‘Amazes’ amid weak car sales
Passenger vehicle sales in India remained weak over the month of November 2018. This is attributed to weak customer sentiment amid rising fuel prices, interest costs and upfront insurance payments. Maruti Suzuki’s sales were flat at 146,018 units, with Alto and WagonR declining by 21.6% to 29,954 units and Ciaz falling 4.3% to 3,838 units.
Utility vehicles under the company’s portfolio witnessed modest growth of 1.9%, even as compact vehicles (Swift, Ignis, Dzire, Celerio and Baleno) grew at a strong 10.8% to reach 72,533 units. Maruti has admitted that sales growth could be hard in the second half given the difficult macroeconomic conditions. Hyundai Motors witnessed a marginal decline by 0.67% to reach 43,709 units, while Toyoya Kirloskar sales fell by 16% to 10,721 units. Similarly, Mahindra & Mahindra grew by just 1% to 16,188 units while Ford Motor sales declined by 18% to 6,375 units. Only Honda has outperformed amid the generally weak sales trend with growth by 10% to 13,006 units, thanks in part to strong performance by all new Amaze as well as good performance by City and WR-V.
Barista promises twice as much for coffee lovers
Coffee chain Barista is in expansion mode on both the number of its QSR outlets and its FMCG offerings.The company has announced plans of more than doubling its store count from 200 to 500 outlets and taking its FMCG offerings to 10,000 outlets in the next 2–3 years. Barista has added chocolates, cookies and coffee powder to its FMCG portfolio, and it expects this portfolio to corner around 12% of profits by 2020 as compared to 5% currently.
According a statement made to PTI, Barista CEO Puneet Gulati states, “Coffee consumption in India is very low compared to developed countries. We see tremendous opportunities in the coffee sector here.” Barista’s revenues stood at Rs 104 crore in the previous year. It also plans to expand to new geographies like South Asia and Middle East. Currently, it has 20 stores abroad including Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Barista was acquired by Italian coffee roaster Lavazza in 2007, who later sold it to Carnation Hospitality, a subsidiary of containers and packaging firm Rollatainers, in 2014.
TCS wins lawsuit on firing practices
Tata Consultancy Services has been declared ‘not guilty’ by a US jury in a class action suit accusing it of discriminating against local Americans. The prosecution had alleged that engineers were 13 times as likely to be fired in TCS’ US offices if they were not South Asian.
In a major reprieve for TCS, the California jury has ruled that Indian IT giant did not have a “pattern or practice” of intentional discrimination based on race or national origin. While the case had been filed before Trump’s ascension to Presidency, his administration has also apparently held the view that Indian IT firms favour expat Indians over local Americans. One key factor that went in favour of TCS was that it had invested more than US$ 100 million in building local talent in the US and had created 17,000 jobs between 2011 and 2017. Although defending such cases implies extensive costs, Vish Iyer, VP, TCS says that settling a case like this would imply negative connotations and the matter was about principle. Kotchen and Low, the firm that sued against TCS, has also gone after other Indian IT firms like Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, HCL Technologies and Tech Mahindra. This case could serve as a template for the defence strategies of these firms.
US$ 100 million ‘Grab’ for Oyo in the wings?
Singapore-based Grab, which is a technology company offering ride-hailing transport services, food delivery and payment solutions, could invest US$ 100 million in Oyo Hotels and Homes as a part of the latter’s ongoing US$ 1 billion funding round.
Both companies have more in common than meets the eye. Both are strategically invested into the Indonesian market, and both have Softbank among their primary investors.
Oyo entered Indonesia in October 2017 with 30 hotels and 1,000 rooms in three cities — Jakarta, Surabya and Palembang. It has announced plans to invest US$ 100 million in Indonesia and set up operations in more than 35 cities by 2019. Grab is facing stiff competition from Indonesian ride-hailing and logistics startup Go-Jek. Grab Ventures is the company’s investment arm that has made four investments so far. Grab’s investment will value Oyo at US$ 5 billion, the same valuation that it got in September when an investor consortium led by Softbank Vision Fund pumped in US$ 800 million into the company.
dkodingquote of the day:
“WHEN SOMETHING IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH, YOU DO IT EVEN IF THE ODDS ARE NOT IN YOUR FAVOUR” __ ELON MUSK