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Jottings: Patel Rap At RBI!

Urjit Patel will take over as 24th governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from incumbent Raghuram Rajan whose term comes to an end on 4 September

Urjit Patel will take over as 24th governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) from incumbent Raghuram Rajan whose term comes to an end on 4 September. Patel’s announcement as the new deity at Mint Road ends two months of speculation over Rajan’s successor. One of the four deputy governors, Patel (52) had been reappointed in January this year for another three years. He was incharge of the central bank’s monetary policy department since 2013 and was viewed as a key contender for the governor’s job. It is unlikely that Patel’s appointment will see a dramatic shift in RBI’s stance on interest rates given the institutional memory at RBI. In any case, he was Rajan’s lieutenant and headed a committee that introduced a switch to inflation-targeting with consumer prices as the benchmark instead of wholesale prices. Patel has worked with Boston Consulting Group and Reliance Industries.
— Raghu Mohan

Unicorn Status
Valued at $1.4 billion now, Kavin Bharti Mittal’s Hike Messenger has become a unicorn after it raised $175 million from Chinese Internet company Tencent and Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn in its latest funding round. Hike also has investments from Tiger, Bharti and the SoftBank Group. Till date, Hike has received a total funding of $250 million. Mittal says the funds will help Hike look at acquisitions in the space of machine learning and artificial intelligence in overseas markets. Such high valuation endorses the fact that India is the second-largest and perhaps the fastest growing market for messenger-based apps that include WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Hike, among others, considering it has over 100 million users. To put things in perspective, WhatsApp has over one billion users.
– Ashish Sinha

Unending Woes
India’s exports grew 1.27 per cent in June, after 18 long and bleak months. Cumulatively, export earnings dropped 3.62 per cent in dollar terms between April and July 2016, compared to the first three months of 2015-16. The PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) warned of a further slump in the markets for Indian goods and services, as developed economies grapple with an economic slowdown. The International Monetary Fund has projected slack growth in the GDPs of the United States, the UK, UAE, China, Hong Kong and other economies that are a destination for 70 per cent of India’s exports. The PHDCCI advised exporters to woo new and emerging markets, which could at best work in the long run.
— Madhumita Chakraborty

End Of The Grand Bargain?

The big advantage banks have over other financial institutions is access to low-cost insured deposits, liquidity support and close regulation by the central bank. All this in return for maintaining cash reserves and holding government bonds with the latter; and lending to the priority sector. Outgoing Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan calls it the “grand bargain”. Rajan’s hinted this “grand bargain” may well be into its last days when he opined that over the medium-term, the authorities must reduce the differences in regulatory treatment between state-run and private sector banks; and more generally, between banks and other financial institutions. What all this means is that true-blue disintermediation is not all that far off; banks will not be the only lenders in town nor will they have any big advantage over other such platforms.
— Raghu Mohan

Open To Experiments
Online marketplace Snapdeal seems to be in a phase of expansion and experimentations. In an attempt to enable super-fast deliveries, it recently announced the opening of six new mega logistics hubs in Delhi-NCR, Lucknow, Hyderabad and Kolkata. These hubs are said to provide a one-touch facility to sellers as all processes from receipt of stocks, quality inspection, preparation for dispatch and return handling will be done for designated orders under one roof. According to the e-tailer, it now ships 80 per cent of its orders through these fulfilment centres. In a market leading move which seems like a worthwhile experiment, the e-tailer also launched a ‘frictionless’ in-app integration with ride-hailing company Uber through which travel is expected to be quicker and easier for millions of Snapdeal customers who will now be able to request an Uber directly through the Snapdeal app.
— Ayushman Baruah

Cars On Autopilot
Millions of people online were delighted to read a heartwarming bit of tech news recently. A Tesla Model X is being credited with saving its owner’s life -- thanks to its auto pilot function. Joshua Nealy, 37-year-old resident of Springfield Missouri in the US, was driving his Tesla when he had an attack of pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the casing around the lungs. This can make it almost impossible to breathe and a significant percentage of patients die before they can get help. Nealy however had his wits about him and set the car into autopilot to get to the nearest hospital. Although entirely driverless cars are not out in the wild in any large numbers, being still experimental, there are several that have auto pilot functions that will get a sleeping driver to the nearest coffee shop or get to a fuel station. The Tesla autopilot did indeed get Nealy to a hospital just about in time for doctors to save his life. This report had people seeing how useful driverless cars could be. Unfortunately, not every place in the world will be able to be host to such cars and India is probably one of them. The multitude of problems making up the chaos that is traffic in the country’s metros have no solution in sight enough to allow most autopilot features to work.
— Mala Bhargava



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