Adani, L&T among firms keen to build satellite launchers: Govt - Business Guardian
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Adani, L&T among firms keen to build satellite launchers: Govt

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Ad a n i Enterprises Limited and L&T are part of the two consortia led by state run enterprises that have showed keen interest in building the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the rocket used by ISRO to put satellites in orbit, Centre said on Thursday, 24 March, reported news agency PTI. While one of the two c o n s o r t i a , comprises Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Larsen & Turbro, the other is an association of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML).

Responding to a question posed in Rajya Sabha by NCP member Vandana Chavan, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that both the consortia have submitted techno commercial proposals for constructing PSLVs, adding that government run Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) too had submitted the said proposal for “endto-end-realisation” of PSLV.

To encourage participation of private sector in the field of space, New Space India Limited (NSIL), which functions under Department of Space had asked Indian Industry to submit proposals for building five PSLVs The Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe) functions as a bridge between the private parties participating in the space sector and ISRO. B e s i d e s p r o m o t i n g, h a n d h o l d i n g a n d authorising the activities of the private sector, the organisation also shares technical facilities and expertise from ISRO to them. The government had for the first time, opened the entire spectrum of space operations for the private sector participation in the year 2020. Since tas many as 48 applications have been received by IN-SPACe from private players for carrying out space operations. All of those applications, he said, are being processed and appropriate action would be taken

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Indian fintech funding plunges 63% in 2023, reaching $2 billion

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In 2023, financial technology (fintech) startups in India witnessed a notable decline in funding, amassing a total of $2 billion—a stark 63% drop from the previous year’s $5.4 billion, according to data sourced from Tracxn and reported by Financial Express (FE). This dip reflects a broader trend of reduced funding across various sectors, signifying a significant slowdown in the fintech domain compared to its funding zenith in 2021 when it attracted a massive $8.4 billion.

Despite the funding downturn, the Indian fintech sector maintained its global standing as the third-highest funded in 2023. Additionally, the sector’s substantial growth has positioned it as the fourth-highest funded startup ecosystem globally within the fintech arena, based on cumulative funding till date.

The decrease in funding rounds for fintech firms in 2023 was conspicuous, witnessing a substantial drop from 504 rounds in 2022 to 144 rounds last year. Among the standout segments within fintech, alternative lending, payments, and banking tech emerged as the top performers. Alternative lending firms secured the most considerable funding within the sector, totalling $835 million in 2023.

The decline in funding rounds was more pronounced in early-stage and seed-stage financing than in late-stage rounds. Late-stage rounds saw a 56% decrease to $1.4 billion, while early-stage rounds plummeted by 73% to $489 million, and seed-stage rounds experienced a 69% decline to $145 million.

Specifically, payment startups amassed $753 million in funding in 2023, while those focused on banking tech services raised $331 million from investors, both segments witnessing a significant downturn compared to the previous year’s figures.

Amidst these funding shifts, only five funding rounds exceeding $100 million were recorded among fintechs in 2023. Notable recipients included PhonePe, Perfios, InsuranceDekho, KreditBee, and Mintifi. PhonePe led the way with the largest round of $623 million, followed by Perfios at $229 million and InsuranceDekho at $150 million.

InCred emerged as the sole unicorn in the Indian fintech space in 2023, a notable decline compared to five unicorns in 2022. Additionally, two fintechs—Zaggle and Veefin—launched their initial public offerings (IPOs) during the year, a decrease from five such IPOs in the preceding year.

The funding landscape across Indian cities showcased Bengaluru leading in fintech funding, followed by Mumbai and Jaipur. Peak XV Partners (formerly Sequoia Capital India), Y Combinator, and LetsVenture were among the top investors supporting fintech growth in the country.

The shift in funding dynamics within India’s fintech sector reflects broader market trends and investor sentiment. The decline in funding rounds, particularly in early-stage and seed-stage financing, indicates a cautious approach among investors, possibly driven by market uncertainties or a recalibration of risk appetites. However, despite the funding contraction, certain segments like alternative lending, payments, and banking tech managed to sustain investor interest, showcasing resilience amidst the challenging investment landscape.

The reduced number of unicorns and IPO launches in the Indian fintech space in 2023 signifies a more discerning approach by investors, emphasizing quality over quantity. This trend aligns with a maturing ecosystem where investor scrutiny and a focus on sustainable growth become increasingly paramount. While the funding landscape witnessed a contraction, the continued interest of notable investors like Peak XV Partners (formerly Sequoia Capital India) and Y Combinator underscores enduring confidence in the long-term potential of India’s fintech market.

Bengaluru’s prominence as the leader in fintech funding underscores the city’s robust ecosystem and supportive infrastructure for burgeoning startups. The city’s continued appeal to investors and innovators alike reflects its conducive environment for fostering fintech innovation. Mumbai and Jaipur also emerge as notable players in the fintech funding arena, contributing to India’s diverse and evolving fintech landscape, highlighting the growing geographical spread of fintech innovation and investment opportunities across the country.

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S Korea deepens ties with India through Asia Model fest

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S Korea deepens ties with India through Asia Model fest

Asia has become a notable force within the fashion business. It is rightly said that if the proportion of Asian customers increases by one unit, the proportion of Asian models also increases in the subsequent year. Asian models from round the world have reached top runways making an impact in this business known for its need for greater diversity and representation. The 2022 grand finale held in Pune recently.

The internationally acclaimed Face of India (FoI) fest, in association with the AMF, held its grand finale in Pune and crowned six winners from over 6,000 entries received from various parts of the country. The property opens gates to endless opportunities for aspiring models and plays the role of a mentor in their fashion journey.

The extensive judging panel included FoI chairman Badal Saboo, Sonigara Corp co-director Rajiv Sonigara and acclaimed Indian actors that included Sahil Shroff, Elakshi Gupta, Nikki Tamboli, Ayeesha Aiman and Kabir Singh.

The whole world of fashion, glamour and culture was present as contestants all across India spiritedly walked the ramp to be the next Face of India 2022 with acclaimed designers such as Amin Farista (Collection Gandhian Fab), Niti Singhal (Collection Twee in One), Bhavini Parikh (Collection Bunko Junko), Ivodia London, Sumit Das Gupta, Ashok Maanay (Collection Suroor) and Siddhant Agrawal. The showcased collection was a story beautifully woven through sustainable fashion in different styles.

Alisha Chandrakar from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Vedant Mahewar from Nanded, Maharashtra, Ravi Naval from Mumbai, Niharika Joshi from Gujarat, Kriti Karmakar from Gauripur, Assam, and Rohit Rana from Chalisgaon, Maharashtra, were crowned as Face of India winners and qualified for the semi finale round of Face of Asia, 2022.

After an extensive round of voting across Asia through online and social platforms, Kriti Karmakar and Ravi Naval were declared winners to represent India and compete with the winners from other 26 Asian countries for the most coveted ‘Face of Asia’ title which has a prize money of $1 lakh.

“India is a country with high potential for global development, and FoI has been a cultural exchange platform for India and South Korea. Let’s hope for good results when the Indian winners come to Korea. I am positive AMF will serve as an opportunity for fashion and beauty industry exchange between the two countries,” Yang Eui-Sik, Chairman, AMF, said.

“This year, AMF will be held at Uijeongbu in Gyeonggi province, north of Seoul, South Korea, which was also dubbed as a ‘military town’, as it hosted the US military for seven decades. The ultimate goal of organizing such an event is to transform Uijeongbu into a fashion and beauty mecca in Asia,” said Uijeongbu Mayor Kim Dong-geun.

Mayor Dong-geun also plans to hold Uijeongbu’s flagship festivals like the ‘Hoeryong Cultural Festival’ and ‘Haengbokro Festival’ at the time of the upcoming AMF. He also announced that this year, the winners of the upcoming Face of Asia competition will become Uijeongbu’s promotional ambassadors.

Talking about the pageant Saboo, who is also the managing director of Pune Fashion Week, shares, “It is unquestionably an immense joy to see top Indian models at this global stage. This pageant has surely brought the best of opportunities for aspiring models from all over the country. AMF is a great concept and an initiative that opens trade opportunities between 27 Asian countries including India.”

“I have been associated with South Korea and, particularly AMF for a long time now, and it makes me proud to see how welcoming and open both countries are with the economic and socio-development of the people of their country and, are taking bold steps towards investing into various sectors.”

“I am happy to have successfully opened gates for the Fashion industry in both South Korea and India and am hopeful to do so with the other sectors as well. India is at its peak of development and it is the right time for the Korean companies to roll their eyes towards India especially in the R&D and technology sector.”

“I hope I am able to play the crucial role of being a fair representative for both the countries as both the countries have set a target to increase bilateral trade to USD 50 billion by 2030. It’s the right time and the perfect opportunity,” added Saboo.

Sonigara Corp also teamed up with Face of India and launched ‘Codename Vogue’, a new ultra-fashionable residential project near Aundh, on a 9+ acre land parcel. This property will add a fashionable sentiment to the city and claims to create a New Aundh in Pune.

Talking about the launch, Rajiv Sonigara, co-director of Sonigara Corp, said, “Sonigara Corp’s new property ‘Codename Vogue’ is truly a unique project aimed at setting the highest levels when it comes to luxury and fashionable property offerings in Pune. We are enabling the community to make their style statement through their new address.”

“This will create the next benchmark in fashionable living with cutting edge design and a trendiest lifestyle. The glamour associated with the iconic Face of India is only matched by Sonigara’s standards for delivering unique homes and lifestyle experiences,” added Sachin Sonigara.

To promote the recognition of blogging as a profession, Bloggers Alliance Education Society (BAES) along with Pune Fashion Week chose to proudly announce the launch of the Pune Bloggers Alliance at the Face of India event and appointed Saboo as the President of the BAES Maharashtra Chapter.

The event also recognized various achievers of India who have contributed tremendously in their fields with the Face of India Achievers Awards 2022.

The following were the awardees: Dr Amit Nagpal (President, BAES, India), Devendra Jaiswal (Co-Founder Story Mirror), Vikram Kotnis (Founder and Managing Director, Beyond Walls), Aman Mehra (Director, Tribe Co-living), Abhishek Mishra (CEO of Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival (DPIFF), Jimmy Mistry (Founder Della Leaders Club), Amita Deshpande (Founder, Recharkha, The EcoSocial Tribe), Raqesh Bapat and Isha Bapat (Earth Canvas & Co), Ganesh Bakale (Director, Maha Ngo foundation), Dimple Vaghela and Laveena Keswani (Previous FOI Winners) and Lalit Dhanwe, a young force of figurative art from Karaha Studio who performed a live on-spot sculptor at the event.

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80K visitors in 4 mths: PMs’ Museum a hi-tech hit

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The Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya, which has been built with an aim to show the work and development of the Constitution of India and all the Prime Ministers, has seen 80,000 visitors in past four months.

Using modern technology, this museum is a place where all – youth, children, parents and elderly people – can gather information about India before Independence till now. Different galleries of 15 Prime Ministers have been set up in this museum. Along with this, there are a total of 43 galleries in the museum with cutting-edge technology, light and sound shows, holograms, virtual reality, multi-touch, multimedia, interactive boxes, computerised screens, and smartphone applications.

Prime Ministers’ museum is the perfect amalgamation of history and art in which immersive digital technology brings to life the words and lives of the Prime Ministers so far. On April 14 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled this museum to showcase historical facts about the leaders of free, modern India. This museum has great tools to revisit the past, look into the future and know how the nation was shaped by its top leaders, with the 3D printed national emblem swirling in the air attracting people as soon as they enter.

The Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya is a tribute to every Prime Minister of the country since Independence in 1947 and a record of how each one of them has contributed to the development of the country in the last 75 years.

This museum, at the Teen Murti Bhavan, is a history of collective effort and a powerful testimony to the success of democracy.

Each of the Prime Ministers left a significant footprint in the country’s journey to development, social harmony and economic empowerment, which has enabled India to realise the true meaning of freedom. The country was rebuilt after gaining independence from British colonialism and all the Prime Ministers together have contributed towards turning the dreams and inspiration into reality.

Teen Murti Bhavan was the former residence of the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and was considered the appropriate site for the Prime Ministers’ Museum.

The museum was started from the renovated Nehru Museum building in which the things related to the life and contribution of Nehru have been showcased among the people in a technically, more simple way and a new section has been started in it.

In the Prime Ministers’ Museum, a large number of rare gifts received by each Prime Minister from across the country are on display. Earlier, these were not displayed. The foundation for the expanded museum was laid in 2016.

The idea of design of the Prime Ministers’ Museum came out of the idea of a new emerging India. The construction of the museum was started in October 2018 while taking special care of the environment.

The total area across which the Prime Ministers’ Museum stands is 15,619 square metre, of which the area which the Nehru Memorial Museum occupies is 5,128 metres.

Special care has been taken to protect the environment and the logo of the museum ‘Dharma Chakra’ has been designed which is a symbol of our democracy. A total amount of Rs 306 crore had been spent on this entire project.

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Netflix becoming more traditional than before

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Netflix has had a terrible 2022. In April, it said it lost subscribers for the first time since 2011 and its stock has tumbled more than 60% so far this year, the media reported.

Yet its recent struggles may not be the start of a downward spiral or the beginning of the end for the streaming giant. Rather, it’s a sign that Netflix is becoming a more traditional media company, CNN reported.

Netflix was originally valued as a Big Tech company, part of the Wall Street acronym, “FAANG”, which stood for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Wall Street once valued the company at about $300 billion, a number on par with many Big Tech companies that Netflix’s business model ultimately couldn’t live up to.

“I think Netflix was extremely overvalued,” Julia Alexander, director of strategy at Parrot Analytics, told CNN Business. “Unlike those companies that have different tentacles, Netflix does not have a lot of tentacles.”

But Netflix was never really a tech company, CNN reported. Yes, it relied on subscriber growth like many companies in the tech world, but its subscriber growth was built on having films and TV shows that people wanted to watch and pay for. That’s more like a studio in Hollywood than a tech company in Silicon Valley.

Netflix looked a lot more like a tech company than, say, Disney, Comcast, Paramount or CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. But as those traditional media companies start to look a lot more like Netflix, the OTT platform in turn is starting to take page out of its rivals’ playbooks: It’s going to start serving ads and it has been releasing some shows over the course of weeks and months rather than all at once.

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INOX share zooms 20%, hits record high; PVR’s jumps 10%

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Shares of PVR and Inox Leisure zoomed up to 20 per cent on the BSE in Monday’s intra-day trade after they announced merger between the two major multiplex owners, in an all-stock amalgamation of Inox with PVR. Shareholders of Inox will receive three shares of PVR in exchange for 10 shares in Inox. In trades so far, INOX Leisure hit a record high of Rs 563.60, zooming 20 per cent in intra-day trade. 

The stock surpassed its previous high of Rs 510.80 touched on February 25, 2020. As of 09:17 am, the stock traded 15 per cent higher at Rs 540, as compared to 0.06 per cent decline on the S&P BSE Sensex. PVR, meanwhile, surged 10 per cent to Rs 2,010, also its 52-week high on the BSE. The stock trimmed gains mildly and was up 5 per cent at Rs 1,925.25 later. It had hit a record high of Rs 2,081 on February 20, 2020. Post-merger, PVR promoters will own 10.62 per cent stake while Inox promoters will have a 16.66 per cent stake in the combined entity with equal representation in the board with two seats each for promoter entities in a 10-member board. 

The combined entity will be named as PVR INOX Limited with branding of existing screens to continue as PVR and INOX respectively. The new cinemas opened post the merger will be branded as PVR INOX. The combined entity will become the largest film exhibition company in India with 1,546 screens, at around 50 per cent multiplex screen market share and around 42 per cent box office collection market share.

Key synergy of both companies will be bargaining power in costs (especially rental) wherein they compete for premium space as well revenues such as advertisement [wherein Inox whose normalised (precovid) ad/screen/annum was at Rs 29 lakh vs. Rs 44 lakh for PVR ~36 per cent discount] or ATP discount of 6-7 per cent between Inox and PVR, which could catch up, ICICI Securities said in a note. Furthermore, they would have higher leverage in convenience fee deals (with Bookmyshow and Paytm) and distribution revenues. Some administrative cost rationalisation on overlaps is also possible. 

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Books that provide physical, mental exercise

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Certain news portals may have a small blurb next to an article headline that tells the reader the time it will take them to read it usually five minutes or less. The feature, which can be found on some online editing tools too, seems a rather telling indictment of our contemporary timestressed, hyper-regimented life, but it is unclear why it’s confined to reading only. Supposing this trend gets transplanted to books as well? Will it work on what are known, in the literary realm, as “doorstoppers”, or works so thick and heavy, say over 500 to 1,000 pages or more, that they can be used as the eponymous article. For such books, the reading time will need to be measured in weeks, or months, and for the casual, not very committed, readers, it could stretch to a year.

While many comprehensive and leading dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and textbooks, from various realms of sciences to law to computer languages, are doorstoppers, the category is still common in fiction. These must be differentiated from omnibus editions in which two or three “medium-sized” works of an author, or even more than one author, are printed together.

Doorstoppers in fiction usually comprise what we call literary classics, say George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” (nearly 900 pages), or Count Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (more than 1,000 pages in most editions), or Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” (nearly or over 1,000 pages, depending on the edition). They can also be about titanic conflicts between good and evil — everything from Alexander Dumas’ grand revenge saga “The Count of Monte Cristo” (1,000 pages plus in most editions) to the Harry Potter series (particularly, the last four installments, with “The Order of the Phoenix” being 700-800 pages, depending on the edition), to grand sweeps of history, spanning several generations, as by authors such as James Michener and James Clavell, or romances (Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind”, 900-1,000 pages), or a mixture of all, say M.M. Kaye’s “The Far Pavilions” (over 950 pages). And you can count on them to have tons of characters — “The Count of Monte Cristo” begins with half a dozen and goes on to have three dozen prominent ones by the time it gets into high gear. Others have no shortage and some helpfully have a list of characters, usually at the beginning, to help you keep track.

The advent of technology has made actual doorstoppers rather rare, as e-readers and tablets can accommodate a whole host of the bulkiest books, saving avid readers the chore of lugging them around — though some aficionados still do. Owning these is also a mark of pride for fervent book owners for the gravitas they confer upon their bookshelves. Let us look at some doorstoppers across various genres. As mentioned, literary classics, by the likes of Tolstoy — whose family name derives from the Russian word “tolstii” (meaning thick or stout), or by his compatriot Fyodor Dostoyevsky, or others, such as Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, or Dumas, turn out to be doorstoppers, since they were paid by the page, and seem to have made the most of it.

Most of their famous works began as serial installments, so they did not consciously — it can be assumed — set out to write heavy tomes. Dumas was a master. His “The Three Musketeers” is the first of the three novels that comprise the D’Artagnan Romances, and was followed by “Twenty Years After” — both are at least 700 pages-plus in most editions. The final installment, “The Vicomte de Bragelonne”, is usually divided into three, or more, books — the last being “The Man in the Iron Mask”, and each one of them is over 700-800 pages long.

Dickens was not far behind – of his 14 completed novels, eight, including “The Pickwick Papers”, “Nicholas Nickleby”, “David Copperfield”, and “Our Mutual Friend” are well over 800 pages in most editions, and some span 1,000 pages plus with annotations and footnotes. But the tradition continues beyond the 19th century. J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic high fantasy adventure “The Lord of the Rings”, well-known due to the films, is a prime example. Though Tolkien wanted it published as one, it was eventually published as three volumes of two books each — “The Fellowship of the Ring”, “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King” — between July 1954 and October 1955, due to various reasons, such as paper shortage, high production costs, and the publishers’ uncertainty about its reception. Happily, the publishers subsequently published it together — a special hardcover and illustrated edition that came out in 2021 consisted of 1,248 pages each and a paperback, 1,216 pages. 

Even before him, there was Kathleen Winsor’s bestselling historical romance “Forever Amber” (1944), set in mid 17th-century England when the monarchy was restored under Charles II. It tells of orphaned Amber St. Clare, who makes her way up in society by sleeping with and/or marrying successively richer and more important men, while nursing her unattainable love. It was promptly censured by the Catholic Church, making it a bestseller. 

What keeps the book, which is 992 pages in its Penguin paperback edition, from being a forerunner of Jackie Collins or, say, Shobha De is the meticulous historical research covering Restoration fashion, and titbits, such as how the tea habit took over England, as well as contemporary politics, and public disasters, including the plague and the Great Fire of London. Austrian writer Robert Musil’s modernist work “The Man Without Qualities’’ (first published in 1930 in German; 1953 in English) is a quasi-allegorical, existential — and satirical — look at the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg empire in its twilight era, just before World War I. The principal protagonist is a rather vague, ambivalent, and indifferent mathematician named Ulrich, the “man without qualities”, who depends on the world to mould him. The work also shows how a celebration of international peace and imperial unity leads to national chauvinism, war, and collapse.

It was unfinished, but the English version is over 1,150 pages, while the original German one, over 2,100. After “normalsize” works such as the inter-racial love story “Sayonara” (1954) and depiction of a radically different Afghanistan in “Caravans” (1963), Michener began producing doorstoppers with his multigenerational pageants set in a specific geographical area. “Hawaii” (1959) is 1,136 pages in paperback; “The Source” (1965), where a team of archaeologists excavate a mound in Israel, and their story is interspersed with an account from each level they unearth, is 1,104 pages in paperback. 

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