ANOTHER SIGN OF ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN? ZOMATO SACKS EMPLOYEES

BUSINESS, NEWS

In a bid to reduce ‘redundancy’, Foodtech Goliath Zomato has sacked 1% of their workforce earlier this month. On the 9th of August, the company decided to let go of 60 employees mainly from customer support department of their Gurugram office.

The company issued a statement explaining their motive behind this move. “Over the last few months, our service quality has improved, and the percentage of orders requiring support has come down significantly creating redundancies for about one percent (60 people) of our workforce. Most of these redundancies are in customer support department and also include movements to other departments as part of our Internal Job Placement exercise.”
The company further explained that expansion into more than 500 cities across India led to addition of more than 2000 people into the company’s workplace. This expansion however needs to be constantly realigned to new departments. Zomato further justified the lay offs saying use of new technology also results in further redundancies.
However there is no clarity if these 60 employees were sacked immediately along with a severance pay or if they were asked to serve their notice period.
Reports suggest that for every order Zomato spends up to Rs 5 for customer support & with high orders coming in the costs of customer support were high. In its annual report, the company cited delivery operations as the driving force for its loss. The company is now trying to automate its customer support to cut the human cost & enchance customer service.
Sustainable Growth?
This however isn’t the first time the company has sacked its employees. In the year of 2015, the company had to let go of at least 300 employees, majority of them from United States.
But in 2019, the company is facing crisis of a different kind. If the ‘Food has no religion’ hurt it’s image on social media and drew flak from Right Wing Groups, the Infinity package offered to it’s Flagship Gold Users has dented it’s prospects with Restaurant Association. Several restaurants opposed the idea, leading to a standoff despite several rounds of talks.
Consultancy firm, Market Research Future predicts that at a growth rate of 16%, Online Food Markets could become 17 billion dollar industry by 2023. Companies like Zomato & Swiggy clock in 70 million orders per month approximately. But what remains to be seen is, can these food Giants sustain their own success story in the future.

IS INDIA READY TO PLAY GLOBAL MUSICAL CHAIRS?

BUSINESS, NEWS

In the year 1996, Michael Jackson had arrived in India for the first time. The fans were thrilled at the prospects of seeing the King of Pop live in action. Mega stars such as Michael rarely navigated to India & the fan response was unprecedented. The streets of the newly named city of Mumbai were filled with fans. The show was a stellar success and is still recalled as one of the greatest shows by Michael.

Cut to 2019, 23 years later, the scene is completely different. In the coming few months, not one but two superstars will arrive in India- Katy Perry and Dua Lipa will be performing in Mumbai. The two singers will be headlining a music festival in the city of dreams. While this is Katy’s second visit, Dua Lipa is visiting India for the first time.
India, today, no longer is a distant market for the Music industry and companies all over the world are willing to invest big. Multimedia corporate bigwigs such as YouTube and Spotify are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to the 1.3 billion strong nation.
What favours India?
Thanks to the humongous growth of IT sector and fierce telecommunication sector rivalry, data prices in India is the cheapest in the world. A user is likely to pay 200 rupees for 48 gb of data per month, far lower than global average. What’s also important to note is India’s rising interest in Western pop culture makes the country a strategic investment spot.
The big players in the game of music streaming include YouTube, Apple Music, JioSaavn, Gaana, Hungama, Sound Cloud, Amazon Prime and Spotify. However it will not be a cake walk for these companies to set up business in India. India still hasn’t warmed up to the idea of music streaming. Many still prefer listening to the radio, plus local music companies are here to provide a tough competition. Remember PewDiePie vs T-Series saga? T-Series went all out beat a YouTuber in the bid to conquer the number one spot.
The other big problem are the diverse languages spoken in India, while it may be easy to conquer the market in North, given the excessive use of Hindi, but down South and in the NorthEast multiple languages are spoken. Also there is a huge divide in what urban and rural India consumes. Companies will have to look into each state and come up with a strategy to capture the market. This will not be an easy task to achieve.
The other big factor to watch out for is the price. Companies like Spotify and Apple make users pay for the content, while Spotify charges approximately 13 rupees per day, Apple usually seeks per song payment, but in India they are trying to incorporate the pay per month module. Expecting the audience to change their spending habits will be a tough task for many companies. Remember, companies like Netflix and Amazon are struggling to reach to wide audience due to this model, while hotstar has a wider reach due to it’s free Content in some genres.
But as the companies try to woo the customers, there is one more audience they need to be aware of- the singers & the music composers. Singers in the bollywood and other regional markets are highly underpaid. If streaming apps need an edge over their content, then they will have to enter in exclusive deals with the content creators. They will have to pay big money to lock in these deals. Whether or not it’s an investment they are willing to make remains to be seen.
In America, several singers such as Taylor Swift refused to tie up with Apple over payment issues. These music streaming apps will have to avoid such issues here in order to avoid the negative press coverage. The other big issue concerning the music industry in India is piracy. Use of apps can lead to leaks of audio clippings of songs. How they battle this will be a upheaval task.
Podcasts have also generated a huge buzz in the recent times, today India is the third largest consumer of podcasts, we are only behind US and China. These apps should also venture into this category. But can they diversify or stick to the original genre of music remains to be seen.
India is a underrated and unexplored market in International arena but what remains to be seen is- are the consumers ready for this big change. Will they change their habits? Will they invest in good quality music that they pay for? Only the future can reveal this answer, but the corporates have a big task ahead of themselves

AMAZON FOREST: EARTH’S LUNGS ARE BURNING, BUT DOES IT MATTER?

NEWS, World Affairs

What’s common between Hollywood superstar Leonardo diCaprio & Bollywood diva Alia Bhatt? No, the two stars are not starring in a movie together, but the two have been urging their fans to take note and act on the biggest environmental crisis the world is facing right now.

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#Regram #RG @rainforestalliance: The lungs of the Earth are in flames. 🔥 The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.⁣ ⁣ The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. ⁣ ⁣ The Amazon needs more than our prayers. So what can YOU do?⁣ ⁣ ✔ As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest. ⁣ ✔ Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon; this approach is by far the most effective defense against deforestation and natural forest fires, but it requires deep, long-term collaboration between the communities and the public and private sectors. ✔ Stay on top of this story and keep sharing posts, tagging news agencies and influencers. ⁣ ✔ Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains.⁣ Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation. ✔ When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.⁣ ⁣ #RainforestAlliance #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForAmazonia #AmazonRainforest #ActOnClimate #ForestsResist #ClimateCrisis 📸: @mohsinkazmitakespictures / Windy.com

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The two like rest of the environmentalists have been rallying on the internet to draw the world’s attention to the Amazon Forest Fire crisis.

Amazon forests have recorded several forest fires this year. If numbers by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research are to go by, Amazon has witnessed 72,843 fires in 2019. This, reportedly, is 80% higher than last year. Approximately, 9000 of these fires took place in just one week’s time and the size of these multiple fires are varied.

The Brazilian government has already rubbished these numbers and have labelled them as lies. The physicist who served as the head of the agency has also been ‘fired’.

The Jungle Book

Global attention to crisis started once NASA relased images of these fires from space on August 11. The South American continent was virtually covered in smoke.

Spread over 5.5 million square kilometres of land, Amazon forest which has been classified as a Rainforest is located in South America and is spread across Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. Brazil houses 60% of the Amazon forest. Scientists estimate Amazon houses 390 billion trees including 16,000 species.

Political sparks to fire?

These fires have sparked immense public outrage, with several Brazilians sharing images of clouds and dust caused by the fire across the country.

As residents demand answers, environmentalists claim political nexus sparked these fires.

In 2018, Brazil witnessed a change of guard. Jair Bolsonaro became the President of this developing South American nation, promising to explore the country’s natural reservoirs – the Amazon and since his reign began, Nature has borne the brunt of his ideas.

The President has for now blamed NGOs of the starting the forest fires to defame his government.

Brazil’s INPE claims the area of forest land cleared this year is equivalent to that of forest cleared in 3 years.

Many are already calling it deforestation driven forest fire. The timber trees found in Amazon are being cleared to plant soy & land is being used for pasturing. Many are burning trees as a faster way to clear out forests. These fires are man-made and controlling them is a tough task given the size of operations involved.

While Government is trying to portray these fires as the result of ‘dry season’, the magnitude of the fires negates their argument.

Why Amazon matters?

Amazon Forests are called as Lungs of the world. It helps in carbon sequestration and helps in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The forests helps in creating rainfall over Northern part of South America. If Amazon forests are destroyed, then there will be no rainfall over the forest(natural cycle) & the quality of the forest can change from rainforest to savannah. This could also result in changing of global temperature. These fires can then lead to a significant rise in temperature.

Whether Brazil choses economy or nature is a moot point, however this crisis is a lesson for the world. While cutting trees will lead to economic growth in the short run, but conserving nature will lead to all around development in the long run

49 CELEBRITIES WRITE A LETTER TO PM, SPARK INTOLERANCE DEBATE

NEWS

The debate over rising intolerance in India gained fresh ammunition after 49 celebrities from various walks of life wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The lengthy three page letter claimed that the ‘hate crimes rate’ had risen in the recent path. Categorically mentioning that Lynchings against Muslims, Dalits & other minorities are on a rise.

Here are a few excerts of the letter.

‘DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT NUMBER OF TRAGIC EVENTS’
‘LYNCHING OF MINORITIES MUST BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY’
‘PM HAS CRITICIZED LYNCHINGS IN PARLIAMENT’

‘CRITICISING IS NOT ENOUGH’

‘LYNCHING SHOULD BE DECLARED NON-BAILABLE OFFENCE’

‘EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENT SHOULD BE METED OUT’
‘NO CITIZEN SHOULD HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR’
‘JAI SHRI RAM HAS BECOME A PROVOCATIVE WAR CRY’
‘STOP RAM’S NAME FROM BEING DEFILED IN THIS MANNER’

‘CAN’T BRAND DISSENT AS ANTI-NATIONAL’

‘DISSENT MAKES COUNTRY STRONGER’

Even claiming the chants of Jai Shree Ram were being used as a war cry.

49 signatories of the letter included the following prominent personalities

SHYAM BENEGAL, FILMMAKER
REVATHY, ACTOR
ANURAG KASHYAP, FILMMAKER

APARNA SEN, FILMMAKER/ACTOR

KONKONA SENSHARMA, FILMMAKER/ ACTOR
MANI RATNAM, FILMMAKER
RAMCHANDRA GUHA, HISTORIAN
SHUBHA MUDGAL, SINGER/ MUSICIAN
This however drew sharp criticism from the ruling party. Many questioned the artistes & accused them of spreading panic in the name of condemnation against hate crime.

In the meanwhile those backing the letter say, this move by the celebrities will only help the government as it backs the government in strengthening laws against hate crimes.

The debate of intolerance has gained pace in the last 5 years, but what remains to be seen is will the government change this perception in the next coming 5 years.

‘CHOW-CHOW BATH’ SARKAR CRUMBLES, BUT WHAT NEXT IN KARNATAKA?

NEWS

In exactly 14 months, the coalition government of Karnataka collapsed.

The government failed to secure the trust by a margin of 4 votes. While BJP secured 105 votes, Congress-JDS only had 99 votes. This means 20 MLAs skipped the session bringing down the total to 204.

The magic number was 103 & coalition didn’t have the numbers during the trust vote.

The coalition had tried hard to delay the trust vote. Every tactic in the rule book was tried and after 4 days of intense debate and face off, the trust vote took place.

The session witnessed a Division Vote wherein head count of MLAs took place in the assembly. Following the vote count it was clear Kumaraswamy didn’t have the numbers.

The Chief Minister then submitted his resignation to the Governor.

The Governor then immediately accepted his resignation and requested him to continue as a caretaker CM

What next in Karnataka?

What happens next in the big question on everyone’s mind. BJP President Yeddyurappa is expected to stake claim after meeting the Governor Vajubhai Vala.

Fate of the 15 rebel MLAs remains unknown. As the speaker is yet to accept or reject their resignations.

Scenario 1:

If their resignations are accepted, there could be re-election on their seats, which means the tussle for power could extend

Scenario 2:

If resignations are rejected, then under anti-defection law they could be disqualified as the whip remains. This drama could also escalate in Supreme Court.

BSP in the meanwhile also sacked its lone MLA for defying the party whip. The MLA was asked to cast his vote for the coalition, but he refrained from the proceedings

Situation in Bengaluru

Meanwhile section 144 was imposed in the capital city of Bengaluru. However once the reports of trust vote results emerged, BJP supporters celebrated the win.