1. Inside NITI Aayog’s plan to create India’s Alibaba
may soon have its own version of Alibaba — especially for small businesses and traders — with the government deliberating on ways to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the digital arena.
The government, meanwhile,
may drop the proposed e-commerce policy as certain sections within the government have questioned its rationale.
What’s the plan: NITI Aayog is working on various mechanisms to encourage small businesses in India to get on to online portals to expand their reach to non-urban areas and outside India. The Aayog may soon lay out a road map with a focus on providing universal e-commerce access to small businesses and traders.
The plan will likely suggest solutions to address challenges in the e-commerce ecosystem that inhibit MSMEs from onboarding platforms like Amazon, scale up their business and tap markets overseas. One option being considered is the setting up of an Indian version of China’s Alibaba, which would be backed by the government but developed and run by a private entity.
“Various options are being considered to encourage the online presence of small traders and businesses,” a government official aware of the deliberations said.
Government planning tighter FDI rules for e-commerce sector
said in a letter to the PMO, RBI and MeitY.
What the letter says:
■ The policy could lead to increased data sharing between WhatsApp Pay and parent entity Facebook, despite the instant messaging platform’s position that the update applies only to WhatsApp Chat.
■ The new policy violates RBI’s localisation mandate, MeitY’s guideline on data disclosure of sensitive information to a third party, and a provision in the Information Technology Act, 2000, for using an individual’s personal information without user consent.
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3. Incoming: Offshore gains for mid-sized Indian IT firms
India’s mid-sized IT firms expect to provide more work out of India even after the Covid-19 pandemic abates, chief executives of four such companies told The Economic Times.
Why it matters: Offshoring volumes for India’s IT industry rose last year amid work-from-home (WFH) and travel restrictions brought on by the global pandemic and geopolitical developments. Clients have accepted that employees are working remotely, Mindtree’s CEO said. People have realised that work from anywhere is the new normal. In some cases, the business model too is evolving to operate with fewer people onsite.
Here’s what Mindtree, Zensar, L&T Infotech and MPhasis had to say.
Looking beyond US: Meanwhile, a new market
is increasingly becoming more relevant for Indian IT firms — Europe. Amid the UK’s exit from the European Union, TCS, Infosys and Wipro have struck several deals in the region as the pandemic pushed companies to transform their businesses quickly.
Brexit impact: IT firms, however,
are wary of increased costs in delivering services to the EU as Brexit restricts sharing of talent across pan-European organisations that have an English presence.
But they have found a gateway of sorts.
4. Even Signal’s tweets find a following
Twitter followers of Signal Messenger
In numbers: Signal’s following on the microblogging platform has surged to over 465,000 as of January 24 from over 240,000 on January 10, according to estimates shared by influencer data analytics firm Qoruz, as it has made privacy the core of its communication strategy.
In an email response, a Signal spokesperson attributed the increase to greater advocacy for privacy online and a collective realisation around the world that “Facebook really is an app for your data.”
5. Budget 2021 & Startups: If you start ’em up, we’ll never stop
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s promise of a “budget like never before” has raised expectations significantly.
For sure, India Inc. needs bold strokes in terms of both growth and recovery. Focus on India’s startup sector is especially important — for it’ll play a vital role in resurrection and success of the economy and employment, besides positioning India as an innovation hub, Keshav Murugesh writes.
6. Reliance Jio in talks with OEMs to launch IoT services
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
is in advanced talks with original equipment manufacturers to launch its Internet of Things services in the country, the telecom operator said. Jio’s pan-India IoT network — based on narrowband IoT technology — is already operational and was launched in partnership with South Korean electronics and smartphones giant Samsung.
OTHER TOP STORIES
■ After slow-paced growth last year due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Biocon Ltd. is confident of “accelerated growth” in 2021-22.
In an interview with ET’s Ayan Pramanik and Raghu Krishnan,
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson, talked about the company’s plans for fresh capital infusion at its biosimilar subsidiary, growth opportunities in the next fiscal year and why India needs to speed up vaccinations.
■ The government
could make virtual board meetings,
AGMs and EGMs a permanent feature. It is considering such a proposal and suitable changes could be made to the Companies Act, 2013, a government official said. “Since this is the new normal, we are considering making it a part of the normal scheme of things rather than a Covid-19 specific relaxation,” the official said.
Clubhouse raises new funding led by Andreessen Horowitz: Buzzy live voice chat app Clubhouse has confirmed that it has raised new funding – without revealing how much – in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz through the firm’s partner Andrew Chen. The app was reported to be raising at a
$1 billion valuation in a report from The Information that landed just before this confirmation. (
Uber lays off more than 180 Postmates employees: Uber Technologies Inc. on Thursday laid off roughly 185 people from its Postmates division, or about 15% of Postmates’ total workforce, said three people with knowledge of the actions, as the ride-hailing giant consolidates its food delivery operations to weather the pandemic.
Most of the executive team at Postmates, including Bastian Lehmann, founder and CEO of the popular food delivery app, will leave the company with multimillion-dollar payouts. The cuts are part of a larger integration of Uber’s food delivery division, Uber Eats, with Postmates.
(The New York Times)
I helped uncover QAnon. Failed prophecies won’t kill it: I first stumbled upon the collective delusion we now refer to as QAnon in November 2017, just a few weeks after it began as a series of conspiratorial posts on one of the internet’s more untamed bulletin boards.
Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook: Facebook’s decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company’s indefinite suspension of former US President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders. “I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision,” Facebook’s VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.
The board has 90 days to determine whether it thinks Facebook did indeed make the right call in suspending the ex-president in the wake of the Capitol siege. Until then, Trump will remain suspended.
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