OPINION, P2 MIND & GAMES Elections are less free and fair FE LINES DON’TTAKE YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE CLOUDS! The e-waste crisis Electronic waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world Page 6 Far from a waste of time, daydreaming might be one of the best things you can do in free time Page 10 ACROSS THE AISLE , P CHIDAMBARAM SPOTLIGHT Follow us on Twitter & Facebook. App available on App Store & Play Store WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM VOL. XVII, NO. 32 IT'SA FAMILYAFFAIR FINANCIAL EXPRESS ON SUNDAY KOLKATA SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 2021, 14 Pages, `10 (NE States & Andaman `13) P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , WHAT'S INSIDE C H E N N A I , READ TO LEAD H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K A T A , L U C K N O W , The call of the road Caged inside the confines of their homes, people took to travel like fish take to water after the lockdown lifted last year. The road trip was the first form of travel to pick up, becoming the hot travel trend of 2020 ■ WORDS WORTH, P4 The many shades of saffron An attempt to look at the RSS with extensive field research ROHNIT PHORE M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E COVID-19 Numbers touch new highs; states press Centre for oxygen, medicines Highest single-day deaths at 1,341 ● Situation in Delhi is ‘very serious and worrisome’: CM ■ LEISURE, P7 ODD & EVEN C H A N D I G A R H , Due to a Covid surge,we are back to homes and family. But there could be some downsides Page 5 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, April 17 PRESS TRUST OF INDIA New Delhi, April 17 ISSUES OFINCREASING supply of oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir in hospitals, adding ventilator stocks and enhanced supply of vaccine doses were issues raised by 11 states and Union Territories at a meeting convened by the Centre on Saturday amid a spurt in coronavirus cases. The high-level meeting was chairedbyUnionhealthminister Harsh Vardhan with the health ministersof11statesandUTsto review measures taken by them forprevention,containmentand managementoftherecentsurge in Covid-19 cases. The states include Maharashtra,Chhattisgarh,Rajasthan,Gujarat,Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu andUttarPradesh. In a statement, the health ministrysaidissuespertainingto augmenting the supply of oxygencylinders,steppingupsupply of Remdesivir in hospitals, adding to the ventilator stock, and enhanced supply of vaccine doses were raised by almost all Migrant workers in Gurugram board buses for their hometowns on Saturday after weekend curfew and curbs increase in the national capital PTI Reports on page 3 the11statesthatparticipatedin the meeting. “Many of them raisedtheissueofdovetailingthe medicaloxygensupplylinesand capping of prices of essential drugslikeRemdesivirwhichhas been sold in the black market at exorbitantprices.Doublemutant strain in Maharashtra was a key point of concern, the ministry said.During the metting,Vardhanassuredfreshsupplyofventilators, saying 1,121 are to be given to Maharashtra,1,700 to UP,1,500toJharkhand,1,600to Gujarat, 152 to MP and 230 toChhattisgarh. Continued on Page 12 Remdesivir prices cut PRICES OF REMDESIVIR injection have been voluntarily curtailed by various drug companies on the intervention of the government,NationalPharmaceutical Pricing Authority said on Saturday. Cadila has reduced the price of its REMDAC (Remdesivir 100 mg) injection to `899 from `2,800 earlier. Syngene International has cut the price of its brand RemWin to `2,450 from`3,950.DrReddy’shas cut the price of REDYX, whichusedtocost`5,400to `2,700. Cipla has reduced price of its CIPREMI brand to `3,000 from `4,000. Mylan has cut price of its brand from `4,800 to `3,400. JubilantGenericshascut the price to `3,400 from `4,700 earlier. Hetero Healthcare has cut the price ofitsCOVIFORfrom`5,400 to `3,490. — PTI A RECORD SINGLE-DAY rise of 2,34,692 cases and 1,341 fatalities have pushed India's Covid-19 tally to 1,45,26,609 and the death toll due to the viral disease to 1,75,649, the health ministry said on Saturday.Thenumberofactivecoronavirus cases in the country has surpassed the 16-lakh mark, the ministry's data updated at 8 am showed. Registering a steady increase for the 38th day in a row, the tally of active cases has climbed to 16,79,740 in the country, accounting for 11.56% of its total caseload, while the national recovery rate has dropped to 87.23%.The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has gone up to 1,26,71,220,while the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.21%, the data stated. Of the fresh cases, Maharashtra reported 67,123, followed by Uttar Pradesh (27,426) and Delhi (24,000). All three states registered the highestdailyspike in the number of cases since the outbreak of the pandemic.West Bengal, Fresh cases 2,34,692 Maharashtra: 67,123 Uttar Pradesh: 27,426 Delhi: 24,000 where Assembly polls are underway, also recorded the highest-ever daily jump of 7,713 cases. Maharashtra also reported the maximum number of fresh casualties at 419, followedbyDelhi(141),Chhattisgarh (138), Uttar Pradesh (103), Gujarat (94), Karnataka (78), Madhya Pradesh (66), Punjab (50), Tamil Nadu (39) and Rajasthan (37). ENDORSEMENTS Q4 PERFORMANCE HDFC Bank net up 18% on higher other income Net interest income (NII) 15,204.1 17,120.2 12.6 « Other income 6,032.57 7,593.91 « 25.9 Net profit 6,927.7 8,186.51 Gross NPA (%) 6 bps 1.26 1.32 « ANT GROUP is exploring options for founder Jack Ma to divest his stake in the financial technology giant and give up control, as meetings with Chinese regulators signalled to the company that the move could help draw a line under Beijing’s scrutiny of its business, according to a source familiar with regulators’ thinking and two people with close ties to the company, reports Reuters. PAGE 12 reportedan18.2%year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in net profit for the quarter ended March to `8,186.51 crore on the back of a26%y-o-yriseinotherincome to `7,594 crore,with net interestincome(NII)growing12.6% y-o-yto `17,120 crore. The bank’s provisions rose 24%y-o-y to`4,693.7crore.Ina statement,HDFC Bank said the total provisions for the current quarter include approximately `1,300 crore in contingent provisions. The bank’s gross nonperforming asset (NPA) ratio in Q4 rose 41 basis points (bps) sequentially to 1.32% and the netNPAratiorose31bpsto0.4% as the Supreme Court vacated a stay on recognition of bad loans afterAugust 31,2020.On a proforma basis,the gross NPAratio fell four bps from 1.36% at the endofDecember2020. “The bank also continues to Q4FY20 Q4FY21 Change (in %) 18.2 Net NPA (%) 4 bps « Ant explores ways for Jack Ma to exit as Beijing piles pressure HDFC BANK ON Saturday « CHINA HIT back at the US-Japan show of alliance during talks between US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, calling it an "ironic attempt of stoking division”, reports AP. China said Suga and Biden's news conference, in which they aired concerns about China's activities in the IndoPacific region, had gone “far beyond the scope of normal development of bilateral relations”. PAGE 12 AT LEAST 78.36% voter turnout was registered till 5 pm on Saturday during the fifthphaseofpollingheldin45 assembly constituencies spread in six districts of West Bengal,CEO Aariz Aftab said. The highest 81.73% ofvoters’ turnout was registered in Jalpaiguri district, followed by Purba Bardhaman (81.72%) and Nadia (81.57%)."By and large polling has been peaceful in Bengal today barring a few incidents of some violence,” a senior official at the CEO said. There were reports of clashes between TMC and BJP workers at Shantinagar area of Bidhannagar in which eight people were injured, while at Siliguri there was a scuffle between TMC and CPI(M) supportersoutsideapollingbooth. At Bijpurin North 24 Parganas, TMC and BJP supporters clashed after the opposition party alleged that voters were being prevented from going to the booths,officials said.—PTI Report card « China says US-Japan actions are stoking division Minor violence Brands turn to ‘character actors’ in West Bengal; 78.36% turnout ● Likes of Pankaj FE BUREAU Mumbai, April 17 QuickPicks PHASE 5 POLLS 0.36 0.4 All figures in ` cr, except percentages (%) Source: BSE, Bank holdprovisionsasonMarch31, 2021, against the potential impactofCovid-19basedonthe information available at this point in time and the same are in excess of the RBI prescribed norms,” HDFC Bank said. Continued on Page 12 Tripathi and Gajraj Rao are the new favourites VENKATA SUSMITA BISWAS Mumbai, April 17 IN THE LAST two weeks alone, actor Pankaj Tripathi has become the face of fourbrands — Glucon-D, Abzorb, Nilon’s and Britannia Milk Bikis (100% atta variant). He is not the only character actorwho is in demand as an endorser, though. Gajraj Rao, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, and most recently Sonu Sood,are nowthe flavourof the season when it comes to brand endorsements. Some of these actors have been in the public eye more so recently due to their presence on OTT shows and movies. Gajraj Rao recentlybecame the face of Tata Pravesh, a brand of doors fromTata Steel. Saurabh Shukla,known forhis performances in movies like Lagey Raho Munna Bhai and Jolly LLB, has been the face of Mankind Pharma’s Gas-OFast, while Boman Irani endorses brands such as GTPL Hathway,Eris Lifesciences and has been the face of ITC’s Savlon and P&G’s AmbiPur in the past. Brand strategist Harish Bijoorcalls actors likeTripathi, Rao, Irani and Shukla 'micro stars'.“Theconnectthatmicrostars make with consumers is unlike the one that audiences share with mega stars. A-list actors are distant while characteractors proximal,allowing consumers to closely identify with them.” It is this relatability that brands wish to leverage. Continued on Page 12 Sedans and hatchbacks no longer top choices as utility vehicles rule the roads ● Sales figures of past five years lean heavily toward SUVs VIKRAM CHAUDHARY New Delhi, April 17 TREND OF utility vehicles,which includes sport utility vehicles (SUV) and multi-utility vehicles (MUV), getting popular and selling more compared to sedans and hatchbacks has been gaining ground year after year and fiscal year 2020-2021 was no different. THE The latest data (AprilMarch, 2021) from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), show that even as sales of sedans and hatchbacks dropped 9.06% during the fiscal year, sales of UVs grew 12.13%. Also, during the JanuaryMarch quarter (Q4FY21), while sales of sedans and hatchbacks grew 27.11% (on a low base of year-ago period), those of UVs rose 74.14%. Within UVs, it’s the SUVs that are taking the lead. According to calendar year data (January-December 2020) from carmakers, in CY2015 the SUV segment contributed 13.5% to overall passenger vehicle (PV) sales, IT’S A UV COUNTRY ■ SUV sales ■ Next ■ During FY21 utility double 7-seat vehicle sales grew 12.13% and then rose to 25.6% in CY2019 and 29% in CY2020. In terms of numbers, SUV sales rose from 3,72,296 units in CY2015 to 7,07,152 in CY2020,even as the overall more than Sedan/ hatchback sales dropped in 5 years frontier is SUVs 9.06% passenger vehicle (PV) segment shrank (from 27,58,066 units to 24,39,964 units) in the same period. Som Kapoor,partner,automotive sector, EY India, said Indian car buyers have started to realise that UVs in general, and SUVs in particular, have comparatively more space, and offer better comfort, better driving experience and manoeuvrability. “Initially, hatchbacks were the first car for most Indian buyers, followed by entry-level sedans, and now SUVs are taking that place,” he said. Kapoor added that midsize seven-seat SUVs are the new frontier. Tata Motors had launched the new Safari earlier this year; Hyundai will soon launch the Alcazar, followed by Mahindra XUV 700 later this year. This space, in the `15-25 lakh segment, is currently dominated by an MPV, the Toyota Innova Crysta (contrary to perception, the Innova Crysta is primarily sold in the personal segment, not fleet), and the existing mid-size seven-seat SUV space has been shrinking. In CY2017, this segment had four models (Mahindra XUV 500 and Scorpio, and Tata Hexa and Safari), with sales of 96,539 units. In CY2020, the segment had shrunk to 43,678 units (despite the addition of MG Hector Plus). However, analysts are of the opinion that this segment will pick up in a big way this year. Gaurav Vangaal, associate director,IHS Markit,said with bigger players such as Hyundai entering this space (and the Safari off to a flying start), it will expand. The Alcazar, for example, has six and seven seat options, and is expected to attract customers from sedans and MPVs,aswell as those who wish to upgrade from the Creta.“Next year it’s likely that Maruti Suzuki will enter the mid-size six-and seven-seat SUV space (and a co-badged product with Toyota), and that will really open it up,”Vangaal added. Maruti Suzuki currently sells two seven-seat models (the Ertiga and the XL6), but these are comparatively smaller than mid-size sevenseat SUVs. Kapoor said that there are a lot of families in India that have two parents and two kids,plus a driver,and theyare keenly looking at mid-size seven-seat SUVs. Kolkata
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