OPINION, P2 IDEA EXCHANGE ‘Disproportionate energy on tech firms vs govt narrative. The conversation must happen but not framed as a daily debate’ Page 9 ‘Business onlywith governments’ FE LINES Surfing, climbing, skateboarding, karate, baseball and softball have made their Olympic debut Page 8 AJIT MOHAN ACROSS THE AISLE , P CHIDAMBARAM Making first waves SPOTLIGHT Follow us on Twitter & Facebook. App available on App Store & Play Store WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM VOL XVI, NO.31 MIND OVER MEDAL FINANCIAL EXPRESS ON SUNDAY CHENNAI/KOCHI SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 2021, 14 Pages, `10 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 A N D I G A R H , A portrait of paradise Farah Bashir’s Rumours of Spring is a canvas on which she paints a poignant picture of her growing up years in Kashmir, contrasting life before and after the 1989 insurgency ■ WORDS WORTH, P4 Ghare Baire Amartya Sen’s memoir is a journey of the self & society, a lyrical celebration of blurring fictional boundaries of home and the world ODD & EVEN READ TO LEAD H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , DIGITAL DEALS This classroom is a buzzing business ● Edtech sector attracts top dollar funding as traction grows ■ LEISURE, P5 C H E N N A I , FE BUREAU New Delhi, July 31 THE ED-TECH SECTOR is in an overdrive. Byju’srecentlyspent a whopping $1.1 billion to ink acquisitions as it looks to tap intonewersegmentsandfuelits internationalexpansion. The $600-million transaction to acquire Great Learning and $500-million deal to buy US-based kids digital reading platform Epic comes close on theheelsoftheIndianstart-up’s near $1-billion acquisition of Aakash Educational Services. Krishna Kumar-led Simplilearn that offers online professional programmes got Blackstone on board, which is acquiringcloseto70%stakein the firm in a $250-million deal. The investment marks Blackstone’s first private equityinvestment fora majority stake in Asia in a consumer LEARNING TO GROW Byju's recently spent a whopping $1.1 billion to ink acquisitions, with $600-million for Great Learning and $500 million for Epic, soon after near $1-billion acquisition of Aakash Educational Services Simplilearn got Blackstone on board, which is acquiring close to 70% stake in the firm in a $250-million deal So far in 2021, the ed-tech sector attracted $1.86 billion in funding Companies operating in the space garnered $2.27 billion in the whole of 2020 technology company. Thesegmenthasbeenoneof the beneficiaries of the pandemic — as classrooms moved online and more students signed up for edtech platforms tosupplementrestrictedschool learning,subscriptionsboomed. Not surprisingly, investor appetiteforthespacecontinues to grow; the Blackstone deal is one among many. For instance, behind the spate of acquisitions by Byju’s liesinvestorbackingworthover a billion dollars. The Byju Raveendran-led firm mopped The Simone Biles incident has brought into focus mental health issues among athletes Pages 6-7 upabout$1.5billionearlierthis year from a slew of marquee investors including Facebook co-founderEduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group, UBS Group, BaronFundsintranches,bulkof which has been used to fund M&A deals.So far in 2021, the ed-tech sector attracted $1.86 billion in funding,showed data sourced from market research firmVenture Intelligence. Companies operating in the space garnered $2.27 billion in thewhole of 2020. Continued on Page 11 K O L K A T A , L U C K N O W , Q1 PERFORMANCE NTPC profit rises 27% to `3,146 cr FE BUREAU New Delhi, July 31 STATE-OWNED NTPC reported a 27.3% year-on-year (y-o-y) increase in its standalone net profit to `3,145.6 crore in the three months ended June mainly on higher revenue and lower tax expenses.The company’s board has approved the proposaltoraise`18,000crore through bonds from the domestic market in the ongoing fiscal. NTPC revenue increased 11.6% to `26,802.3 crore in Q1 as the power company sold 66.6 billion units of electricityintheperiod,19.3% higherthan the corresponding period last fiscal. Overallcoalconsumptionin thequarterincreasedby14.6% to 46.3 million tonne (MT). It imported 0.5 MT coal in the quarter under review against 0.2 MT imports in the corresponding quarter last year. NTPC’scaptiveminesproduced 2.5 MT of the fuel. The company paid `1,180.5 crore in taxes during the quarter, 4% lowerthanthesameperiodlast year. NTPC coal stations achievedutilisationlevels(PLF) of 69.7% in the first quarter of the fiscal, against the national average PLFof 58.6%. M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E MONSOON REVIVAL Sowing picks up in crop-producing states Monsoon rainfall (% change from LPA) July June-July June 30 26 17 17 20 14 10 4 3 1 0 -2 -10 -7 -7 -13 -20 -30 -26 East/North- North-west Central South east India peninsula 10 -7 All India Note: Rainfall between 96-104% of LPA considered 'normal' FE BUREAU New Delhi, July 31 WORRIESABOUTPATCHY rains hitting summer crop acreage and thereby the country’s food grain output and farmers’ income were allayed on Saturday, as latest Met Department data showed a smart revival of monsoonrainswithnearlyeven distribution across the country. Pan-India precipitation was 1% below the benchmark long period average (LPA) as on Saturday,even though there was a 7%deficitinJuly,thewettestof the four-month season that is crucialforsummercropsowing. Though the stalling of the monsoonforthethreeweekstill July11adverselyimpactedsowing,there has been a pick-up of theactivitiesoverthepastweek, especially in major crop-pro- ducing regions. So, sown areas reached 79% of the season’s normalacreageof107.3million hectare as on Friday as against 67% a week before; of course, the area under crops was still 5% belowtheyear-ago level. The rainfall was 266.1 mm as against LPA of 285.3 mm in July,according to India Meteorological Department.The precipitationwas10%aboveLPAin June. Majority of the 14 crore farmers in India depends on monsoonas52%ofagricultural landinthecountrystilldoesnot have any permanent source of irrigation. Since 2016-17, the country’s foodgrains output during kharif season has been hitting new records every year. During 2020-21 kharif season, the production was 148.4 million tonne, 3.2% higherfromyear-ago. ROHNIT PHORE SUPPLY ROUTE FMCG players reap in profits with D2C channel SHEENA SACHDEVA New Delhi, July 31 JUST LIKE MANY other cate- gories, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) majors too have decided to give the direct-toconsumer(D2C)sellingchannel a shot in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. As per data by Technopak, the D2C channel has grown around 20% in the past two years, led by the pandemicinfused demand, and it is expectedtogrow15-20%inthe next fiveyears. New-agepersonalandwellness brands like Mamearth and Sugar Cosmetics have received high traction during the pandemic due to theirdigital-first approach, but now, even traditional FMCG conglomerates like ITC, Marico and Tata Consumer Products have resorted to D2C to counter slow offline retail sales. According to Sunil D’Souza,managingdirectorand CEO,Tata Consumer Products (TCPL),till March 2021,e-commerce sales of TCPL doubled to 5.2%, from 2.5% in March 2020.Lastmonth,thecompany launched luxury tea range Tata Tea 1868, and Sonnets by Tata Coffee, a premium roast and ground coffee range under the premium beverages’ category, through the D2C channel. It is also expanding Tata Nutrikorner, a platform set up asapilotinSeptember2019for online shopping, to now cover the company’s entire gamut of products,startingwithapilotin Delhi and Mumbai. Continued on Page 11 QUARTER-FINALS AFTER 41 YRS Indian women's hockey players celebrate win against South Africa at the Olympics on Saturday, which got them the first Olympic quarter-final berth in 41 years Sindhu loses women's singles semi-finals: P14 PTI QuickPicks Places with high Covid positivity need strict curbs: Centre DISTRICTS REPORTING A Covid-19 positivity rate of over 10% in the last few weeks need to consider strict restrictions to prevent or curtail people's movement and crowding, the Centre told 10 states witnessing an upsurge in infections and positivity. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting on Saturday to review the Covid-19 situation in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, TN, Odisha, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur. Third wave shadow dampens car demand ● Analysts say at best PV sales may match CY19 figures, which was a bad year SALES PITCH ■ Sales in CY19 had declined 12% to 29,36,839 units, from the all-time high of33,49,386 units in CY18 88,045 units in May 2021 ■ OverallJanuary-June 2021 saleswere 14,30,184 units ■ Sales trend fromApril- June 2021 (6,46,272 units) saw a 9.32% decline as compared toApril-June 2019 (7,12,684 units) VIKRAM CHAUDHARY New Delhi, July 31 GOING BYTHE auto sales in the firstsixmonthsofcalendaryear 2021, auto analysts forecast that the passenger vehicle segmentcouldtouchtheCY19levels bythe end of thisyear. ■ Sales plummeted to just Even if that happens, it would not be right to say that the PV sales have returned to health as CY19 wasn’t a great yearforthe industry— PVsales during that year had declined 12% to 29,36,839 units, from the all-time high of 33,49,386 units in CY18. Despite PVsales plummeting to just 88,045 -1 units in May 2021 due to the Covid-19secondwave,theoverallJanuary-June2021saleswere 14,30,184units,justalakhunitslessthan15,28,233unitssold inJanuary-June2019.SomKapoor,partner,automotive sector, EY India,told FE that he is cautiously optimistic whether or not PV sales can match CY19 levels. “The optimism stems from the fact that CY19 sales were low. Also, there is some pent-up demand right now, especiallyinurbanmarkets,and so matching 2019 levels may not be difficult,” he said. Continued on Page 11 CHENNAI/KOCHI
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