OPINION, P10 WELL BEING FE LINES ACROSS THE AISLE , P CHIDAMBARAM From being fringe, vegan diet is now increasingly becoming mainstream, thanks to growing consciousness towards health and environment Page 7 Elephants are especially susceptible to advances of civilisation, but there could be help at hand Page 6 Good,bad and doubtful Man vs nature VEGAN ESSENTIALS SPOTLIGHT Follow us on Twitter & Facebook. App available on App Store & Play Store WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM VOL XVI, NO.72 RAISING THE BAR FINANCIAL EXPRESS ON SUNDAY CHENNAI/KOCHI SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2022, 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 ■ LEISURE, P5 Chai,career,conversations Earlier, we had chaiwalas turning MBAs or becoming engineers. Now, we have graduates and post-grads putting academic degrees in their business names and standing out from the crowd UAE's newly elected ruler sees Iran as threat UNITED ARAB Emirates strongman Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was formally elected president on Saturday, led a realignment of the Middle East that created a new anti-Iran axis with Israel and fought a rising tide of political Islam in the region. Working behind the scenes as de facto leader, Sheikh Mohammed transformed the UAE military into a high-tech force, reports Reuters. Govt sets up panel to boost cruise tourism UNION MINISTER SARBANANDA Sonowal on Saturday said the government has set up a highlevel committee to create an enabling ecosystem for the development of cruise tourism, reports PTI. The committee comprises government officials and cruise industry players. Sonowal inaugurated the first two-day International Cruise Conference being held in Mumbai.P2 K O C H I , ROHNIT PHORE K O L K A T A , L U C K N O W , GOVT ASSURES CONTINGENCY MEASURE Wheat export ban to cool domestic prices THE Data privacy has been a lingering issue, but some caution time and again gives readers a reality check THE GROUP OF Seven leading economies warned on Saturday that the war in Ukraine is stoking a global food and energy crisis that threatens poor countries, and urgent measures are needed to unblock stores of grain that Russia is preventing from leaving Ukraine, reports AP. German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of G-7 diplomats, said the war had become a “global crisis”. H Y D E R A B A D , SANDIP DAS New Delhi, May 14 Is the Big Brother watching? IN THE NEWS Ukraine war is stoking global food crisis: G7 C H E N N A I , READ TO LEAD ● All valid export orders with LoC will be honoured ■ WORDS WORTH, P4 ODD & EVEN C H A N D I G A R H , What makes a good bar a great bar? We serve up the recipe for success P 8-9 GOVERNMENT HAS banned export of all varieties of wheat in view of the rising domestic prices of the cereal, a sharp drop in rabi season output and the possibility of its stocks becoming inadequate to ensure subsidised supplies under the National Food Security Act. Official sources said about 4 million tonne of the cereal that has already been contracted for shipments with letters of credit (LoC) will be allowed to be exported, while no new new orders will be entertained. Traders, however, are critical of the government decision,as they feel it could disrupt scores of transactions that have already been finalised or are being negotiated and adversely affect India’s reputation as credible supplier of cereals to world markets. They added that domestic wheat prices may drop by 15% as the market reopens on Monday. The export ban took effect on Friday and the markets are closed on Saturday and Sunday. Commerce LAYING OF OPTIC FIBRE Traders say move to roil global markets Govt says doesn't reflect any policy or ban in perpetuity 4 MTofwheat has been contracted for shipments with LoC Global wheat market very volatile presently with high prices due to Ukraine war secretary BVR Subrahmanyam said on Saturday that, “all valid export orders with a letter of credit will be honoured.” He added that the prohibition on fresh exports is just a contingency measure and it doesn’t reflect any inward-looking policy or possibility of a ban in perpetuity. India exported a record 7 million tonne (MT) of wheat worth $2 billion in FY22, against just 2.1 MT worth $0.55 billion in FY21. The export ban has come at a time when traders have received orders for 5 MT already and were looking at more deals in the short term, in keeping with an export target of 10 MT set by the government. The global wheat market is very volatile at present and prices remain elevated, owing to the shortage caused by the RussiaUkraine war. Of course,the ban won’t be applicable to two kinds of shipments – exports committed by the Indian government underbilateral understanding with a few countries to meet their food security needs, and shipments under transitional arrangements, where irrevocable letters of credit have been issued prior to the ban. The government’s wheat procurement fell to a 15-yearlow of 18 MT in the just concluded rabi season, as against a record 43.3 MT in 2021-22. Retail inflation inwheat stood at 9.59% in April. “The export ban is a judicious step to balance interests of all stakeholders”, a spokesperson of ITC, a major wheat exporter,said.However, Kunal Shah, partner at Kunal Corporation,a Mumbai-based grain exporter, said India’s reputation in the international wheat market will take a hit due to the export ban. Manyindependent experts also feel that rather than sudden export ban which could hit farmers, the government should have resorted to calibration of exports via a minimum export price oran export duty. However, several other wheat exporting countries such as Argentina, Kazakhstan and Turkey also have imposed restrictions on wheat or flour exports. Continued on Page 2 M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E BANKS AGREE TO EXTEND LOANS Stuck power units to resume generation soon VIKAS SRIVASTAVA Mumbai, May 14 LENDERS, INCLUDING THE State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda, have agreed to extend fresh working capital loans to sixpowerprojectslyingidlefor the past manyyears,including four imported coal-based units. Also, sector-specific lenders Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) have initiateddiscussionswith several units that are either shut or are operating at very low plant load factor. The lenders’ moves follow the directions given by the Union power ministry to them to help the stuck power plants resume generation with working capital support. The government reckons that the electricity shortage in the countrymaynot showanyletup over the next few weeks due to the high demand in the scorching summer. As per sources, as the majority lenders, SBI and PFC will extend new credit lines to the 300 MWMeenakshi Power plant unit in Andhra Pradesh, while Bank of Baroda will lend to SKS Energy (600 MW) in Chhattisgarh. Besides, resolution professionals for these two projects have also agreed to allow NTPC to take over the ■ Sector-specific lenders PFC and REC have initiated discussions with units either shut or operating at very low plant load factor ■ Lenders' moves follow the directions from the Union power ministry to help stuck power plants with working capital support ■ SBI, PFCwill ■ Bank of extend new credit lines to Meenakshi Power plant unit inAP Barodawill lend to SKS Energy (600 MW) in Chhattisgarh operations and maintenance (O&M) of the plants.The staterun power producer will also arrange for coal requirements of the two plants. SKS Energy unitissaidtohaveonly10days of coal stocks. Technical experts from NTPC have alreadyvisited the SKS site and the timeline for restarting the plant would be finalised soon. Continued on Page 2 OFFICE NORMS CHANGING TO SHARED SPACE Legal backing for Companies warm up to flexible workspaces RoW by December ● Post-pandemic, ■ Recent research by demand for co-working spaces up; likely to rise further FE BUREAU New Delhi, May 14 THE GOVERNMENT WILL pro- vide legal backing for right of way(RoW)byDecembertofacilitate laying of optical fibre,said communicationsministerAshwini Vaishnaw on Saturday while launching the GatiShakti Sanchar portal that will centralise and speed up approvals for laying optical fibre and installations of mobile towers. “That will be our next step. Wewillalsobeworkingonintegration of all portals,especially GatiShakti, railway, highway and others,” he said. As the country gears up to launch5Gcommercialservices, fiberisation of mobile towers is necessary. At present, just around 35% towers are connected with fibre, and companies have often highlighted the problems faced by them in get- VAISHALI DAR New Delhi, May 14 Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw ting approvals for RoW. Currently, RoW rules are based on administrative process, and a strong legal backing is required toempowerlocalofficials,bring clarity on the fee structure and fix accountability,the minister said.The industry can apply for RoW approvals on the portal as they build telecom infrastructure,including for5G services. Continued on Page 2 AS OFFICE RULES remain in a flux, with all models operational simultaneously in most places, there is renewed demandforco-workingspaces. Flexible lease formalities, costeffectiveness, agility and customised workspace solutions, plus need for companies to expandtodifferentlocationsat affordableoperationalcosts,are all factors in this favour. Though the office market across India saw robust recovery in the first quarter of 2022, prevailing uncertainties have resultedinoccupiersbeingcau- JLL and Awfis shows the top seven cities have over 1,200 operational centres Leasing activity is at 50% of its preCovid peak Acompany can save between 18 and 24% on office operational expenses just by shifting from a traditional lease to co-working tious to commit long-term leases and looking at flexible options. “Leasing activity in Indian office markets has remained at 50% of its preCovid peak, enterprise leasing in flex spaces has already reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels, indicating how demand from occupiers is being ■Over 90,000 seats leased in the last two years 56% Enterprise leasing in flex spaces has reached 80% of pre-pandemic levels Flexible workspace model expected to constitute 30% of the overall office sector by 2030 reshaped by their cost optimisation and flexibility needs,” says Karan Singh Sodi,regional managing director, Mumbai & Ahmedabad,India,JLL. The flexible workspace model is expected to constitute 30% of the overall office sector by 2030, as per Harsh Lambah, country manager of the total operational centres are in Bengaluru and Delhi-NCR India and vice-president sales – South Asia, IWG, a shared office service provider. As per flex market overview published in a recent‘Flex your workplace’research by JLL and Awfis,thetopsevencities–Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune – have over 1,200 operationalcentres,and56%of thetotaloperationalcentresare in Bengaluru and Delhi-NCR. Over 90,000 seats have been leasedinthelasttwoyears,with Bengaluru and Mumbai accounting for about 51% of enterprise activityin the flex space. While the demand is expected to soar in the metros, Tier II cities will be the next growth frontier.At co-working space Awfis, the demand for seatshasgoneup5xwhencompared to pre-pandemic levels. Post-pandemic,60%oftheseat occupiers (employees of corporates) in Tier I have moved to emerging metros like Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Jaipur, Coimbatore,Ahmedabad,Kochi, Chandigarh,etc.Leveragingthe same data,Awfis has expanded its legs in the interiors where ITEs,BFSI,unicorns and soonicorns are able to provide a professional work environment to theiremployees. Continued on Page 2 Disability inclusion: Some bright spots, but a long way to go SHUBHRA TANDON Mumbai, May 14 BHAVESH MEHTA, 54, had locomotive disability in the left leg due to polio infection since the age of two. Life was tough as Mehta had to undergo five surgeries to rectify his leg and had no stable job.But things changed forthe better after joining Accenture in 2006. Mehta, now a procurement category manager, says Accenture gave him a lot of training opportunities and promoted him twice. Balachandra Hegde, 48, lost his left leg in 1987, at the age of 14, when a blade of a grass-cutting machine that rotated at 2,500 RPM speed flewoff due to a technical fault BUSTINGTHE MYTH Experts say there are several myths associated with hiring PWDs For example, they are thought of not being able to meet performance standards or needing more sick leaves and cut his leg. Hegde, who is vice-president and Lead, software, at Wells Fargo, says workplaces are changing. “Companies now have an equal opportunitypolicy.They are far more inclusive and understanding of the needs of This is despite data showing companies that are working successfully towards disability have also achieved tangible financial benefits people with special abilities.A lot depends on a person’s own motivation and zeal to succeed,” says Hegde, who has worked with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs in the past. Mehta and Hegde should count themselves lucky. A majority of private sector companies still have a long way to go in being inclusive in their approach.According to a study by jobs portal Indeed in March this year, only one in five organisations or less employ LGBTIQ+ and people Studies done in the US by Accenture Research has shown such companies are growing sales 2.9and profits times faster 4.1than their peers times faster with disabilities (PWD). Experts say there are several myths associatedwithhiring PWDs, from them not being able to meet performance standards to needing more sick leaves. These are, however,not backed by data. This is despite data that shows companies that are working successfully towards disability have also achieved tangible financial benefits.For example, studies done in the US by Accenture Research has shown such companies are growing sales 2.9 times faster and profits 4.1 times faster than their peers. A majority of companies not having a concrete plan on employing PWDs is alarming, because the last official data available on them from the 2011 Census shows that there are 26.8 million people in the country, forming 2.2% of the population. The proportion might look small, but to put this in perspective—it is more than the entire population of AustraliaandseveralEuropean nations,and,therefore,significantly high to be ignored or refrained from contributing to India’s economy. Some of India’s large companies say there is a definite shift in mindset, and that they are hiring PWDs and making their workplaces disabled-friendly. Vidya Lakshmi, executive vice-president and head of HR, Wells Fargo India & Philippines,says,“This is a significant size of talent pool for any organisation to tap into, so the business case is straightforward from both a talent attraction and business value standpoint.” Continued on Page 2 CHENNAI/KOCHI
The Financial Express (FE) is a business paper that’s closest to the people who are in the business of business. From business policies to market trends to new developments, The Financial Express comes packed with incisive news on every relevant issue.