Business in bitesizes
French kisses and golden parachutes

Despite numerous state visits and pronouncements of Indo-French love, the mega Rafale deal is just not taking off. Last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would buy 36 fighter aircraft. But negotiations are stuck—Indian bureaucrats have refused to sign, citing financial and liability issues. The French on the other hand are blaming the Indian negotiators for playing hard to get. According to a top Indian source, the Modi government is clear that Indian needs the Rafale—and quickly. The sale of American F-16 jets to Pakistan has tilted the balance, as the Indian Air Force needs to quickly make amends. But despite this clear political signal, the negotiators don’t want to face persecution by future governments. Is an executive fiat around the corner? 

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Kodaikanal isn’t done

Contrary to public perception, the long battle for worker rights at Hindustan Unilever’s thermometer plant at Kodaikanal has not ended despite a settlement between the FMCG multinational and 591 workers affected by mercury poisoning. Much of the victory so far is mainly due to efforts of  NGO Jhatkaa, which helped in making a rap video with Sofia Ashraf that caught global attention. A member of the NGO says, “We still have a long way to go.” You see, Unilever needs to be held responsible for the contamination of the soil in Kodaikanal. So the NGO filed a second petition on March 9 seeking  that Unilever  be made to clean the soil.

The golden touch

How cheap can you get with that shining, yellow metal? Ask jewellers in Kerala. Thrissur-based Boby Chemmanur International Group has opened its first margin-free mini jewellery shop in Kottayam, where a 10-gm gold jewellery item costs Rs 1,000 less than in other shops. Boby is obviously borrowing the idea from the Rs 10,000-crore Kalyan Group.  But the group’s recent house warming for three grand houses in Thrissur showed that  their “inexpensive” tag is only for the masses.

Coming up: ‘Sin tax’ for fizzy drinks

South Africa has joined the battle against sugar, becoming the first African country to plan a tax on soft-drinks loaded with the sweet stuff. The tax, aimed at improving health, comes into effect in April 2017.

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Taxes, ahoy

The tax man is on overdrive. Check out some notices the I-T dept has sent

  • Rs 20,000 Cr Vodafone
  • Rs 29,000 Cr Cairn Energy
  • Google tax on E-commerce 6-8% on aggregate exceeding Rs 1 lakh in online ads

The new, new smart cars

  • Audi MMI: Using snapshot tagged with GPS, navigates to where it was taken before
  • Android Auto: Will suggest a destination based on your recent search history
  • Face cameras: Monitor eye patterns of the driver to detect if there’s any distractedness, sleepiness
  • Mercedes Command: Touch-sensitive steering wheel that works like a smartphone
  • Radar sensors: Help set cars on cruise control, maintain safe distance

Source: Time


This week we Remembered FCDs

Fever and body ache? Cough with allergies? You can reach for that Vicks Action 500 tablet or Corex bottle—for now. The government has recently barred over 3,000 branded fixed combination drugs (FCDs) including these two, finding the formulations “irrational”. Pharma companies led by Pfizer, which makes Corex, have approached Delhi High Court to revoke the ban. The ball is again in the courts, as Pfizer has been given interim relief. The government has argued that FCDs are making Indians antibiotic resistant, especially because of unchecked over-the-counter sales. This could be a lengthy battle as lot more than health is at stake....



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