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Fruitful tech for exclusive mango

Also in today’s edition: Unsolved education; Apple 🤝Meta for AI?

Good morning! The month-end paycheck is a great PR tool if you are someone with more money than you can count, most of it by virtue of ownership of large corporations. Centibillionaire Gautam Adani’s salary at Rs 9.26 crore (~$1.1 million) is lower than that of even some top managers in his eponymous group, The Economic Times reports. Fellow rarefied rich-club member Mukesh Ambani has not been drawing a salary since the pandemic hit. But industrialist peers Pawan Munjal and Rajiv Bajaj took home Rs 80 crore and Rs 53 crore, respectively. Even telecom czar Sunil Mittal drew Rs 16.7 crore in 2022-23.

A newfangled way to prove the authenticity of Alphonso mangoes. Also in today’s episode: Indian film and TV writers push for IP rights. Tune in to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Market Signal*

Stocks & Economy: It’s a sea of red today as markets open on negative global cues. Asian indices traded lower in the run up to inflation data from Japan and Australia this week, and after Japan’s top currency official said he’d intervene in the yen market “24 hours a day if necessary”.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed lower on Friday mostly on account of technology stocks. Nvidia is back to being the world’s second-most valued company mere days after overtaking Microsoft to occupy the top spot. Questions are now being raised over its valuation.

The Sensex and Nifty 50 are expected to open lower today in keeping with global cues. Investors are now keeping a close on Union Budget-related announcements after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chaired a pre-Budget weekend on Saturday. The GIFT Nifty indicates a negative opening.


Numbered For Provenance

Maharashtra’s Alphonso mangoes are arguably India’s most prized fruit export. So much so that Indians rarely get to eat the best of the harvest. 

Alphonso or hapus from five districts—Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar, Thane and Raigad—has the Geographical Indication tag. Those grown in Devgad in Sindhudurg district are top of the heap for their taste and texture. Devgad growers are annoyed that farmers from other regions spike the market with their own pretenders to take advantage of the price difference. These fruits could sometimes cost more than Rs 600 (~$7) apiece.

They have now devised a clever hack to authenticate their purebreds. It’s a unique number on a sticker, half of it printed on the flip side and visible only when peeled off. Buyers can send a photo of the hidden number to a farmers’ cooperative, which will reply with the fruit’s origin info and the grower’s identity.


Exam Blues On Manic Monday

It’s the first day of the 18th Lok Sabha today. And it is likely to be engulfed by a storm as a resurgent opposition tries to begin with a thump even as the new-yet-old Narendra Modi government digs in its heels to hold ground. 

NEET affair: The undergraduate National Elgibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) fiasco claimed its first high-profile scalp when the government sacked National Testing Agency chief Subodh Kumar Singh. The government also notified The Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, aimed at dealing with paper leaks and exam fraud. The education ministry is framing rules and regulations under the law. 

An Indian Express investigation has, meanwhile, uncovered that Jharkhand and Bihar-based syndicates, including one called the “solver gang”, likely leaked question papers of the medical entrance exam and coached students. Police have arrested the leader of the gang, Sanjeev Mukhiya, from Nalanda, the home turf of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. 


Apple AI Play: One Bite At A Time

Apple held talks with Meta to explore incorporating the social media company’s generative artificial intelligence model into its devices, The Wall Street Journal reports

The Cupertino company launched Apple Intelligence, an ultra personalised AI tool, earlier this month. Integrated into the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, the generative model helps users polish their communication and augment creativity. However, its model is not yet equipped to handle complex tasks. 

Apple already has a partnership with OpenAI for ChatGPT. It is also in talks with Google, Anthropic, and Perplexity. OpenAI has partnered with both Microsoft and Apple.

The Signal

Apple’s flailing efforts to join hands with even rivals, barely two years after its snooty turn with Apple Store payments, lays bare the crossroads the industry is in. Its App Tracking Transparency feature launched three years ago cost Meta $13 billion in 2022. It took Meta three years but the Mark Zuckerberg-led company appears to be turning around its fortunes with its Large Language Model Llama 3. Its augmented reality-virtual reality smart glasses with Ray-Ban are a sleeper hit. Yet, as the Journal reports, Apple offers unparalleled distribution. While the company appears to be resigned to the fact that it will not be able to catch up with the rest of the industry in time, it is racing to make sure that it's not left completely high and dry. Interestingly, that is a game everyone in the industry is playing—sew up alliances and wait for the breakthrough.


Getting ahead, are we? Markets regulator Sebi is investigating suspected front-running in Quant Mutual Fund, whose small-cap fund manages more than Rs 20,000 crore and returned 69% in the past one year, Moneycontrol.com reported.

Return policy: Drugmakers Lupin and a US arm of Aurobindo Pharma are recalling an anti-bacterial medicine and a steroid, respectively, from the US market for manufacturing deficiencies.

Olive branch: The Goods and Services Tax Council has waived penal interest and fines on tax demands between FY18 and FY20 so long as the taxpayer coughs up the full amount asked for by the end of FY25. 

Reaching out: The State Bank of India will open 400 branches in FY25 as it seeks to expand advisory and wealth management services. 

Soaring high: The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully test-landed a Reusable Launch Vehicle, which could become a fixture in future space missions. 



The chance of an asteroid hitting earth, according to NASA's fifth biennial Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise held in April. (The Economic Times)


Fine men: All ye men in finance, break the bubbly. You are in demand. It began on TikTok (where else?) with the croon “I’m looking for a man in finance. Trust fund. 6’5.” Blue eyes.” Made by 27-year-old Megan Boni with the nome de plume Girl On Couch, the April post has 49 million views and made “Men in Finance” a thing with variations aplenty. It got Boni a Universal deal too. The song has returned the cool quotient to finance pros (or bros). The Girl On Couch may just as well have asked for a taller wolf of Wall Street. 

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