Business Standard

Weekend Bites: Cook serves his own India recipe, and the wailing over ticks

In which we munch over the week's platter of news and views

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

Suveen Sinha New Delhi
Have you heard of Neem Karoli Baba? If you have, chances are it had something to do with Steve Jobs, whose trip to India in 1974 was partly triggered by a book he read by one of the mystic saint's American devotees. Although Jobs could not meet the Baba during his trip -– the Baba had died the previous year -– he made the saint known in the counterculture movement on the American West Coast in the 1970s.

The young Jobs himself could have passed off as a mystic. A college dropout not averse to the haze caused by herbs, he stood apart in the corporate setups he joined, first as a shabbily dressed youth who bathed only occasionally and moved around barefoot, and later as a visionary who could orchestrate the conceptualisation, designing, and manufacturing of market-defining products.

But enough of Jobs. This week was about Tim Cook.

Tuck in!

Story of the week: Cook's India recipe

Tim Cook, who took over as Apple Inc.'s CEO in 2011, is not Steve Jobs by a stretch. We will avoid using "apples and oranges" because we already said so in the story about Cook getting a taste of India. But that is an apt analogy.

Cook is known to wake up at five every morning, and the first thing he does is read his emails, including the numerous unsolicited ones. (Cook does not hide his email address, though some believe tcook@apple.com is not his personal email account, and emails sent to it are perhaps first read by his team.) Jobs, going by his famous biography by Walter Isaacson and all the stories floating around, was far less interested in what others had to say.

However, in his own studied, understated, and deliberate way, Cook is on his own India expedition, bringing Apple closer to the country than ever before. And it is not just about the Apple stores he opened in the country.

Unusual for a big-time corporate honcho, Cook was here all week, and his recipe for connecting with Indians included all the essential ingredients: movies, IPL, badminton, vada pav, and scores of namastes, in addition to meeting those who matter. It was all business

Cook has been at it for a while, and movies and cricket have been a part of his India plans, as this story from 2016  by Nivedita Mookerji (@nivmook) pointed out.

This week, among the hoopla, there has also been scepticism. "Of course he would paint a great future for India; he has things to sell here," some said. Shivani, who heads our tech and IT coverage, said she met plenty of Apple devotees during her reportage. Those are already Apple people. Is Apple doing enough to find new fans who would pay (through their nose) for its products?

The full measure of Apple's success in India will depend on its becoming more than a phone company, says TN Ninan in today's Business Standard.

Cook's visit was a landmark in one more way. Madhuri Dixit Nene, who lit up Hindi movie screens in the 1990s, adorned our front page on Tuesday.

tim cook, madhuri

In other news…

Jaguar Land Rover will invest  £15 billion (nearly $19 billion) over the next five years to catch up with its peers, such as Mercedes and BMW, in the electric vehicles race, where it is seen to have fallen behind. Tata Motors has owned JLR since buying it from Ford in 2008, and the British brand strongly influences the market valuation of its Indian owner.

Stocks of IT companies have been weighing market indices down. The sell-off has resulted in a sharp decline in the sector's weighting in the Nifty50 index, slipping to a five-year low. The combined market capitalisation of the big five — TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Tech, and Tech Mahindra — is down 8.2 per cent since the start of 2023 compared to a 2.7 per cent decline in the Nifty50 index.

The government proposes to allow private entities to carry out Aadhaar authentication. At present, only government ministries and departments can do this.

We started a new column, by Ajay Chhibber, a senior visiting professor at ICRIER and a distinguished visiting scholar at the Institute for International Economic Policy at George Washington University. In his first, Chhibber says devolving more power to local governments is crucial to making India an advanced economy by 2047.

Tech that: Word from the world of technology and start-ups

The Union Cabinet approved the National Quantum Mission with an outlay of Rs 6,000 crore for the seven years to FY31 to create an innovative ecosystem in quantum technology. This is what the mission is about.

Indian start-ups that raised capital from domestic investors at an "excessive premium" between Assessment Years 2018-19 and 2020-21 have come under the income-tax department's scanner, which has asked them to justify the premium.

Watch it: The best of our hot audio-visual serving

Quick commerce platform Blinkit, now owned by Zomato, grappled with a strike by its delivery folk, who were raising slogans against a cut in their earnings. Do Blinkit's troubles raise doubts about its business model? Get the answer here

What is Suveen obsessing over these days?

Friday morning was a tricky one in Weekend Bites' household. The missus started the day with the wail: "My only claim to fame is lost." Elon Musk had taken away her blue checkmark.

The Bites was much comforted to note that @bsindia had a checkmark, albeit a new, golden one. But the missus still had to be reassured that all was not lost. So, here is what we found.

Rofl Gandhi 2.0 (@RoflGandhi_), an account that describes itself as "Parody. Not Rahul Gandhi.", had its blue checkmark intact. Rahul Gandhi's was gone. To Rofl's credit, they flagged this on Twitter with a wail of their own: "ye kaisi duniya bana raha hai bhai tu (what is the kind of world you are creating)". The lament was addressed to @elonmusk.
Incidentally, on Friday, Sachin Tendulkar, who lost his blue checkmark, made his #AskSachin debut on Twitter. Inevitably, a user asked the cricket legend how to be sure it was indeed Tendulkar answering the questions, since his account was no longer verified. In response, Tendulkar posted a picture of his, unshaven and looking slightly off-colour, and said: "As of now, this is my blue tick verification."
Trendulkar did not have to do any such thing. The blue checkmark next to @Trendulkar was intact.

Tendulkar Parody Account

Let's see if Sachin's Twitter status changes by the time he turns 50 on Monday.

Amitabh Bachchan, who has been meticulously numbering his tweets since he joined the platform, appeared to reprise his inner Vijay, the simpleton from Don, to deal with the loss of his blue checkmark.
Loosely translated, Bachchan said: "Listen, dude! I have paid the verification fee. Now please restore my blue checkmark so that people know it is indeed me. I say this folded hands, do you want me to touch your feet as well?"

Kaushik Basu, former Chief Economic Advisory to India's finance ministry and a former Chief Economist at the World Bank, offered a reason to make the wailing ones think again. "It's embarrassing to have a blue tick now because it's a signal you paid for it," he tweeted.
Basu, who now teaches at Cornell University in the United States, also offered a measure of the blue checkmark: "Here is the economics of Twitter blue ticks in one tweet: Cornell's degrees are very valuable. People are willing to pay for it. If Cornell decides that it will now on sell all it's degrees for a price, the market price of Cornell degree will quickly fall to zero."

The "it's" in that tweet is how Basu put it; please do not blame the Bites for it.

So, those of you Bites readers who have lost your blue checkmarks, how are you dealing with it? Feel free to write about it – wailing or smiling – to suveen.sinha@bsmail.in.

(Suveen Sinha is Chief Content Editor at Business Standard)

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First Published: Apr 22 2023 | 7:30 AM IST

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