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Women in local governance; Finetuning AI’s off-key moments

With the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act that reserves one-third of electoral seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), India has seen active participation from women in local governance.

Women in local governance; Finetuning AI’s off-key moments

Thursday April 25, 2024 , 5 min Read


A lot has happened in the finance world. 

Axis Bank reported a standalone net profit of $856.3 million, helped by strong loan growth and higher lending income, compared with a loss a year ago. Its net loans grew 14%, while total deposits rose 13%.

Unicorn neo-banking platform Open reported a 24% rise in revenue from operations at Rs 29.9 crore in FY23 while incurring a total loss of Rs 242.2 crore in the same period.

Now, in some gloomy news, RBI has banned Kotak Mahindra Bank from onboarding new customers via its online and mobile banking channels and from issuing new credit cards due to information technology-related deficiencies.

And the National Payments Corporation of India is attracting more talent. It has appointed former Drip Capital executive Ankit Kush as the new Head of Fintech Solutions.

Meanwhile, Perplexity AI has become a unicorn. The AI search engine firm raised $62.7 million in funding, bringing the company’s valuation to $1.04 billion. 

ICYMI: From extreme heat waves in India, orange overcast in Greece, to an unusually “white” April in Finland—climate change is ramping up, and these visuals prove its extent.

Stay safe!

In today’s newsletter, we will talk about 

  • Women in local governance
  • Finetuning AI’s off-key moments
  • India Inc leaders on CSR

Here’s your trivia for today: Fissures, vents, and plugs are all associated with which geological feature?


Women in local governance

With the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act that reserves one-third of electoral seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), India has seen active participation from women in local governance. According to the Observer Research Foundation, more than 1.45 million women are shaping local decision-making. 

HerStory takes a closer look.

Marching ahead:

  • Jitendra Pandit, Associate Director of Governance at Transform Rural India, believes that women in local governance ensure greater access for women from marginalised communities to frequent public institutions to raise their voices.
  • In Rajasthan’s Lambi Ahir in Jhunjhunu district, Neeru Yadav, who took over as sarpanch in 2020, is fondly called the ‘Hockeywali Sarpanch’ after she formed a girls hockey team in her village.
  • Besides a ‘bartan bank’ and infrastructure facilities like roads, rainwater harvesting, and more, Yadav also launched a skill development programme for girls under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana Scheme.
women in local governance

Funding Alert

Startup: Northern Arc

Amount: $80M

Round: Undisclosed

Startup: Perplexity AI

Amount: $62.7M

Round: Undisclosed

Startup:  LetsTransport

Amount: $22M

Round: Series E


Finetuning AI’s off-key moments

With AI innovations becoming potent forces in the world of technology—changing the face of businesses worldwide—it’s important to ensure the quality and consistency of AI applications. 

It is with this belief that RagaAI was born in 2022. The startup provides an automated testing platform designed for all types of AI, including generative AI (GenAI), to ensure safe and reliable AI in production.   

Key takeaways:

  • The San Francisco startup, with operations in Bengaluru, serves mid-sized and large customers in the US, Europe, and India in the automotive, aerospace, retail, insurance, geospatial imaging, etc., sectors. 
  • Its Bengaluru team is focused on ensuring AI-driven vehicle detection systems identify obstacles, including pedestrians, vehicles, and other objects, with enhanced precision, and operate accurately in challenging conditions such as rain, low visibility, and night-time settings. 
  • The startup has created a framework to ensure the safety and dependability of AI. Its foundational model—RagaAI DNA—uses automated processes to identify, diagnose, and rectify issues during testing.
Gaurav Agarwal, RagaAI,


Corporate Social Responsibility in India Inc

India Inc’s leaders and board members are recognising the critical role that CSR can play. In dus Spoke India Inc, a report released by Give Grants, about 77% of organisations stated significant alignment between their CSR and business priorities. 

Looking forward:

  • Gender equity has been a key priority, with 87% of CSR organisations prioritising women and girls as one of the marginalised communities they serve. 
  • About 82% of CSR leaders believe they need to hire talent and/or upskill existing teams to enhance effectiveness. CSR teams need experience in running programmes on the ground. 
  • Around 59% of CSR leaders are willing to step into funding innovative pilots and projects, that require a high tolerance for risk and high agility.
dus spoke india inc

News & updates

  • Scrutiny: The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is launching preliminary enquiries into whether the close-knit tie-ups and hiring practices involving Microsoft, Amazon, and a trio of AI startups (Mistral, Anthropic, and Inflection AI) fall within the scope of its merger rules.
  • Inflation: According to Reuters, top fast-food franchisees in India, including Jubilant Foodworks, Sapphire Foods India, etc., are likely to report a slump in quarterly earnings as cash-strapped consumers continue to cut back on dining out and ordering in.
  • New models: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company plans to begin production of new affordable EV models by early 2025 during Tesla’s earnings call after the company reported disappointing first-quarter numbers. Revenue fell 9% year-over-year, its steepest annual drop since 2012.

Fissures, vents, and plugs are all associated with which geological feature?

Answer: Volcanoes.

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