Olina Banerji

Staff Writer - Education, Mobility, Sustainability • India Edition

Based in Delhi, Olina writes about mega-trends in urban mobility, education, skilling and the environment, with a focus on how institutions and innovations can help cities grow sustainably. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics, and has worked previously with India Today and global non-profit Ashoka.

51 Articles published

Top Comments by Olina Banerji

EV batteries get their own identity. EV makers face an identity crisis

Hi Sandip. Thanks for reading. For argument sake, let's limit it to commercial fleets. In this case, if OEMs want to leverage battery swapping, then they have to make sure their vehicle is compatible with all types of available batteries ( or atleast as many as they can get regulatory approval for). So yes it would mean design changes in the vehicle. The onus is more on them, I argue, because BaaS players might be able to convince other OEMs if one OEM doesn't play ball. But it all depends on if swap becomes safer and cheaper to do. Otherwise, its anyone's game.

Olina Banerji

EV batteries get their own identity. EV makers face an identity crisis

Hi Rajiv. Thanks for reading. The graph is mapped on the basis of business models. There's own vs swap battery on one axis and fixed vs removable. It indicates that a Hero Electric services both markets i.e., battery-swap with commercial EVs and own battery with personal EVs/ Lithium falls in the quadrant of charging + commercial vehicle. It doesn't have swappable batteries but its a commercial fleet. Mahindra and Ather are both personal vehicles with personal batteries. No swapping and pre-fitted with the battery.

Olina Banerji

Quantity covered, India's PPE industry must now solve for quality

Thanks for reading Ankush. You're very right. The average PPE coverall, masks or gloves aren't biodegradable. One of the manufacturers I spoke with is trying to figure out a environmentally safe option. The problem is that all of this is polyester based. We have addressed the issue of medical waste collection in our daily newsletter BFO--do check it out! And yes, there's a definitely a story on the impact of all this PPE waste. Thanks for the suggestion.

Olina Banerji

Quantity covered, India's PPE industry must now solve for quality

Thanks for reading Raghav. Yes I found that too in my reporting, that hospitals were only familiar with HIV kits as PPE, which consisted of a gown, cap and gloves. Interestingly, one of hospitals I spoke to just had to make do with that for 2-4 weeks (as you also experienced) till the shortages were resolved. 75-90 GSM is what labs usually see. Do you think the thickness is protection enough? I heard varying accounts!

Olina Banerji

Lockdown lessons: India’s affordable private schools face a reckoning

Hi Anand. Thanks for reading. This is an interesting thought. With the lockdown, parents have been compelled to take a more active role as their children learn from home. But with budget private schools, parents themselves have other pressures going on. A lot of them are daily wage earners who may actually not have the time/bandwidth to get involved. So they send their children to private schools + tuitions because that's a safety net for them. They feel their kids are at least learning. So for this section of parents, schools being closed is more worrisome. In my reporting though, I did come across the fact that now even APS parents are being encouraged to get involved. In fact their device is mostly the one used to communicate lessons/directions to the children. It could spark a new involvement for parents, though I presume a lot of hand-holding will be required. At least initially.

Olina Banerji

Lockdown lessons: India’s affordable private schools face a reckoning

Hi Dheeraj. Thank you for reading. My article only reflects the larger sentiments of everyone I spoke to in the sector, including APSs, vendors of APS schools, educationists, edtech companies. Sure, this doesn't mean innovations aren't happening within some APSs. Your point is well taken, and I'd like to actually, in eventual pieces, cover how low-income schools have dealt with the problem of lockdowns. But the problem itself was important to establish, IMHO.

Olina Banerji

Lockdown lessons: India’s affordable private schools face a reckoning

Hi Aishwarya, thank you for reading. In my reporting, I didn't actually come across anyone who though parents might shift their kids from one affordable school to another. Typically, at the higher end of the fee spectrum, parents will stay put. As we go down the fee ladder, more parents are likely to send children to a govt school, incase they find they're unable to pay any/minimum fee. It also, as you say, depends on how safe they feel in sending their kids to school. Ultimately, whether online or offline, parents will pay for quality teaching. But its still hard to predict how well online will work for this income segment.

Olina Banerji

Lockdown lessons: India’s affordable private schools face a reckoning

Dear Rajendra, thanks for reading. I used HP as one clear example of what states are doing. The article also mentions the efforts being made by MHRD at a central level. As I understand, every state would have taken some added measures, depending on their spread and demography. As for your feedback about the focus of the piece, please understand that APS, Edtech, Edfin , Gov schools are all coming together precisely because of the pandemic. Silos are being broken. We've looking at a very different education world post-Covid, which may never be like it was before. I believe its our responsibility to reflect that reality through our education stories. If you do have more extensive data for all the major states in the country, please do share.

Olina Banerji

Lockdown lessons: India’s affordable private schools face a reckoning

Hi Ujjwal. Thanks for reading. Indeed, I believe there is a gap in the quantum of local language edtech content online, and what the need is. Its mainly divided between hindi and English right now, though apps like Unacademy have started some regional language courses. This is ofcourse for the test prep crowd. It's also difficult to cater at a granular level for these bigger platforms, because of the difference between CBSE, ICSE, state boards etc. The curriculum isn't always the same. So the idea that content can be made locally should help out--esp now that children are compelled to learn online.

Olina Banerji

Stories by Olina Banerji