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India isn’t just another BRIC in the wall

Five years ago, when North American investors would think about putting their money in the BRIC economies, India was towards the bottom of the list. But now Asia’s third largest economy is attracting much more money—and investors are becoming increasingly bullish.

Between December 2014 and January …

India

Chinese and Indian companies are pricing local African firms out of World Bank-backed construction projects

For many years, infrastructure projects in developing countries–funded by multilateral organizations like the World Bank–were often awarded to international companies, sidelining local companies.

To turn this around, the World Bank introduced a preferential policy (pdf) to empower local companies. …

Africa

Timeline: The rise and fall of Rahul Yadav, the bad boy of Indian startups

The most gripping boardroom battle in India’s startup ecosystem is over—and the enfant terrible has been ejected.

After multiple bouts of speculation and much drama, Rahul Yadav—the 26-year-old chief executive officer and co-founder of real-estate portal Housing.com—has been fired from his job.

The …

Startups

Indian companies are slowly, but surely, realising the value of working mothers

An increasing number of Indian companies—especially technology startups—are taking steps to retain women employees, starting with extended maternity leaves.

For instance, online retailer Flipkart said it would now offer 24 weeks of paid maternity leave, up to four months of flexible work hours, and …

Asia

Apple Music is just $2 per month in India—80% cheaper than the US

Apple tends to not care much about price competitiveness. Without telco subsidies, which typically occur only in rich countries, consumers looking to buy an iPhone 6 in Asia will have to shell out as much as $600.

But the company is taking a different approach with Apple Music, its new music …

Apple Music

The incredible sexual problems Indians are facing every day

Sex education remains a taboo subject in Indian schools. As a result, several misconceptions about sex abound in the country that once gave Kama Sutra to the world. But, Mahinder Watsa, arguably India’s most famous sexologist, has been trying to encourage discussion on this subject in a wickedly …

India

Greece has joined Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe in defaulting on the IMF

It’s official: Greece has defaulted on a $1.7 billion loan repayment to the IMF, earning it the dubious honor of being the first advanced country to stiff the international financial institution, and setting a new record for the size of a missed payment. (Step aside, Sudan.)

At a stroke, the IMF’s …

Greece

Go IndiGo: India’s most-awaited aviation IPO is finally here

India’s biggest airline is going public.

After years of speculation, InterGlobe Aviation, which operates IndiGo—India’s largest airline by market share—filed its draft red herringprospectus (DRHP) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the country’s capital markets regulator, on …

Asia

A majority of the world’s mobile users will be on smartphones by 2019

Two-thirds of the world’s mobiles are dumb phones.

Although lacking the whizzy features of smartphones—namely, touchscreens and a wide array of internet-connected apps—mobiles that do little besides make calls and send texts remain the only viable option for many people in poorer countries. And …

Latin America

Meet the fast disappearing community of Indians and Pakistanis of African origin

When people think of Africans in Indian history, Malik Ambar tends to be the first name to come to mind. Brought to Ahmadnagar as a warrior-slave in the 16th century, he rose to be the general of the Deccan sultanate’s army—and eventually its regent.

Yet, Ambar was only the most successful of …

South Asia

Google’s India head is also the country’s most prolific angel investor

Since February 2011, MIT and Stanford-trained Rajan Anandan has been the man in charge of Google in India.

In those four years, apart from driving the internet giant’s growth in the country, Anandan has also been busy playing a hand in India’s booming startup ecosystem. In the recent months, the …

India

Foldable screens are coming to revolutionise TVs, smartphones—and your clothes

Screens have revolutionised how we communicate: starting with the humble cathode ray tube, which was developed to observe the motion of electrons on single colour images, to today’s smartphones that we use for work, leisure and everything in between.

The next frontier for the screen would be to …

Clothing

India’s cocaine addiction is worsening—and South American drug cartels are lining up

Colombia’s drug cartels—among the largest drug trafficking networks in the world—are trying out new, spectacular ways to bring their goods into India.

Last week, after a tip-off from intelligence sources, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Chennai arrested a Colombian national—Edwin Enrique—for …

Asia

For VC deals in India: Half of 2015 = All of 2014

Investors are pumping money into Indian startups.

In the first six months of 2015, India’s startups have received more funding from venture capitalists (VCs) than the whole of last year. Until June 2015, VCs poured in $2.46 billion (Rs15,700 crore) worth of investments into Indian startups, compared …

Venture Capital

Bollywood films are all about upper-caste Hindu heroes

A recent Bollywood flick, Dil Dhadakne Do, deals with the life of super-rich Punjabi Indians and their first-world problems.

High on picturesque offshore beauty, this Zoya Akhtar-directed movie was described by critics as “shallow” and so far removed from India’s third-world reality that it is …

Movies

Amazon may be the world’s favourite bookstore—followed by Flipkart

In a business environment that has seen industries decimated by the rise of digital, one sector showing resilience is that of books.

“Books are not like recorded music,” says Shaun Symonds, general manager of Nielsen Bookscan.

If anything, the total global market for books is growing, as confirmed in …

Amazon

How a US chipmaker unwittingly became an incubator for Indian entrepreneurs

In 1985, the American chip designer Texas Instruments (TI) set up a research and development centre (pdf) in Bengaluru—then mostly pensioners’ paradise far from becoming the technology hub it is today.

Over the years, the company hired the best talent from India’s finest engineering colleges to …

India

Everything you need to know about this unfolding Greek tragedy

Democracy is messy. The Greeks know this better than most, having essentially invented the concept.

But by unexpectedly calling for a public vote on its latest bailout proposal, the Greek government—in the name of democracy— has triggered a highly uncertain sequence of events that it seems …

EU Referendum

ISIL’s call for a Ramadan surge is un-Islamic—and highly effective

As authorities in Tunisia, France, and Kuwait—as well as the Kurds in Kobani, on the Syrian-Turkish border—take stock after a series of attacks over the past 48 hours by the terrorist group known as ISIL, there is as yet little evidence of a coordinated master-plan. But it is clear that ISIL’s …

Ramadan

Watch US marriage equality pass the tipping point

Fifteen years ago, gay marriage was illegal everywhere in the United States. Five years ago, it was still only legal in six states. Even after the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, saying the federal government had to recognize existing gay marriages, gay unions …

Same-sex Marriage

The Pakistani Taliban is blaming an electric company for more than a thousand heat wave deaths

More than 1,100 people have died in the city of Karachi, Pakistan, in recent days due to an intense heat wave. Record high temperatures, power outages, and traditional religious observances, combined, are suffocating and dehydrating the poor, the elderly, the young, and the homeless.

The Pakistani …

Heat Wave

What Muslims around the world eat to break their fast during Ramadan

Iftar—a fast-breaking meal— is a daily ritual during the holy month of Ramadan.

A traditional Iftar menu comprises fruits, juice, milk, dates and water. The belief is that Prophet Mohammad ate three dates when he broke his fast.

However, meals tend to vary from one place to another. For instance, in …

Islam

How an 18-year-old from a Kolkata slum cracked the IIT exam this year

By the time the motley group of teenagers—sons of farmers, daily labourers and shopkeepers—woke up on June 18, the tripods, microphones and television cameras had already started arriving for their annual ritual at Anand Kumar’s house.

In 2002, Kumar established the Super 30 programme, a free …

India

Why are India’s lingerie websites obsessed with foreign models?

E-commerce companies in India are doing almost everything right to help Indian women feel comfortable about buying lingerie online.

There is discreet packaging for home delivery; an all-women helpline to assist the naive; “fit consultants” to help buyers understand their sizes and body types; and …

India

Doing these things for your own health will also help save the planet

You’ve heard it before: Climate change is the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. A new comprehensive report by experts confirms that finding, but also suggests that strategies to address this threat could offer other benefits.

Many of the things you can to do save the planet, the …

Exercise

Should Indians really be proud of Bobby Jindal?

The election of Bobby Jindal as Governor of the US state of Louisiana was greeted exultantly by Indians and Indian-Americans around the world, and now his possible candidacy for the White House has us all agog. There’s no question that this is an extraordinary accomplishment: a young …

Bobby Jindal

How two very different architects refined India’s public spaces

In a single week this June, the world of architecture lost two artists who celebrated modern India through buildings, landscape, sculpture and gardens. Charles Correa, India’s best known architect, died on June 16 in Mumbai. Nek Chand Saini, the creator of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, died on …

India

Entrepreneurship in India is a complete pain in the ass

Thirteen years ago, I was a normal kid from a small town who had absolutely no idea about the technology business, let alone technology startups. I caught the startup fever two or three years down the line, and I could never let go of my fascination. Ultimately, I started my own company.

Over the …

Entrepreneurship

Why India’s solar sector has turned into a $100 billion investment magnet

Earlier this month, the Narendra Modi government officially approved an incredibly ambitious plan for India’s fledgling solar sector.

From the current solar power generation capacity of 4 GW (gigawatt), it wants to produce as much as 100 GW by 2022—with a target of attracting a staggering $100 …

Solar Power

The reason all books by South Asian women have similar covers

Most readers automatically assume that covers represent the content of books—that they will give us a clue to what lies within. However, investigating the covers of books by South Asian women, it was clear from the outset that this commonplace and common sense assumption simply does not hold …