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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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …

Enid Blyton

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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …

Now you don’t need Facebook to use Facebook Messenger

Facebook today said it will make Messenger available to people who don’t have accounts with the social network, making clear how it plans to greatly extend the reach of the service.

The company is in the process of rolling out an update to the chat app that will let people in certain countries—the …


Your swimming pool red-eye isn’t from chlorine—it’s from urine

Planning to cool off this summer by hitting the pool? You might want to pack your goggles to prevent your eyes from turning bloodshot, from… No, not chlorine.

Contrary to common belief, it’s not chlorine—not chlorine by itself, anyway—that reddens your eyes. It’s the chemical compounds formed when …

Water Sports

What the world’s largest democracy thinks of the world’s oldest democracy

It’s official: An overwhelming number of Indians love America.

The Pew Research Center surveyed 2,452 Indian respondents for its latest report on worldwide public opinion of the US, China and the state of the world’s balance of power.

Here are a few charts showing what Indians really think about the …


A complete timeline of Foxconn’s struggle to make in India

Four months after it shut down operations in India, Foxconn is staging an attempt to re-enter Asia’s third largest economy.

This time, the Taiwanese electronic manufacturer is likely to partner with Japan’s SoftBank to set up a mobile components manufacturing unit in India. “The details are still …


I am a Hindu—and a proud Pakistani

I’m a Pakistani Hindu—and I am fed up with the unending list of unaddressed complaints regarding discrimination, marginalisation and hatred spewed against Hindus in books taught at our schools for the last 68 years.

A few days back, Lal Malhi, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s member of the national …


A whiskey-loving Sikh—Europe’s oldest man—dies at 111

Europe’s oldest man—a 111-year-old Sikh, who celebrated his birthday just weeks ago—has died.

In his lifetime, Nazar Singh spent almost as many years in India as he did in England. Born in a village in British India’s Punjab in 1904, Singh spent his childhood on a farm. From when he was 10, Singh …


These are the world’s top 10 universities in emerging markets

This post has been corrected.

A new ranking of the world’s best universities only lists schools in the global South. The Times Higher Education “BRICS and Emerging Economies” ranking for 2015 includes “only institutions in countries classified as “emerging economies” by the Financial Times Stock …

College & University

Even Google Maps knows how dysfunctional India-Pakistan relations are

True story: While visiting his parents in the town of Naya Nangal in Indian Punjab, Aman de Guerre, a resident of the UK, decided to take a look at Google Maps to check out the towns nearby. One of the results thrown up was Lahore. Curious, he asked Google Maps for driving directions from Naya …


Fitbit is finally bringing its fitness wearables to India

The world’s largest wearables company is coming to India.

San Francisco-headquartered Fitbit will partner with e-commerce firm Amazon to offer four types of wearable bands to help Indian consumers track their fitness, the Indian Express newspaper reported. These devices will be available through a …