From Michael Brown’s funeral and a cease fire in Gaza, to swarms of locusts in Madagascar and the US Open Tennis Championships, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.
From roller coasters to rhythmic gymnastics, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right
Wait, aren't they the people who make Doritos and Mountain Dew?
India’s government is soliciting the help of an improbable partner in improving the nutrition of millions of its hungriest children, reports Bloomberg. That partner is the world’s largest snack producer, PepsiCo.
Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal met PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of developing nutritious processed foods for use in school lunches across the country, Bloomberg says. The move is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of upgrading the diet of the South Asian nation’s 1.2 billion people — especially that of its 440 million children.
“I suggested [that PepsiCo develop] products which will be healthy and will also contain proteins,” Badal told reporters following her meeting. “As people are becoming busy, the children will be immensely benefited if such products are launched.”
India has a poor reputation when it comes to food safety. A nadir was reached last year when 23 children in the country’s northern state of Bihar died after eating a free school meal that turned out to be laced with pesticide. In addition, some 47% of Indian children under 3 are underweight, according to the U.N.
Critics wonder if processed foods, from a company better known for its sugary soft drinks and potato chips, are really the best way to address such chronic malnutrition.
“No respectable dietitian or nutritionist will recommend processed foods over freshly cooked meals,” Vandana Prasad, national convener of the Public Health Resource Network, told Bloomberg.
PepsiCo India did not reply to Bloomberg’s emailed questions about the meeting.
Is India the next international basketball hot spot?
India is renowned as a country of cricket fanatics. But that hasn’t stopped the top brass of the NBA from hoping that basketball will sink deep roots into the South Asian nation of 1.2 billion people.
The Sacramento Kings’ interest in rookie Sim Bhullar, whose parents emigrated from India to Canada, may very well prove to be the game changer the NBA is looking for. Although the 7-ft. 4-in. center is not currently on the team’s 15-player roster, owner Vivek Ranadive — the first Indian-born majority owner of an NBA team — says he’s placing big hopes on the 21-year-old.
Officials and owners are hoping that Bhullar will boost the sport’s popularity with Indians, just as the entrance of Yao Ming into the NBA in 2002 led to the meteoric rise of basketball’s popularity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
“What Yao Ming did for China, we hope players like Sim will do for India,” said Ranadive during an interview at an NBA summer league game in July. “I have this vision — I call it NBA 3.0 — where I want to make basketball the premier sport of the 21st century.”
According to the Kings’ website, Ranadive is planning to take NBA commissioner Adam Silver on a trip to India in the near future.
However, local sports journalists say several things must fall into place before basketball reaches the level of popularity envisaged by Ranadive. At present, the majority of the nation’s domestic basketball players are semiprofessionals.
“As of now, we can’t think of basketball as a profession,” Roshan Thyagarajan, a columnist for cricket bible Wisden India but also an avid basketball fan, tells TIME. “The boards, the associations are not well-oiled. Everything is out of place. So that needs to be addressed immediately.”
Nevertheless, there’s a ton of potential, with India already proving to be a formidable opponent. China might be considered the power to be reckoned with in Asia, but the Indian national team beat the PRC squad 65-58 during a historic win at FIBA 2014 in July.
Photographer Cathy Scholl has been working in India and taking an intimate look at the growing excitement around basketball and the hoop dreams of the men and women who play it. Her images, above, capture a sport making tentative steps in a nation forecast to become the world’s most populous in less than 15 years.
The movement's Facebook page describes it as an "Indian version for Indian Needs"+ READ ARTICLE
How does India do the Ice Bucket Challenge? They don’t. Instead of pouring buckets of ice and water over their heads, people in India have been filling a bucket with rice and giving it to local people in need.
According to the Independent, the Rice Bucket Challenge was started by Manju Latha Kalanidhi, a journalist from Hyderabad, India. The first donation was made Sunday Morning and the movement’s Facebook page has more than 35 thousand likes so far.
As explained on the page, there are four steps to the Rice Bucket Challenge:
1) Pick up a bowl of rice from your kitchen
2) Go to the nearest needy person and give it to them
3) Click a picture and post it on Facebook with the hashtag #RiceBucketChallenge
4) Tag all your friends and ask them to take up the challenge
According to the World Bank, 312 million people in India live below the poverty line.
They face violence, eviction and withheld wages if they do not take on the hazardous job of emptying private and public latrines
The practice of forcing low-caste people in Indian communities to remove accumulated human waste from latrines is continuing despite legal prohibitions and must be stopped, says a leading advocacy group.
In a report released Monday, the New York City–based Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailed the practice of “manual scavenging” — the collecting of excrement from latrines by hand. The job is done by those considered to be of the lowest birth. These Dalits, or untouchables, often face threats of violence, eviction and withheld wages if they attempt to leave the trade.
“The first day when I was cleaning the latrines and the drain, my foot slipped and my leg sank in the excrement up to my calf,” Sona, a manual scavenger in Bharatpur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, told HRW. “I screamed and ran away. Then I came home and cried and cried. I knew there was only this work for me.”
Laws exist to curb this form of subjugation, yet it remains widespread across India. Dalit women typically collect waste from private homes, while the men do the more physically demanding, and hazardous, maintenance of septic tanks and public sewers. Many suffer injuries and serious health problems.
“The manual carrying of human feces is not a form of employment, but an injustice akin to slavery,” says Ashif Shaikh, founder of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a grassroots campaign to end manual scavenging. “It is one of the most prominent forms of discrimination against Dalits, and it is central to the violation of their human rights.”
HRW’s 96-page report, Cleaning Human Waste: ‘Manual Scavenging,’ Caste, and Discrimination in India, is based on more than 100 interviews with manual scavengers, and documents how these wretched people are coerced to collect human excrement on a daily basis, carrying it away in nothing more protective than a cane basket.
“People work as manual scavengers because their caste is expected to fulfill this role, and are typically unable to get any other work,” says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW. “This practice is considered one of the worst surviving symbols of untouchability because it reinforces the social stigma that these castes are untouchable and perpetuates discrimination and social exclusion.”
HRW called on the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to enforce existing legislation aimed at assisting manual scavengers to find alternative, sustainable livelihoods.
“Successive Indian government attempts to end caste-based cleaning of excrement have been derailed by discrimination and local complicity,” adds Ganguly. “The government needs to get serious about putting laws banning manual scavenging into practice and assisting the affected caste communities.”
New Delhi needs more firepower to protect its stake in the Indian Ocean, defense experts say
The Indian navy will add another warship into its rapidly expanding fleet over the weekend as it seeks to counter China’s growing supremacy on the high seas of the Indo-Pacific.
The INS Kamorta, which Indian officials are lauding as the nation’s first domestically built antisubmarine warship, will be unveiled to the public on Saturday during a ceremony at a naval dockyard in the eastern seaboard city of Visakhapatnam.
Earlier this month, newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi christened the nation’s newest naval destroyer, the INS Kolkata, which in turn followed the commissioning of India’s second aircraft carrier late last year. India’s navy is currently the only Asian maritime force in possession of two aircraft carriers and is scheduled to add a third in 2017.
According to defense experts, the commissioning of the Kamorta, the first of four such antisubmarine vessels that New Delhi is building, will provide additional muscle to protect its growing stake in the Indian Ocean.
“India wants to project power into the Indian Ocean region. It wants that to be its area of influence,” James Hardy, the Asia-Pacific editor at IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, tells TIME.
To date, approximately 70% of all petroleum products and 50% of international container traffic pass through the Indian Ocean — making the body of water one of the world’s most strategically valuable maritime zones.
The waters are also highly coveted by Beijing, which has invested heavily in a network of commercial ports in the region that some politicians on the subcontinent fear may be a sly ploy to encircle India.
“India is extremely aware of the potential threat of Chinese expansion into the Indian Ocean region,” says Hardy.
“Undoubtedly China is moving into the Indian Ocean commercially because … it needs to protect those sea lanes. It needs to protect its oil routes.”
In December, China sent a nuclear submarine to the Indian Ocean where the vessel stayed for two months conducting an antipiracy patrol.
"Monkey Men" impersonate the animals to shoo them away from buildings in New Delhi+ READ ARTICLE
Have a monkey infestation problem?
If you’re around Delhi, India, you might want to call up Mahendra Goswami. He is a ‘Monkey Walla,’ or ‘Monkey Man,’ one of the many men hired by the Indian government to shoo monkeys away from buildings and areas where people are present.
These men entice monkeys to leave by impersonating the sounds of the aggressive langur monkey, often wearing a mask and hiding behind trees, according to the AFP. Monkeys in Delhi have been known to trash homes and gardens and have even attacked people while looking for food.
Raghuram Rajan, the governor of India's central bank, fears supereasy money from the world’s central banks is inflating assets and encouraging bad investments
Back in 2005, Raghuram Rajan, then economic counselor at the International Monetary Fund, stood up in front of the annual meeting of prominent economists and bankers at Jackson Hole, Wyo., and gave a presentation that his listeners could never have expected. The U.S. investor community was reveling in the high growth and stable financial conditions then prevalent around the world, but Rajan had examined global financial markets and come to a very different opinion. He argued that increasingly complex markets, which spewed out complicated instruments like credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities in ever greater quantities, had made the global financial system a riskier place, not less so as many believed. Such comments were considered near blasphemy at the time, and Rajan’s audience didn’t take him very seriously.
Three years later in 2008, however, his views proved prophetic. Rajan had generally predicted the sources of the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Today, Rajan, now governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, is worried again. This time, he’s fretting about the impact of the superloose monetary policies pursued by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks to combat the financial crisis and resulting recession. Long-term low interest rates and unorthodox programs to stimulate economies — like quantitative easing, or QE — could be laying the groundwork for more turmoil in financial markets, he argues.
“My sense is that monetary policy can only do so much and beyond a certain point if you try to use monetary policy it does more damage than good,” Rajan tells TIME in his Mumbai office. “A number of years over which we, as central bankers, have convinced markets that we continuously come to their rescue and that we will keep rates really low for long — that we do all kinds of ways of infusing liquidity into the markets — has created markets that tend to push asset prices probably significantly beyond fundamentals, in some cases, and make markets much more vulnerable to adverse news. My worry is that, with inflation not being strong, this can continue for some time until things are so stretched that any signs of inflation, and a rise in interest rates, could precipitate a fairly strong market reaction. Certainly that volatility hurts across the world.”
Rajan, 51, would not pinpoint specifically where the most dangerous spots in global finance may be, but he did say that he believed assets of all sorts have become inflated. “I don’t know what the right level of the market is,” he says. “But I do know that, when I look at my portfolio and try to figure out where to invest, I can’t think of what I think is fairly valued.”
On top of his worries about market volatility, Rajan is also concerned that supereasy money is causing the misallocation of capital in the global economy, with potentially huge consequences down the road. “My greater worry is that by altering the price of capital for a substantial period of time, are we also, in a sense, distorting investment decisions and the nature of the economy we will have,” Rajan says. “Have we artificially kept the real rate of interest somehow below what should be the appropriate natural rate of interest today and created bad investment that is not the most appropriate for the economy?”
Still, Rajan agrees with Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen in her policy of slowly withdrawing stimulus measures and reintroducing higher interest rates. “We’re in the hole we are in. To reverse it by changing abruptly would create substantial amounts of damage. So I’m with Fed officials in saying that as we get out of this, let’s get out of this in a predictable and careful way, rather than in one go,” Rajan says.
Rajan has had to confront fallout from Fed policy personally. When he took the helm at India’s central bank in 2013, India was suffering as one of the “fragile five” — the emerging markets deemed most vulnerable to the winding down of Fed stimulus. India’s currency, the rupee, tumbled in value as investors fled, fearful that the curtailing of dollars in the world economy would strain the country’s ability to finance its large current-account deficit. In a series of deft and quick steps, Rajan stabilized the currency and wooed back investors, earning him breathless praise in the Indian media. Newspapers dubbed him a rock-star banker and even compared him to James Bond.
Now India, he says, is “absolutely” out of the “fragile five” stage. With narrowing fiscal and current account deficits, falling inflation and rising currency reserves, India’s fundamentals, he argues, are much improved and the country is less vulnerable. However, he sees the turmoil India experienced as part of a larger problem: a lack of coordination between the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world. The actions the Fed takes are based mainly on U.S. domestic economic factors, but because of the unique position of the U.S. in the world economy, those decisions ripple through dollar-dominated financial markets in ways the Fed leadership does not take into account.
The results, Rajan argues, can ultimately be detrimental to the world economy. He points to a rise in increase in reserves in India and other emerging markets – built up as a cushion against potential fallout from the Fed’s tapering of stimulus – as one of those negatives. By topping up reserves, these emerging markets are in effect decreasing their demand for goods from the U.S. and elsewhere, and that is in the end bad for global growth.
“The U.S. should recognize that the actions we have to take to protect ourselves long run come back to effect the U.S.,” he says. “Therefore there is room for greater dialogue on how these policies should be conducted, not just to be nice, but because in the medium run it is in [America’s] own self-interest. If you are not careful about the volatility you are creating, the others have to respond and everybody is worse off.”
Ironically, Rajan has faced some criticism at home for doing just the opposite of the Fed — keeping interest rates high. Unlike most of the world, where bankers worry about low inflation or even deflation, India has been an outpost where inflation has been running too high, and Rajan took steps to bring the rate down — with some success. Some critics, however, complained that Rajan’s high-rate policy was acting as a drag on growth, and there was much press speculation when newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May that Rajan would come under pressure to cut rates to aid the administration’s promise to get the Indian economy back on track.
Rajan, though, says the central bank and the Modi Administration “are completely on the same page” when it comes to fighting inflation. “I have said repeatedly that the way to sustainable growth is to bring down inflation to much more reasonable levels,” Rajan explains. “That message is something the government is completely on board with. Once we do bring it down then we will have the opportunity to cut interest rates.”
Rajan also seems to be on the same page as Modi on economic reform. He expressed confidence that the new government is taking the initial steps necessary to set the sluggish Indian economy on its way to recovery. Growth rates can be restored to 6% to 7%, from current levels under 5%, Rajan believes, by making the government more efficient in implementing policies — unlocking badly needed but stalled investments in the process.
“Those are the things that are really needed to get the economy back to reasonable growth,” Rajan says. “This government has set about the implementation in a steady way and I am hopeful that we will see the fruits of that in the months to come.” Maybe Rajan will prove prescient this time around too.