TIME Internet

Mark Zuckerberg Defends His Latest Initiative

Critics say his Internet.org project violates net neutrality principles

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to deliver free Internet to the world has come under fire.

The Facebook CEO wrote a post on Friday defending Internet.org, an ambitious plan to bring Internet access to under-connected parts of the world. Critics say the initiative unfairly disadvantages websites that are not part of Internet.org, which offers some content for free.

“To give more people access to the Internet, it is useful to offer some service for free,” Zuckerberg said. “If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all.”

In places like India, Facebook has partnered with mobile operators to offer access to certain websites, like news sites, job boards and Facebook itself, without the need for a data plan.

The Times of India, a large media group in the country, has withdrawn its job board and some other sites from Internet.org and is urging competitors like BBC to do the same.

 

TIME India

This Country Looks Like It Will Grow Faster Than China This Year

A worker at a company processing steel in Khopoli, India, in 2014.
Bloomberg/Getty Images A worker at a company processing steel in Khopoli, India, in 2014.

By almost a full percentage point

India’s economic growth may surpass China’s much sooner than initially expected, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting earlier this week that Delhi will take the lead in 2015.

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook, released Tuesday, indicates that India’s growth rate will rise to 7.5% this year, while China’s is expected to drop to 6.8% from 7.4% last year.

India’s growth will “benefit from recent policy reforms” under new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the report says, with the resulting rise in investment and reduction in oil prices. “Lower oil prices will raise real disposable incomes, particularly among poorer households, and help drive down inflation,” it predicts.

The IMF forecast was substantiated by a Monday report from research firm Capital Economics, which said consumer price inflation dropped unexpectedly in March and raised the possibility of a third unscheduled cut in interest rates this year.

China’s declining growth over the past year has also been well documented, and Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Japan will soon overtake it as the United States’ largest overseas creditor.

With the World Bank also predicting that India’s growth rate will hit 8% by 2017, it looks like the upward economic trajectory anticipated by many when Modi came to power could have begun.

Read next: What I Learned in India About Financial Advice

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME India

The Guy Who Brings Your Lunch in Mumbai Now Also Brings You Anything From a New Phone to a Fresh Shirt

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Lou Jones—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images Dabbawalas sorting tiffin lunch boxes before delivery in front of Churchgate railway station in Mumbai

This is service

Delivering over 200,000 home-cooked meals a day across one of the world’s largest and most-crowded cities (and also picking up and returning the empty containers) is no mean feat. But that’s exactly what the dabbawalas — or “tiffin carriers” — of Mumbai do with clockwork precision and an organizational system that many large companies would do anything to possess.

They’ve even been awarded the Six Sigma seal of approval, earned for making just one error in every 6 million deliveries.

So it’s no surprise that India’s equivalent of Amazon, Flipkart, is now looking to take advantage of that astounding precision to deliver packages to its customers and get an edge over rivals, like, well, Amazon itself.

Flipkart has teamed up with the Mumbai dabbawalas, Reuters reports, enlisting their services to enable quicker and better “last mile” distribution.

The deliverymen will deliver parcels assigned from Flipkart hubs across the city, along with their usual pickup and drop-off of lunch boxes. They will initially only be assigned prepaid deliveries and are currently using a paper system for logistics, but the goal is reportedly to transition to apps and wearable technology down the line.

“The dabbawalas of Mumbai are one of the most reliable and trusted brands in the city. Their unique delivery system has been smooth, reliable and has survived the test of time — even under extreme conditions,” stated Neeraj Aggarwal, Flipkart’s senior director.

If you’re not familiar with the consummate organization of the dabbawalas, check out the video below. Even Amazon could have a hard time matching that.

TIME India

Indian Political Party Advocates the Denial of Voting Rights for Muslims

Protest against release of 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind
EPA Activists of India's right-wing Shiv Sena party shout slogans before they burnt posters of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi (C-bottom), alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks during a protest against Zaki-ur-Rehman's release, in New Delhi, on April 11, 2015.

The party hastily back-tracked after the editorial in its official publication caused outrage

A major Indian political party called for the voting rights of Muslims to be revoked in an editorial published Sunday, a statement that was slammed across the board and left its leadership red-faced and hastily backtracking.

The editorial was published in Saamana — the mouthpiece of the right-wing Shiv Sena party — and reiterated a statement from its late founder Balasaheb Thackeray that advocated the withdrawal of Muslim people’s right to vote, the Indian Express reported.

“If Muslims are being used … to play politics, they can never develop,” the editorial reads. “Balasaheb had once said voting rights of Muslims should be withdrawn. What he said is right.”

The statement invoked the condemnation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the opposition Congress party and several others.

“The Indian Constitution has given every citizen, irrespective of his/ her caste, community or religion, the right to vote,” said BJP spokesman Madhav Bhandari. “Those who express such views are blatantly violating the Indian Constitution. Strict action should be taken against them for such remarks.”

Senior Congress politician Anand Sharma called the editorial “unacceptable,” adding that “those behind the remarks have no place in a culture like ours.”

Neelam Gorhe, a state legislator from the Shiv Sena, sought to downplay her party’s controversial stand. “What [the Saamana editor] meant was that Muslims are being exploited for vote bank, and this will not lead to their development,” she said. “He is not suggesting that their voting rights should be taken away.”

The rights of India’s minorities have become a major issue since Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP came to power, with several controversial statements over the past year including one by the leader of a Hindu fundamentalist organization just a day before the Shiv Sena editorial, calling for the forced sterilization of Muslims and Christians.

Later on Monday, controversial BJP lawmaker Sakshi Maharaj (who once said all Hindu women should produce four children) echoed the Shiv Sena’s viewpoint by implying that Muslims should indulge in family planning or be “stripped of their voting right”.

Read next: What India Can Teach Us About Islam and Assimilation

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. China is literally building islands from almost nothing to tighten control over the South China Sea.

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard at Reuters

2. With drones and a recycled fishing trawler, one group is rescuing migrants making the world’s deadliest border crossing.

By Brad Wieners in Bloomberg Business

3. How can India can fix its trade imbalance? Convince Hindu temples to deposit their billion-dollar gold hoards in banks.

By Meenakshi Sharma and Krishna N. Das in Voice of America

4. Bangkok’s insane malls consume as much power as entire Thai provinces.

By Adam Pasick in Quartz

5. Biometrics — fingerprints and retina scans — have changed spycraft, and now even the bad guys are using it.

By Kate Brannen in Foreign Policy

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME India

Greenpeace Has Had Several of Its Indian Bank Accounts Frozen

INDIA-ENVIRONMENT-GREENPEACE-PROTEST
Punit Paranjpe—AFP/Getty Images Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace and local farmers from Madhya Pradesh state sit outside the headquarters of India's Essar Group during a protest in Mumbai on Jan. 22, 2014

It's accusing Delhi of trying to silence its opposition to the government's industrial projects

India froze seven bank accounts belonging to Greenpeace’s operations in the country on Thursday, escalating an ongoing conflict between Delhi and the environmental organization.

A government statement asserted that Greenpeace India was misusing funds and violating the country’s financial regulations, Reuters reported.

“We have evidence to prove that Greenpeace has been misreporting their funds and using their unaccounted foreign aid to stall crucial development projects,” an unnamed senior government official told Reuters.

The nongovernmental organization, which has accused the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of relaxing environmental rules to allow large industrial projects to move forward smoothly, dismissed the six-month suspension of its accounts as an attempt to silence dissent.

“We are being repeatedly targeted because we are protesting against government’s unlawful policies,” said Divya Raghunandan, Greenpeace India’s program director.

An earlier attempt by the Indian government to block the inflow of foreign funds to Greenpeace India was denied by a court order in January, soon after activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight to the U.K., where he was to testify against India in front of the British Parliament.

TIME apps

Uber Launches Rickshaw Service in India

Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) is demonstrated for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on, Aug. 6, 2014
Bloomberg/Getty Images Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) is demonstrated for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on, Aug. 6, 2014

You'll have to pay in cash

Uber has unveiled a new ride-sharing service in the Indian capital: auto rickshaws.

The three-wheeled vehicles are popular in the country, so Uber announced Thursday that they would be available, for cash only, in the Indian capital:

Users can hail the autos via the Uber app and then pay with cash at the end of the ride.

“Autos are an iconic and ubiquitous part of the Delhi landscape and we are excited to have them as another option on the Uber platform,” the company posted on its website.

Uber has had trouble in India in the past, most notably for the alleged rape of a female passenger by her driver. The app has since installed a panic button.

MONEY financial advice

What I Learned in India About Financial Advice

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Stephen Wilkes—Gallery Stock Mumbai

One thing that crosses international boundaries is how people misunderstand the cost of financial advice.

In the airport shuttle taking us to our hotel in Mumbai, I looked out the window and thought, “We’re not in South Dakota anymore.” At midnight, the streets of India’s largest city seemed as full of people, vendors, and traffic as Times Square at noon.

I had no real comparison, though, for the garbage strewn about, the beggars going from car to car when traffic stopped, the people sleeping on the sidewalks, the ramshackle condition of most buildings, and the roaming packs of stray dogs. The third poorest county in the US — just 60 miles from my home — is no match whatsoever for the real ghettos of Mumbai, where 55% of the city’s 16 million people live.

Given these great dissimilarities in economic status as well as political, religious, and cultural views, I expected to find striking differences between the Indian and U.S. financial adviser communities and their clients. Here I was surprised.

I traveled to Mumbai to meet with a group of Indian financial advisers. The country’s financial regulators are actively encouraging advisers to change from charging only commissions to charging fees. My role was to offer suggestions for making that transition.

After spending several days observing and listening to the struggles of the Indian advisers, I concluded that 95% of the obstacles they face in promulgating client-centered, fiduciary planning are the same as the ones planners face here in the US.

The most frequent complaint I heard was that consumers just won’t pay fees. They would rather pay a high commission they don’t see rather than a low fee they painfully do see. I find the same behavior in US consumers. It seems irrational, but it makes perfect sense when we understand the delusional money script of avoidance that says, “If I don’t see the fee, then I must not pay a fee.”

Just as in the US, Indian advisers struggle to help consumers understand the math behind hidden commissions and visible fees. While most advisers can quickly calculate the amounts, consumers still find it hard to accept the numbers. There is great resistance to writing a check, even when a planning fee is half as much as an unseen fee or commission. In my experience, most consumers have great difficulty emotionally understanding that writing a check for $10,000 for advisory fees on $1 million represents a $15,000 savings on a 2.5% wrap fee they don’t see and for which no check is written.

Another similarity is that those most willing to pay fees for service are the wealthier clients. At first blush one might surmise that of course the wealthy are more open to paying fees because they have more money. That isn’t the case. The fees paid are roughly proportionate. In fact, usually smaller accounts that go fee-only save proportionally more than do larger ones. The difference is that affluent or wealthy clients tend to be business owners or professionals who are familiar with employing fee-for-service consultants, like accountants and attorneys.

The transition to introducing fees is slow, requiring a lot of education on the part of advisers and willingness to listen on the part of consumers. Similar to where the US was in the 1980s, India has only a handful of pioneering fee-only planners. Most advisers wanting to switch from pushing financial products to doing comprehensive financial planning have rolled out a fee-based model first. They hope consumers will eventually embrace the advantages — lower costs and fewer conflicts of interest — inherent in a fee-only compensation model.

In my career, I have watched and participated in financial planning’s growth as a profession in the US. It’s a privilege to be able to see it develop in India as well.

———-

Rick Kahler, ChFC, is president of Kahler Financial Group, a fee-only financial planning firm. His work and research regarding the integration of financial planning and psychology has been featured or cited in scores of broadcast media, periodicals and books. He is a co-author of four books on financial planning and therapy. He is a faculty member at Golden Gate University and the former president of the Financial Therapy Association.

TIME portfolio

Discover Himalaya’s Outlawed Marijuana Fields

In the Himalayan, entire villages survive on illegal marijuana production

Nestled in the Himalayan foothills at an altitude of 10,000 ft. (3,000 m), entire villages and communities subsist on illegal marijuana production. These villages are far from any paved roads and are so remote that distances are measured in hours of walking.

Across thousands of acres of public and private land, villagers grow cannabis which is then turned into a high-quality resin know as charas. “On the global market, charas is sold as a high quality hashish,” says Italian photographer Andrea de Franciscis, who has been documenting these communities for the past three years. “The farmers who produce the costly resin get very little in return and struggle to survive against always tougher legislation.”

De Franciscis has chosen an anthropological angle to photograph these villagers, with the goal of producing a complete story that also focusses on culture and tradition. “Life is challenging in the mountain,“ he tells TIME. “Women work as much as men, and the feeling is that it’s rather a matriarchal society.”

Cannabis has deep roots in Indian society dating back to as early as 2,000 BCE within the Hindu scriptures. However, since the drug was outlawed in India in 1985 there has been pressure on a national and global scale to curb the cannabis production in the Himalayan valley. But, says de Franciscis, this has only “led to an increase of the price [of charas] on the global market, and has actually worsened the situation of the villagers whom have no real alternative for their livelihood.”

Andrea de Franciscis is a photojournalist based in India and Italy. Follow him on Instagram

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram

TIME India

Indian Passenger Jet Pilots Grounded After Fierce Cockpit Quarrel: Report

Air India insists there was no physical violence

An Air India pilot and co-pilot engaged in a fierce quarrel in the cockpit just before taking off on a flight Sunday from the western Indian city of Jaipur to the country’s capital Delhi, reports the Times of India, citing unnamed airline sources.

The newspaper’s sources say the quarrel erupted over pre-flight procedures and allege that the two men came to actual blows.

The airline denies that there was any physical violence. “There was an argument between the two and nothing more,” an Air India spokesman told the Times. “They have settled the issue.”

Although standard procedure dictates that the senior pilot of flight AI 611 should have informed the airline about the incident immediately, he reportedly did not do so because it would have led to the flight’s cancellation, the Times says. Instead, he filed a log entry with the airline after landing in Delhi.

The Times subsequently reported that both pilots had been suspended over the incident. “Both the pilots have been derostered,” airline spokesman G P Rao told the paper. “An inquiry has been ordered into this.”

The mental health of airline pilots has been under intense scrutiny after the suicidal Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed an airplane into the French Alps on Mar. 24, killing all 150 people on board.

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