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Category: India (Page 2 of 7)

Delhi Snapshot: Family of Four — Plus a Goat — on a Motorbike

Spotted this here in New Delhi a while back and meant to share here.

Yes, this appears to be a dad driving a motorbike, with his son in front and his daughter behind him.

Then on the back is the mom. With a goat on her lap.

Fun for the whole family (including pet and/or working animal and/or dinner).

Delhi Snapshot: Transporting Eggs

carrying eggs in delhi

Think your job is tough?

Spotted recently on a major New Delhi thoroughfare.

This guy must have nerves of steel given the city’s chaotic traffic and crazy drivers. Much respect.

Think American Elections Are Bad? Indian Voters Get 1,000 Texts a Day

2018 05 16whatsapp

That’s the headline of my most recent story, out yesterday, which I wrote with a few colleagues. It begins:

For Gurupad Kolli, a 40-year-old lawyer who lives in a remote Indian village, the torrent of WhatsApp messages surging to his phone a few weeks ago meant one thing: election day was near.

They’re at turns strident, angry, buoyant, informative, misleading, gripping and confusing, he says. Some days he received as many as 1,000 of them through the popular messaging service. Pleased to no longer “depend on the mass media like newspapers,” the resident of Ramapur village in the southern state of Karnataka nonetheless also conceded “there’s so much false and fake news going around.”

He isn’t alone in his bewilderment. The rapidly falling cost of smartphones and mobile data in the world’s second-most-populous nation has turbocharged the spread of WhatsApp, where it is growing far faster than other social media and messaging platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

India is home to more WhatsApp users than any other country, accounting for more than 200 million of the 1.5 billion monthly active global users. That rivals the popularity in India of Facebook Inc., which owns WhatsApp. Tens of millions of Indians of all ages have made the messaging service, which is simple to join and use, their entry point to the world of digital communication, especially in poor, remote areas where users are flocking to the internet for the first time.

Click through to read the rest.

Book Notes: ‘The Other One Percent: Indians in America,’ by Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh

the other one percent

From time to time I share notes about the books I’ve been reading, or have revisited recently after many years.

These posts are meant to help me remember what I’ve learned, and to point out titles I think are worth consulting. They’re neither formal book reviews nor comprehensive book summaries, but simply my notes from reading these titles.

For previous postings, see my Book Notes category.

The Other One Percent: Indians in America

By Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur, Nirvikar Singh
Published in 2017
Oxford University Press
ISBN–10: 0190648740
Amazon link

Brief Summary

An illuminating look at how Indians in America – a tiny percentage of the overall population – have come to enjoy such outsized success.

My Notes

The jacket copy sums up nicely the miracle that is Indian immigration to America:

One of the most remarkable stories of immigration in the last half century is that of Indians to the United States. People of Indian origin make up a little over one percent of the American population now, up from barely half a percent at the turn of the millennium. Not only has its recent growth been extraordinary, but this population from a developing nation with low human capital is now the most-educated and highest-income group in the world’s most advanced nation.

You read that passage, and the title of the book, right: There are only about 3 million people of Indian origin in the U.S.

That’s an astoundingly low number when you consider their prominence in tech, medicine, finance and more. As a group, they have much higher levels of education and income than other citizens.

How’d that happen?

The short story: A U.S. immigration act in 1917 virtually terminated immigration from Asia. But changes to the law in 1965 opened things up, and thus began an influx of Indians.

But not just any Indians.

The authors – academics at Temple University (Chakravorty), the University of Pennsylvania (Kapur) and the University of California, Santa Cruz (Singh) – argue that Indian immigrants were “triple selected”:

  1. They came from dominant castes and had access to higher education
  2. They were selected to take exams in tech fields
  3. They benefitted from U.S. immigration law, which favored immigrants with tech skills

The book is absolutely brimming with data, and makes for a fantastic resource. (One reason I read substantive books in paper rather than on a Kindle is so I can underline passages, take photos for blog posts like this one, and then put them back on my shelf for future use!)

“The Other One Percent” contains some excellent graphs and charts, like this one, illustrating just how exceptional this population is:

IMG 0645

There were three phases of Indians coming to America:

  1. The early movers, in the 1960s and 1970s
  2. The families (1980s through early 1990s)
  3. The IT generation (after the early 1990s)

IMG 0648

Here’s a map of where Indian-Americans tend to be clustered in the U.S., based on community organizations:

indians in america by geography

And here’s data on the boom in H–1B visas (a topic on which I’ve reported before) issued to highly skilled workers – and Indians’ huge proportion of those.

indian visas and america

Finally, while the book argues that “the success of Indian Americans is at its core a selection story,” the authors do touch on other potential factors. These include:

  • “thrift and pooling of savings”
  • English language skills
  • strong social networks
  • “cohesive families”
  • an experience with social heterogeneity in India that has made them more “adaptable”

I highly recommend “The Other One Percent” for those interested in immigration and immigration policy, the Indian diaspora, and American society broadly.

Walmart Looks to Scale Back in U.K. and Brazil, With an Eye on India

walmart

That’s the headline of a story just out with my colleagues Sarah Nassauer and Luciana Magalhães: It begins:

The world’s biggest retailer has concluded it can’t take on the whole world by itself.

Walmart Inc. is in discussions to give up control over hundreds of stores in the U.K. and Brazil, two big markets where it has struggled for years, according to people familiar with the talks. At the same time, it is preparing to pour billions of dollars into an Indian e-commerce startup to crack a promising market that has long eluded the U.S. giant.

After spending decades building stores around the globe and taking on local players, Walmart is forming joint ventures in competitive markets and focusing investments in areas executives think will provide growth to a company with $500 billion in annual sales. The strategy shift comes as Walmart works to fend off Amazon.com Inc. and a growing crop of discount grocers in the U.S. and abroad.

And more on India:

At the same time, Walmart in advanced discussions to buy a majority stake in Flipkart Group, a homegrown startup that has become India’s largest e-commerce company. The deal isn’t yet complete and could fall apart, said a person familiar with the Flipkart discussions. Flipkart said it was valued at $11.6 billion in a funding round last year.

Click through to read the rest.

Introducing our Desi Dog, Ginger

TLDR: Say hello to the newest member of our family: the beautiful Ginger!

ginger

The backstory:

Last year, about six months after our beloved dog Ashley died, we found ourselves really missing having a pooch in our lives. But we weren’t quite ready to adopt a new one.

ICUC

Anasuya started asking around about organizations here in Delhi that help street dogs, and a friend recommended the Indian Canine Uplipftment Centre, or ICUC.

ICUC

The New Delhi-based organization was founded in 2012 by the charming Sonya Kochhar Apicella, who like all the staff at the center clearly care deeply for dogs. And as anyone who has visited Delhi knows, there are tons of street dogs here.

ICUC is the NGO wing of a boarding, day care and grooming on the same premises called Canine Elite.

(If you’re into helping dogs, do consider getting in touch with or donating funds to ICUC. If you’re here in Delhi and need any dog-related services, consider Canine Elite.)

ICUC_delhi

‘Designed by Darwin’

Often called Desi dogs (Desi roughly meaning “from India,” based on the Hindi word for “country”), these canines typically look like Ginger: medium sized, short haired, and often a shade of brown, with some white marks.

They’re also sometimes referred to as Indi-dogs or “Indian pariah dogs.” (“Pariah” is an ecological term for dogs that typically live on their own, outside homes, untouched by breeding.)

Another name for the creatures is INDogs, short for “Indian Native Dog;” you can find a wealth of information at INDog.co.in, the site for the INDog Project.

The group also maintains a gallery of such canines, and a crowd-sourced document containing reports on the dogs’ temperament.

Desi dogs, some of which have over the years mixed with non-native Indian breeds to varying degrees, often live in neighborhoods here in New Delhi and in other cities, towns, and villages.

Residents typically look after them, feeding them but often not providing medical attention or sterilization. Others dogs roam around more freely. Many have diseases and suffer from various ailments.

I haven’t seen the full version of the documentary, but Desi dogs are reportedly mentioned in a 2003 National Geographic documentary called “Search for the First Dog,” as being one of the world’s oldest types of dogs.

A snippet from the show describes these dogs perfectly: they’re “designed by Darwin.” They are mostly a product of natural selection, not man-made tinkering for looks.

So anyway: Ginger.

On our first ICUC visit, we learned that Sonya and her team had just taken in a litter of ten Desi dog puppies, along with their mother, who had been rescued from a New Delhi intersection.

We decided to play with the pups a bit.

Then this happened.

ginger

Frankly, all the puppies were cute, but this little light brown one – with a white stripe down the middle of her face – struck me as especially lovable. And she was comfortable with people, which I liked, while some of her litter-mates were a bit more skittish.

ginger

We continued visiting the center once or twice a month, often checking in on the litter and spending time playing with some of the dozen or so older dogs living there, which range in age from nearly a year to several years old.

Then around October, one day we showed up to discover that five of the ten puppies…had been adopted!

I rushed into the room where they were being held and found, to my relief, that the cute little yellow puppy was still there.

So that was it: We decided to officially adopt her, signing the papers on November 4.

And as I mentioned, we’ve named her Ginger.

ICUC ginger
The big day.

ginger sleeping
In the car on the way home.

IMG 4085

The first couple of weeks, despite our better judgement, we let her sleep in our bed because it was the only way we could get her to stop whining. Total bed hog. She no longer sleeps in the bed with us.

ginger pen
“Please play with me!”

IMG 4081
An early visit to the vet

IMG 4325
With a favorite toy

IMG 4390
Sleeping on Anasuya

IMG 5504
One of her favorite perches, where she can keep an eye on the gate and police any potential intruders – when she’s not napping, that is.

IMG 4701
In the sun.

ginger lapdog
She weighed about five kilograms – or 11 pounds – when we first adopted here and now, at about eight months, she weighs 16 kg (35 pounds). I think she’ll continue growing a bit more. She seeks out pats a little less now, but still enjoys sitting in our laps from time to time, as you can see above.

Now that she’s getting closer to the one-year mark, we’re also getting a better sense of her grown-up characteristics.

She is a very smart and alert dog, keen to interact with humans and play with toys and fetch balls. She’s also quite athletic and agile.

And she is a great watch dog: She’s plenty defensive of us and our house, but she doesn’t bark an unreasonable amount.

Ginger’s likes include:

  1. Eating bugs
  2. Running in circles in the yard
  3. Playing with other dogs
  4. Biting her leash, turning walks into tug-of-war matches
  5. Policing the kitchen for dropped scraps
  6. Napping

Among her dislikes:

  1. Cats
  2. Tennis racquet-shaped flyswatters
  3. People ringing our doorbell

We love her so much already.

The Internet Is Filling Up Because Indians Are Sending Millions of ‘Good Morning!’ Texts

Goodmorning 2018 01 23

That’s the headline of my newest story, an A-hed out yesterday.

It begins:

Google researchers in Silicon Valley were trying to figure out why so many smartphones were freezing up half a world away. One in three smartphone users in India run out of space on their phones daily.

The answer? Two words. “Good Morning!”

The glitch, Google discovered, was an overabundance of sun-dappled flowers, adorable toddlers, birds and sunsets sent along with a cheery message.

Millions of Indians are getting online for the first time—and they are filling up the internet. Many like nothing better than to begin the day by sending greetings from their phones. Starting before sunrise and reaching a crescendo before 8 a.m., internet newbies post millions of good-morning images to friends, family and strangers.

All that good cheer is driving a 10-fold increase in the number of Google searches for “Good Morning images” over the past five years. Pinterest, the San Francisco visual-search platform, added a new section to display images with quotes. It saw a ninefold increase over the past year in the number of people in India downloading such pictures.

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp messaging service—which has 200 million monthly active users in India, making the country its biggest market—added a status message last year so users could say good morning to all of their contacts at once.

The story, which is on the front page of Tuesdays print WSJ, seems to have touched a nerve. It’s been widely shared online, and has been among the most popular stories on WSJ.com since it was published.

A Browser You’ve Never Heard of Is Dethroning Google in Asia

Uc browser

That’s the headline of my newest story, out today. It begins:

JAKARTA, Indonesia—A mobile browser rarely used in the West has outflanked Google’s Chrome in some of Asia’s fastest-growing markets, giving owner Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. an advantage in the race among technology giants to capture the next generation of internet users.

Hundreds of millions of people in India, Indonesia and other emerging markets getting online for the first time are picking UC Browser, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, over ones made by U.S. rivals. Users say UC Browser works better in countries dominated by low-end smartphones and spotty mobile service.

“It’s faster, it takes up less memory, and it looks better” than Chrome, said Rizky Ari Prasetya, a 20-year-old Jakarta resident who recently ditched Chrome for UC Browser.

India and Indonesia are among the last, great untapped markets for internet users. Just 30% of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, and only 25% of Indonesia’s 260 million use the web, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations body.

Click through to read the rest.

Google, India and Next Billion Users Follow up: More Data

google

Following my story Tuesday about Google, India, and the future of the web, I wanted to share the text of some tweets, slightly edited for presentation here, that I posted after Google’s launch event.

These are some stats Google revealed at the gathering, along with a obvservaiton of two of mine:

–…India now has 400 million internet users, most accessing the web via their smartphones, Google says.

— Still, some 900 million Indians aren’t online.

230 million people use the web in local Indian languages today.

170 million are using messaging services, Google says, and 106 million consume online news.

— Some 1 billion apps are downloaded every month from Google’s Play Store, more than any other nation.

28% of search queries in India are done via voice.

Google is seeing 400% growth in Hindi queries year on year.

— On Google’s new India-first mobile payment app, Tez: launched 10 weeks ago, about to pass 12 million active users, Google says. 500,000 merchants are on the platform.

There are “big new features planned, especially for merchants,” in 2018, said Caesar Sengupta, of Google’s Next Billion Users team.

Re-cap of new stuff: Android Oreo (Go edition), for inexpensive smartphones. Google Go, search app for beginner web users. Files Go, for freeing up space on (again, inexpensive) phones. Google Assistant for JioPhone. Maps feature for motorbike riders. [Note: more details are here.]

— And an incident that illustrates how tough voice search tech can be to get right. An exec was demo-ing how to use Google Assistant to find a restaurant in Delhi.

In live demo, he said: “How do I get there?”

The phone then displayed the text:

huawei adventure advocate?

— He and the audience laughed it off, and he tried again, asking for directions, and Google Assistant gave him directions to different location than the restaurant.

UPDATE, December 29: If you’d like to watch the event, you can find it on YouTube here.

By Me Yesterday: Google, India, and the Future of the Web

india_traffic

The story begins:

NEW DELHI—An explosion of smartphone usage in India is changing the way Alphabet Inc.’s Google sees the future of the internet.

As a mobile price war in the South Asian nation has slashed data rates to less than $5 a month for unlimited high-speed access, hundreds of millions of people are getting online for the first time and bingeing, stretching their low-end smartphones to the limit.

The Mountain View, Calif., company rolled out several apps and functions Tuesday aimed directly at these net newbies and those like them in other emerging markets.

As online activity here has increased this year, the inexpensive smartphones used by many consumers have struggled to handle the surge. To help, Google has shrunk the file size of its mobile operating system and many popular apps. Users in India are frequently offline so Google has given them the ability to do more without an internet connection. Also, they are much more likely to get around on motorcycles than in cars so Google Maps has started offering suggested routes and travel-time estimates for two-wheelers.

Click through to read the rest.

For more on the products, here’s a blog post from Google containing additional details.

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