Monday, December 2, 2019
Number of the day: 47%

Browsing on your phone just got a whole lot pricier. Starting December 3, Airtel and Vodafone will hike their rates for voice and data services—while Jio’s new rates will kick in on December 6. Airtel has merged its popular Rs 169 and Rs 199 plans into a single Rs 248 pack that offers 1.5 GB of data per day. Jio says it will roll out “all in one" plans which will cost 40% more, but “will offer 300% more benefits.” Point to note: A wide range of companies across sectors have bet heavily on India’s smartphone revolution—which has been fuelled entirely by cheap data prices.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The gruesome rape and murder of Priyanka Reddy

A young woman was gang-raped and killed in Hyderabad on Friday. Her death triggered outrage, protests and hasty official action. But what’s truly shocking is how little has changed since Jyoti Singh’s death in 2012. Both the tragedy and its aftermath followed a depressingly familiar pattern.

The victim: Priyanka Reddy was 26-years old and a veterinarian doctor. Her co-workers remember her as a kind, hard-working colleague who endured a long, arduous commute just to make it to work each day. (Reddy has been named by a number of media outlets and not by others. We have chosen to use her name rather than call her a ‘Hyderabad veterinarian’, which robs her of her individuality—or use a media-created name like Nirbhaya. For example, Quint has decided to call her Poornima, while The News Minute calls her Madhuri.)

The crime: mercifully did not entail extreme violence such as the use of iron rods. But the circumstances were nevertheless similar. Here’s a woman who was punished for being alone and outside her home.

  • Reddy parked her two-wheeler at a toll plaza to take a cab to her dermatologist. 

  • While she was away, the four men—who worked as a crew on a truck—deflated one of the tires. When she returned at 9 pm, they offered to help. Two of them took the vehicle away to fix it.

  • Reddy felt unsafe and called her sister around 9:15 pm, but was concerned about getting her vehicle back. 

  • She was gang-raped soon after. The killers then strangled her, moved her into the truck, and then torched the abandoned body under a bridge.

The police: As is always the case, they were slow to take action. 

  • When her sister called Reddy back, the phone was already switched off. The worried family set out to look for her, and then approached the cops: “We then decided to go to the cops but we went from one police station to another for more than half an hour. They couldn't decide if the case falls in their jurisdiction.”

  • Despite her sister’s repeated demands, the police also refused to track her phone—claiming that the operators for private phone carriers will not be available late at night.

  • They were also rude and offensive: “The police spoke to us very rudely, in a disgusting manner. They kept saying she would have gone with someone. I kept saying my daughter is not like that, but they didn’t listen.”

  • The next day, after Reddy’s body was found, Telangana’s Home Minister said: "We are saddened by the incident. The police is alert and controlling crime. She was an educated woman, and yet she called her sister instead of 100. Had she called 100, she would have been saved.” Watch the clip here.

  • Three policemen have since been suspended. But there has been no talk of suspending or even chastising the Home Minister.

The suspects: are four men who work together as a truck crew for a transport company. Their names are Mohammed Areef (26), Jollu Shiva (20), Jollu Naveen (20) and Chintakunta Chennakeshavulu (20). 

The communalisation: After the news broke, right-leaning Twitter handles were quick to put an anti-Muslim spin on the story. One such early tweet: “Hindu girl raped and murdered by rapists in Shadnagar of Hyderabad. Is Shadnagar a Muslim majority area?" Some news sites zeroed in on the one Muslim suspect, Mohammed—naming only him and not his accomplices. 

The protests: An angry mob gathered around the police station where the suspects were being held—demanding they be immediately and publicly hung for their crimes. Elsewhere in the city, candlelight vigils were held by women’s groups. In Delhi, a lone woman sat in protest near the Parliament, and was taken into custody by the police—surely because she posed a threat to law and order.

The stories: Reddy’s death sparked an outpouring of anguish, as women shared their stories of assault, and the toll of living in constant fear. Indian Express published the story of a nightmarish close call in an Ola cab. Singer Chinmayi Sripaada highlighted stories of abuse that occurs within families. And many spoke out in rage, insisting that no one wants to be ‘India’s daughter’.

What’s next: Telangana CM Chandrasekhar Rao has ordered the immediate constitution of a fast track court to try the accused. He also asked local officials not to assign night duties to women as there are “human sharks” all around—a suggestion that is not even worthy of comment.

The bottomline: Last week, a Class XI kid was gang-raped in Coimbatore by six men. Her story isn’t on the front page. Bollywood celebrities haven’t tweeted their outrage, and no politician has spoken out, or instituted a fast track court. The reason: she didn’t die, and certainly not in a sufficiently gruesome fashion to merit our attention. A gang-rape is, after all, just another day in India.


Learn more: The Wire offers a detailed overview. Quint has the most details of the crime and the timeline—directly sourced from Reddy’s family. Times of India explains how the police tracked down the suspects. Indian Express talked to Reddy’s colleagues, and is one of the rare pieces that focuses on her life and not her death. SheThePeople captures the frustration and fear experienced by every Indian woman—and looks at what needs to change.

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feeling sad and afraid… again and again and again

Rahul Bajaj took aim at the government: At an Economic Times event, the industrialist criticised the Modi government—in the presence of Amit Shah! 

  • Noting that his fellow businessmen are “afraid” to speak, he said: “In UPA 2, we could abuse anybody, that is a different matter. You are doing good work but still we don’t have the confidence that if we openly criticise you, it will be appreciated.” (Watch this bit here

  • He also flagged Pragya Thakur’s comment praising Nathuram Godse and lynchings, which he said “creates a hawa. A hawa of intolerance. We are afraid. It is our fault that we are.” (Watch it here

  • Amit Shah responded by firmly denying Bajaj’s claims: “About fear, I only say that no one needs to fear… Nor have we done anything whose criticism the government needs to worry about. The government has been run most transparently. We are not afraid of any opposition and if anyone criticises, then going by its merits, we will try to improve.” (Watch him here)

  • A number of BJP leaders have since criticised Bajaj for criticising the government.

Your sad economy update is here: and it includes the following:

  • India’s GDP grew at a rate of 4.5% in the most recent quarter—slipping below 5%. The past quarter also marked the longest economic slowdown since 2006. And India has now officially lost the badge of being the fastest growing economy in the world to China—which grew 6% in the same period. 

  • Mint points out that the non-government part of the economy has slowed even further to 3.05%, and explains why it matters. 

  • Also troubling: GST collections for the first eight months are actually shrinking.

  • Amid the gloom and doom, there was plenty of black humour. For example: this tongue-in-cheek thread that transforms the diving GDP growth curve into a series of funny cartoons. A little more pointed and meaner: This Times of India cartoon.

The terror on London Bridge: Usman Khan stabbed and killed two people before he was overpowered by bystanders—and eventually shot by the police. Then came the shocking revelation: He was a known terrorist who had been imprisoned for a variety of offences, including a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange. The Kashmiri origin Brit had also been accused of setting up training camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The Guardian explains why a known terrorist was roaming free. Daily Mail has photos and footage of the Polish chef who pinned the attacker with a narwhal’s tusk. And here’s a thread with footage of the moment the police shot Khan on the bridge.

Is Swiggy/Zomato swindling you? Someone on Twitter noticed a very strange thing about the price of a Pizza Hut pasta. It cost Rs 149 on the Pizza Hut app, but Rs 169 on Swiggy! What the hey?! Then Quint dug deeper and uncovered many more such instances of skullduggery. For example: Chicken biryani, Rs 335 on Swiggy, Rs 280 at the restaurant. And Zomato isn’t any different. No, this isn’t part of that company’s delivery fee—which is added separately onto the final bill. So who’s to blame? Both Swiggy and Zomato are pointing their finger at the restaurants. 

New rules for Ola/Uber: The government is taking aim at the wallets of Uber and Ola. Plans are afoot to cap their commission to 10% of the total fare—down from the current 20%. Also in its crosshairs: surge pricing, which may be capped at 2x the base fare. And only 10% of the total number of rides offered by a driver can be subject to surge pricing. (Economic Times)

Your Kashmir update is here: and it involves an array of unjust policies and practices:

  • After four months of being cut off, companies in Kashmir can finally restore their internet connections. But here's the catch: They have to sign a bond that allows security agencies full access to their data and networks. 

  • Also: telecommunication companies are charging J&K residents fees for internet data services… even though the government has suspended all connections. 

  • Also charging people for unused services: private schools which are pressuring parents to pay bus and tuition fees even though most of them remain closed.

Hazards of phone charging: Is your phone about to die? No, don't just plug it into that handy charging station at the airport. You may become a victim of 'juice jacking'. That’s when hackers load USB ports with malware. When a person plugs in their phone or laptop, it infects the devices, allowing hackers to read and export their data. To be clear: such cases have only been reported in the United States, but bad ideas spread fast. So we plan to keep our power banks fully charged the next time we travel. (New York Times)

Indian students are killing themselves: The numbers are dire. Nearly 26 students committed suicide every day in 2016. The suidice rate among students increased 52%—from 6,248 to 9,474—between 2007 and 2016. The state with most reported deaths: Maharashtra (1,350), followed by West Bengal (1,147) and Tamil Nadu (981). Unsurprisingly, the number one reason is failure to pass exams—which accounted for over 30% of the suicides. (Business Standard)

Say hello to a truly ‘skinny’ beer: Some brews—like the Belgian Hoegaarden—are bursting with gut-friendly yeast that combats obesity and helps you get a better night's sleep. The reason: these brands are fermented twice—once in the brewery and again in the bottle. Research shows that some bottles of beer contain up to 50 million probiotic or 'good' bacteria. (Dailymail)


Say hello to an everlasting apple: Scientists have spent over 20 years developing ‘Cosmic Crisp’, a new breed of apples that can last 10-12 months in the fridge. And here’s what it tastes like: "It's an ultra-crisp apple, it's relatively firm, it has a good balance of sweet and tart and it's very juicy.” (BBC News)

Stuff that makes you go WTF: One: The sea in Chennai is foaming after heavy rains, thanks to toxic waste and untreated sewage. Check it out here. Two: Edible bugs are a super-hot trend in US startups. 

Martin Scorcese is begging Netflix viewers: not to watch ‘The Irishman’ on anything smaller than a “big iPad”—and he wants you to do it without interruptions. So someone helpfully created a ‘mini series’ version of the movie just so we can eff him off.

Weekend reads you might have missed: include the following:

  • Nikkei Asian Review explains why SoftBank’s next big debacle may unfold in India.

  • Mint explains how Jaipur became the national capital of forgery, cheating and fraud.

  • This juicy Manu Pillai column tells the story of the sultan of Gujarat who was rumoured to be poisonous—literally so. 

  • Ozy profiles Divya Kandukuri who is working to bring mental health-care to the most marginalised communities.

  • BBC News uncovers sham news sites that make big ad dollars from Google and Amazon.

  • Scroll on the decision to withdraw the children’s book ‘The Art of Tying a Pug’.

  • Atlas Obscura’s 14 unusual shopping experiences around the world. Though we wouldn’t call the Anjuna flea market in Goa all that off-beat.

  • The Cut’s funny list of 10 signs that a TV heroine is a badass chick.

  • Quartz on LVMH’s “big wardrobe of brands” that includes a very cool illustration of its reach. Yup, it’s a lot more than just Louis Vuitton and Tiffany.

  • Washington Post on a new study which shows that cats do indeed have facial expressions.

  • Times of India profiles nine Indian women scientists doing phenomenal work.

  • Daily Mail exposes Prince Andrew’s shady deals with tax-dodging billionaires—as opposed to the child-abusing kind. Or maybe those two sets overlap.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • This Xfinity ad featuring the reunion between ET and a now middle-aged Elliot.
  • The great news that Maha CM Uddhav Thackeray has stopped metro work in Aarey. Don’t know what this is about? Read this explainer.

  • A hilarious pooch clip that involves a half-eaten cookie and a trail of damning evidence.

  • Thor the great hunk of slobber who became the first bulldog to win the US National Dog Show in a century—for his “outstanding overall attitude and presence." We agree.

  • These x-rated sculptures on a beachside in Spain that are making English expats very unhappy. 

  • This 100-day ‘sleep’ internship that pays Rs 1 lakh.

  • This adorable baby with a geometrically round face.

  • This moving and beautiful gesture of sibling love between two little ones.

  • This 18000-year-old puppy perfectly preserved by ice.

  • Disney’s decision to hold an early and exclusive screening the next Star Wars flick for a dying fan.

  • The best-rated eatery in Brussels—thanks to the rave reviews about its staff who have Down’s Syndrome
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The best place for the best advice

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How to prevent Instagram from emptying your wallet

Editor’s note: Social media is intent on making all of us shop till we drop—or at least until our credit ratings drop. Investment advisor and Broadsheet subscriber Rishad Manekia explains how to prevent the pressure of social media-induced FOMO/YOLO from destroying our financial future—and that of our planet (see: the eco-footprint of fast fashion).

Credit card business in India is booming thanks to Generation Z and Millennial shoppers. People under 25 accounted for less than 2% of credit card transactions back in 2016. That number has shot up 5x to 10% now. Indians under the age of 30 account for a whopping 35% of plastic users in India—compared to 27% for those over 40. And the inevitable consequence of that bingeing is ballooning credit card debt. The reason: Our constant need to buy, buy, buy everything—be it a product or an experience—we see on our social media feeds. 

Here’s a guide on how to say no to debt, improve your credit rating, and resist the wasteful allure of Instagram.

First, check your CIBIL score: That’s the three-digit numeric summary of your credit history issued by the Credit Information Bureau of India Limited. It helps a potential lender—for e.g. banks—determine your credit-worthiness based on your financial history. So the first step is to diagnose the state of your financial health over at the CIBIL website—which gives you one free report a year. 

A score between 300-900 means you are in decent shape. The higher your score, the more likely you are to qualify for a loan. There are also added benefits such as lower interest rates and better credit card benefits. OTOH, a low score can make life very difficult, especially when you start adulting and need to make big-ticket purchases for a car or a home. 

Next, make a plan to up that score: If you don’t have a good score, it will take a couple of years to improve it. So you better start doing the following:

  • Pay your credit card bills before their due date. Sooner the better. Also: make sure you pay the full amount, and not just the minimum payment. 

  • Learn to love your debit card—which deducts the amount directly from your bank account, and minimises the risk of excess debt.

  • Use a digital wallet to shop because it allows you to set daily as well as monthly limits. For example, my Paytm account has a daily limit of Rs 5,000, and a monthly limit of Rs 20,000. 

  • Don’t continually apply for new credit cards because that can damage your score—especially if you are rejected. 

  • Do not stretch your credit limit on any given card to the max. Never spend more than 50% of your available credit unless you are sitting pretty with a CIBIL score of 750-plus. 

Say no to Insta gratification: which is easier said than done. So here is a list of totally doable tips: 

  • Move the money out: Set up an auto-payment that will re-route a big chunk of your salary to an investment or another bank account with a higher interest rate. Make sure it is triggered soon after your salary hits the account, i.e. very early in the month. Next, pay off all your monthly bills. Again, many of these can be automated, and make sure they are paid within three days of your salary date. This will leave only a small surplus for you to potentially splurge.

  • Delay gratification: You just saw the latest pair of Needledust ballet slippers that you totally must have for the wedding season. Dump it in the shopping cart, but do not hit ‘buy’! Give yourself 72 hours to decide if you really, really want them. Chances are the slippers will stay exactly where they are—in the cart. 

  • Time your expenses: set aside assigned shopping days and time them for the end of the month—exactly when you are feeling the most broke. Also: Shop when you are feeling good, not when you are having a bad day. Stress shopping is as bad for your health as stress eating. 

  • Delete those shopping apps: Uninstall Shein, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. from your phone. Switch off the shopping feature on smart speakers like Alexa, Google and Siri. It reduces impulse buying—especially when you are bored. Also useful: an occasional social media cleanse. Deleting Insta and Facebook for a few days is great for both your mental and financial wellbeing. 

  • Budget for the unexpected: Yes, we all know we need to make a budget and stick to it. But we usually only list known and regular expenses, and treat everything else as pocket money. One of the biggest triggers for debt are unexpected or unusual expenses like medical bills, family crisis or wedding-related travel. So always put aside Rs 10,000 for out-of-ordinary spends so you never cross the red line.

  • Ask yourself why: Make a list of the big-ticket dreams in your bucket list. For example: that holiday in Spain, a new car etc. And each time you are tempted to splurge on a new dress or expensive meal or weekend in Goa, take a hard look at that list. A passing pleasure can often cost you your life goals. 

FOMO is a natural human instinct. We are wired to want to fit in with the tribe, and worry about being left out. And that’s why we compare our lives with those of others on Facebook or Insta. But don’t let photos of fancy holidays, clothes and meals eat into your hard-earned money and undermine life ambitions that really matter. 

About Rishad Manekia: About Rishad Manekia: I am a SEBI registered investment advisor and founder of Kairos Capital. I started my career with Standard Chartered Bank and have spent the last decade doing wealth management and I truly enjoy helping people achieve their life goals. In my spare time, I contribute time to projects in livelihood development for the disadvantaged and I love playing the drums! Connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.


Disclaimer: Please note that all the information mentioned above is for informational purposes only. Please consult a qualified financial advisor prior to making any investment and financial decisions.

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