When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

You've reach your limit of free articles.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime.

SUBSCRIBERS BENEFITS

Ad-free experience NEW

Exclusive international news coverage

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Monthly Access

30-day free trial, then $2.90 per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
India

India: 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home

India: 5 Stories Making Headlines At Home

This week, we shine the spotlight on India:

P FOR PICHAI

Google's surprise announcement that it was restructuring its businesses under a new parent company called Alphabet was a significant boost to India's national pride, with much of the media coverage focused on Google's new CEO, Indian-born Sundar Pichai. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was quick to congratulate the 43-year-old for his rapid climb to the top of one of the most successful and powerful companies on the planet.

Like Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella, Pichai has been hailed as a role model for young Indians, and Indian website Firspost now characterizes Indians as "the biggest power players in Silicon Valley." As many as 15% of startups there are founded by Indians.

Among the innumerable articles dedicated to Pichai, The Hindustan Times published a series of interviews with his former teachers and schoolmates. "He was one of those typical good students who would follow every word of the teacher," his former thesis supervisor said. A former student, meanwhile, said he remembered Pichai as "kind of a bookworm."


GOVERNMENT TAKES ON NESTLE …

The Indian government is suing Nestlé"s Indian unit and is seeking the equivalent of $100 million in damages over allegations that the company's highly popular Maggi noodles are unsafe for consumption, The Times of India reported. The world's biggest food company was banned in June from selling its instant noodles after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India found that the product contained excessive levels of lead that were endangering consumer health, which Nestlé denied. The ban is said to have cost the Swiss company as much as $50 million, but India's consumer affairs department now says Nestlé"s advertisements were misleading and deceptive and earned "unjust profits" through "unfair trade practices."


… BUT FAILS TO CRACK DOWN ON PORN

If having noodles removed from supermarket shelves went down relatively well with consumers, the same can't be said of the government's order to Internet service providers to block access to 857 pornographic websites. Having provoked a storm of criticism on social media at home as well as mockery abroad, the decision was overturned just days later, with Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi admitting that India "cannot become a totalitarian state" or "enter everyone's house or bedrooms," The Indian Express reported.

The ban was initially motivated by the government's determination to tackle child pornography and to prevent children from accessing adult material online. It came weeks after behavioral experts said that rising porn addiction among Indian youth could lead to risky sexual behavior on a large scale, especially in a country that already faces a rape problem.



MONSOON MISERY

Forecasters had warned months ago that this year's monsoon season (June to September) would bring below-normal levels of rain, and they were right. After suffering a devastating heat wave that killed more than 2,300 people in May, rain levels at the end of July were 9% below normal, and 20% below normal for the first 10 days of August. Worse still, rain distribution has been largely unequal, with some regions receiving as little as half of usual levels, sparking fears of droughts in the months to come. Other regions have been plagued by floods and landslides that killed dozens across India, as well as in Pakistan and Myanmar.

Despite boasting one of the world's highest growth rates and being Asia's third-largest economy, half of India's population still work in the agriculture sector, which depends heavily on the monsoon season, The Hindustan Times explained.


KODAIKANAL WON'T BACK DOWN

Nestlé isn't the only multinational corporation to find itself in trouble in India. Hindustan Unilever Ltd., the local subsidiary of Unilever, has been the target of a Nicki Minaj-inspired protest song that has gone viral on YouTube. The reason? The company's failure to clean up mercury contamination from its former thermometer factory — which Unilever shut down in 2001 — in the otherwise idyllic town of Kodaikanal, in southern India.

[rebelmouse-image 27089287 alt="""" original_size="640x357" expand=1]

Panoramic view of Kodaikanal — Photo: Challiyan

The video, which has been viewed nearly three million times, is part of a campaign to make the issue public and thus force Unilever to "clean up their mess" and compensate former workers suffering from mercury poisoning. More than 80,000 people have signed a petition calling on the company to take responsibility. Less than two weeks after the video's release and in the face of what The Economic Times described as "social media activism," Unilever announced it had submitted a "soil remediation" project and would start working on a solution. But as the song warns, "Kodaikanal won't back down until you make amends."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

eyes on the U.S.

A Foreign Eye On America's Stunning Drop In Life Expectancy

Over the past two years, the United States has lost more than two years of life expectancy, wiping out 26 years of progress. French daily Les Echos investigates the myriad of causes, which are mostly resulting in the premature deaths of young people.

Image of a person holding the national flag of the United States in front of a grave.

A person holding the national flag of the United States in front of a grave.

Hortense Goulard


On May 6, a gunman opened fire in a Texas supermarket, killing eight people, including several children, before being shot dead by police. Particularly bloody, this episode is not uncommon in the U.S.: it is the 22nd mass killing (resulting in the death of more than four people) this year.

Gun deaths are one reason why life expectancy is falling in the U.S. But it's not the only one. Last December, the American authorities confirmed that life expectancy at birth had fallen significantly in just two years: from 78.8 years in 2019, it would be just 76.1 years in 2021.

The country has thus dropped to a level not reached since 1996. This is equivalent to erasing 26 years of progress.Life expectancy has declined in other parts of the world as a result of the pandemic, but the U.S. remains the developed country with the steepest decline — and the only one where this trend has not been reversed with the advent of vaccines. Most shocking of all: this decline is linked above all to an increase in violent deaths among the youngest members of the population.

Five-year-olds living in the U.S. have a one in 25 chance of dying before their 40th birthday, according to calculations by The Financial Times. For other developed countries, including France, this rate is closer to one in 100. Meanwhile, the life expectancy of a 75-year-old American differs little from that of other OECD countries.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Already a subscriber? Log in.

You've reach your limit of free articles.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime.

SUBSCRIBERS BENEFITS

Ad-free experience NEW

Exclusive international news coverage

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Monthly Access

30-day free trial, then $2.90 per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The latest