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Why so many African Americans have Nigerian ancestry — Quartz Africa

During the period of the transatlantic slave trade, more than 12.5 million enslaved persons were shipped from Africa to the Americas with about 3.5 million of them from Nigeria.

Today there are communities of people with Nigerian ancestry mostly in Brazil, Cuba, and Jamaica who have retained some some of their ancestral beliefs and traditions.

In the largest DNA study of people of African ancestry in the Americas, researchers found an overrepresentation of Nigerian genetic ancestry in the United States and Latin America compared to the proportion of enslaved people shipped to these places from regions within modern day Nigeria. While the finds from the genetic study are largely supported by established narratives and historic records of the transatlantic slave trade, there were also inconsistencies.

The researchers put forward a new narrative explaining the variations in African ancestry in the Americas and how these variations were shaped by the transatlantic and a later intra-America slave trade whose impact was only recently understood.

The study which involved the DNA of 50,281 people of African descent in the United States, Latin America and western Europe was carried out by the consumer genetics company, 23andMe. The genetic data was analyzed against historical records of over 36,000 transatlantic slave trade voyages that happened between 1492 and the early 19th century.

The overrepresentation of Nigeria ancestry is said to be a result of intra-American slave trade between the British Caribbean and mainland Americas.

Previous genetic studies have shown that African Americans in the US have more African ancestry from populations that lived near present-day Nigeria than from populations that lived elsewhere in Atlantic Africa (Western and west central Africa). In agreement, it was shown in this study Nigerian as the most common ancestry within the US, the French Caribbean, and the British Caribbean.

This is despite, nearly half of the slaves who landed in the United States coming from Senegambia (Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal) and West-Central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola), a considerable number of the remaining half had their origins in Ghana as well as Ivory Coast.

The overrepresentation of Nigeria ancestry reported was found to be a result of the later intra-American slave trade between the British Caribbean and the mainland Americas.

The intra-American trade which was an inter-colonial trade involving over 11,000 slave voyages within the Americas stretched as far as Boston to Buenos Aires and also Atlantic and the Pacific littorals. Intra-American trade records show that while the transatlantic voyages were going on, slave traders transferred nearly 500,000 slaves throughout the Americas with most intra-American voyages originating in the Caribbean.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Cape Coast Castle on the Gulf of Guinea in Cape Coast, Ghana where enslaved people from across Africa were traded

Though the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and started intercepting slave ships, the intra-American slave trade continued. The intra-American slave trade voyages on record sailed until the 1840s as there the slave trade continued in the US and between Spanish Caribbean colonies.

The researchers also reported Senegambia underrepresentation in the Americas such as in northern South America and Central America despite being the source of nearly half of the enslaved persons who landed at ports in the areas.

This underrepresentation was linked to the fact that Senegambia is one of the first African regions from which large numbers of people were enslaved in the Americas. It was presumed to have resulted in reduced African ancestry in the population. A presumed high mortality rate in the Americas amongst enslaved persons from Senegambia was also given a possible reason.

Also in the study, the United States and the British Caribbean were found to have the highest African ancestry in the Americas. Previous genetic studies have also reported a lower proportion of Latin Americans with African roots compared to the proportion of African Americans in the United States. This is despite historical records shows that over two-third of enslaved people who arrived in the Americas landed in Latin America with less than 5% landing in mainland North America.

This low representation was presumed to also be due to high mortality among enslaved people in Latin America and a high rate of intermarriage between them and native Americans resulting in reduced African ancestry in the population.

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China denies plan to seize Nigeria assets over debt — Quartz Africa

The hottest debate in Africa’s largest economy over the past week has been the over possibility of “losing” its sovereignty to China over bad debts.

It has come amid a wave of claims by federal lawmakers who are pushing for a probe into China’s lending practices to Nigeria, in the wake of a sovereign guarantee clause in loan agreements that has been erroneously interpreted. The dominant and controversial narrative is that the clause could see Nigeria sign away its sovereignty in the event of a payment default. And the outcry has proven significant enough for China’s embassy in Nigeria’s capital to deny plans to seize Nigerian assets.

Nigeria’s transport minister Rotimi Amaechi has attempted to clarify the purpose of the clause and described it as a waiver of immunity which would allow China pursue paths, including arbitration, to settle possible disputes over payments. ”They

REUTERS/Stringer

Nigeria transport minister Rotimi Amaechi

(the Chinese) are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will help us recover our funds. And it’s a standard clause, whether it’s with America you signed it or with Britain or any country, because they want to know they can recover their money,” he explained in a press release last week.

But opposition groups pushed back against Amaechi’s stance, including his view that a probe of Chinese loans could stall ongoing projects, as an indicator of opacity in the government’s dealings with the Asian economic powerhouse.

Yet, as Eric Olander, co-founder of The ChinaAfrica Project highlights, much of local media coverage has been driven by reports which pin up Zambia as a cautionary tale, alleging the southern African country has lost some of national assets to China over debt default. And as Quartz Africa has reported, that never happened.

The calls for a probe of Chinese loans come as Nigeria’s federal lawmakers are turning a searchlight on top-level government agencies, including the financial crimes watchdog and the development commission for its oil-rich Niger-Delta region. The timing is also noteworthy given the recent spate of anti-Chinese sentiments following high-profile racism incidents against Africans in China which saw lawmakers call for more stringent immigration measures on Chinese nationals.

Debt diplomacy

The controversy comes on the back of an established narrative about China’s “debt diplomacy” in Africa which has been particularly trumpeted by the United States, particularly under the Trump administration. In the face of its perceived dwindling influence across the continent in stark contrast to China’s sharp rise, the US has argued that China’s posturing as a willing backer for expensive infrastructural projects is an elaborate play to entrap African countries in debt. It’s a sentiment that’s been supported by the reality that African countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia, are struggling with Chinese debt.

Reuters/Stringer

The flashy Mombasa terminal of the SGR line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and financed by the Chinese government in Kenya

With Nigeria increasingly desperate for external funding in the face of a Covid-19 induced cash crunch, there’s lingering fear that its debt burden might escalate given the grim economic outlook. As oil earnings—its main revenue source—have long been undercut by falling production levels, oil price drips and most recently, a near total shutdown of the global oil economy. Africa’s largest economy has been unable to fully fund national budgets over the past few years.

As such, Nigeria has increasingly relied on loans for big-ticket infrastructure projects and has particularly leaned on Chinese financial and technical support to build out its transport network. So far, China has offered loans to back eleven ongoing large-scale infrastructural projects, leaving Nigeria’s debt to China at $3.1 billion—11.2% of its external debt as of March 31.

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Why white men don’t get involved in diversity and inclusion — Quartz at Work

A few years ago at a company picnic, I joined a handful of colleagues helping to haul boxes of sandwiches and soft drinks through the park. All of us had signed up for this manual labor a few days prior, back at the office. And all of us, it turned out, were women.

The gender imbalance of the picnic crew felt representative of a larger dynamic that I’d seen play out throughout my career. When a request for volunteers went out, women often seemed to be the ones who shuffled their schedules accordingly.

Out of sheer curiosity, I asked a couple of male co-workers why they hadn’t helped carry items for the picnic or responded to some other recent calls for volunteers. None of them had anything against the idea of helping in theory, they said. They’d just thought, I’m too busy.

I’m too busy. It’s a seemingly innocuous thought that can wind up having major consequences for equality in the workplace, as a new report from the nonprofit Center for Talent Innovation shows.

Researchers from the nonprofit think tank asked white, straight, cisgender men with white-collar jobs in the US about their views on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Only 10% of the respondents thought DEI wasn’t important at all; the most common reason those men gave for not being involved with such efforts was that they “don’t benefit me.”

Far more white men thought that DEI was at least somewhat important (48%), and 42% thought it was very important. Yet even in the latter group, dubbed the “True Believers” by the researchers, only 56% said they were actively supporting DEI at their jobs. The most common reason both groups gave for not being involved? “I’m too busy.”

The report drew from a national survey of more than 2,000 men conducted in February 2020, as well as focus groups with more than 500 participants and one-on-one interviews with 40 people.

“I don’t want to perpetuate bias, but I’m focused more on accomplishing what is asked of me and my team to achieve.” one white man in senior management told researchers.

“The ability to just get regular work done is so hard that there’s rarely interest or time to work on the ‘higher order’ tasks that promote a healthy culture,” another respondent said.

According to the researchers, the readiness with which white men cite their lack of time points to an underlying issue in how many companies treat diversity and inclusion.

It’s “still seen as kind of extracurricular,” says Julie Taylor Kennedy, the lead researcher on the project and executive vice president at the Center for Talent Innovation. “It hasn’t been positioned as a core competency to driving business or individual leaders’ careers forward.”

And when white men, who continue to hold a disproportionate amount of senior-level positions, believe that they’re too busy to help with something as important as equality in the workplace, it’s no wonder that little progress gets made.

How to get white men on board

In order to get white men, who continue to hold a disproportionate amount of senior-level positions in the workplace, truly on board with DEI, the report argues that companies need to show them that building diverse, inclusive teams isn’t something that takes time away from their “real” work, and is instead a fundamental part of their jobs, as essential as hitting sales targets or bringing on new clients.

Companies can demonstrate the weight that DEI efforts carry through any number of practices, from tying compensation to leaders’ ability to recruit, retain, and promote people of color to giving weight to inclusive leadership behaviors during performance reviews.

Kennedy says that senior executives can serve as role models in changing the perception that supporting DEI has no personal benefit for white men. During town halls and other internal events, she says, they should “include what they learned from teams that were diverse, how it helped them to identify previously overlooked markets, or what they gained as leaders by sponsoring women or people of color.” They should take advantage of opportunities to boast about individual teams or leaders who are highly involved with DEI efforts, the better to signal to the organization as a whole that people who support DEI get noticed. 

The goal is to create an environment where it’s clear that DEI is a core value—one that no one who cares about their professional success could claim to be too busy to support.

There is, however, one thing that it’s perfectly fine to be too busy for: Changing the minds of the 10% of white men who don’t care about diversity at all. “Not all men will join the movement,” the report notes.

If an employee is being discriminatory or bullying others, they need to be held accountable. Otherwise, Kennedy says, “you can waste a lot of energy trying to change their minds”—and research suggests that a hard sell on diversity can actually entrench bias rather than mitigate it.

The unspoken part of the knee-jerk response I’m too busy is, I’m too busy to help someone else—meaning, My main responsibility is to myself. Privileged people are often brought up to think that way. Rather than trying to convince others to be more selfless, a more effective route to equality in the workplace may be for corporations to take a look at what behaviors they incentivize, and alter their practices accordingly.

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Amazon explores using malls for fulfillment warehouses — Quartz

Faced with closing stores and dwindling foot traffic, US mall owners have been looking beyond retailers to occupy their empty spaces. One telling shift has included converting stores into e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, and now Amazon reportedly wants in.

The e-commerce juggernaut has been in talks with Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the US, about turning some of the spaces occupied by its anchor department stores into distribution centers, according to the Wall Street Journal. The talks have focused on spaces held by JC Penney, which filed for bankruptcy in May, and Sears, which has struggled since its 2018 bankruptcy filing.

The Journal said it was unclear how many stores were under discussion and that the companies might not reach an agreement. “Amazon has a policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation,” Rachael Lighty, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement to Quartz.

If a deal did happen, it would be symbolic milestone in retail’s evolution in the US, given that Amazon has often received a share of the blame for the decline of malls and department stores—though it’s only one factor of several, including big brick-and-mortar competitors and the failure of these businesses to stay relevant. It also speaks to the rise and growing demands of e-commerce in the US.

Owners of retail space have been converting property to industrial uses, driven largely by the needs of e-commerce, according to CBRE, a commercial real estate firm. As of July, 59 such projects had been completed, proposed, or gotten underway since 2017, resulting in approximately 13.8 million square feet of retail space becoming 15.5 million square feet of industrial space. There’s no risk of all store space disappearing, however: By one estimate, there are 13.7 billion square feet of retail space in the US.

Meanwhile, the US could need an additional 1 billion square feet of industrial space by 2025 due to e-commerce operations.

Stores can be attractive to companies looking to set up distribution hubs. As CBRE explained:

Underperforming retail sites have become an ideal location for last-mile warehouse developers. They are often located within population centers, connected to utilities and have large parking lots with multiple points of ingress and egress. Many are also freestanding big-box stores with existing dock doors and clear heights compatible with industrial use.

Department stores such as Sears and JC Penney are among the top occupants of space in US malls, and their stumbles could provide opportunities for e-commerce companies looking for delivery hubs that allow them to get more products to customers even faster.

The scenario might not be ideal for malls and their tenants, however. Smaller stores have traditionally relied on department store anchors to generate foot traffic, something a fulfillment center won’t do outside maybe the employees working there. Some have co-tenancy clauses in their leases that let them modify or terminate contracts if the anchor closes. Cities and towns that depend on the sales taxes generated at those stores could also lose out.

Warehouse space tends to be much cheaper than retail space too, meaning mall owners might not be able to charge as much if they want customers. The Journal reported that Simon would likely have to rent to Amazon at a discount.

Still, occupied space is better than empty space, and with Covid-19 pushing a long-term shift toward online shopping, it seems likely more stores will become e-commerce hubs.

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Tie dye is a favorite hobby and fashion trend during Covid-19 — Quartz

Last week, the New York-based fashion company Alex Mill, which traffics in trend-proof button-downs, chinos, and jumpsuits, launched a small collection of one-of-a-kind pieces tie dyed in shades of summer popsicles. Alex Mill’s creative director and cofounder Somsack Sikhounmuong said when it came to styling the collection for photographs, his first instinct was to pair the tie-dyed shirts and jackets with the brand’s solid-colored staples. Then, he had a better idea.

“Why don’t we just start piling tie dyes onto tie dyes, like tee-shirts with the shirts and the scarves?” he asked. “All the colors mixed together, all the patterns mixed together?” The kaleidoscopic styling made for compelling Instagram imagery, and Sikhounmuong said they sold 50 to 60 of the tie-dyed pieces on day one.

“In terms of a small capsule project, we haven’t done those kinds of numbers before,” he told Quartz. The web traffic also paid off in one of Alex Mill’s highest overall selling days of the season.

Nostalgic, cheerful, and sweatpants-friendly, tie dye has emerged as Covid-19’s winning fashion trend and DIY craft boom, all twisted, squeezed, and tied into one.

Courtesy, Alex Mill

Tie dyes by Alex Mill: the more the merrier.

Google searches for “tie dye” usually climb a little in the summer, but they hit their all-time peak this year. There were 2.5 times more searches in August 2020 than the previous peak in July 2019 (with the debut of Starbucks’ tie-dye Frappucino). The global fashion search platform Lyst says users are searching for tie dye at nearly triple the rate of last summer, with Ralph Lauren sweatpants, Nike t-shirts, and Palm Angels hoodies topping the list of popular items, and tie-dye swimwear getting a 42% bump since June. And if you don’t want to buy your new tie dyes from those brands—or from Madewell, Asos, or LuluLemon, all of which are carrying them—you could just make them yourself. An Etsy representative says searches for DIY tie-dye kits have nearly tripled in volume, compared to the same time last year.

Jonathon Spagat, the creative director of Rit—the century-old dye manufacturer which became the tie dye of record in the 1960s—says Rit’s Indianapolis factory can’t produce dye fast enough to satisfy its customers. The company shut down its direct online sales after orders jumped an estimated 800% between April and July compared to the same period last year, to prioritize orders from retailers hungry for dye.

“It’s been a struggle. We are so in-demand and we just cannot keep up with it at all,” says Spagat, who estimates that Rit produces between 50,000 and 60,000 bottles of dye per day. “You can go to any Joann’s, Michael’s, or Target. Most likely the shelves will be empty.” 

Spagat says the colors driving sales have shifted this summer. Last summer was all about black, charcoal, and navy. Now, everyone seems to be seeking optimism in the forms of aquamarine and rose quartz. “Our pinks have never done that well. All of a sudden they’re in the top 10,” says Spagat. Neutrals are also big  and got a boost from Instagram influencer Danielle Bernstein, of @weworewhat, who showed her 2.5 million followers how to dye their own sweatsuits in April.

Some DIYers have found themselves with cottage industries on their hands. Shannon, a 23-year old accounting auditor behind the Instagram account @live_and_dye_la (who wishes to keep her surname private), wrote in a direct message that what started as a project for herself while stuck at home in Beverly Hills escalated when her 30-year-old sister wanted some pieces—and then her sister’s friends did too. Now, anyone can place an order through a Google form, and Shannon estimates she has sold 400 of her varied masks, hoodies and tees.

Nandita Khanna, who also lives in Los Angeles and is the content director for the CBD company Feals, started tie-dyeing last summer, and brought her hobby to new heights with the purchase of a dye kit from Upstate, an upscale line of hand-dyed textiles in March following stay-at-home orders.

“I was looking for something to do that wasn’t baking banana bread,” says Khanna with a laugh. She shared her exploits on Instagram, “as one does,” and soon her friends were DMing with requests. Khanna has since started selling $30 tees and $24 socks—just enough to cover the costs of materials and Upstate’s botanical dyes—in faded shades of rose and indigo, and just dyed a batch of bandanas for a local magazine’s pop-up store.

Trends aside, Khanna, Shannon, and Sikhounmuong all tout the mental health benefits of tie dyeing. 

“In the way that someone might go for a run to clear their head, I actually find dyeing to be incredibly therapeutic,” says Khanna. “I’m someone who is always looking for order and seeking perfection in her life, and so this process has been really fun: deciding the colors, the randomness of it, and then actually how beautiful it can be in its imperfections … You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when you unwrap it.”

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Hong Kong police arrest Jimmy Lai, raid Apple Daily offices — Quartz

Apple Daily has long been at the forefront of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, reporting on protests closely and keeping a check on government officials through dogged shoe-leather journalism. Now, Beijing is making some of its most dramatic moves yet to effectively shred the publication, one of the few remaining newspapers that is openly critical of the government.

Police this morning arrested the paper’s founder, Jimmy Lai, on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces—a crime under the new national security law punishable by up to life in prison. Officers then carried out an hours-long raid on the publication’s offices, cordoning off large sections of the newsroom and carting away containers full of confiscated material, as the newspaper’s staff live-streamed the proceedings. Nine men in total, including Lai’s two sons, have been arrested. Mark Simon, a top aide to Lai and an American citizen, is also wanted, but is not in Hong Kong. Lai is the most prominent figure so far to be arrested under the new national security legislation.  

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong condemned the arrests and the raid, calling the developments “a direct assault on Hong Kong’s press freedom and signal a dark new phase in the erosion of the city’s global reputation.”

Lai, a prominent media mogul and pro-democracy activist, has for years been lampooned by the Chinese government and state media outlets as a traitorous troublemaker who is directed by the US and inciting protesters to take action against the government. Lai is well-known in the US, and had been in regular contact with US politicians. At the height of the city’s protests last year, he met with vice president Mike Pence and secretary of state Mike Pompeo to discuss the now-shelved extradition bill. It is unclear what exactly Lai was arrested for, as those meetings were conducted before the new security law took effect in on June 30.

After his arrest, a handcuffed Lai was paraded through the newsroom, where the police raid was ongoing. Lai is no stranger to such hostile treatment: staff from pro-China newspapers are regularly stationed outside his residence, which itself has been firebombed on multiple occasions. Lai was also arrested in February and charged with unlawful assembly, and has long prophesied his arrest.

The arrest of Lai and the newsroom raid is the latest, and most high-profile, in a string of assaults on press freedom in Hong Kong. Already, numerous international news organizations are facing delays in getting visas for their journalists, and the New York Times announced last month that it would move part of its Hong Kong office to Seoul as a result of problems obtaining work visas. Police also barred major outlets, including Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and the Associated Press from attending a police briefing today. Meanwhile, the city’s public broadcaster, RTHK, is facing a government probe, after being forced to suspend a satirical show that poked fun of the police. In recent years, people with close China ties (pdf) have come to dominate Hong Kong’s media landscape. Lai is a rare exception.

In a city where big business interests, which overwhelmingly tilt pro-Beijing, control much of the local economy, many other local newspapers have had to adjust their coverage so as not to lose advertisers, which remain a crucial revenue stream. Apple Daily has pointedly not toned down its reporting, in part because many advertisers have already boycotted the publication. Next Digital, the publisher of Apple Daily, reported a loss of $53 million in the last fiscal year. The company’s share price surged over 300% today as supporters flocked to buy its stock.

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Indian hospitals must do elective surgeries despite Covid-19 rush — Quartz India

On March 22, the Indian government issued an advisory directing hospitals and medical institutions to postpone non-essential elective surgeries to free up resources to deal with Covid-19. By the end of May, an estimated half a million elective surgeries in the country had been postponed.

That’s not great for patients. An elective surgery is a medical procedure that can be scheduled in advance: It’s often necessary, but it’s not an emergency. Some examples include gallbladder stone removal, angiography or stenting for cardiac patients, and resections for early-stage cancer. Just because these procedures are elective doesn’t mean they’re not urgent: Patients could take a turn for the worse if care is put off for too long.

As India’s lockdown lifts, elective surgeries are getting back on the track. But they’re not necessarily accessible. “Surgery costs have increased between Rs6,000 to Rs10,000 due to the extra precaution needed in terms of PPE equipment for the entire surgical staff, mandatory Covid-19 tests, and extra sanitisation procedures,” said Arjun Kumar, co-founder of Hyderabad-based MedFin.

Kumar thinks he has a solution. His startup matches surgeons and hospitals to offer affordable daycare elective surgery, wherein a patient can leave without staying the night in the hospital. MedFin claims this brings surgery costs down by 50%.

It’s not just patients who need the assist. The cost of running a hospital was rising even before the pandemic broke out, and the government’s decision to cap healthcare costs only made things worse. Covid-19 has been a death knell for a lot of these providers—especially the smaller ones. In such cases, daycare surgeries could be extra business that pulls them out from the pits.

“There has to be a paradigm shift in the way healthcare is provided to make it viable for all the stakeholders: patients, surgeons, and hospitals,” said Kumar. “We believe, in India, this can only be done in a factory-led approach to making healthcare costs affordable to the masses.”

Designing daycare 👩‍⚕️💉

India’s hospitals are heavily burdened. An estimated shortage of 42,000 beds exists in government hospitals, which cater to 60% of the country’s population. This paucity of beds and healthcare professionals make economically efficient, short-stay models attractive.

The Indian Association of Day Surgery (IADS) claims that eight in 10 surgeries can be performed under daycare. And yet, in India, hardly any are. A March 2015 study showed only 9.7% of general surgeries were performed as daycare surgeries in Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospital between July 2012 and June 2014. In the US and UK, the share is typically over 50%.

“The advantage of day care surgeries are that they have higher efficiencies and lower costs, with ease of hospital accommodation and lesser time spent in waiting,” the researchers noted.

Rather than transforming entire hospitals and states at once, an asset-light approach like MedFin’s could set the ball rolling on the new model. The company helps individual surgeons partner with different hospitals that have high-grade operation theatre infrastructure to perform surgeries. Last year, the startup facilitated 1,800 procedures.

Coronavirus did throw a spanner in the works: MedFin ceased operations in the first week of March as outpatient departments and operation theaters shut. But since the end of May, facilities began opening and demand returned. MedFin restarted operations in Bangalore on May 20, and by July, consultations and surgeries for the company were back to 80% of pre-lockdown levels. With the pandemic not easing up, the hospitals and clinics MedFin works with now do not see or handle Covid-19 cases.

While MedFin is raising awareness and ramping up resources for daycare elective surgeries, it will take a bigger push to make them mainstream. One major deterrent remains: insurance payouts.

For years, many insurance firms have refused to reimburse patients for surgery unless they are hospitalized, while others hinged rejections on the ambiguous language in their policies.

“In India, instead of providing the impetus to catalyze this change which would save them a lot of money, insurance companies persist in taking an old-fashioned attitude,” Mumbai-based doctor couple Aniruddha and Anjali Malpani, who run an in-vitro fertilization clinic, wrote in the Bombay Hospital Journal.

However, things are slowly changing. The list of daycare procedures covered by insurance providers is growing. If Kumar has his way, it will be his company that arranges them.

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インドのあたらしいカナビス産業、その他【先週と今週のQuartz Japan(8/10〜8/14)】 — Quartz

Quartz Japanは、世界のビジネスパーソンが触れている最新ニュースを届けるニュースレター。平日毎朝、「昨晩起きたこと/その日起きること」にキャッチアップできる〈Daily Brief〉と、平日夕方、ワンテーマの深堀りストーリー〈Deep Dive〉をお届けしています。現在、週末には特別版の連載ニュースレター〈A Guide to Guides〉もお楽しみいただけます。

先週のストーリー:「カンナビスの曲がり角」について

毎週日曜、Quartz Japan読者の皆さんに配信しているニュースレター「Guidesのガイド」。US版Quartzが発信している特集〈Field Guides〉から毎回ひとつをピックアップし、編集者の若林恵さんが解説するコンテンツは、多くの読者から支持いただいています。

毎回、編集部では若林さんとどの〈Guides〉をピックアップするかを決め(選ばれるのは、ほとんどの場合、日本時間の月曜日に公開される最新のもの)、配信日の前日、土曜日までに原稿をいただくのですが、原稿を受け取る際、小一時間のビデオ会議をするのがルーティンになっています。

「ビデオ会議」と言いながらも、つまりは単なる雑談。9日にお届けした第16回「カンナビスの曲がり角」では、記事でQuartz US版の記事「Curaleafが目指すのは大麻界の“スターバックス”(Curaleaf wants to be the Starbucks of weed」を紹介していますが、この「スタバ」という喩えにつきまとう、巨大フランチャイズ、あるいはカウンターカルチャーとしてのコーヒーをマスな存在にしたという幾分ネガティブなイメージについて、話していたのでした。

その他、原稿でもふれていただいている陰謀論のほか、原稿を書きながら若林さんが聴いていたレゲエ界の名プロデューサーたちによるテルミン・ダブアルバムの話と、繰り返しになりますがその内容は雑談以外の何者でもありません。とはいえ、若林さん曰く、集中して原稿を書いたあとの雑談は「現実社会に戻るための時間」として必要なものなのだとか。

1年が折り返し地点に入ったところでのお盆のこの時機に、ゆったりとした休日をお過ごしの方もいらっしゃると思います。コロナ禍に向き合うのに例年以上の緊迫感を送ってきた読者の皆さんにとって、このお休みが頭を解きほぐすいい時間となっていることをお祈りしています。

Quartz Japan会員は、原文記事はもちろん、上記を含む、これまでに配信したすべてのニュースレターをお読みいただけます。ぜひQuartz Japanの新しいニュースレターを体験してみてください。登録はこちらから、どうぞ。

では、今週のPMメールでお届けする予定の5つのストーリーをお知らせします👇


月:Next Startups🚀

毎週月曜夕方にお届けするNext Startupsでは、ベンチャーキャピタル「WiL」のパートナー、久保田雅也氏のナビゲートで、世界で「次」に来るスタートアップの動向をお届けしています。

8月10日は、お盆休みのため配信もお休みです。次回配信分、来週17日をどうぞお楽しみに。


火:Asian Explosion🐉

火曜の夕方にお届けするのは、Asian Explosion。発展めざましい中国、インドに加え、東南アジアや韓国でも胎動しているグローバルビジネスを動かす大きな力を伝えます。加えて、海外から見た日本の姿もお伝えします。

Reuters/Navesh Chitrakar

11日は「インドのあたらしいカナビス産業」についてお届け。インドでは雑草に混じって生えているほど、生活の一部に存在する大麻草。しかし、まだ産業化だけが行われていません。世界中で大麻ビジネスが熱を帯びるなか、インドが持つ巨大な大麻産業のポテンシャルに迫ります。


水:Africa Rising🌍

水曜の夕方にお送りするAfrica Risingでは、次なる有望市場として、凄まじい勢いで伸びている「アフリカ」の今をお届けしています。

Andrew Kartende/Creative Commons

12日は「なぜアフリカは脱プラできたのか」。日本でも本格的に取り組みが始まった、レジ袋などの規制ですが、実はアフリカ諸国は、ビニール袋の規制など、脱プラスチックへの取り組みで世界をリードしているのです。


木:Millennials Now👫

毎週木曜夕方は、Millennials Now。アメリカをはじめ、世界の次のビジネス動向に、絶大な影響を与えるミレニアル世代や、その下のZ世代の動向をお伝えしていきます。

Herman Miller

13日は「ゲーミングチェアが進化させる椅子の常識」。ビジネスチェア大手、ハーマンミラーがeスポーツ用のゲーミングチェアに参入するなど、ステイホームで広がるゲーミングチェア需要。ステイホームで世界中で在宅勤務のビジネスパーソンが増えるなか、進化する椅子の最前線に迫ります。


金:New Normal♻️

従来型の資本主義経済への疑問は、新型コロナウイルスのパンデミックを受け、もはや喫緊に解決すべき課題へと変わりました。New Normalでは、パンデミックを経た先にある経済のありかたを、今も世界で立ち上がっていることばや人の動き、社会の変化から見据えていきます。

REUTERS/Toby Melville

14日は、「レストランの行く先」をテーマにお届けします。パンデミックのロックダウンにより、テイクアウトだけだったレストラン事情も、食事ができるようになった場所が多くなりました。感染対策に特化した、これまでの様式とは違うレストランのあり方が求められているなか、今後どのように私たちは食事を楽しんでいけるのでしょうか?


内容はニュースの発生などにより、変更される可能性があります。

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IndiGo losses show India airlines on verge of collapse — Quartz India

For nearly a decade now, India’s aviation industry has survived despite experiencing one rough patch after another. But this time, the situation is so grim that if the Narendra Modi government does not step in to help the cash-strapped sector, it might be the end of some of its key players.

The Covid-19 outbreak followed by months of lockdown and the ensuing need for social distancing came to haunt India’s aviation industry at a time when it was already struggling with high fuel prices and massive tax burdens. In addition, the hyper-competition between a slew of low-cost carriers had made it hard for airlines to make much money as they lured potential customers with the cheapest fares.

During the suspension of flight operations between March 25 and May 25, some of the airlines lost between Rs75 crore ($11.2 million) and Rs90 crore ($13.5 million) per day, as per estimates from Mumbai-based credit rating agency ICRA. Even after the lockdown was lifted, airlines’ business did not pick up much as people continue to stay indoors.

Resultantly, the industry has witnessed a series of layoffs and steep pay cuts. In fact, regional airline, Air Deccan, has shut operations until further notice and put its employees on sabbatical without pay. There are reports that state-owned Air India is planning to send some of its staff on leave without pay for up to five years.

As airlines struggle to meet their day-to-day cash requirements, there is little hope to get bank loans or other investments because the near-term outlook for the sector is grim.

“While a few airlines have sufficient liquidity from a strong parentage, it isn’t enough as it has resulted in a significant weakening of their credit metrics and liquidity profile,” said Kinjal Shah, an aviation analyst at a Mumbai-based credit rating agency ICRA. “Others, on the other hand, are already in the deep financial stress and are facing an existential crisis.”

Promises made and broken

The debilitating airline industry had pinned hope of some cash infusion from the government when finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 16 announced measures to help the sector. Among other things, she said there were plans to privatise government airports and promised to improve airspace management across the country.

However, some of these promises have been pending for years and the delay in action is now making experts believe that this may never happen. Besides, she did not mention any cash relief measure or tax incentives for the sector, which analysts think is what India’s aviation sector desperately needs at the moment.

“Most airlines in India do not have the holding power to survive and multiple airline failures could set back air connectivity in India by 3-5 years,” noted Sydney-based think tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) on July 30.

CAPA’s comments came a day after India’s two largest airlines, IndiGo and SpiceJet, posted huge losses.

IndiGo reported its highest-ever quarterly loss of $380 million for the quarter ended June 30, while SpiceJet suffered a net loss of Rs807 crore during January-March. While Spicejet has not yet announced its financial results for April-June, much of IndiGo’s losses during the quarter were due to an unprecedented drop in demand during the pandemic.

And bloodbath in the sector is far from over.

Worst is yet to come

Experts believe there may be more layoffs and pay cuts in the offing for aviation employees. “With revenue not growing and operational costs such as fuel, airport navigational charges, parking, and aircraft maintenance being unadjustable in nature, one of the variable costs which can be tapered accordingly are salaries and wages,” said Urvisha H Jagasheth, research analyst at CARE Ratings.

What increases the chances of layoffs is the fact that the industry is operating at a sub-par level of operations and so, not all staff members are gainfully employed at the moment, Jagasheth added.

In April, the International Air Transport Association estimated that India’s aviation industry could lose approximately three million jobs and more than $11 billion in revenue.

The government needs to stop beating about the bush and take direct measures to financially support airlines now, experts believe. “Airlines need direct cash infusions, government-backed credit lines or loans to help them get back and running,” said Jagasheth. She suggested that a waiver of airport parking charges or navigational services for three months could be a good start in the direction.

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How Covid-19 is permanently changing the office — Quartz at Work

Before the pandemic, there were plenty of reasons to be in the office. Scheduled collaboration, and chance meetings that sometimes proved fruitful. The opportunity to socialize with colleagues, for a casual five minutes or an extended lunch break. Some modicum of distance, however long the commute might be, enforced between work life and personal time.

But in truth, a lot of us came to the office because our employers treated it as the main “proof” that we were working. We were paid to show up and so we did, even as the shift from an industrial to a post-industrial era meant that, for many jobs, there was no longer a physical reason to gather: No machines to work, other than the laptop and the coffee maker. No physical product to create or pack or manipulate. Sometimes that demand for face time was policed by companies unwilling to allow for home-working. Sometimes it was cultural: We felt watched by and responsible to our colleagues, even if they were never in fact judging us.

As a result, many of us resented the office to at least some degree—it was too hot or too cold, too noisy, too far from home. Many pushed back against the imperative to be there all the time, nudging resistant bosses and norms in an attempt to make life more flexible and the non-work parts of it—like picking up kids from school—more manageable. Now the tables have dramatically turned. Forced to work from home suddenly and in vast numbers by the global Covid-19 pandemic, many former office workers are realizing that there are truly things they miss about that space.