Digital Ads, Poverty, Israel, Indian Startups and Free Markets: The Week’s Most Interesting

The age before technology and the internet was defined to a large extent by accessibility. Can a person access information, can a company access technology, can a country access the right resources (human and mineral). The post globalisation connected age is the time of prioritisation. You can do whatever you want, but what do you prioritise. An individual has all the information, what does he prioritise to learn. A company has all the technology but which one should it develop first. A country can access or buy all resources but which one is really the most important one. So unlike the past, everyone knows the problems and how to solve them. In a fast moving world the question is which one to FIX.

So today’s theme takes us to very different industries and issues and highlights the priorities that need to be fixed.

From an individual’s legendary struggle to fix the news industry to the priority of eradicating poverty to the middle east finally beginning to fix its politics, do ponder on what needs to be fixed and if you were in a powerful position of running an industry or country, is this what you would choose. Our last two articles of the week come back to India, to talk about two super important aspects. One the entire startup ecosystem of the country. This article is important because it moves away from the news grabbers and explores the country’s entire ecosystem. The last explores India’s journey to become a completely free market. While many interim steps have been completed the road ahead is still long and even more important. It is also the smallest introduction to the framework on which the Indian economy is built.

1. The ad and digital journalism industry are probably the most complex industry in the world today. I have personally dug deep into it and there are a bunch of surprises that come your way. And sadly it doesn’t always get beautiful as you go deeper. It is impossible to decipher and understand all the algorithms between input and output. But this woman did. And she shook a global industry by its core.One of the best articles that I have read in recent weeks, this article takes you through the story of Nandini Jammi and how she is challenging and fixing the digital economy one step at a time. This is also an introduction into the digital industry and a wonderfully detailed article into what is right and what is wrong with the industry.

2. Eradicating Poverty is the most revered goal in policy, social innovation and economics. 10 years back, it seemed like finally there was a sustainable and scalable answer to the problem. Microfinance Institutions with Mohd Younus winning the Nobel Prize and its successes in various countries it seemed like the model was here to stay. Jumping back to the present it is not to be. The idea still holds, the assumptions are still correct, but for the global ecosystem this for me is one of the top 3 items that needs to be fixed.

3. The most fascinating global political dynamics are always in the middle east. The difference and changes that happen over decades and centuries are fascinating to read about. With Israel and the UAE signing a historic deal, the dynamic of the region is about to change. With Bahrain and other countries signalling a promising response to the accord, a calculated step from all members can change the entire future of the region into something much brighter. Sometimes we over-simplify the issues of the region, but it’s a fascinating study in strategy and this article provides a lot of insight into the region.

4. I genuinely did not know that Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa have about 4000 startups combined. In the last 5 years we have moved from an internet user base of 100 million to a base of 700 million people. The India stack revolutionized payments and made us skip at least a generation in adoption. And post COVID, Jio showed the promise of being the first Indian tech behemoth. A trip through the entire Indian start-up ecosystem and its current state seemed fit for this weekend and this is a beautiful article on the same. Like all other parts of the Indian ecosystem it is not the top 20% that will make the difference, it will be the bottom 80%.

5. Much is done, much more is left to be done. The last article of the week is a small beautiful piece on India’s road to a free market system. Sometimes we believe and even teach that our middle path between capitalism and socialism was a beautiful choice. It might have been in 1947, it isn’t today. Ask anyone who is trying to start a business, rhetoric and reality are quite apart. For anyone trying to understand the difference there are two kinds of governance: the Chanakya model where governance is limited to making the canvas and providing the colors on which businesses and individuals paint and the Ashokan model where the outlines are drawn and people just have to colour within the models. A free market requires the Chanakyan Model.

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