There Are Furious Trades Of Rs. 500 And Rs. 1000 Notes Happening On Olx And Quikr

If you have something that you no longer have use for, what do you do? Sell it on the internet, of course.

A deluge of postings for Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes has appeared on Olx and Quikr on the morning after Prime Minister Modi’s shock announcement.

This was a posting today on Olx.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.27.22 PM

The Rs. 500 note selling for Rs. 400 isn’t surprising – redeeming a Rs. 500 note at this point will likely require a long wait in a line outside a bank.

This user seems to be selling his Rs. 500 notes at face value. 

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.26.50 PM


It appears that selling currency on Olx seems to be against site policies, and several of these listings have been taken down. That’s when people have started getting creative – this user is willing to take your Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes and send you a direct NEFT transfer to your bank – for a fee, of course.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.27.17 PM


Other people have gone to even greater lengths – one individual has plated his Rs. 1000 note with silver, and is selling it for Rs. 1,200.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.32.30 PM


Someone from Jaipur went a notch higher – he claims he’s plated his Rs. 1000 note in gold, and is selling it for a mere Rs. 351.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.32.20 PM


Then it goes into bizarre territory. Someone from Indore is selling gold biscuits and accepts Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes.


Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.28.11 PM


But it’s only a recurring theme – people are throwing in an added “accept Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes” for selling everything from phones, bikes, and even routers.

Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.27.55 PM Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.27.49 PM

And if real estate buyers were worried that the implementation of the new rule would hamper their deals, never fear – there’s a plot in Mumbai that proudly says “500 notes allowed” in its ad.
Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 2.27.38 PM


If we needed any more proof that India is the true land of jugaad, this is it.

Update: Quikr has contacted OfficeChai and said that such listings have been “deleted and prevented from going live by Quikr.”

4 Winners And 3 Losers From Modi’s Shock Decision To Discontinue Rs. 500 And Rs. 1000 Notes

Narendra Modi stunned India, and the world, by announcing that Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes would cease to be legal tender overnight. The move caught nearly everyone off-guard, and once the initial shock set in, was widely hailed as a landmark move that would fight corruption and black money.

Here are the 3 losers and 4 winners from the surprise move.



1 Black money hoarders

This one seems obvious, but Modi’s shock move has sent people with large stashes of black money into a blind panic. Nobody had expected this move from the Prime Minister, in spite of his warnings to the country to declare their taxable money by 30th September. Those who currently hold unaccounted-for cash will now face the unenviable prospect of taking it to a bank, and connect it to their PAN cards, which will bring it under the purview of the tax authorities. If they aren’t comfortable doing that, they might as well throw their cash away, because now it’s less than useless.

2. Bank employees

A huge rejig of the currency system like this will mean unprecedented pressure on bank employees. Today banks across the country are closed to prepare for the great turnover – starting tomorrow, there are going to be long lines outsides banks, full of anxious people looking to change their Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes. This will likely mean long, hard hours for bank tellers, as they cope with the unexpected demand for their services.

3. People without bank accounts

A large part of India is still unbanked, and it’s likely that they currently hold Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes in their possession. These include people who run small businesses, or those close to or below the poverty line. They’ll now need to visit banks and replace any 500 or 1000 notes they might have; small business owners, who make more money than the tax limits, but have no bank accounts, will especially be forced to create accounts. Luckily, the government seemed to have accounted for this, with the Jan Dhan Yojna announced in 2014, which has been working towards financial inclusion over the last two years.



1 Real Estate Buyers:

Real estate prices are widely expected to fall following the imposition of the new rules. “Land transactions and luxury residential segment would be impacted the most because they employ the maximum black money. In the short term, land prices and prices of luxury homes will see a correction of around 20-30%,” said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director, Liases Foras, a property advisory firm.

2. Digital Wallets

Within minutes of the announcement, Paytm put out a triumphant tweet – Paytm karo. The digital wallet companies – Paytm, FreeCharge, Mobikwik, and even Flipkart’s PhonePe  – have been long campaigning for giving up cash for digital money, and this move, to discontinue high denomination notes, plays right into their strategy. The digital wallet companies couldn’t have hoped for a bigger use case for their services, and the government has just provided it to them on a platter.

3. The BJP

Black  money had been one of the planks on which the BJP has stormed into power in 2014. And with this move, it has delivered, and how. Even the most ardent Modi supporter wouldn’t have imagined that the Modi government would act so decisively on the issue of corruption and black money. The middle class, urban population that had helped the BJP win will be very pleased with this move, and it should help the BJP in future elections, both state and national.  

4. Narendra Modi

And finally, the biggest winner of the entire episode has been the brand of Narendra Modi. The move to discontinue Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes has been breathtaking in its audacity, and stellar in its planning. Not a whiff of this grand plan came out until Modi himself announced it to the nation. Coming in after a relatively low key Prime Minister like Manmohan Singh, Modi has stamped his authority on the nation, and has shown himself to be a decisive, proactive leader. And while his supporters are cheering him on with his move, he also seems to have won the grudging respect of his detractors.


This Site Tried To Find Who’d Win The US Elections If The Entire World Could Vote

The US election cycle has been a riveting, engrossing spectacle. The elections might just be for the President of the United States, but they’ve caught the attention of the world like no election in recent memory. And even non-US citizens seem to have an opinion on who should be America’s next President.

A site from the Netherlands attempted to find out who’d win if the US elections were held in every country. ran a global poll of respondents around the world, and tried to figure out where the two candidates had the most support.

And the results have been surprising, to say the least. According to the poll, which ran over the weeks leading up to the election and got over 400,000 votes, Donald Trump seems to be the global favourite, ahead of Hillary Clinton.

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 4.50.26 PMDonald Trump won 56% of the overall global vote to Clinton’s 44%. In this anonymous poll, Trump seems to be ahead of Clinton even in the US, where he leads 54% to 46%. There were 147918 respondents in the poll, much greater than the sample sizes of the polls performed by major US media outlets.

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 4.52.45 PM

The country-wise breakup was also fascinating. Trump finds broad support in Europe, where his anti-immigration theme would’ve struck a chord. All of Europe,other than Italy, seems to be behind Trump . He also finds support in Australia, another country that has been grappling with issues of illegal immigration, and not unsurprisingly, Russia.

Trump even seems to find support in Muslim-majority countries like Turkey and Egypt and even Iraq, though the total number of polled respondents in these regions was smaller than those in Western nations.

Clinton is ahead in places like Sweden and Norway (Finland, though, seems to be pro-Trump) and Japan. Clinton also does well in India and China. India, in fact, seems to have some of Clinton’s strongest backers, with 78% of those polled supporting the Democratic party candidate.

While this is an online poll and doesn’t have a lot of scientific validity, the site did have several measures in place to ensure that it wasn’t gamed. Only one vote per IP was allowed, and the votes cast in the various countries seems to be generally consistent with internet usage across the globe.  And if its results are to be believed, Donald Trump is the world’s choice for US President. 

Facebook Now Earns More Advertising Revenue Than All US Newspapers Put Together

This is what disruption looks like.

Facebook had started off as a small project to connect college students in the US. Around a decade later, it’s the biggest social network in the world. With its billion-plus monthly users, Facebook commands the attention of today’s population like no other medium. Predictably, advertisers are flocking to it, hoping to latch on to some of its eyeballs.

And they’re leaving traditional advertising mediums in the lurch.

Within a mere 10 years of its existence, Facebook now earns more advertising revenue than all US newspapers put together. Over the last 9 months, ad revenue on Facebook was $17.9 billion (Rs. 1,20,000 crore). The sum of advertising revenue earned by American papers was $16.4 billion.

The reasons for this are twofold – even before Facebook burst on to the scene, Google had taken away a chunk of the revenue that newspaper publishers received. Newspaper ad revenues started falling the moment Google started offering advertisers its AdWords program in 2001, and by 2009, Google had overtaken newspapers altogether. Facebook, too, had been chipping away at print revenues since 2008, and has finally overtaken newspapers 8 years later.

And this is as much of a tale of digital’s stunning rise as it is of print’s precipitous fall – it took a half century for annual newspaper print ad revenue to gradually increase from $20 billion in 1950 (adjusted for inflation in 2014 dollars) to $67 billion in 2000, and then it took only 12 years to go from $65.8 billion in ad revenues back to less than $20 billion in 2012, before falling even further in 2013 and 2014.

And even newspapers’ digital editions haven’t helped much. Even though most print newspapers also have websites, they just earn a fraction of their revenues from them – just around $3 billion, compared to $16 billion from their print publications. It’s the platforms, like Facebook, that are now kings, and earn a lion’s share of ad dollars.

For now, Facebook is riding high. All these advertising revenues have meant that it’s now the 5th most valuable company in the world, and it’s setting its sights even higher, launching satellites and flying solar planes. But it would do well to be careful – as print’s fall has shown, it doesn’t take long for market leaders to be dethroned by brash, young upstarts.

Featured image: Fan Digital

The Facebook Office Has Hilarious Posters Describing Different Kinds Of Employees

The Facebook office at Menlo Park is home to a variety of employees. Software engineers, designers, UX developers and data scientists all work out of the large campus, and closely interact with one another. Someone at the office was clearly observing the differences between people with different roles, and came up with very clever ways to differentiate them.

In a series of posters that were posted in the Facebook office, different employee roles were analyzed, taxonomic style. A software engineer (Nedious Geekius, according to the poster), for instance, is described as “a nocturnal creature, rarely found on the desks before 10 or 11 in the morning.” The description goes on on to talk about a software engineer’s diet (Pizza, caffeinated beverages, potato chips), and a fun fact: Software engineers have been known to kill each other in brutal fights over indentation styles. The poster also marks out the places where software engineers are found on a world map – the US, Europe, and India seem to be hotbeds.

facebook office software engineer poster


There was one for Content Strategists as well, who supposedly enjoy a diet of dictionaries and thesauruses, and develop withdrawal symptoms when separated from the Oxford comma.

facebook office content strategist poster

A Data Scientist is fleet-footed and fast. They are apparently born in the middle of winter, deaf, hairless and blind. After nursing for the remainder of the winter, they emerge into the fresh spring and immediately begin writing complete SQL queries.
facebook office data scientist poster


UX Researchers are “dry humourless beasts that lumber across the landscape, laying waste to otherwise good ideas.” The poster maker doesn’t seem to be a big fan of UX Researchers – their fun fact is a blunt “There’s nothing fun about UX Researchers.”
facebook office UX Researcher poster

And finally Designers (“Hipsteri Artus”) seem to be able to insinuate themselves into nearly any project, and subtly change and improve the final result.

facebook office designer poster


The posters are hilarious, and poke fun at the stereotypes commonly associated with different professions. But Silicon Valley being Silicon Valley, some people are up in arms about the “lack of diversity” in the posters. Critics are outraged that none of the professions seem to have people in Africa, and have claimed that this points to the White and Asian bias in tech companies.

We, on the other hand, are just having a laugh at the jokes. And plan to keep feeding our in-house Content Strategist a healthy diet of dictionaries and thesauruses. 

Chemists Have Called For A Nationwide Bandh To Protest Online Pharmacies

It’s the surest sign of an industry being disrupted – the protests by the incumbents. When Uber and Lyft had started cab-hailing services in the US, they had faced opposition from local taxi companies. When AirBnb starting letting out apartments, hotel chains had protested. And in a sign that online pharmacies have finally arrived in India, chemists have called for a 24 hour bandh to protest their existence.

The All India Organisation of Chemists & Druggists (AIOCD), an apex body of about eight lakh chemists and pharmacy outlets, has called a nationwide bandh on 23rd November to oppose the government’s moves to regularize sale of medicines through the internet.

pharmacy startups in india

Over the last two years, more than 60 online pharmacy startups have mushroomed in India. Much like e-commerce and food delivery startups, they take online orders and provide home deliveries. Users can order medicines off the internet without having to visit their local chemist.

The association of chemists, though, contends that letting people order medicines online poses several risks. They claim that online sales lead to increased risk of unreported adverse drug reactions, easy opening to entry of low quality, misbranded and spurious medicines, irrational use of medicines and the risk of drug addictions, thanks to their easy availability.

“The High Court seems very serious on the impact of online sales of medicine on public health after considering proof of illegal sale activities by various websites. But the government is not taking a serious note and seems ignorant on issue related to public health,” said J S Shinde, President of the the Chemists’ Association. 

The legality of e-Pharmacies in India

The chief question with regards to online pharmacies in India pertains to the sale of prescription drugs, which require a prescription from a registered doctor for their sale. E-pharmacies, such as Practo and 1mg, get past this requirement by letting users upload a prescription through their apps. 

The legality around this is a little complex. The Drugs and Cosmetic Rules Act of 1945 stipulates that a prescription shall “be in writing and signed by the person giving it with his usual signature and be dated by him.” This Act, which regulates the sale of medicines, doesn’t seem to allow for a digital copy of signatures. This isn’t unexpected, given that the act was passed in 1945, and clearly couldn’t have accounted for computers. But the IT act, passed in 2000, provides for “Legal Recognition of electronic records”, and the “Legal Recognition of electronic signature.” These two acts in conjunction would likely make e-prescriptions legal, but it still remains a grey area.

Another question that’s raised of e-pharmacies is their adherence to state borders. The law states that pharmacies can only take orders from the state where the retail license is valid; there is no provision for an inter-state license for selling medicines. Online pharmacies often have centralized distribution networks, and might need to transport medicines across state lines.

There is also ambiguity regarding the collection of money prior to delivery of medicines, which raises questions about e-pharmacies, which let users pay via debit and credit cards before delivering them.

The protests

Given the multitude of questions that arise from the selling of drugs online, the protests by chemists are not unjustified. But regulation often lags behind new innovations – there were no laws concerning ride hailing companies in India until Uber and Ola came along. Their arrival led to the formulation of laws around these services, such as the Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016 and the Maharashtra government’s new rules around cab hailing companies. 

It’s likely that laws will also come into place to regulate e-pharmacies. Online commerce is the way forward, and traditional chemists will either partner with e-pharmacies or alter their business models. The world moves towards greater efficiency, and old models are recast to create new better ways of doing things.

As such, the unease of chemists should come as a heartening sign for India’s e-pharmacy startups. Much like their counterparts in food and e-retail, they’ve made incumbents sit up and take notice, and have possibly disrupted their industries. The 23rd November bandh should be viewed as validation of their efforts, and a great time to promote their services and make sales…because traditional chemists will likely be closed.

Arnab Goswami Wants To Build A Competitor To Take On BBC And CNN, Video Suggests

Arnab Goswami was firmly perched atop the Indian television totem pole. His 9 pm show on Times Now had the highest ratings of any English news channel, and while he had his share of detractors, he was fast transcending his status as a news anchor. He was becoming a pop culture phenomenon, one who was often lampooned, but never ignored.

He’s now given it all up. Goswami quit Times Now last night in a shock announcement.

arnab goswami bbc cnn future plans

And while there have been reports that he plans to start his own TV channel with a large digital footprint, Goswami had laid out his ambitions in a conference held in Moscow last year. 

“The hegemony of western media has to end,” Goswami had told that panel in 2015. “Western media has has it too good for too long, and it has ruined the balance of power.”

He then went on to say that US and UK media contribute 74% of the source of global news, while all of Asia contributes just 3%. “India will be the next media capital of the world,” he said. While there are thousands of papers and publications and news channels in India, why is there no global news network from the country, he asked. “India’s already the software capital of the world,” he claimed. Why can’t it be the media capital?

He went on the criticize the BBC and CNN for their reporting on the Iraq war, and for not challenging American claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He said that a single reporter from India, who was working with Times Now, had managed to reach Brussels while following the terrorist attacks in Paris. “We had a reporter with a selfie stick reporting live from Brussels, 4 hours before any of the companies that were worth millions of dollars got there,” he said.

“The time has come,” Goswami declared, “to provide a serious counter to global media sources like BBC and CNN.”

It is very likely that Goswami has quit Times Now to pursue these grand ambitions. At 43, he’s still young, and has already made his mark in India. He also seems passionate about building a large media conglomerate out out his home country. Taking his network global could be the next logical step.


How My Indian Amazon Account Was Hacked

I had just got back home after running some errands when my phone beeped. It was an email with the subject line ‘Il tuo ordine che include “Casio A-158WA Orologio Vintage”’. Assuming it to be spam, I ignored it when couple of minutes later, I received another email with the subject ‘Il tuo ordine è stato cancellato’. I opened the emails to see both were from Amazon Italy where the first mail was a confirmation for an order placed and the second, a cancellation of the same order. Suspecting fraudulent activity (I briefly wondered if it could be a gift order placed by a friend) I decided to report it to Amazon when I received another email, this time purportedly from Amazon Germany ‘Ihre Bestellung von “Panda 3D Printed Mens…”’. It was a confirmation of an order placed. Till that point I suspected these were phishing emails since the German email id bestellbestaetigung(at)amazon(dot)de read suspiciously non–official. But the other details such as my address were accurate which raised my suspicion.

amazon hacked

I deleted my credit card payment method from my Amazon account to be on the safer side and immediately reported these emails to the Amazon India customer care executive on chat who assured me it was a technical glitch which happens sometimes and that it will be rectified immediately. As an aside, I prefer chat to phone calls while dealing with customer care teams on all issues as it allows me to share images/screenshots/email immediately, multitask (making calls to bank, monitor email activity, etc.) and also put everything on record should there be a need to pull it out later. While still on chat with Amazon, the next email arrived ‘Aenderung Ihres’ informing me my email address has been changed from gmail to yopmail as per my request. It no longer seemed a technical glitch and I flagged this to the executive who informed me she was with the escalation team. I checked if I needed to block my credit card and was informed it was not necessary (this may have been the advice before the address change email I don’t remember now and will have to check the chat log which I do not have as the hacker had changed the email id).

Then came the next email from Amazon Germany ‘Ihre Nachricht an Walled stay’ with a copy of an email sent from my account on the order placed. I am guessing the change in email had not taken effect by then so I got a copy on my id. The email read:

hallo sir, can you help me? so here sir, this is a gift for my son, I want to change the address to Indonesia which aims to my son, because my son the birthday that I can not go because I was busy with my job pack, please help me sir, I will never forget the services of the father, the father can hopefully reward This is the address of my son’s birthday:

Name: Amirudin Address: (Withheld) City: Cipondoh State: City Tangerang Province: Banten Postal code: (Withheld) Country: Indonesia Phone number: (Withheld)

Thanks Very Much Sir.

Simultaneously, I received a text from my bank on the credit card transaction for the order placed with Amazon Germany. I notified this to the Amazon India executive who seemed surprised at this development and informed me that since it was no longer a technical glitch (!) I would have to get this resolved by and that Amazon India would no longer be able to assist me with the matter.

The customer care executive who spoke to me arranged for a call back from and despite verifying my account details (previous order numbers, phone number, etc.) informed me that changing my email id from the fraudulent id and providing access to my own account would take anywhere between 24-48 hours – what the hacker managed to do in a matter of minutes with the help of Amazon Germany. In a stroke of genius, just before she hung up, she asked me to try accessing the account with the new email id and the old password. It worked! I changed the email back to my original id and also changed the password.

The executive called and transferred me to the retail department after I explained the issue to him. In a painful almost hour long call with the retail executive where neither of us understood the other person’s accent, after a long drawn process of verification, cross verification and repeated relay of order numbers, I was informed they were not able to pull out the details of the order placed in Germany. I was asked to now contact Amazon Germany. When I informed her I could not speak German, she tried her best to help me by emailing me links to web chat with Amazon Germany which did not reach me as the email change had still not taken effect and still showed the hacker’s yopmail on the system. It struck me that if I could access my account on Amazon Germany, I could simply cancel the order. I asked her if she could put me in touch with an English speaking executive at Germany or someone in her office who knew German. She could not help me with this. Nor could she help me navigate the Amazon Germany site.

Left to myself, with the help of Google translation and site for reference, I tried navigating through the Amazon Germany site and managed to get to their customer service chat. It was chilling to see the number of items placed in the cart. They only supported German chat and sent me a link from where I could email them for an English speaking executive to respond within 24 hours. This unfortunately did not take me directly to the email window and I still had to click on a few tabs to get the email window open. ‘CANCEL ORDER’ I wrote in the first email thinking a simple instruction/request should not be difficult to comprehend (this however did not work with the executive on chat) I followed this up with a detailed email explaining the issue and seeking a cancellation and refund.

Meanwhile couple of friends and contacts on Twitter put me in touch with Amazon India’s Minari Shah with whom I have shared all the details. I have also shared the contact details of the hacker as shared by him (which cannot be said with certainty are his own) for pursuing legal action.

Needless to say this has been a harrowing experience and I am fortunate to not have lost any money (assuming Amazon Germany doesn’t send me the Kungfu Panda t-shirt ordered by the hacker). But some questions linger:

  • In cases like these involving unlawful incidents, shouldn’t the country office and step in and help resolve the issue for the customer instead of making them run around in circles trying to get through to customer care executives who don’t speak their language?
  • Doesn’t Amazon have language support for its customers in emergency situations like these? How difficult is it to integrate translation software with chat software (with usual disclaimers) in countries where English is not used at all, to facilitate at least basic conversation and process simple requests like cancellation of an order?
  • Why is it easy to use credit cards outside India without the two-step verification process that is mandatory in India? Shouldn’t this at least be made an opt-in? (I never understood the one-click ordering option and how/why anyone might opt for that) Update: In a later chat with an Amazon executive, I was informed these requirements are based on country-specific regulations. I don’t know if the responsibility of Indian regulators extend to protecting their customers’ money in foreign lands – it ideally should. In this case a simple requirement like making Indian credit cards automatically go through the two-step verification process could have helped. (Update: 2 factor authentication 2FA can be enabled on for enabling two step verification for account login: Go do it now. Thank you for the tip Kiran Jonnalagadda and Sushovan De . Even the Amazon executive I had discussed this issue in detail with did not inform me of this feature on
  • Why does Amazon save credit card details by default and not make it optional for customers?
  • What would Amazon do with the contact details of the hacker? Will he go unpunished? I suspect no action will be taken against him. It would be good to hear from Amazon on this front.
  • I had 5k gift card balance on my account which was left untouched (assuming these are not accessible to other countries) but when I had checked if there was a provision to freeze all activity on my account on the basis of the evidence I had provided, I was informed that would again take 24-48 hours. Why doesn’t Amazon have a speedier crisis response and issue resolution system where illegal activities are involved?
  • Where exactly was the vulnerability which the hacker was able to exploit? What steps could be taken to eliminate/minimise these? 
  • Why doesn’t Amazon have a system like that of Google where every suspicious activity is reported/ looked into? (like logins to country sites the customer has never accessed for instance, or logins from different location/IP)
  • Why does Amazon make it so easy to change account details like email address without any confirmation mail from existing address and why doesn’t it allow customers to challenge any change in account details by providing a link in its confirmation email sent to customer post changes made. The mail I received from them simply stated that my email had been changed. It assumes that access to account is authenticity.
  • How well trained are the customer care executives in crisis response? The executive I spoke to did not advise me to change my password even once, maintained it was a technical glitch (how from Amazon sites I had never visited I wasn’t told) wasting precious time before acknowledging it was a serious security issue which they couldn’t help me with and even advised me that getting my credit card blocked was unnecessary. While I understand that there may have been instances where similar technical glitches may have occurred, I am not sure the executives are adequately trained to handle security breaches.
  • In hindsight, changing my account password was the first step I should have taken. With all that was going on and trying to prioritise between deleting credit card details, blocking my credit card and cancelling orders and stopping further transactions on my account, I did not consider it. Since at first I thought the emails I received were phishing emails and later I assumed that since my account was hacked I no longer had control over my account, it did not strike me that if I could access the account to delete my credit card payment method and chat with the cc executive, I could have also changed my password. This is the default first step whenever any account is compromised, one that I am well aware of, and while it wouldn’t have changed anything going by the sequence of events, it surprises me that neither did it strike me nor was I advised by the Amazon executive to change the password.
  • Why are there no filtering mechanisms to differentiate urgent pleas from routine requests on social media from Amazon? They did not respond for hours. (I wonder how many hacking incidents take place at Amazon)

Update: I have received a response from Amazon Germany that my order will be cancelled (Google translate to the rescue again). I am awaiting confirmation from them that it has been cancelled and the refund process initiated. Meanwhile my account has apparently been put on hold by for ‘sanitising’ purposes and I will hear from them in 24-48 hours after which I will have access. I will be quite happy to not have any access to Amazon or any ecommerce site for a long long time.

Latest update: All orders have been cancelled (including one legitimate order which I had placed and had not asked them to cancel). Since I have blocked my credit card, apparently the refund is taking time. Everything – I have been assured – will be resolved in couple of days. I’ll wait.

[This piece is written by Surekha Pillai. It originally appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]

Why Was Cyrus Mistry Removed As Tata Sons Chairman? Here Are The Theories That Are Going Around

Earlier today, Tata Sons made a shock announcement in which the group’s Chairman, Cyrus Mistry, was removed from his post. Ratan Tata, who had helmed the group till he had retired in 2012 when he’d turned 75, was instated as interim Chairman. Tata’s official announcement of its website is terse, and there are no reasons given for Mistry’s ouster.

But the exit is unusual – Mistry term of four years was the shortest for any Tata Sons Chairman.

Screen Shot 2016-10-24 at 7.09.19 PM

There are several speculations as to why the decision was taken.

1 The contentious Tata Docomo partnership

CNBC is reporting that that Tata’s legal battle with Docomo was one of the main reasons behind his removal.

Tata had a joint venture with Japanese company Docomo in its telecom business, Tata Teleservices. Docomo had invested $2.7 billion (Rs. 18,000 crore) into the partnership; according to an agreement between the two firms, Docomo was allowed  to exit at a pre-agreed price of half the investment. The joint venture was making losses, and when Docomo tried to exit the partnership at half the initial investment, it was denied by Tata Teleservices. Docomo took Tata Sons to court, and on 24th June his year,  won a ruling by an international arbitration court that ordered Tata Sons to pay it $1.3 billion to buy its stake in Tata Teleservices.

A public fight ensued, and DoCoMo dragged the Tatas to the Delhi High Court seeking enforcement of the arbitration ruling. It accused its erstwhile partner of making excuses not to honour the arbitral award. The Tatas even took the diplomatic route for a negotiation – Mistry and Ratan Tata met the Japanese ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu in Mumbai to seek diplomatic intervention and reinitiate a dialogue.

The incident has been a source of embarrassment for Tata Sons, and has reportedly hurt its image in Japan, which it considers to be an important global market.

2. Cyrus Mistry’s business decisions

The Economic Times is reporting that Mistry’s excessive focus on Tata’s cash cows could’ve resulted in his ouster. “It is believed that Tata Sons was unhappy with Mistry’s approach of shedding non-profit businesses, including the conglomerate’s steel business in Europe, and concentrating only on cash cows,” it reported. Tata Sons is present in over 100 diversified business – Mistry was apparently focussing only on its reliable businesses that generated profits, to the detriment of its loss-making businesses.

3. Tatas Sons’ financial performance

FY 2016 was a challenging year for Tata Sons. Nine of the 27 listed companies in the group reported losses and the earnings of seven others dropped. The turnover of the group dropped to $103 billion (Rs. 7,00,000 crore) from $108 billion the previous year. Net debt rose to $24.5 billion in March 2016 from $23.4 billion a year ago.