Yale under federal investigation 🎓, OYO raises $1b 📈🏠

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top of mind

Yale is now under federal investigation for discriminating against Asian-Americans in its college admissions process, while Dartmouth and Brown have had their cases dismissed.

*Full disclosure: I have worked at the Yale Admissions office as a student recruitment coordinator. I have also interviewed high school seniors as both an alum and during my senior year at Yale.

If you want to make waves, they say, go after Harvard. And when that isn't enough, go after Yale. (Okay, this isn't a real saying, but the logic makes sense, right?) Trump wants to dismantle Obama-era guidances that encouraged colleges to consider race in admissions decisions, on top of affirmative action decisions by the Supreme Court that allow for race as a factor in college admissions. What better way to grab national headlines than target the most elite Ivy League schools?

The problem may very well be real — Asian-Americans who have brought the suit argue that they have grown as a proportion of the college-going population in the US but have been capped at a disproportionately lower ratio at elite universities, experiencing systematic discrimination.

But diversity is a thorny issue. Race is one factor. Socioeconomic class is another. By fighting this case, are Asian-Americans making it more difficult for other minorities to earn places at these institutions? Asian students are the second largest population at most Ivy League colleges after whites and white enrollment has declined as Asian enrollment has increased. Harvard has 24% Asian students vs. Yale's 21% and 47% white vs. Yale's 51%. Meanwhile, at Yale, the black population has not grown beyond 11% in 35 years and is at a relative low of 8% today.

In either case, will elite universities be comfortable with minorities becoming the majority as the trend of declining white enrollment continues? Are Asian-Americans helping unravel affirmative action, while the government gets a free pass in coming up with a plan to improve schooling before college?

around the block


Yale University under federal investigation for discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions // After the accusations against Harvard, it was only a matter of time before the investigation reached Yale. Ivy League universities are accused of holding Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than students of other races and using an illegal quota to cap the number of Asian-Americans. Yale President Peter Salovey responded that the student body has grown more diverse in many ways, including an increase in low-income and first-generation college students. Over the last 15 years, Asians have also increased to 21.7% of the incoming freshman class, from less than 14%. The federal investigation is part of the Trump administration's larger effort to dismantle using race as a factor in affirmative action. (WSJ)

While Khan and Modi feud, India and Pakistan's economies miss out // A new World Bank report, A Glass Half Full: The Promise of Regional Trade in South Asia, says the world's fastest growing region can double trade within the region from $23b to $67b. Average trade costs are also 20% higher for South Asian vs. ASEAN countries. This is especially salient after India reversed its confirmation of a meeting with Pakistan during the annual UN General Assembly in NY, citing 'brutal killings,' most likely referring to the killing and mutilation of an Indian border guard. Pakistan PM Imran Khan decried the situation as a missed opportunity.  (Bloomberg)

Controversy over India's $9b Rafale jets deal // Former French president Francois Hollande implied that Modi encouraged the French government to make a deal with Anil Ambani after India bought 36 planes from a French company to offset the Indian purchase. Many Indians are furious because they think Modi overpaid for the airplanes and helped deliver Ambani, an old friend who is currently in debt, billions in revenues. India's general elections in 2019 will be fraught with drama indeed. (Financial Times)

Ride-hailing startup Shohoz raises $15m to build the Grab (Uber?) of Bangladesh // Shohoz ("easy" in Bengali) started by selling bus and ferry tickets online in a country with no subway, and moved into on-demand services in January. Shohoz faces competition from Go-Jek-backed Pathao, which raised $10m a few months back. CEO Maliha Quadir is an HBS grad and thinks there's much to do in Bangladesh before she goes international. (TechCrunch)

India's OYO raises $1b at $5b valuation, led by Softbank and Sequoia // Oyo provides clean, budget-friendly rooms and will only list properties if they pass its quality tests. Started in India, Oyo now operates in 300 cities, including in China and the UK. Approved hoteliers must give over their rooms to Oyo for a month for a makeover and concede 25% of all future bookings. Oyo currently manages 5% of the Indian inventory and is now the second most valuable startup after One97 (Paytm holding company backed by Warren Buffett). Founder Ritesh Agarwal is 24 years old, was a Peter Thiel fellow and college dropout, and learned the hotelier business by cleaning rooms for a year. Oyo is also #1 on LinkedIn's 25 hottest startups to work for in India. (Bloomberg)

The India #insta story // Though Instagram has 10% of Facebook's revenues in India and only 70m users (vs. Facebook's 225m in India), it's quickly gaining traction among the young — following the trajectory of the platform in the US. In comparison, there are 105m MAUs on Instagram in the US and 241m MAUs on Facebook in the US & Canada. Revenues have doubled in India vs. last year and most Indian companies have yet to truly understand Instagram's marketing value. Arguably, the success of Instagram stories has hampered Snap's growth in the region, as well. (from an inkmango reader!) (Factor Daily)

Amid palm oil boycott, India wants to produce more of it // India is the world's largest consumer and importer of palm oil, one of the cheapest cooking oils. The Indian government is now subsidizing the planting of palm oil trees because importing palm oil uses $11-12b of foreign exchange a year. Palm oil production in Malaysia and Indonesia has led to deforestation. India's problem is water: palm oil trees require 80 gallons per tree per day vs. 13 for coconut palms. Palm oil cultivation also makes it difficult for farmers to switch back as the soil becomes more acidic. Rather than a boon, critics argue that this is distress farming. (NPR)

Arson spree at schools stokes suspicions of Pakistani forces // Fourteen girls' schools were set afire on the same night in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Most were not in use, but the fires led to dozens of Pakistani soldiers moving into the area. What these schools share is geographic proximity — all lie on the same corridor that will be part of $20b worth of China's $68b infrastructure investment in Pakistan, CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). Residents are asking — who had the most to gain from this? The region is especially strategic because it is nestled between Afghanistan, China, and India. Pakistan has just invited Saudi Arabia to join China's Belt and Road Initiative; Saudi Arabia has a habit of bailing out Pakistan. (NYT)

India's favored PM in Bhutan loses polls; new PM will have a vision of his own // The first round of parliamentary elections knocked out India's favored Tshering Togbay of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party came first and will face off #2 Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DTP) in October. India has long been involved in Bhutanese economic development and politics. Analysts argue that voters probably voted for change. Meanwhile, India fears growing Chinese ties with the future government. (Outlook)

Pay more for your clothes, Bangladesh workers tell global fashion brands // Bangladesh raised the minimum wage by over 50% last week to 8,000 taka ($95) a month, the first increase since 2013, when fatal factory accidents highlighted the unsafe conditions Bangladeshi garment workers faced (and still do). Workers rejected the raise, saying it is still not enough, and are demanding 16,000 taka. Bangladesh is the world's second largest garment manufacturer, after China, and 80% of the 4m Bangladeshi garment workers are women. (Reuters)

Sex and the village: The sexual lives of rural Indian women // Follow stories of how women navigate sexual desire among caste and gender prejudices in the villages of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. "A woman’s life is not only about working in the fields, inside the house, eating two meals, and then at the end of the day lying down like a log of wood." (from an inkmango reader!) (LiveMint)

also...


new research suggests that Indian Muslims have lower socioeconomic mobility than their Hindu counterparts • Nepal awards Chinese company Gezhouba Group a $2.5b contract to build Nepal's biggest hydropower plant • Nepal is the first to double its tiger population under World Wildlife Foundation global plan • Bangladesh submits 'No Bed of Roses' (starring Irrfan Khan) as its Oscar contender •  Hyderabad, India gets its first dedicated dog park •  India to close one of its biggest deals with Russia, with $2.2b to buy frigates, as it balances increasing US ties •  in a major departure, Pakistani PM Imran Khan pledges citizenship to Afghan and Bangladeshi refugees who were born in Pakistan •  Guggenheim Securities raises its price target of Netflix stock from $360 to $420, partly due to opportunity in India •  India's Carnatic singers face backlash for performing non-Hindu songs •  South Asian children under five years have the second highest mortality rate in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa, at 44.8 deaths per 1,000 children • the snake people of Southern India capture critical antidotes to snake bites • in a win for woman's rights, India has criminalized the Muslim practice of instant divorce (talaq talaq talaq!) • the magic of traveling in Gurez Valley, Kashmir, India • Bangladesh's new Digital Security Act allows police to arrest an individual and lock them up for up to 10 years

movers & shakers


Padma Lakshmi writes about her rape as a 16-year-old and why she stayed silent, in response to criticism of Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh: "Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her."

Satinder Bindra joins Uber as its first Director of Communications, India & South Asia

Karan Bajaj quits as Head of Discovery India & South Asia to pursue "entrepreneurial ambitions"

Kul Chandra Gautam shares his story of getting an education in Nepal and climbing the UN's ranks

Deepa Pawar, a human rights activist, won UC Berkeley's inaugural "Tell Her Story" prize; Pawar founded Anubhuti, a nonprofit that promotes democracy and gender justice in India

on our hitlist


Eat. Frankie Goes to Bollywood opens October 2018 in Soho and promises to serve up delicious Bombay street food
Read. Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir — Padma Lakshmi tells us her story
Watch. The Last of the Stilt Fishers in Sri Lanka
Live. Hasan Minhaj added some shows. M.I.A. in conversation with Akil Kumarasamy today @ 7pm in NYC
We want to hear from you. Have a good read or feedback? Drop us a line at hi@inkmango.com.
Corrections: Last week's top of mind said that 90% of the US STEM force is Indian-American. Rather, 90% of Indian-Americans have degrees or jobs in STEM or social sciences.
How wellness influencers made Indian food a trend ❤📈🍴

How wellness influencers made Indian food a trend ❤📈🍴