How the Lounge team is feeling this week

From India grounding Boeing 737 Max aircraft to Youtube launching its music streaming service, Lounge takes on the biggest updates of the week

Clipped wings

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) finally grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 on 13 March. The tragic Ethiopian Air crash on 10 March has raised worldwide fears about the Max 8, a fuel-efficient version of the Boeing 737 which also went down in the October Lion Air crash in Indonesia. The DGCA’s decision is welcome, and until such time that the aircraft is cleared and pilots trained in its complex technological systems, we fervently wish these planes stay off air. —SB


The hand that gives

Does philanthropy in India begin in Bengaluru? On 13 March, Wipro chairman Azim Premji gave away the economic benefits from nearly 34% of the company’s shares, valued at about $7.5 billion (around 52,130 crore), held by him, bringing his commitment to philanthropy to around $21 billion. Indeed, the culture of giving thrives among Bengaluru’s tech billionaires. Significantly, all four Indian signatories to The Giving Pledge, a global philanthropy campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, are from the city, and include, apart from Premji, Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and wife Rohini, Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, and real-estate developer P.N.C. Menon of Sobha Developers. With the number of Indian billionaires growing faster than the global average in a so-called “billionaire boom" (as per a new report by Knight Frank), it is to be hoped that the newly rich take inspiration from titans like Premji, instead of spending their millions on yachts, recreating Bollywood fantasies, and flashy weddings. —SB


EC cracks the whip

Ahead of the general election (starting 11 April), the Election Commission (EC) directed Facebook to pull down two posters shared by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA O.P. Sharma. They featured Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah, as well as other BJP representatives. A directive circulated by the EC in 2013 had underscored that political parties could not use images of the Armed Forces in campaigns. One of the posters credited Modi as being solely responsible for ensuring Varthaman’s return from Pakistan. This is the first time such action has been taken for a breach of the model code of conduct on social media. —RI

India's streaming wars

India’s crowded music streaming industry just got a little more cramped, with YouTube launching its music streaming service YouTube Music along with video streaming platform YouTube Premium on 13 March. This follows Spotify’s much awaited launch last month, and reinforces the fact that the global music industry sees India as digital music’s “sleeping giant". YouTube will face intense competition from Spotify and incumbents, including Apple Music, Amazon, JioSaavn, Gaana and Hungama, though it has a few advantages over its competitors. According to a recent EY-FICCI report, around 250 million people in India watched music on YouTube last year, compared to the 150 million users across all other music streaming apps. Neha Kakkar (pictured) was the top streamed artist on YouTube this week. Google is also banking on video integration and social interaction to make it attractive to consumers and fans. But convincing users to switch from the free tier to a paid subscription remains a challenge. There has never been a better time to be an Indian music fan though, with the competition forcing companies to price their offerings at a fraction of their global price. The only problem we face is choosing which one to go with. —BK

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