Citizens' Issues
Facebook withdraws Free Basics from India
New Delhi : Facebook had cut off its Free Basics service for India three days after the country's telecom watchdog said no to discriminatory pricing of data content.
 
"Free Basics is no longer available to people in India," a Facebook spokesperson said in an e-mail statement to IANS. No further comment was offered.
 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in its February 8 order had disallowed service providers from offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services purely on the basis of content.
 
Free Basics, for which Facebook had tied up with Reliance Communications, is an app that promises free access to the Internet for a host of basic services on topics like news, health, travel, sports, jobs and communication.
 
As the watchdog was examining the issue of Net neutrality, Reliance Communications had kept the free basic service offering on hold.
 
"As directed by the TRAI, the commercial launch of Freebasics has been kept in abeyance till they consider all details and convey a specific approval," a Reliance Communications spokesperson had said in a statement December.
 
Reacting to the TRAI order, Facebook said it was "disappointed with the outcome" but will continue its "efforts to eliminate barriers and give the unconnected an easier path to the Internet".
 
Later, however, the developments after the watchdog order took a curious turn.
 
On Thursday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had to disown a controversial statement from his colleague that Free Basics was like colonialism, alluding that the same was good for Indians.
 
"Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?" Facebook board member Marc Andreessen had tweeted that was later wihdrawn with an apology. 
 
"I want to respond to Marc Andreessen's comments about India yesterday. I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Why the millennial generation is not buying homes early
New York : More and more millennials (those born after 1980) are in no hurry to own a place to call it home and will buy smartphones and cars first when gainfully employed, an interesting study has revealed.
 
The perception is that millennials are the generation that would rather have the latest smartphone than a new car so it stands to reason: Why would they want to own a home?
 
“We don't have real good data on millennials, but the trend is that millennials are getting married and having children later in life and ,therefore, there's no real urgency for them to own a home,” said Yilan Xu, professor of agricultural and consumer economics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?.
 
In the paper, Xu and her co-authors examined the factors that affect housing demand of the millennial generation.
 
They found that mortgage accessibility is a key constraint to homeownership for millennials and the burden of student loan debt among millennials impedes their transition from renters to homeowners.
 
“Millennials are taking a longer time to settle down so family events related to home purchases -- such as marriage and having children -- are being pushed back,” Xu added.
 
As a result of the Great Recession, millennials who were underemployed may not have enough money for the initial down payment necessary for a mortgage.
 
Or they may have a low credit rating, which often translates into a higher interest rate on a home loan or completely disqualifies them as a borrower.
 
With millennials getting married and having children later in life, there's also no incentive for them to move from a bachelor pad to the suburbs.
 
The key factor impeding their transition to homeownership is student loan debt.
 
"Student loans are the biggest problem for this generation, potentially disqualifying millennials for mortgage loans due to low credit scores and high debt ratios," Xu noted.
 
It is a finding that should give policymakers some fodder to rethink since homeownership is associated with a number of good outcomes, Xu said in a paper published in the Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Reliance Life gets watchdog's nod for Nippon Life stake hike
Mumbai : Reliance Capital has secured the nod from Competition Commission of India for its Japanese partner to hike its stake in the life insurance arm to 49 percent with further investment of Rs.2,265 crore ($350 million), a company statement said on Thursday.
 
The tranaction with Nippon Life, is expected to peg the valuation of Reliance Life Insurance at around at Rs.10,000 crore (nearly $1.5 billion). In line with the shareholding structure, the name of the company is also being changed to Reliance Nippon Life Insurance Company.
 
Once this transaction concludes, the Japanese insurer would have invested Rs.8,630 crore ($1.3 billion) for a 49-percent stake each in Reliance Capital's life insurance and asset management companies -- among the largest foreign investments in India's financial services sector.
 
Laast month, Reliance Life Insurance had announced a market share of 4 percent in the private sector in terms of new business premium. This segment was worth Rs.285 crore for the quarter ended December 31, while renewal premium was of the order of Rs.706 crore.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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