On Google’s new CEO

Sundar Pichai will become the CEO of Google, as a parent company, Alphabet Inc., is created by Google’s founders.

“I think the fact that we have Indians now at the helm of Google and Microsoft is a statement of how Indians have become part of the fabric of tech in the US,” AnnaLee Saxenian says. Through the 80s and 90s, Indians would be involved in startups but would not get promotions or, worse, would be replaced at the point of new companies receiving major funding. In 1999, less than 10 percent of Silicon Valley startups were created by foreign-born entrepreneurs. Ten years later, more than a quarter have foreign-born founders, she says.

But it would be a mistake to focus on this narrative as proof that immigrants in America have “made it,” says sociologist Pawan Dhingra of Tufts University.

“We should find a way as a community, as a nation, to celebrate the achievements of a group in a complicated way. Not a simplistic way,” Dhingra says. “Celebrate when someone does really well, but recognize that it’s the systems and the histories that enable these things.”

Read more at PRI.org.

#worldgender: Women’s Right to Safety

At Public Radio International and PRI’s The World, we’ve been covering women’s rights and protests since the rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December sparked large and prolonged protest. We don’t have the resources of a wire service or massive media organization, but we still wanted to give prominence to what people around the world are doing and saying about women’s roles and rights in societies. So I’ve been working with our team on a project to look at movements for women’s rights — could this be a Feminist Spring? as Viji Sundaram wrote — and keep a light shined on the subject over time. We’ve used RebelMouse as our platform, incorporating our own reporting, others’ stories, but most importantly the comments and stories of individuals. RebelMouse gives us the ability to be network-neutral; I’ve pulled in tweets and links, videos and images, but also text from emails and quotes that I can customize to tell the story as best I can. We’ve also been able to categorize the story into navigation that makes sense turning a huge list of information into manageable chunks. I would say, the only thing missing is the ability to search all the posts for keywords. Here’s a taste, but to see it completely with navigation etc., you’ll need to go to RebelMouse.

Reddit Users Debate the Pricing Game Of The Cancer Drug Industry

When the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla announced last month that it would cut the cost of three drugs used to treat cancers – one used for lung cancer and two for breast cancer – people around the world responded. Some of the most lengthy conversations took place on the news commenting site Reddit, including a thread 420 comments long in response to a news report in The Economic Times (India).

The conversations and debates centered on why these specialized drugs are so expensive, as well as what pharmaceutical companies’ rights and responsibilities are to make sure life-saving drugs are available in the developing world.

Read on in Global Voices.

India, China, and the Importance of Storytelling

Every time they fly in and out of Mumbai, tourists, businesspeople, and politicians can see blue-tarp and cardboard rooftops squeezed between condominiums and luxury hotels. The irony of Mumbai’s slums is that the urban poor are ubiquitous, simultaneously visible and invisible.

But seeing slums from the perspective of those who inhabit them — and not just an aerial view — is crucial to gaining real insight into a place. As UCLA historian Vinay Lal asks, “How else is one to understand a civilization and a particular junction in time?”

Katherine Boo’s debut book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, offers readers the chance to see this India from the ground up.

Read on at Miller-McCune.

Tina’s Mouth: A Graphic Novel That Gives Indian-American Stereotypes the Finger

Tina's Mouth (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
“I’m an alien (but my parents are Indian.)” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Tina Malhotra’s journey through a high school existential crisis was difficult. Bringing her world to life was just as wrenching.

Author Keshni Kashyap and illustrator Mari Araki spent four years working on the graphic novel Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Diary, which was published in January. Kashyap was trained as a filmmaker and Araki is a surrealist painter. The pair had to teach themselves the comic form while melding the book’s substantial text with some 1,000 drawings.

“I’d rather kill myself than do another graphic novel,” Kashyap says flatly. “It was so hard to do.” Besides, “The world is such a rough place right now. I don’t really want to write about privileged teenagers anymore.”

Read more at the LA Weekly

Changing the China News Narrative

“China is a breeding ground for heroes,” Foreign Policy contributing editor Christina Larson said at a roundtable discussion at the University of California, Irvine hosted by The China Beat yesterday.

Larson has done a lot of reporting on China’s environmental movement, where she has found great stories about a dynamic country. Environmentalists in China, she said, have created a legal space for their advocacy. Registered environmental nongovernmental organizations now make up the largest sector of civil society in China.

“None of these people think of themselves as dissidents,” Larson said. They are working to enforce existing laws, not make the current regime crumble.

But the China news narrative in the United States is often dominated by stories about dissidents and victims, corruption and communism, painting a narrow picture of what activism and political engagement can mean there.

This Week: Follow-ups to terrorist attacks in India and the earthquake in China, perspectives on Iraq and North Korea

I’m starting a weekly post that rehashes some of the most interesting and unusual reports on Asia (in English) and the world. Let me know what you think, and if you find this kind of feature useful. For more interesting things on the web, from newspapers and blogs, see my shared stories page.

First, two Saturday features by two great reporters. Babara Demick for the Los Angeles Times writes a follow-up to stories about the Sichuan earthquake last May. Families there are still waiting for the official death toll and results of DNA testing to confirm the identities of the victims: China quake survivors still wait for word.

Emily Wax in South Asia for the Washington Post writes about discrimination against Muslims in Mumbai following the terror attacks last year: Muslims Find Bias Growing In Mumbai’s Rental Market.

And two from the BBC: First, a piece featuring the voices of American female soldiers serving in Iraq: Women at war face sexual violence. Army specialist Mickiela Montoya and others are explicit about the treatment of women in the army. She says:

A lot of the men didn’t want us there. One guy told me the military sends women soldiers over to give the guys eye-candy to keep them sane.

He told me in Vietnam they had prostitutes, but they don’t have those in Iraq, so they have women soldiers instead.

The BBC also ran this week an article that is quickly making the rounds on the web: Iraqi gay men face ‘lives of hell’.

And one more, from the Christian Science Monitor: American journalists could be bargaining chips for North Korea. It’s a well-reported piece that complicates the story of the two Current TV journalists who have be held by Pyongyang for a month.