Everything about shopping is a great experience, except the billing. Sure, we don’t look forward to standing in those long queues. But even worse is hearing “Madam (/sir), mobile number please?”
It’s nearly impossible to get your purchases billed without it. The funny part is that there isn’t a written rule or compulsion that says you can’t bill your items from a store without giving away your contact number. And this is what seems to be the problem.
You get unwanted offers from the store. You get spammed when they share your number with other businesses. Your phone number travels everywhere without your consent. It’s actually a violation of your privacy.
So the government wants to protect you now (better late than never I guess!). A couple of days ago Ministry of Consumer Affairs issued an advisory to retailers telling them to discontinue this awkward ritual. And considering that India ranks 4th among countries where users receive the most spam calls, we really needed this.
So hello privacy. Well, almost. Because we still need that Data Protection Bill that the government has been mulling over.
Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵
Soul by Derek & The Cats
Such a lovely jazzy recommendation to start off the Sunday. Thanks, Pranav Udayaraj, for sending this our way!
A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀
Sizing India’s apparel
How many times have you returned apparel to an online store simply because it didn’t fit you right?
As per a study, the average return rate for online clothing orders is 24%. That’s 8 percentage points higher than the overall online return rate. That could mean that apparel retailers have to deal with items worth millions of dollars. To be precise, they could be spending about $25 billion just processing all these returns.
One of the culprits here is the lack of standardised size charts. A size L at the American brand Gap might be different from one at the Swedish brand H&M. It can get quite confusing for customers. But the bigger picture here is that none of these standard sizes is based on Indian bodies. They’re all part of the Western ‘standard’.
But things might be set to change soon. Thanks to the INDIAsize project which came about in 2019.
The folks at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) surveyed over 5,000 Indians from 6 cities spanning the whole country. Participants who wished to volunteer were scanned using a 3D whole-body laser technology. Their measurements were recorded. And soon they’ll be on their way to becoming the standard which could also be equated with other size standards globally.
At the moment only 14 countries have their own size charts. And being the most populous country it’s only fair that we have size charts that rightly suit 1.4 billion people, no?
Getting our own sizing standards could be a doorway to increasing sales for apparel retailers both physical and online while saving costs of processing returned items. Besides it could increase customers’ comfort and satisfaction.
So it’s pretty much a win-win for everyone. What do you think?
Could India lose its cheetahs again?
The last 3 cheetahs in India were hunted down in 1947 by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo of Koriya in Madhya Pradesh. And by 1952, the cheetah was officially declared extinct in the country.
3 things led to this.
Firstly, the Mughals in India used to capture and train cheetahs to help them hunt antelopes. And cheetahs simply couldn’t reproduce the same way in captivity which hurt their population.
Then we had the royals or the rulers of the erstwhile princely states who used to hunt the animal for sport. It was one of their favourite activities.
And then came the British who put the nail in the coffin by even offering monetary rewards to those who killed cheetahs. Back then, the going rate in Sindh for killing a cheetah cub was ₹6 and ₹12 for an adult.
So yeah, it was royal leisure and colonialism that drove our cheetahs to extinction.
But 70 years later, we embarked on an ambitious project to reintroduce them into the country. Some say it was a vanity project. Official press releases say that it would restore India’s grasslands. Either way, we won’t deny that it would be nice to conserve this endangered animal species — only about 6000–7000 African cheetahs and under 50 Asiatic cheetahs, in Iran, survive on the planet today.
So we struck a deal with Namibia and South Africa to bring down cheetahs and introduce them into the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. But at the moment, things aren’t going to plan. Out of the 8 cheetahs brought from Namibia and 12 from South Africa, we’ve already lost 3 adults. Another 3 cheetah cubs that were born in the park have also died.
Even the Supreme Court has got involved and rapped the Central government on its knuckles for what’s happening.
And at the heart of it is one argument that conservationists have been making — there simply isn’t enough space in Kuno for wild cheetahs. As India’s famous wildlife conservationist and tiger expert Valmik Thapar said back then:
“India doesn’t have the prey [for the cheetahs], doesn’t have the habitat. Cheetahs will end up being killed by feral dogs. We’re in a mess with other forms of wildlife, but we’re into multimillion-dollar fashions of importing African cheetahs in areas where it’s not viable. They’re not going to survive.”
With the crores of rupees being spent on this project and the lives of these animals at stake, one can only hope that Thapar is wrong. Fingers crossed.
Money tips 💰
This particular piece resonated with quite a few of our readers last year. So we’re replugging this tip so that we don’t forget.
You’re not Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett still lives in the quaint house he bought way back in 1958. He drives a car till the engine starts sputtering and smoke bellows out of the tailpipe. He hunts for crumpled-up discount coupons in his pockets when he’s dining out at McDonald’s.
That’s the kind of picture personal finance folks will paint for you to drive home how important frugality is.
On the face of it, it’s sensible advice. You need to save money to build more money. And since everyone knows how rich Warren Buffett is, it’s kind of aspirational to be as frugal as him.
But think about it for a moment…Warren Buffett has billions and billions of dollars in wealth. He could buy anything he wants to but it probably doesn’t make him happy. Instead, poring over company accounts and drinking copious amounts of coke brings him happiness. Maybe.
Most of us aren’t going to be billionaires. Let alone multi-millionaires. All we can hope for in the relatively short time we spend on earth is that we’re doing enough to build the life that we desire. That we’re spending our money in ways that bring us joy. As long as you’re not in a rat race of spending money that you don’t have, you will be fine.
So the next time someone judges you for how and on what you spend your money…pause… and think about it for a moment — is the kind of lifestyle they’re advocating going to truly make you happy?
If not, you do you.
Readers Recommend 🗒️
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed
What’s this book about?
As Goodreads puts it, “It is commonly believed that the Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted from a confluence of events beyond any one person’s or government’s control. In fact, as Liaquat Ahamed reveals, it was the decisions taken by a small number of central bankers that were the primary cause of the economic meltdown, the effects of which set the stage for World War II and reverberated for decades.”
Or as our reader Arpit Bajpai who sent us this fabulous recommendation says in one line, “Superb reading on the backstory of modern-day monetary policy framework.”
Sounds quite interesting, doesn’t it?
Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩
It’s time to announce the winner of our previous Weekly Quiz. And the winner is… 🥁
Jennifer Massey! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch.
And for the rest of you, here’s your next chance to grab the winner’s crown. Click on this 👉🏽 link, answer all the questions correctly and tune in next week to check if you got lucky.
Until then, don’t forget to tell us what you thought of today’s newsletter. And send us your book, music, business movies, documentaries or podcast recommendations. We’ll feature them in the newsletter! Just hit reply to this email (or if you’re reading this on the web, drop us a message: email@example.com).