India should introduce Repairability Index like France

Repairability index icons

India should introduce Repairability Index like France


This year Indians are going to buy over 760 million mobile handsets. Assuming that the life of a mobile phone is 3 years, I am assuming that mobile phones are being upgraded every year! Imagine what happens to the 700 million handsets bought in 2020. Around 225 million handsets are being replaced in India every year. An industry news carried out states that more than 5 million mobile phones have piled up for repair and servicing in India during the first phase of the lockdown enforced to control the spread of the coronavirus in 2020. This itself shows the gap in the handsets which could be avoided replacement due to the fact some of these handsets cannot be repaired. This is particularly in high end handsets. Look at the opportunity cost of replacement of handsets just because these handsets are not repairable. Moreover, this would be applicable to other consumer electronic products. Consumer electronic products take a serious environmental toll, and one of the best ways to mitigate that is to use them for as long as possible before replacing them. But it’s hard to know how long a new gadget will last if you’re unsure how easy it will be to fix. Consumers need additional information regarding the repairability of the product as an additional information to aid in their purchasing decisions. France was the first country in the world to introduce a Repairability Index on 1 January 2021. It is hoped that the momentum of this law will gain EU-wide recognition and move on to other large, well developed markets like US, Japan and China and maybe India.

Why should India not introduce its own Repairability Index?

What is France’s Repairability Index?

Since January 1st 2021, France is the first country in Europe to have implemented a repairability index on 5 categories of electronic devices. The goal is to inform consumers about the repairability of a product. a grade out of 10 will be added to the labels of washing machines, laptops, smartphones, TVs and lawn mowers. the repairability index that is defined by the French government. According to their ruling, all new smartphone sold in French must display the repairability index in the stores and website. The repairability index has a score from 0 to 10 and is defined by 5 criteria which has equal weight. Each criteria has 20 points and all adds up to 100 points which will be divided into 10 for the final score. The five criteria is

  • Documentation – Available documentation from the manufacturer.
  • Ease of disassembly – The ease of disassembly of the smartphone.
  • Spare parts availability – The availability of spare parts from the manufacturer. How easy to get them.
  • Spare parts price – The relationship between price of most expensive spare part item and price of original product. The bigger the differences, the better the score.
  • Specific Criterion The quality of information given by the manufacturer such as the information of the update, the ability to reset software and free remote assistance.

While France won’t be enforcing use of the index with fines until next year, some companies have already begun releasing scores for their products.

According to experts, the repairability index represents part of France’s effort to combat planned obsolescence, the intentional creation of products with a finite lifespan that need to be replaced frequently, and transition to a more circular economy where waste is minimized. But it also has global implications. Repair advocates say that the index will serve as a litmus test for other nations weighing similar regulations, help consumers make better choices, and hopefully incentivize companies to manufacture more repairable devices. Eventually, France intends to expand the score to other classes of consumer products. By 2024, the repair index will transition to a “durability index” that not only tells customers how repairable a product is but also describes its overall robustness.

According to the experts, The French Repairability Index has its limitations as they were developed through an intensive stakeholder process that involved input from manufacturers as well as consumer advocacy organizations. For instance laptop and smartphone makers can get a “free point” by providing consumers with information about different types of software updates, such as security updates or system upgrades — information that may not have anything to do with how fixable the device is.

The Case for Repairability Index for India

I believe that the case for a Repairability Index for India is an open-shut case. High-end consumer electronics such as Apple iPhones have become more difficult to fix due to a combination of design choices and software locks that often require proprietary tools to get repair from their authorized service centers. These have given discretionary powers to Apple to charge for the repairs or disallow the repairs providing arbitrary reasons, requiring consumers to forcefully replace their older version of devices to newer ones. Moreover, there is no warranty provided for the repairs or replacement of the parts during repairs offered

RIP Apple!

A blog on how this Repairability Index would impact Apple states:

Apple is known for touting its green credentials. They are using renewables for their operations and has been carbon neutral for years and aims to be carbon neutral in its entire supply chain by 2030. It uses less packaging to reduce carbon footprint. It has remove chargers and headphones from their iPhone offering (much to the chargin’ of their competitors) as an environmental initiative. It has so much renewable energy that it contracts out their excess energy as Apple Energy. Apple recourage users to recycle their iPhones and demos their recycling robots. They wanted all their materials in their devices to be from recycle material instead of mined from the earth.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro teardown by iFixit 2
iPhone 12 teardown. Apple recently makes it harder to change the camera module not through hardware means, but software.

That being said, Apple green credentials is not without flaws or critics. Its devices has been criticized as hard to repair. Apple is against the right to repair movement under the guise that the devices are more and more complicated. There has been reports that changing the camera modules in the iPhone 12 made the camera inoperable. The cost of repairing item is significantly higher than other manufacturers since you have to register to be a specialist from Apple. Even then, you might not be able to procure the parts necessary for the repair as shown for other Macs. And their iPhones require specialist tools as they use pentalobe screws which is a non-common tool.

This new repairability label will encourage Apple to rethink their position on repairability. Just like how energy efficiency labels encourage manufacturer to make more efficient devices, Apple will be compelled to make easier to repair phones.

Also see my post on Linkedin Rip Bad Apple! | LinkedIn on getting the repairs or replacement of their faulty products which echoes the same issues.  

How can India take the lead here?

India needs to learn from the experience from France’s implementation of the Repairability Index and plug the loopholes in the process of creating its own index. As India embarks on the aggressive Make in India, it would serve well to also introduce the Repairability and Durability Index of the products manufactured in India to ensure that the Made in India products are accepted globally by the consumers and not fall in the trap the image of cheap Chinese manufactured products have attained globally of their poor quality perception.

It’s the right time to think about the Repairability and Durability of Made in India consumer electronics products given the direction EU is moving!

What’s the Fear of WhatsApp Privacy Policy and your Fearlessness of Your Healthcare Information on Aarogya Setu?

WhatsApp Privacy Policy

The Fear, The Fake and The Facts – The New Pandemic on Chats

Monday morning when I woke up there and switched on my phone, there were hundreds of messages forwards and group chats if we should delete out WhatsApp accounts and either move the group to a new chat platform called Signal. In the fear of not losing out of the connects in my WhatsApp Groups, I also downloaded the Signal App. However two times it crashed and was not able to connect with my contacts. Over the day there were the fake propaganda being floated against WhatsApp. Let’s understand, India is one of the largest cohorts of users for any App and with over 750 million smartphones such negative propaganda to move towards open App platforms so that those who want to propagate their malicious negative agenda to the masses. These could be in the form of the following:

  • Communal, news written with the intention of inciting religious and communal passion
  • Violence, Criminal and sexual.
  • Integrity and Authenticity
  • Questionable Practices and Rituals (Occult, Blackmagic)
  • Bullying and Terrorism
  • Misinformation (bank shutdown, currency devaluation, economy)
  • False Health Advisories, we see an uptick in these during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Spreading false information about competition
  • Political misinformation
  • Satire
  • Propaganda
  • Personal Defamation

WhatsApp has been working proactively with Governments across the world to curb this and had in fact deployed an army of factcheckers of over 10000 to do so. It is well evident that of the malice that have floated through Facebook and WhatsApp during the recent CAA, Farm Bill, Sushant Singh murder, etc which can be classified in the points above. One pertinent question that I would like to ask. Why is the backlash against WhatsApp privacy policy the peak only in India? There is nothing against WhatsApp in other countries. A point to ponder as to why and who wants to bring WhatsApp down in India just because it has acted wisely and ruthlessly against the cronies. WhatsApp India (and not WhatsApp Inc from the US) made a public statement (its an India centric issue)

WhatsApps Clarifications on the Privacy Policy

WhatsApp issued a statement to clarify their stand. These are:

  • WhatsApp cannot see your private messages or hear your calls and neither can Facebook
  • WhatsApp does not keep logs of who everyone is messaging and calling
  • WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook
  • WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook
  • WhatsApp groups remain private
  • The user can set their messages to disappear
  • The user can download their data
  • The company, in its blog emphasised that this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which it claims is optional.

WhatsApp’s official Statement shared by The Verge:

“As we announced in October, WhatsApp wants to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business directly on WhatsApp. While most people use WhatsApp to chat with friends and family, increasingly people are reaching out to businesses as well. To further increase transparency, we updated the privacy policy to describe that going forward businesses can choose to receive secure hosting services from our parent company Facebook to help manage their communications with their customers on WhatsApp. Though of course, it remains up to the user whether or not they want to message with a business on WhatsApp.

The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world. WhatsApp remains deeply committed to protecting people’s privacy. We are communicating directly with users through WhatsApp about these changes so they have time to review the new policy over the course of the next month.”

Hence the issue is not for the normal consumer. Let me also voice your concerns around the privacy policy which I have read end to end and accepted should center around the following points which you should consider and then decide if you would like to use the WhatsApp chat platform or not

  • WhatsApp Message Policy
  • WhatsApp Encryption
  • WhatsApp Device and Connection Policy
  • WhatsApp Location Policy
  • WhatsApp Data Sharing with Facebook
  • WhatsApp Ads Policy
  • WhatsApp Minimum Age
  • WhatsApp Ban Policy

Those using iOS and Android phones have you not accepted something similar when you activated your newly acquired mobile phones permitting Apple and Google. So what’s the issue with WhatsApp? They are not a phone/device company? So go ahead and read your agreement with iOS and Android/Google on your smartphones once again and compare that with WhatsApp’s Privacy policy.  

WhatsApp Privacy Policy on Healthcare Data (if any)

Back in April 2020, we had engaged with WhatsApp India leadership to enable CovidBots for various states on the 108 and 104 helplines to reduce the call volumes on the command centers. We had interacted with the Government Relations, the Legal Head, WhatsApp India MD, Facebook India MD, Head of Partnerships. The first question off the bat from WhatsApp was that every Chief Minister of India was given an approved number to communicate to their citizens of their state on Covid, why a new service. The second issue pointed out by WhatsApp India was is the CovidBot similar to Aarogya Setu App. If yes, WhatsApp India would not permit such a chatbot. Now my question to all in India is, if you can provide your location data and movement to now an officially mandated Government App, WhatsApp was just not interested in allowing any of their partners to collect location data of the people of India through their platform.

The second issue around the healthcare data privacy that WhatsApp was concerned before they approved a CovidBot was protecting the identity and masking healthcare data of the masses and nothing should be allowed to go through their WhatsApp platform. As you may be aware WhatsApp is a US headquartered company and is legally bound by a much more stringent HIPPA Act which our Aarogya Setu would fail if it was implemented in the US.

The third issue with WhatsApp in allowing any healthcare chatbot was that they had to actually write and clear a global policy on healthcare during pandemics and emergency. Their global policy team at their headquarters actually. India was the first country that was approved by WhatsApp to roll out a CovidBot in the world. Then Israel and others followed.

My limited point to all the fear and fake has been that a company like WhatsApp (now Facebook) is equally concerned in allowing what is legally feasible on their chat platform through their WhatsApp for Business and Facebook handles while the local Aarogya Setu does not even meet a basic privacy filter. So why is there so much fear around your privacy?

Let me conclude by saying, when you buy an expensive high-end smartphone on Apple or Android platform, please decline their terms and condition. The expensive toy in your hand will just be a brick. Please throw that expensive brick in your hand to protest for privacy on Aarogya Setu at Shaheen Baug.      

Also Read: Coronavirus in India: ‘Facebook, WhatsApp seek more data than Aarogya Setu app’ – India News

What Drove QuoteUnQuote With KK to be India’s Leading Business Podcast to the World?

Why this Blog Now?

I was on a call with Padma Bhushan Awardee Dr. Jagdish Sheth earlier this week to wish him on his 58th Wedding Anniversary. He was the keyman and inspiration behind starting QuoteUnquote . I was updating him on the progress of our of the show. He requested me to share this experience for others to learn and figure out. Hence I am posting this blog.

Visit to the Showroom

In 2008, iPod Mini was launched as a very innovative product by Apple. I was at the Ample Showroom at Forum Mall. The sales person showed me the benefits of iPod Mini that apart from songs there was something call talk shows called Podcasts. I bought the iPod Mini and a Bose headphones. The next 2 years before my I lost my iPod Mini from my car, I was introduced to the world of podcasts. There were no Indian Podcasts back then. So most of the Podcasts I heard during my morning and evening walks were from Harvard, Stanford, MIT and other US Universities on leadership and management.   

The Covid Affected CEO’s Self-Motivational Drive and Mental Roadblocks

Fast forward to April this year, the Covid lockdown and crisis created a sort of a mental road block in the minds of circle of CEOs in India and amongst my peer groups who I was talking with. The uncertainty, lack of experience in crisis management of this sort and driving their people and companies out of this was their deep concerns that they expressed to me one-on-one. This also made me think hard and wonder on the road ahead.

The Vehicle Design Template

One of my weekly board calls with Dr. Jagdish Sheth, I openly shared my feelings and empathy towards my peer group with him. That’s when he recommended to organized a virtual webinar for my peer group of CEOs to which he would address to allay their concerns and provide a road ahead given he was in touch with the PM and other folks in the power center in India. We started off with a Virtual Fireside Chat which he would moderate with a few global thought leaders and himself. That was the birth of our vehicle to address the Indian CEO diaspora. The launch date was set and we burnt our bridges with the world and a brave announcement to invite my circle of CEOs to attend this Virtual Fireside Chat free of cost and openly share their fears.   

The Vehicle Proto Type and Test Drive

 While we set about in motion inviting a few panelist for this Virtual Fireside Chat, we did not have a name of the model. In of our brainstorming sessions we called this QuoteUnQuote. While we could get confirmations with a few thought leaders, their calendar availability led to all sorts of logistics and vehicle assembly issues in our garage production shop. Last minute drop out of our key driver Dr. Sheth, made us think we should abbot the launch or defer it. I took the brave decision to be the back up driver and hosted my dear investment industry Dr. Mark Mobious on QuoteUnQuote. 750 industry CEOs and veterans attended the show. WhatsApp messages poured as feedback from them till late night. It may be believe that the test drive was successful based on the results of the direction it set out the roadblocks in the minds of the CEOs.

The Licensing Issues

One of the editors of a leading media house who had attended the QuoteUnQuote published a summary of our talk without any due reference and credit to QuoteUnQuote. This made me furious. Given the media industry’s blatant misuse and misrepresentation, I called up the Managing Editor of Business Standard and worked out a 4-episode deal to publish in their newspaper to further amplify the content from our virtual shows.    

Further Test Drives

While Dr. Sheth was freeing up his calendar, we went on with a few more test drives with the Gallup Chairman, who I had built up friendship since 2004 when he visited India to make an acquisition and start Gallup India. He had to apologize last moment as he was called on a major TV channel in the US to announce President Trumps approval rating. His replacement, Mohammad Younis, the Editor-in-Chief at Gallup filled up the shoes of the Gallup Chairman and the audience expectations. Dr. Jagdish Sheth followed up with his talk which further delighted the audience and built confidence in the CEOs.

The Virtual Vehicle Model Development and Configuration – Autonomous or Automatic or Manual Gear

By June 2020, the starving event management industry and its corporate sponsors had found a way to engage with their target audience virtually and blatant spamming of emails, SMS and WhatsApp on a daily basis for invites started pouring in. The personal time pressures, work demands and virtual webinar fatigue started to set in with my peer CEOs who yet sent out messages through their executive assistants on the next event to block their calendars. We were just not prepared to run our prototype in its current form to compete with the well-oiled big buck event management industry. On the other hand, requests started pouring in from the PR agencies to take their clients on our panel. This was not the intent or the drive with which we had started out. Our vehicle prototype design needed a drastic remodelling and a new drive. Back to the drawing board.

Uber or Ola?

The Indo-China relations escalations and PM’s Atmanirbhar bugle call was the back drop on which we set out for a model redesign. Uber was an American business model in India while Ola (I was an investor in Taxi For Sure seed stage) an Indian business for Indian, let us believe that our core audience was still the Indian diaspora and an Indian Ola-like though-leader with a global unicorn stature would better empathise with our audience in these increasing complex times rather than a foreigner Uber-like global thought leader to give an outside in view and perspective to issues . After several discussions with my CEO friends and those in advertising, PR, digital media, affirmed our belief that a desi podcast show giving the anytime, anywhere, anybody, anyways and anything experience is the way forward and would be available on-demand like the app-based taxi service to our core audience and also extend to the wider secondary audience.

Does Brand KK’s has the Audience Permission and License to Drive?

Our next challenge was who will be the host to anchor the show. Given the preoccupation of our initial star host, we zeroed into some of the celebrity hosts from the TV channels to take the mantle. However, their exclusivity to their TV Channels or other virtual events did not yield us any potential star anchor. The issue boiled down to can KK do it and carry it forward. It made me wonder if I am capable and would the core audience accept me or see it as a platform that would be a bragging of KK. Internally, I had to search what were my bragging rights to qualify for a successful show host if the podcast had to move ahead and the time pressures and demands on me. I had chaired industry bodies forums which has delivered the Biotech Ignition Grant Policy, Agri Reforms, Social Impact and Financial Reforms. After a few calls with my mentors, CEO club buddies, the consensus was that I should anchor and continue with the shows. After a few YouTube videos on podcasting and inputs from Spotify CEO and his team, I finally took the plunge to create the podcast. Now what do we call it?

Vehicle Brand and Launch

After a few creative iterations and ensuring continuity of QuoteUnQuote the consensus was to name the podcast QuoteUnQuote with KK with KK as the anchor host. For any new vehicle launch you need a you need a celebrity to premiere it. Given the Indo-China cross-border escalations at its peak, I called my dear friend Parag Khanna to come for the show which he gladly consented. The podcast show was launched with a huge India and International acceptance. Given the topic Parag carried, the first podcast delivered us over 1 million impressions. However the intent was for Indians by Indians. Here came the next challenge, how to market and go to more Indians?

Setting Up Indian Vehicle Distributors

There are many Indian podcast platforms. We went and tied up with Aawaz and Zee5 for hosting the show. Over the next few episodes the impressions multiplied 100x for each episode. Potential speaker requests and content request feedback started pouring in.

Periodic Maintenance of our Vehicle and Fuel Top-Up

Blessed with a strong analytics team and a Chief Evangalist Officer, our podcast vehicle came into the garage for drive-worthiness and fuel-top up. Every podcast show gave us insights on how the drive has been and what shifts in the gears are required. Armed with all the information and details from the last 10 episodes, our calendar for the next year and the drive for the 2021 was announced to the world and CNBC-TV18.

The Key Take Aways for any New Podcast Vehicle Launch

The dialogue from Dirty Movie, “Films work on 3 things, entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. However, for podcasts, my dialogue is, “Podcasts drive on 3 things, Content, Context and Commentator.”