1 World Bank cuts China growth forecast (BBC) The World Bank has trimmed its growth forecast slightly for China, citing a “bumpy start to the year”. It now expects the Chinese economy to grow by 7.6% in 2014, down from its earlier projection of 7.7%. A slew of disappointing figures has triggered concerns of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. However, the bank said recent reforms unveiled by China were likely to help it achieve “more sustainable and inclusive” growth in the long term.
The Chinese government set out an ambitious and comprehensive reform agenda in November last year, aimed at overhauling its economy over the next decade. These include reforming the financial and services sectors as well as the big state-owned enterprises. The bank also cut its growth outlook for Thailand. It predicts that the Thai economy will expand by 3% this year, down from its earlier projection of 4.5% growth.
The bank said it expected the developing East Asia Pacific region to grow by 7.1% in 2014, slightly lower than its earlier projection of 7.2%. However, it said the developing economies in the region would see “stable economic growth this year, bolstered by a recovery in high-income economies and the market’s modest response so far to the Federal Reserve’s tapering of its quantitative easing”. “East Asia Pacific has served as the world’s main growth engine since the global financial crisis,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, a vice president at the World Bank.
2 Poaching tech workers at bus stops (Kristen V Brown in San Francisco Chronicle) For a company on the hunt for top tech talent, the corner of Eighth and Market streets in San Francisco is prime poaching ground. Every morning, herds of tech workers gather there awaiting shuttle buses to the campuses of Google, Facebook, Adobe, LinkedIn, among others. Corralled and stuck in line, the tech bus crowd is a captive audience.
For the past two weeks, recruiters from software startup Bigcommerce have taken advantage of Silicon Valley’s well-known commuting regimen. Members of its executive team, bolstered by a small army of help-for-hire, have descended upon techie shuttle stops around the city in a bid to win over top engineering talent. The ploy is gimmicky, yes, but it is also apparently effective: The company has spoken with more than 1,000 potential candidates, extended offers to at least six and hired two, so far.
West Stringfellow, the company’s new chief product officer, came up with the idea at a previous job when he commuted from Noe Valley to Market Street, passing shuttle stops on the way. Initially, he envisioned sauntering over to a tech bus stop and chatting people up, but it soon morphed into a full-blown campaign with a clever hashtag (#poached). Last week, the company set up coffee stands at stops, passed out 400 poached egg sandwiches and 500 cups of coffee to would-be hires.
3 India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty at risk (Jason Burke in The Guardian) The fortunes of 400 families in Ikror in Amethi district of India’s Uttar Pradesh state – and most of their 1.2 billion compatriots – are deeply entwined with those of the descendants of Jawaharlal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister and architect of modern India. As voting begins on Monday in India’s general election – the world’s biggest exercise in democracy – this is truer than ever. Since 2004, the member of parliament representing Ikror has been Rahul Gandhi – Nehru’s great-grandson and the sole face of the venerable Congress party’s campaign. “The Gandhis, Congress – the same thing, two sides of the same coin,” says Maqsud Ahmed, who at 75 is the oldest man in the village.
Since India gained its independence from Britain in 1947, when Ahmed was eight, the Congress party – and thus the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty – has dominated the country’s politics. (There is no direct blood relation to Mahatma Gandhi, the independence leader.) But pollsters predict that in this election, the Congress party, which has been in power since 2004, will record its heaviest defeat. No one foresees the immediate extinction of the Gandhis as a political force. But great changes are sweeping this country and one of the world’s most successful political dynasties may well be a long-term victim.
Uttar Pradesh (UP) has a population of 180 million and its socio-economic indicators are on a par with sub-Saharan Africa. “There is the law, and then there is UP. This is the wild west of India,” says a local hotelier. Amethi and neighbouring constituency Rae Bareli have been represented almost without break by the Gandhi dynasty since Feroze Gandhi – husband of Indira, Nehru’s daughter, who served four terms as prime minister – won a seat in Rae Bareli in 1951 during India’s first democratic parliamentary election.
Sharat Pradhan, a veteran Lucknow-based reporter who has been covering politics in the region since Rajiv Gandhi’s earliest campaigns in Amethi, said: “Nobody openly criticised ‘the Family’ like this before. There was some sign of this at the  elections but not on this scale. This is completely new. There is this sense of empowerment. It’s astonishing.” Causing some consternation locally is the new Aam Aadmi (common man) party, which is challenging many of the fundamental principles of Indian politics.
Yet in surveys, nearly half of voters still express a preference for candidates who come from a political family or dynasty, and the most acute grievance of the people of Ikror is not Rahul Gandhi’s assumption that he should be their representative, or the lack of local development, but that he is inaccessible – a complaint that would have been familiar to the Mughal emperors.