Wednesday 25 November 2020

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Sanity Break #1

This by Tarun Lak is called simply ‘India Vignettes’—and it captures moments that are instantly recognisable to all of us. It defines with great beauty and grace what it means to be Indian.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

COMING SOON: A ‘LOVE JIHAD’ LAW IN UP  The state government an ordinance to curb “unlawful religious conversions” and “inter-faith marriages with the sole intention of changing a girl’s religion.” In such cases, the marriage will be declared “null and void” and “those getting the conversion done” will face a jail term up to 10 years. Btw, this is a non-bailable offence.   Two points to note: One, the Allahabad High Court to dismiss a father’s FIR against his son-in-law because his daughter converted to Islam before marriage. It said:   > “Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two > individuals… To disregard the choice of a person who is of the age of majority would not only be antithetic to the freedom of > choice of a grown-up individual but would also be a threat to the concept of unity in diversity.”   Two: A recent special police investigation in UP found of any kind of ‘love jihad’ campaign.    Also on the warpath: The Indian government which has banned a fresh batch of 43 Chinese apps. Details .   RUSSIAN VACCINE BETTER THAN OXFORD? Russia claims that its Sputnik vaccine has more than 95% efficacy—rivalling Pfizer and Moderna, and way better than AstraZeneca’s vaccine (70%). That would be thrilling except the global medical community is not convinced. Reason: Sputnik was licensed way before it completed late stage trials, and administered to thousands of Russians without proper testing. (See: our on Sputnik) has more.   In related news: Latest research suggests that one mutation of the virus—which originated in China—has spread rapidly across the globe, and now is the dominant strain. via The Telegraph has that story.   Closer home: Rajya Sabha MP and close Gandhi family confidante Ahmed Patel this morning after multiple organ failure due to Covid.    Two related good reads: explains why you must never ever eat inside a restaurant. looks at the dairy industry’s cold storage chain for answers to vaccine delivery in India.   A DIRE DIABETES PREDICTION FOR INDIA A new study estimated the probability of any man or woman—or any age or BMI (body mass index)—living in a major metro of developing diabetes in their lifetime. Its prediction: More than half of men, and nearly two-thirds of women currently aged 20 years are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Those most at risk: people with a high BMI. ()    In happier news for India: A new report shows that we are not only on track to meet emission targets set by the Paris agreement on climate change—we are poised to beat them: “This aligns the country with large global economies, aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050 such as the US, Japan, Britain, the EU and South Korea, and China by 2060." And this despite being one of the most polluted countries in the world. has more.   A DESI TWITTER NAMED TOOTER There’s a desi clone of everybody’s fave rant-freely platform, and it’s called Tooter. Yes, there are some distinct swadeshi differences. For example: the bird logo is now a conch shell. And it has a far more noble purpose, as its ‘About Us’ section proclaims:   > “We believe that India should have a Swadeshi social network. Without one we are just a digital colony of the American Twitter > India Company, no different than what we were under the British East India Company. Tooter is our Swadeshi Andolan 2.0. Join us > in this Andolan.”   The site also claims: “We strive to ensure that the First Amendment remains the Website’s standard for content moderation.” Translation: Trolling zindabad! ()    ELON MUSK IS #2 ONLY! Ok, not like that. He is the second richest man in the world. He is now worth $127.9 billion—which is above Bill Gates at $127.7 billion. This is all due to his soaring shares, which will undoubtedly tank the next time . ()   AFGHANISTAN MOVES ON TO METH Those innocent days of growing poppy and exporting heroin may soon be a fond memory. A new report shows that Afghanistan is well on its way to becoming a global producer of crystal methamphetamine—one of the most powerful and addictive drugs in the world. The reason:   > “The boom is the result of a discovery by drug traffickers that a plant commonly found growing wild in parts of Afghanistan, > ephedra, can be used to create the key component of meth: ephedrine.”   : the 2018 drought in Afghanistan which destroyed large tracts of opium crops. Added incentive: it is making the Taliban very rich. The report estimates the Taliban could be earning in excess of $4 million a year from a single district with 300 labs. has more on this pivot.    IN AWESOME INDIAN WOMEN NEWS… One: The amazing Bilkis Dadi has made it to yet another ‘best of 2020’ list—this time BBC’s “list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world.” Keeping her company: Manasi Joshi, the current para-badminton world champion. Also: The Pakistani actor Mahira Khan of ‘Raees’ fame: “She is outspoken against sexual violence, refuses to endorse skin-lightening creams and supports the fight against racism.” ()   Two: Ok, this isn’t the equivalent of fighting for civil rights or racism, but we totally heart the spirit of Sanjana Rishi who ditched the traditional sari/lehenga for this awesome power suit. has way more on this story than you likely need.   DARWIN’S MISSING DIARIES The Cambridge University Library has issued an urgent public appeal for help in locating two missing notebooks of Charles Darwin—one of which contains the iconic 1837 ‘Tree of Life’ sketch (see below). Well, we use the word ‘urgent’ a bit loosely because apparently this:    > “Following an exhaustive search, the largest in the library’s history, curators have concluded that the notebooks, first listed > as missing in January 2001, have likely been stolen.”   Yes, you read that right. It has taken the library 19 years to conclude that the diaries may have been stolen… because why jump to easy conclusions? Far better to slowly and sporadically search the library’s ten million books, maps, manuscripts over nearly two decades before deciding, ‘We’ve been robbed!’. narrates the entire sorry tale. Or you can read report which includes Cambridge’s explanation for this delayed reaction.    ONE GOOD THING TO DO —founded by the amazing Japleen Pasricha (read about her )—is planning to set up a membership model to help fund its very good work. But what would be hugely helpful—like right now!—is if you can fill out so FII can get this done right. Japleen is good people:)

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Sanity Break #2

This is the winner of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest: Magical Night in Tromsø, Norway, taken by 24-year-old Kelvin Yuen from Hong Kong. The rest of the stunning collection is . Look for our other favourite: Coexistence, Near Lomangnupur Mountain, Southern Iceland by Dipanjan Pal—which resembles a marvelous piece of abstract art.

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF INTRIGUING THINGS One: A truly golden hotel: The Dolce by Wyndham Hanoi Golden Lake hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is the first in the world to be gold-plated on the inside and the outside! has an eye-popping gallery of photos.   Two: This is not a gingerbread house. This is a ‘charcuterie chalet’: “a small model cabin constructed using soft cheeses for the glue and cured meats for basically everything else. waxes eloquent on this latest culinary travesty.   Three: This is a speaker-phone plus computer mouse aka Tele-mouse. Yes, it’s real, and was back in 1998—when phones and modems shared the same line. Nope, it wasn’t a hit but it reveals how technological innovation happens. explains.   Four: This is a limited edition weighted blanket sold by… Pizza Hut (who else!) for the low, low price . No, it is not available in India. Yes, we are crying on the inside.    Five: This is an of an octopus in camouflage.  

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

: Gul Panag doing push ups in a sari. #LifeGoals!   : South Indians abroad.   : This is an idli recipe. That’s all we’re willing to say about this one.    : We hope you like racoons. This person certainly does. If you want to know more about the ‘Racoon Whisperer’, his story is .  

Feel good place