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Monday June 15 2020

No Way To Say Goodbye

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Sanity Break #1

SANITY BREAK We totally heart this very funny—and very true— to the power and absurdity of human love.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

HEADLINES THAT MATTER Psst from the Editor: A big thank you to all of our awesome founding members and early subscribers for giving splainer such an awesome start. We’re truly grateful and overwhelmed, and feeling kinda like… (h/t for the perfect image)   FIRST, THE INDIA NUMBERS * Latest number of cases: 320,922—after a record single-day jump of 11,929.  * Total number of deaths: 9,195—we added 311 to that number on Sunday.  * States that have reported the biggest 24-hour jump: Maharashtra (1,764), Tamil Nadu (597), Delhi (530), Uttar Pradesh (216), and Andhra Pradesh (193). * The bad news: A predicts that we will not hit our peak until October. The previous prediction: mid-July.  * Also: by the third week of September, we will not have adequate beds, ventilators etc. to meet our needs.   THE VIRUS RETURNS TO CHINA After two virus-free months, Beijing is facing a in cases. The reason: an outbreak traced to the city’s largest wholesale food market. Authorities have found 42 symptomatic cases since Thursday—and another 48 asymptomatic cases linked to the market. The market and its neighbouring areas have been shut down, and all group gatherings have been banned. And the city is now on a “” footing to stem the spread.    KIWI SPORTS FANS HAVE A BLAST Over 20,000 fans celebrated the return to normal life and professional rugby over the weekend. New Zealand declared itself virus-free last week. The sports minister : “It's a world first and it’s a payoff for all the hard work of five million New Zealanders.” See photos .    In : the Indian cricket board is plotting the return of IPL—but with zero fans in the stadium. The currently favoured venue:    > “If you imagine a city like Mumbai, which has four quality grounds and a fifth nearby in Pune, every side can have their own > team hotel. We can explore if rooms need to be next to each other to ensure spacing between players…personalised towels, water > bottles.”   IMAGES AND VIDEOS FROM THE PROTESTS Rightwing types in London decided to protest against the protests against cop violence… by ! In great need of protection from protesters: Winston Churchill. He is in such peril that his his statue may have to be moved to a museum (of horrors, perhaps).   Also of protection: Wall Street’s mighty bull.     A white woman cop a little black girl, and this happened: THE COVID EFFECT: THE INDIA EDITION * Raymond has fired hundreds of employees—many of whom have dedicated decades to the company—and in the worst way possible. Somesh Jha’s must-read story is here. If you don’t have a subscription, check out his .  * H1-B workers are in peril—thanks to Donald Trump who is planning to all employment-based visas. Numbers to note: The US issues 65,000 H-1B visas each year plus 20,000 advanced degree H-1B visas. Of these, 70% are Indians.  * A Mumbai union of domestic workers to take a Covid test. This is in response to resident associations insisting on the same from household help. * Realtors are to make them more spacious and well-ventilated. Also in the blueprint is a separate small room for WFH: “We are replicating office environments at home. So basic infrastructure like electrical points, WiFi and broadband connectivity, air conditioning, power back-up and privacy, which are a given in an office, will all be available to our customers at home.”   THE GREAT PAROTTA, PARATHA, BAROTA DEBATE Karnataka authorities sparked off a great food debate by ruling that a parotta—not to be confused with the North Indian paratha—will be subject to a 18% GST tax. And that sparked great outrage, leading to a hasty clarification: will face such punishment, while the fresh kind will be subject to a normal 5% tax—similar to the humble roti. explains the heated history of the tax battle over labeling—which has included existential debates over whether a Fryum is indeed a papad.   A KINDER, MORE SENSITIVE OSCARS The very-white Academy is scrambling to create new guidelines and processes to ensure a ‘more inclusive’ Oscars. There’s a lot of , but here’s the TLDR: Movies submitted  for the Oscars will be subject to a ‘diversity and inclusion’ audit by a to-be-created task force. Point to note: none of this affects the 2020 awards.   NIDHI RAZDAN BIDS ADIEU TO TV The anchor is NDTV after a 21-year stint at the organisation. Her new gig: Associate professor at Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences. ()   ATTACK OF THE MONSTER BATS! Mega-bats Pakistani villagers and their mango orchards.   > “The megabats are seen clinging to branches of trees. They have larger eyes and stronger sense of smell than microbats, but have > smaller ears because they don’t echolocate. The rare megabats with wingspans of more than 4-5 feet and weighing 2.5 to 3.5 > kilogram each speedily eat premature mangoes in dark times and the mammals cause huge financial losses in millions of rupees to > the growers.”   Wingspans of 4-5 feet!!

No Way To Say Goodbye

Sanity Break #2

SANITY BREAK Here’s a of images from socially distanced restaurants around the world.

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

SMART & CURIOUS THIS IS TAAPSEE PANNU’S TRIBUTE TO THE ‘PRAVASI’ —with Pannu’s voiceover—is moving and a must-watch. The pain in her voice...   A LIST OF INTRIGUING THINGS : Archaeologists have uncovered bone arrowheads that are between 45-48,000 years old in Sri Lanka. Why this matters: This is the oldest such find outside Africa, and it is in South Asia. Scientists have typically looked to Africa and Europe for evidence of early human innovation and creativity.   ! These are ancient underwater predators that can live up to 100 years—and only breed once in a decade! They are now on display in a cave in Slovenia.   —the socially distancing robot who will be checking temperatures at a railway station near you. FYI, ARJUN stands for Always be Responsible and Just Use to be Nice. A COVID-FREE LIST OF GOOD READS We’re listing these separately for the benefit of those suffering pandemic fatigue:) * offers a delightful roundup of wild and wacky lucky charms around the world—from waving cats to silver amulets and red underwear. * The lamphone technique allows spies to use lightbulb vibrations to overhear your conversation. explains how. * offers a well-reported deep dive into the grimy world of Delhi cricket—and looks at why it continues to produce some of India’s finest. * offers a stirring argument as to why Britons must tear down the statue of Robert Clive—a notorious and “vicious asset-stripper” and early architect of the colonisation of India. * has a fun read on the big new trend of online parties—which can cost as much as Rs 25,000-30,000 per soiree. * —a recent and delightful find, courtesy one of its creators —offers this lovely essay on online dating, which takes a tired topic and makes it fresh. Also refreshing: the illustrations.    A LIST OF GOOD COVID READS * ! Attention must be paid to what is happening to young Indian girls, who are being pulled out of school and pushed into marriage. This is an urgent and important bit of reporting. * of Indian Express journalist Shalini Langer is harrowing and all-too-relatable. This is how it is now. * offers a smart take on how Indian babudom ruined our fight to contain the virus. * explains how IAS officers helped beat back Covid in Dharavi. * : Here’s what octogenarians—who have lived through Partition, famines, riots and more—have to say about the pandemic.

Smart & Curious

Weekend advisory

LIFE ADVISORY SO YOU’RE WONDERING IF SCHOOLS ARE SAFE… New York Times spoke to hundreds of epidemiologists, and they are surprisingly okay with sending their kids back—many as soon as this summer. But only under certain conditions. ()   SO YOU’RE DYING FOR A LUXURY GETAWAY… Shrabonti Bagchi—who is also our founding member—takes a tour of ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru to let you know what to expect. We were totally impressed with the UV sterilised pens. ()   SO YOU WANNA DO SOME GOOD… Founding member Amruta Ghanekar’s organisation—Family Planning Association of India—has been providing vital health services through its 40 nationwide clinics. And they have been more critical than ever:   > “Most of our clinics remained open throughout the lockdown and continued providing antenatal care, contraception, abortion and > other SRH services. The branch staff even distributed contraceptives and HIV medicine at the clients’ door step if they couldn’t > reach the clinic.” But their Covid safety costs have been escalating, and they need our support. Please . Recommended read: on how Covid has destroyed the sexual health supply chain.

Weekend advisory

Feel Good Place

THE FEEL GOOD PLACE or ‘Who let the dogs in!’    The most informative infographic of this pandemic. (h/t our founding member Anita Guha).   is real. Someone wrote it, and someone published it. When life is funnier than fiction.   : Wipro has converted its IT facility in Pune into a 450-bed Covid hospital.

Feel Good Place

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