Monday 28 September 2020

Playing (Tax) Dodgeball!

Read More

Sanity Break #1

A million tweets were shared in memory of SP Balasubrahmanyam—both celebrating his immortal voice and his priceless humility. We picked two of our favourites. In the one , SP offers a lyrical explanation of the magic of Mohammed Rafi’s voice—as only one genius can do for another. At #2: This when SP surprised a fan who lost his eyesight due to a bomb blast in Sri Lanka. Also recommended: This that collates the best tweets on SP.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

PM-CARES FUNDED BY GOVERNMENT SALARIES No one knows the details of the fund created to fight the pandemic. All queries filed under the Right To Information act have been rebuffed. The reason offered each time: the fund is “not a public authority under the...RTI Act”—i.e. it isn’t a government-run fund and therefore citizens have no right to its financial information.   So it is all the more astonishing that a great number of government-owned companies and institutions have contributed vast amounts to the fund. And part of the money came from the salaries of their employees. An Indian Express investigation shows that:   * Life Insurance Corporation gave Rs 1.14 billion—of which Rs 80.6 million came from staff salaries while Rs 1 billion was labeled as ‘Corporate Communication’. * State Bank of India donated Rs 1.1 billion—all of which came from employee salaries. * reporting shows that 38 PSUs used their Corporate Responsibility funds to donate Rs 21.05 billion. * And a number of government-run educational institutions and regulators contributed Rs 218 million from salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff, and from students and pensioners. * Point to note: As of March 31, the PM-CARES fund had Rs 30.76 billion—of which Rs 30.75 billion were listed as “voluntary contributions.” Our question: How does the government define ‘voluntary’? has more details. AKALI DAL KISSES BJP GOODBYE The BJP ally has officially left the National Democratic Alliance, and one of its oldest political partners. The reason: The three farm bills became law yesterday—which essentially privatise Indian agriculture. The party had planned to support the bills and then did a U-turn as enraged farmers in Punjab rallied against the bills. Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal :   > “For the last 7, 8, 10 years or so, NDA is just in name. There is nothing in the NDA. No discussion, no planning, no meetings. I > don’t remember a day in last 10 years when the Prime Minister called NDA meeting for lunch to discuss what they have in mind. > Alliances should not be on paper...” has more on why the party ditched the BJP—and it is the only way it can win back farmers in Punjab. PRESSURE TO IMPLICATE KJO? A former executive producer of one of Karan Johar’s companies told a Mumbai court that the Narcotics Control Bureau “” him—in an attempt to falsely implicate his boss. Kshitij Prasad was arrested after the agency seized a “roll joint believed to be remains of smoked ganja” from his house. (Yes, you read that right) The agency also claims that a drug dealer delivered 50 grams of ganja to Prasad around 12 times between May and July.  A Deepika update: Over the weekend, all the summoned actors—Deepika Padukone, her manager Karishma Prakash, Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan—were interrogated by the NCB. More importantly, their phones have now . Expected soon: a deluge of WhatsApp screenshots to be used against a fresh batch of B’wood stars. But hey, the Mumbai police has told media organisations to the actors’ cars.   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * An intriguing shows that face masks could offer a form of immunity. And here’s why: they may block most of the virus, but allow a small load through. This tiny amount won’t make us sick but the infection will help our body develop immunity. Point to note: the research has yet to be peer-reviewed. * There’s been a lot of coverage of a mutation of the virus that is “deadlier” than previous strains. explains why these alarmist reports are misleading. * China thousands of frontline workers and employees of companies like Huawei with its trial vaccines—even though they have not been approved, or passed last-stage human trials. This is especially bizarre since there are very few Covid cases in the country. And the chances of a person being exposed to the virus are low. Ergo: none of this ‘unofficial’ and unapproved testing will prove that any of these vaccinations work. * has an excellent report on why most African countries have fared far better than the rest of the world. Researchers have theories but no real answer to this mystery.   TWITTER WANTS YOU TO BE NICE The company plans to roll out a series of prompts that will nudge users to think before they tweet. One says ‘read the article before you retweet it’—if you haven’t actually clicked on the link before you hit RT. Another says: ‘When things get heated, you may say things you don’t mean’—when it detects potentially offensive content in your intended tweet. Twitter, it’s just like mom! ()   TWO HEART-WRENCHING VIDEOS Meghalaya: Incessant rainfall has devastated great parts of the state, triggering massive landslides. Fatalities include two women cricketers. Watch the hills turn into ‘waterfalls’ . has more on the landslides. Mumbai: Khalid Khan made this when he was trapped in a collapsed building in Mumbai. He was for more than 10 hours, and was convinced he was going to die.   DAVID ATTENBOROUGH BREAKS INSTAGRAM The beloved British naturalist has broken Jennifer Aniston’s record—by gaining one million followers within four hours and 44 minutes of activating his account. Aniston’s time: Five hours and 16 minutes. Check out his first post . () Also making a debut: 217 brand . The one that sums up 2020 best:   Also trying to set a record: Karnataka government which will partner with California-based Virgin Hyperloop to deliver a superfast train—which will get you from the airport to the city centre in ten minutes! Promo vid .   ANUSHKA IS MAD AT GAVASKAR Offering commentary on Virat Kohli’s crap batting against Kings XI Punjab, Sunil Gavaskar said (in English): “Kohli knows he will improve based on the way he practices. During the lockdown, he practiced only against Anushka’s bowling. We all saw the video. That wouldn’t help at all.”     He was referring to a vid taken by a neighbour of the couple playing cricket at home. The comment was translated into Hindi—‘Anushka ki gendein’ (Anushka’s balls)—to make it sound obscene and tweeted out. She took great offence, and expressed her outrage in this . Gavaskar responded:    > "Firstly, I would like to say, where am I blaming her, I'm not blaming her. I am only saying that the video showed she was > bowling to Virat. Virat has only played that much bowling in this lockdown period… It is a tennis ball fun game that people have > to pass time during the lockdown, so that's all, so where am I blaming her for Virat's failures." has a blow-by-blow of this jhagda.

Playing (Tax) Dodgeball!

Sanity Break #2

Irrespective of your opinion of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, John Roberts, he offered kids graduating from his son’s school is unique, invaluable and true. Now, if he’d only take some of his own advice...

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF GOOD READS * Why are all Swedish cottages painted red? explains. * Physician and health writer James Hamblin hasn’t showered for five years. He explains why that’s a good thing in this interview. * This excellent comic strip lays out why online learning really, really sucks—for the parents, of course. * Why don't UNICEF or other aid agencies hire local photographers to take photos for their reports and pamphlets? explains. * Heather Dockray in doesn’t miss being single—but she pines for the joy of swiping. * talked to Mulan Producer Jason Reed who explains why the wildly successful National Treasure never became a series (unlike, say, Pirates of the Carribean)—and it tells you a lot about how Disney makes its decisions about movies. Hint: it has little to do with box office performance. * has a must read on sexual harassment in the world of Hindustani music. * reports on how South India is fuelling a boom in regional video content. * looks at the quiet way Rishi Sunak is using the media to lay claim to Boris Johnson’s job in the UK.

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

: Sari + hula hoop = instant viral sensation.   : You're never too old to dance with mom. : How many accents can you nail in two minutes? The answer: a truly astonishing number.   : Animal babies being bottle-fed by zoo keepers—the greatest hits edition.  

Feel good place