Splainer

Wednesday, August 19 2020


Dive In

Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.

That’s Michelle Obama delivering a blistering takedown of the President on the opening night of the virtual Democratic convention—which will seal the nomination of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for the party’s nominees in the presidential election. Also notable: She did not mention Kamala Harris. The reason: Obama’s remarks were taped before Biden picked Harris. Illustration: Parth Savla.

Big Story

Meet Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury: The suited-booted Ramdev

The TLDR: Yesterday, an anti-mask video was shared by a self-proclaimed doctor—and promptly went viral. But thanks to good folks on Twitter, we soon discovered that the bad doctor is not a random quack, but a highly popular health guru with a large digital empire. We take a closer look at Chowdhury and two related trends: the growing resistance to masks, and an industry of quack corona medicine—supported by the government.

 

Remind me about this video?

It was shared by Chowdhury on Twitter and featured four young educated urban types who spouted the usual anti-mask propaganda. The main slogan: ‘Mask Se Azaadi’. The links were taken down by Twitter but you can still watch it on YouTube

 

So who is this Chowdhury?

Not a random quack: as many of us may like to believe. As Nilesh Christopher notes in his excellent article for Rest of World

 

“Over the years, Chowdhury has built an expansive digital empire through online nutrition training courses, certification programs, and consultancy services. He employs a 50-person social media team to man his hotline and share his videos across 170 WhatsApp channels… Since early February, Chowdhury’s dozen YouTube videos about the “myth” of the coronavirus have amassed more than 5 million views. His Telegram channel gained more than 13,000 followers in a week, and in the past two months, his fan following on YouTube has grown by one-third, to 952,000 subscribers.”

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • TikTok US has a new suitor
  • International travel opens up
  • IPL gets a title sponsor
  • School openings are not going well
  • Clueless is getting a reboot

 

Reading Habit

  • A Not-So-Bad Poetry Day

 

Smart And Curious

  • A searingly smart animated film voiced by Ali Fazal and written, animated and directed by Ashutosh Pathak
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