Splainer

Tuesday, December 14 2021


Dive In

 

What people were slow to observe was that the emancipation of the wife destroyed the parents authority over the children… In bringing the man down from his pedestal the wife and mother deprived herself, in fact, of the means of discipline.

That’s from a reading comprehension exercise in the Class 10 CBSE exam—which triggered a row in the Lok Sabha. Sonia Gandhi read out parts of the passage, raising “strong objections to such blatantly misogynist material.” The Opposition staged a walkout, and the CBSE has since apologised. All students will now get full marks on that question—and the board will review its exam paper setting process.


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Big Story

A grand election mela in Kashi

The TLDR: Days before the announcement of elections in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor—in a grand ceremony and with a speech that spoke directly to Hindu pride. But oddly enough, there are plenty of Hindus who are not happy with the project—which also raises the threat of a new Babri Masjid-like controversy.

 

Researched by: Sara Varghese & Prafula Grace Busi

 

First, some background

The temple’s history: The Kashi Vishwanath temple is dedicated to Vishweshwara or the ‘keeper of the universe’. The original temple was destroyed in 1194 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. It was rebuilt but destroyed again in the 15th century. Akbar sponsored its rebuilding in the 16th century, Aurangzeb once again destroyed it in 1669. The structure we see today was built by Maratha ruler Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in the year 1780.

 

The temple’s significance: The temple is home to one of the pre-eminent Shiv lingas in the country—and a sacred annual destination for Hindu pilgrims

 

“On days like Shivratri, the temple sees more than two lakh devotees who jostle for space. Getting inside the temple for darshan (sacred sight) can take more than 6-8 hours. The lanes that lead to the temple can be as narrow as two feet in width. ‘Agar samne se gai a jaaye to nikalna mushkil ho jata hai (If a cow enters, it can be difficult to pass through the lane)’.”

 

The project: is a 50-foot wide corridor that will directly link the temple to two ghats on the Ganga. To be built over 500,000 square feet—a big jump from the current 3000 square feet—the project will cost Rs 8 billion (800 crore). The foundation stone for the same was laid way back in 2019. Yesterday, the PM inaugurated the completion of its first phase.

 

The vision: is similar to other big government projects such as the Jallianwala Bagh renovation in Punjab (explained here). This first phase includes 23 buildings including a tourist facilitation centre, city museum, viewing gallery and food court. Plus all this:

 

“The Rudraksh Convention Centre, designed like a Shiva lingam, can seat 1,200 people, and has divisible meeting rooms, an art gallery, and multipurpose pre-function areas. Ganga cruises are planned for tourists… Elsewhere in the city, LED screens will display information for tourists, including on the history, architecture, and art of Kashi. The famous Ganga Aarti and the aarti at the Kashi Vishwanath temple will be shown on the screens throughout the city.”

 

Point to note: The project is being executed by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management—the same company that is behind the Central Vista project (explained here)

 

What’s the election angle here?

 

 
Headlines that matter

Amazon’s tornado of problems

A wave of deadly tornadoes swept through the US—killing at least 90 people. One of them plowed straight into Amazon’s delivery station in Kentucky. Six people died—while 45 survived. Now, the company’s worker policies and safety measures are under scrutiny. The staff sheltered in bathrooms because there were no basement shelters—in an area prone to tornadoes. And the no-phone rule for employees may have ensured that they were not aware of the weather warnings—which Amazon also ignored—and union leaders are calling “inexcusable.” (Quartz)


One study of note

Do you like your food hot and spicy? It may have something to do with what your mom ate while breastfeeding. Researchers have found that when mothers eat a curry dish containing piperine—a chemical responsible for the pungency in pepper—it seeps into the breastmilk, and increases their tolerance for spicy food later in life. (Science Daily)


NFT furore over Birkins

This was always going to happen. Mason Rothschild is selling 100 MetaBirkins—as “a tribute” once greatly favoured by rich ladies who lunch—for around 5.9 units of cryptocurrency Ethereum, or roughly $24,000. Then, someone created ‘knockoffs’ of his virtual bags. And now Hermes is accusing Rothschild of intellectual property theft. Rothschild hasn’t commented on Hermes’ reaction—but he is mad as hell at the folks selling MetaBirkin knockoffs lol! (Motley Fool)

 
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In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Time to redefine calendar boys/girls with "Doggystyle" 

 

A list of intriguing things

  • ‘Before’ and ‘after’ illustrations that show the effects of masturbation on women’s health
  • Spanx for men
  • An unlikely artst: Bob Dylan
  • What happens when you hang billiard balls together and slightly vary the length of the string?
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