These are 19th century postcards featuring images of Indian women sent as slave labour to the Carribean—and then photographed by white men. Are these coolie belles—dressed in their best jewelry and traditional clothing, exoticised and sexualized—victims or do they assert their humanity despite the colonial gaze? Or both. You decide. has more on the layers to this story and more images.
THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * shows that infected people with no symptoms account for 59% of all cases. This includes people in early stages of the infection (35%) and also those who remain asymptomatic (24%). * Brazilian officials say that the Chinese vaccine Sinovac has shown an of 78% in Stage trials in the country. This is big news for lower income countries which have already purchased more than 300 million doses. But global experts remain skeptical because the data shared is incomplete and doesn’t prove efficacy. Kinda like our Covaxin then. * The International Olympic Committee is to get athletes vaccinated on a priority basis for the Tokyo Games in July—though they aren’t exactly an at-risk group. One IOC member said: “It’s a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead.” * A shows that the risk of a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine is extremely low—in fact, far lower than the seasonal flu shot. * Priyanka Chopra is in trouble the UK’s strict lockdown rules. She visited a top hair salon in the company of the stylist and her mom. Her spokesperson’s defence: “Following government guidance, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ hair was coloured by Josh Wood for the purpose of the film she is currently shooting. The salon was opened privately for the production and everyone involved had been tested and followed” all regulations. An important vaccine story: magazine (paywall) has an eye-opening story on 200 Covaxin trial volunteers in Bhopal. None are affluent, and many are survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide tragedy. The reporting reveals: * Trial participants are picked up by recruiters in vans, lured by the promise of Rs 750 per hospital trip. * Many do not know that they are participating in a vaccine trial, and could not produce a consent form. Others thought they were getting vaccinated. * There is very little monitoring or follow up. In at least one case, a man became severely ill but the hospital refused to treat him. * Our question: Why aren’t these stories front page news? ELON MUSK TOPPLES JEFF BEZOS The most mouthy CEO in the world is now also the richest. The reason: his Tesla stock rose by 6%—which increased the value of his shares by $10 billion. He is now at $191 billion—just a wee bit higher than Bezos’ $187 billion. () Not feeling as rich: The Indian economy—which is set for its since 1952. Our GDP is expected to shrink 7.7% in the financial year ending March 2021—which is steeper than the 7.5% predicted by the Reserve Bank. ARMY CRACKS DOWN ON FARMER SYMPATHISERS The Indian Army is planning to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a soldier who participated in a farmers’ protest in Bathinda in December. Although he was on leave at the time, his actions violate the Army Act which prohibits members of the military “from attending or addressing any meeting or to taking part in any demonstration organised by any body of persons for any political or other purposes.” That he was wearing his uniform and went viral on social media likely didn’t help. The Army is also tracking down another soldier who posted a video expressing his support for the protests on social media. () PLANT-BASED SHRIMP IS HERE Move over impossible beef and chicken. We now have fake shrimp made of seaweed and plant proteins from mung beans—and which has the same flavor and “snap” of the real thing. New York-based startup New Wave Foods plans to supply only restaurants for now. It is also working on alternatives to lobster, scallops, and crab. () MEN GET SAD AFTER SEX New research finds that men are just as likely as women to experience postcoital dysphoria or PCD. A previous study had already established that at least 46% of women experience PCD at least once in their lifetime. The number for men: 41%. Also this: About 20% had experienced it in the last four weeks. Around 4% said they experienced it “most or all of the time.”The reasons for this phenomenon: > "[T]he men who do so often had a history of sexual or emotional abuse in childhood, depression or anxiety, and more often, > hypoactive sexual desire disorder — or a general lack of sexual desire... They were also more likely to experience premature or > delayed ejaculation." has more on. A ‘PENIS SHOW’ FOR CHILDREN Denmark’s equivalent of the BBC has launched a new animated TV show for 4-8 year olds called —who is, er, very special. ‘Blessed’ with the world’s longest penis, he overcomes many challenges and hardships: “it can perform rescue operations, etch murals, hoist a flag and even steal ice-cream from children.” Not surprisingly, it has generated great controversy. Feminists have accused the show of “perpetuating the standard idea of a patriarchal society and normalising ‘locker room culture’.” But some psychologists argue: > “The show depicts a man who is impulsive and not always in control, who makes mistakes—like kids do, but crucially, Dillermand > always makes it right. He takes responsibility for his actions. When a woman in the show tells him that he should keep his penis > in his pants, for instance, he listens. Which is nice. He is accountable.” has more. TWO SURPRISING NEW STUDIES About dogs: Previous research on origins of our beloved pets hypothesized that either a) wolves became domesticated because they were attracted to our food scraps; or b) prehistoric humans used early dogs as hunting partners. A new study shows that both theories may be wrong—because humans and wild dogs/wolves are pack animals and tend to hunt the same prey. They are incentivised to compete not cooperate. The real reason we fell in love: Humans had an abundance of meat (i.e. protein) during harsh ice age winters. Far more than we could or even should safely consume, and so we became allies rather than rivals. Also: This explains why the domestication of dogs appears to have first occurred in arctic and subarctic regions. () About CEOS: A study of 855 S&P 500 CEOs appointed over a 20-year period found that experience is actually not such a good thing: 70% of them actually performed better in their first rooke stint as CEO than in a subsequent gig in the same role. Also: for more than 60%, the second company failed to keep pace with the overall stock market. offers food for C-suite thought. A HEIST FILM FOR OUR TIMES HBO Max just released the trailer for Doug Liman’s ‘Locked Down—a “quarantine heist film.” Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor star as an unhappy couple attempting a high-stakes jewelry heist at Harrods in London. What makes it fun: The movie perfectly captures the details of the pandemic lifestyle. It drops on HBO Max on January 15, but we aren’t sure when or where it will release in India:(
We’ve all heard of and even seen ‘Last Supper’—featuring Jesus Christ’s last meal with his 12 disciples. But did you know that a 16th century nun named Plautilla Nelli painted the very same scene? It is far more lively and sumptuous with details, with real food and porcelain bowls. Unlike her more famous male peers, Nelli wanted her apostles to eat! explains why this grand canvas with its grand theme was a remarkable achievement for a woman in her time. The above is just one detail. You can see a rare hi-res view of the entire seven-metres long painting (laptop viewing recommended).
SO YOU WANT TO WATCH SOMETHING… : Can love conquer money—especially in a deeply class and caste-driven society like ours? This critically acclaimed film—which premiered at Cannes Critics Week—tells the love story between a US-return employer and his help, played by the always amazing Tillotama Shome. We finally get to watch it this weekend on Netflix. Read reviews on , and . : We are intrigued by this ten-part French series about a Senegalese immigrant, that is described as so: “Created by George Kay (‘Killing Eve’) in collaboration with François Uzan (‘Family Business’), ‘Lupin’ is an addictive, clever puzzle that combines elements from ‘Luther’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, and ‘Inside Man’ for an engrossing experience.” What’s not to like? It releases on Netflix today. A LIST OF GOOD READS * A must read: Ameera Aleem tells the alarming story of a high school student in Bangalore who is suddenly inundated with lewd messages and fake Facebook profiles in . * This analysis applies game theory to the great standoff between the government and the farmers—to explain why the asymmetry of power works against the bigger, more powerful opponent. * calls out BCCI’s step-fatherly treatment of women’s cricket. * has an entertaining read on the long history of Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch—and the many attempts to prove this beast’s existence. * explains why sex in Netflix’s hottest series, , is actually kinda crap. * has a fun read on the origins of nachos—and the man named Nachos. * Worth scrolling through: the list of the best life lessons learned from 2020 compiled by —author of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’. * offers a fascinating guide to hangovers and explains why they are a natural part of your body desperately trying to heal itself. * Also a very good read: on why Indian Americans now rule the roost of great food writing. * offers an excellent watch on the Palm Cockatoo—a wonderful creature that is in dire risk of extinction.
Did you know there is something known as competitive dog dancing aka ‘heelwork to music’? No? Well, now you do. Fact: bears are crap at hide and seek. Why podcasts are the best sleep aids ever.
The conflict has implications for all the major powers—including Armenia’s fave weapons supplier: India.Read More
It is a historic step toward empowering women so why are some critics still unhappy?Read More
Canada and India are in the midst of a bitter and unprecedented war of words. Wtf is going on?Read More