Wednesday, October 20 2021

Dive In


For your kind information, Hindi is our national language. So it is very common that everyone should know Hindi little bit.

That’s what a customer service employee at Zomato told an angry customer in Tamil Nadu over chat. The customer went on Twitter to share his outrage. Zomato apologised and announced it had “terminated the agent for their negligence towards our diverse culture”—and then almost immediately reversed its decision. CEO Deepinder Goyal tweeted: “The level of tolerance and chill in our country needs to be way higher than it is nowadays.” Ah, the perfect combo pack of the two things Indians love to fight over: food and language!


Coming up soon: We are very excited to announce our next Ask Me Anything session with accomplished patissier, chef and entrepreneur Pooja Dhingra—who also hosts a brilliant podcast ‘No Sugar Coat’. She will speak about all the things close to her heart: food, restaurants, entrepreneurship and more. Time/Date: 6 pm on Saturday, October 23, via Zoom. Sign up here for one of the limited slots.

And don’t forget: Be sure to take the splainer reader survey. Taking that 10 minutes to fill it out is a huge help to us! Please fill it out here.

Big Story

Devastating floods in Uttarakhand… again!

The TLDR: Extreme rainfall has struck once more, days after the floods in Kerala. This time, it’s Uttarakhand where 42 people died on Tuesday. For the mountain state, it is the latest of such tragedieswhich reflect the accelerating pace of climate change in the Himalayas.


A quick reminder

There have been two memorable instances of severe flooding in Uttarakhand in recent years. In February, a catastrophic flood triggered by an avalanche killed 200 people and destroyed two under-construction dams (explained here). The greater tragedy occurred back in 2013 when 6000 died in a torrential downpour caused by a ‘cloudburst’. What happened yesterday is similar to the events of 2013.


Tell me about the floods…

The magnitude: The rains in Uttarakhand broke all records. Ten districts have recorded between 100 and 500 millimetres (mm) of rainfall in three days. Champawat in the Kumaon region recorded 579 mm within just 22 hours. The water level in the Ganga in Haridwar has reached 293.90 metres, just a notch below the danger mark of 294 metres. Naini Lake in Nainital city overflowed, flooding roads and homes. According to one survivor:


“I can never forget the mental picture in my life. It was the first time that I saw so much water on the streets of Nainital. The water from Naini was gushing through the streets in a torrent.”


Nainital looked like this and this.


The death toll: currently stands at 47with 42 deaths occurring just on Tuesday. The greatest number28died in Nainital district. 


OTOH: In the midst of this horror, the yatra to Yamunotri in Uttarkashi has resumed with a record 2,381 pilgrims visiting the temple on Tuesdayeven though the Chief Minister asked them to shelter in place.


The immediate cause: There have been two low-pressure systems active over the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengalthe latter is responsible for the heavy rains in Uttarakhand. The other reason: An active “western disturbance.” North India experiences this phenomenon in the winter seasonwhen areas of “disturbed air pressure” travel to India from the west, carrying moisture all the way from the Atlantic Ocean. These most often cause early snowfall.


The silver lining: According to the weather forecast, the rains will recede this week.


How is climate change a factor?


Headlines that matter

Tuberculosis spreads like Covid

New research shows that TB bacteria behave exactly like the coronavirus—and can be spread by simply breathing. Until now, medical experts believed that most TB transmission occurred when an infected person coughed. Why this matters: It explains why TB spreads rapidly in indoor closed environments. Also: Diagnosis and treatment of TB has changed very little in decades. So future safety and screening protocols may have to be the same as those for Covid: masks, social distancing etc. (New York Times)

A MeToo investigation at the World Bank

An internal report revealed that the bank mishandled sexual harassment charges filed against a senior official Rodrigo Chaves—who was accused of “leering, kissing attempts, unwelcome invitations to hotels and vacations, questions about personal relationships and comments on physical appearance.” Why this matters: Chaves was only demoted in response—and he quit to become Costa Rica’s finance minister, and he is currently running for president. (Wall Street Journal via Mint)


The government’s seaplane obsession

Article 14’s investigation shows that the government deliberately weakened environmental protections to clear water aerodrome projects—required to operate seaplanes. There are eight such projects under consideration for clearance—and the government unveiled plans for 19 other seaplane hubs on dams, rivers and coasts. Article 14 has more on the documents it uncovered via an RTI filing.


The biggest movie in the world

Nope, it isn’t the latest James Bond flick, but a Chinese propaganda film about the 1950s Korean War against the US called The Battle at Lake Changjin’. Commissioned by the government, it has made over $633 million at the box office—and is set to become China’s highest grossing film ever. That said: The numbers are sorta rigged since viewing it has been framed as a “patriotic duty.” Also this: “It is definitely related to the ongoing tensions with the US, and has been promoted that way—sometimes indirectly, but still very clearly.” (BBC News)


In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • OAFF’s new single has a trippy electronic beat and mesmerising visuals


A list of curious facts

  • Christchurch in New Zealand says goodbye to its official Wizard
  • Meet Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar—one of the greatest astrophysicists of the 20th century!
  • Spain recently unveiled a ‘La Lloreria’ aka Crying Room
  • The story behind an abandoned Boeing parked at Nagpur airport

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