Amazon challenges Reliance deal
In August, Future Group struck a Rs 24,700-crore deal with Reliance selling some of the biggest chain stores in the country—including Big Bazaar, Foodhall etc. This was considered a big boost (explained here) to Ambani’s retail empire. The problem: Amazon had already bought a 49% stake in Future Coupons in 2019—with the right to buy a chunk of its retail arm between 3-10 years of that investment. The agreement gave Amazon the first right of refusal on Future’s retail assets—and included a non-compete clause barring their sale to a rival, specifically mentioning Reliance. Now, Amazon has sent a legal notice to Future and approached an arbitration body in Singapore.
The presidential debate that may never happen
Donald Trump refused to participate in a planned virtual ‘townhall’ debate—that would keep both candidates isolated from the audience. Trump’s problem: “That’s not what debating’s all about; you sit behind a computer and do a debate, it’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.” But Biden isn’t willing to share a stage with a, umm, recently diagnosed Covid patient. So the second debate may never happen. (Vox)
A flurry of bad India data
The World Bank predicts that our economy will contract by 9.2% in the coming year. A new survey found that average income of returned migrant workers plummeted 85% by mid-August—and 35% of them had no work at all. A mental health survey of Indian professionals by LinkedIn raised a bunch of red flags around WFH:
“60% of Indian professionals felt lonely at some point while working remotely, 37% continue to feel so. More than one in three also believe that working remotely has been slowing down their career progression (41%), making them feel more lonely (37%), and harming their work-life balance (36%).”
Point to note: 51% of the Indian workforce is working remotely right now.
The great pandemic: a quick update
- Europe is currently adding more daily cases than India, US or Brazil.
- India said ‘no, thank you’ to participating in Stage 3 human trials for that shady ‘Sputnik’ Russian vaccine (explained here).
- Singapore has launched Covid-secure luxury cruises to nowhere—which work exactly like those flights to nowhere. You spend a lot of time onboard and come back home. The Guardian explains why environmentalists are unhappy at these creative pandemic pastimes.
- Closed rooms are often the location of ‘superspreader events’. But where you sit in that room has a big impact on whether you will be infected. Fast Company explains.
- New research suggests that pregnant women who become infected stay ill for a far longer period—sometimes for more than two months!
- BBC News has put together a brilliant infographic with a simple message: Every disease faced by our ancestors is still with us. There is no such thing as a magic pill... or vaccine.
A feel-good Delhi story
An elderly couple—running a dhaba in Malviya Nagar in Delhi—were struggling to make ends meet. Then a video of their woes went viral. Soon Bollywood celebs were urging everyone to sample their delicious wares. The result:
Sweet but… also, eeks! Also: Did you do any good if you didn’t take a selfie while doing it? The Hindu has more.
Prince William is going green
The royal scion has unveiled a £50 million Earthshot Prize. and the prince at least is calling it the “most prestigious global environment prize in history.” How it works:
“Starting in 2021, the Earthshot Prize will be awarded annually to five people, organizations or groups for solutions to the five "earthshot" objectives: protecting and restoring nature, cleaning the air, reviving oceans, building a waste-free world or fixing the climate. As a result, the hope is to have at least 50 solutions to problems within each of these five areas by 2030.”
Dogs don’t care about your face
Y’know those special moments when your pooch stares adoringly into your eyes? Guess what? It isn’t special to them at all! A new study showed human and canine participants short videos of human and dog faces, and the back of human and dog heads—and then tracked their brain activity. The dogs felt absolutely nothing when looking at a person’s face as opposed to the back of their head. In fact, they prefer looking at other dogs rather than us. But hey, they still adore our very special BO. (Inverse)
In related research: A new paper claims that there are distinct personality differences between ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ people. Feline lovers score higher on openness and neuroticism—and were more likely to be women. Dog lovers are more agreeable and extroverted. Point to note: most of the respondents were white women so 🤷♀️.
Insta doesn’t like our explainers
This is certainly not a big headline, and we’re not sure it really matters. But we thought it would be entertaining—and informative—to share the numerous times that Instagram & Facebook refused our request to promote some of our biggest stories. Here is a short and illuminating list:
The lead story: Law? What Law?: A series of outrageous events in Hathras (October 5). This was our recent explainer on the phone tapping, evidence of rape etc.
Reason for rejection: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.”
The lead story: The Great Indian Inquisition: WTF is happening with Deepika Padukone? (September 25) This was our explainer on the targeting of Bollywood celebrities by the Narcotics Control Board. No, we did not use any profanity—despite great provocation.
Reason for rejection: “Because it uses profanity, implied profanity, or insulting language (ex: “shit”, “ass”, or “f@$# yeah!”).”
The lead story: A Lotus Blooms in America: Kamala Harris gears up to make history (August 12). Our explainer on Harris when she was picked by Joe Biden as his running mate.
Reason: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.”
The lead story: Hey Ram: A groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya (August 6).
Reason: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.” For this one, approval required a PAN card number for an ID verification process and a home visit 😱.
Where is Ankhi Das when you need her:(