Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Number of the day: 4.5%

Former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian’s new research shows that the nation’s average GDP growth has been overestimated by a whopping 2.5 percentage points between 2011-12 and 2016-17—which includes both UPA and NDA governments. The actual growth rate is not 7% as assumed but a much lower 4.5%. The reason for this error is not politics but a change in methodology.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The demise of a cultural giant

Girish Karnad passed away early Monday morning. He was a playwright, actor, public intellectual, free-speech advocate and a national treasure.

The details: Karnad was 81-years old and had been ailing for quite some time. The state of Karnataka declared a three-day mourning period. The funeral itself was a private, low-key affair, bereft of VVIPs and religious rituals as per his wishes.

The tributes: Everyone had their say, from PM Modi to Kamal Hassan to Shabana Azmi. But the most moving and accurate among them was historian Ram Guha’s tweet: “In his life, he embodied the richness and depth of Indian civilisation more nobly and less self-consciously than anyone else I knew.”

The man: Since it is impossible for us to do justice to Karnad’s life-work, we’ve instead turned to those who have done it far better:

  • This 2018 Indian Express feature offers the best tribute to his work in the theatre—and the worldview that drove it.

  • Much ink has been spilled on his advocacy of democratic values like pluralism and free speech. The best among them is Ram Guha’s intimate take on Karnad as the “quiet patriot” in The Telegraph.

  • If the sheer weight of words penned on Karnad is overwhelming, check out this Sahitya Akademi documentary. The great story-teller tells his own story—and there isn’t a boring or self-indulgent moment in it.

On the lighter side of loss: India Today tweeted out this headline which read ‘Tiger Zinda Hai actor Girish Karnad dies at 81’. No one would have been more amused than Karnad himself.

If you still want more: Here’s a Caravan essay penned by Karnad on the exceptional life of his mother. And in Times of India, his son, Raghu, wrote a lovely essay back in 2012 on his parents and their marriage. Want photos? They’re right here.

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bidding farewell to a great cricketing hottie

The Kathua verdict is in: and it offers some measure of justice to the 8-year old child who was brutally killed in Jammu. According to the charge-sheet, the little girl was "raped for days, tortured and then finally murdered” after seven days. Of the five men accused of the crime, three have received life sentences, one was acquitted due to a lack of evidence, and the fifth will be tried as a juvenile. Three police officers were also given a five-year sentence for destroying evidence. The Print has the verdict. BBC’s explainer offers background and context. Quint reminds us of the shameful role played by the state’s BJP leaders who marched in support of the rapists.

Yuvie has left the building: Yuvraj Singh bid farewell to his professional cricket career after scoring 17 centuries and 11,000 runs. Both his speech and his responses to media questions on his father, being denied a farewell match etc. were classic Yuvie—plain-spoken and candid. We loved the many photos shared by his cricketing peers on Twitter, and this profile of the “people’s champion” in Indian Express.


The official report on Payal Tadvi’s suicide: confirms “ragging” but says there is no evidence of casteist discrimination. And while it blames the head of her department for not taking action, it does not recommend sacking either him or the three doctors accused of driving her to suicide. Point to note: in almost every such case, be it Tadvi or Rohith Vemula, the investigating committee almost never ‘finds’ evidence of casteism, as this recent Mint article makes abundantly clear. (Indian Express)


Dutee Chand is not ‘gay’: Rather, that’s not the word she would use to describe herself. In this Guardian interview—the woman who has been greatly talked about—finally talks about her view of her choices, and the views of others. It's a must-read. (The Guardian)


Young Indians are very not-cool: A new 19-state survey of 15-34 year olds reveals a young India that is not all that different from the old kind. Example: a whopping 51% either fully or somewhat agreed with the statement that wives should always listen to their husbands; nearly half oppose (fully or somewhat) girls wearing jeans. Also: less than 24% accept homosexuality. But, but, but: “Interestingly, urbanity reduces approval for homosexuality. Youth living in big cities were found to be less approving of homosexuality (21%) than those living in smaller cities (27%) and villages (29%).” (The News Minute)


Amazon pe poora bharosa: The e-commerce giant tops the list of most trusted internet brands in India, followed by Google and Facebook. Also: Ola is waaay more trusted than Uber. (NDTV)


Nike nails its Nadal tribute: in its latest ad.


A king’s ransom for French ISIS fighters: It reads like a ‘Believe it or Not’ story. France has been negotiating with the Iraqi government over the fate of 11 citizens and one French resident. They have been sentenced to death for joining ISIS as per Iraqi law. Now, Paris doesn’t want them to hang, but it also doesn’t want them back. For providing that service—i.e. housing these people in an Iraqi prison for life—Baghdad is demanding $1 million (£785,000) for each foreign jihadist transferred from Syria and sentenced to death, and $2 million (£1.57 million) each for those whose sentences are commuted to life imprisonment. There are 120 other French citizens awaiting trial in Iraq. (Telegraph UK, National)


J Lo’s mommy-daughter duet: on Instagram has more than 9 million view—and it’s very sweet.


Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t live with her husband: “Falchuk, 48, spends three nights a week at his own house and four nights at Paltrow’s Los Angeles home, an arrangement approved by her intimacy teacher as a means of keeping the relationship fresh." Some people have marriage counselors… (Harper’s Bazaar)


Kylie Jenner threw a ‘costume’ party: for her bestie. The theme: Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. There were red cloaks, white bonnets, Gilead curtains and ‘Under His Eye’ tequila cocktails. How better to pay tribute to a novel set in a dystopian future where women are enslaved, raped and forced to bear children. The lead photo is priceless. (Daily Beast)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The 'Indian Parent' Edition

Indian parenting is a running joke among Indians. We mock our parents and ourselves for being ‘over’ everything—overbearing, overprotective, over-regimented… Here are two reads: one on striking a balance of a kind—the other on failing entirely.

Say hello to my Rahul beta! 

The irony of modern upper-class parenting is this: “Even the Chowkidars who have scorn for Gandhi raise their own children to be him. On this aspect of parenting, there is no polarization. Everyone admires Narendra Modi; everyone is raising Rahul Gandhis at home.” Surely you want to read the rest.

Read: Indians scorn 'dynasties' but are raising pampered children | Mint

Sex, Love etc 2

Desi parenting in Amreeka

For all the talk of different schools of parenting, middle-class Indian parents mostly embrace one kind—and it does not involve car seats, public breastfeeding or sleep training.  Unless you find yourself living in America, and are stranded in the no-woman’s land between cultures.

Read: An Indian mother’s battles with American parenting | Quartz

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