Monday, October 21, 2019
Number of the day: 12

Ranked at #12, Mumbai is the only Indian city to feature on the list of the world’s top 20 wealthiest cities. New York City is #1, followed by Tokyo and the San Francisco Bay Area. Beijing comes in at #5. Mumbai’s wealth—estimated at $960 billion—makes it the richest city in India. Related statistic to note: over 41% of Mumbai’s 12.44 million inhabitants live in slums. 

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The future Chief Justice of India 

With CJI Gogoi set to retire on November 18, he is getting ready to pass the baton to his Supreme Court colleague Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde—and at a critical time in the country’s politics.

What happened? On Friday, CJI Ranjan Gogoi wrote a letter recommending Bobde—currently the senior most Supreme Court judge—as his successor to the government. Justice Bobde will become India's 47th Chief Justice on November 18, and is slated to serve for a term of 18 months—until April 23, 2021. And yes, pastries were distributed.

Any controversies? Nope, as per established court convention, the second senior-most judge—which, in this case, is Bobde—becomes the new CJI when the existing one retires at the age of 65. Point to note: Seniority here is not defined by age, but by the number of years a judge has served at the apex court. That said, the convention has been broken twice in the past—both times during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. In 1973, CJI AN Ray superseded three judges with greater seniority. Again in 1977, Justice MH Beg superseded Justice HR Khanna.

So this is a done deal? Pretty much. The recommendation will be forwarded by the Law Ministry to the PM, and then on to the President. As per law, the government cannot send a CJI recommendation back to the court for reconsideration. 

Tell me about Justice Bobde: Born 24 April 1956 in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Bobde comes from a family of reputed lawyers. He received his BA and LLB degrees from Nagpur University, and was a lawyer at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court—where he became an additional judge in 2000. He became Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on 2012, and was elevated to the Supreme Court of India in 2013. 

And if you really need to know: Bobde lists two inherited homes in Nagpur and an apartment in Bandra, Mumbai as his assets on the Supreme Court website. His financial assets consist of mutual funds, fixed deposits and bank saving accounts which total up to Rs 59,47,949. He doesn’t own a car. Also: he possesses two gold rings. 

What else do we know about him? What matters most about Bobde is his past Supreme Court rulings. Over the past six years, Bobde has ruled in the following key cases:

  • In August 2017, he was part of a two-justice bench that rejected the petition of a pregnant woman who wanted to abort her 26-week-old foetus diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. Bobde’s ruling observed: "It is sad that the child may suffer from physical and mental challenges and it's unfortunate for the mother but we can't allow an abortion. We have a life in our hands and we are also tied down by a law” (a pregnancy cannot be terminated after 20 weeks unless there is a risk to the mother’s life).

  • In 2017, Bobde upheld the right to privacy in a landmark Aadhar case where the court deemed that the government cannot require citizens to hold an Aadhar card in order to receive welfare benefits and services. “Not recognising character of privacy as a fundamental right is likely to erode the very sub-stratum of the personal liberty guaranteed by the Constitution," he said.

  • Bobde ordered the suspension of the sale of firecrackers due to extreme pollution in 2016. But earlier this year, he ruled out a complete ban, saying "It seems you are running after firecrackers, but bigger pollution contributor is perhaps vehicles.” He also flagged the prospect of unemployment created by such a ban.

  • Earlier this year, he presided over a three-judge internal committee that investigated sexual harassment allegations against CJI Gogoi—filed by one of the court’s employees. The woman refused to participate claiming that the atmosphere of the proceedings was “very frightening.” The committee found no evidence of wrongdoing on Gogoi’s part. 

  • Bobde is also part of the five-judge constitution bench that will deliver a verdict in the Ayodhya case.

The bottomline: The Supreme Court has been widely criticised for watching from the sidelines on matters related to Kashmir—content to postpone judgements on key Constitutional issues raised by the suspension of Article 370 and the lockdown. In a recent Indian Express op-ed, a former Supreme Court justice declared that the judges were ceding their independence, cowed down by government pressure. As of now, it isn’t clear whether Bobde’s ascension will change that dynamic. 

Learn more: Mint offers an overview of Bobde’s legal career. The Wire makes a case against seniority as the sole criterion for a CJI appointment. Gogoi’s accuser describes the committee proceedings and the questions she faced from Bobde et al in this Caravan interview.

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making plans for a firecracker-free Diwali

Indian Army attacks camps in PoK: According to Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, the Indian military targeted “terrorist launchpads” in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir over the weekend. Rawat says India has caused “severe damage to terrorists’ infrastructure across… Six-10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed, three camps have been destroyed.” The Pakistan side claims exactly the opposite. This is the first significant escalation of hostilities since the Balakot strikes. (Indian Express)

It’s election time again! The state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana kick off today. The Congress—reeling from internal dissent, lack of leadership and defections—is not expected to do well in either. (Mint)

PM holds a Bollywood hangout: Modi held a meeting with a bunch of Bollywood stars to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The aim: to encourage the film industry to “showcase inspiring tales of the freedom struggle and the nation’s growth story.” The fallout: a heated Twitter debate over whether Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have sold out. Damning evidence presented by critics: this selfie w/ Modi and this video clip. Plus: NDTV rounds up all the photo-ops with Modi shared by various celebs. ANI’s video report gives you a better sense of the occasion.

Your Brexit update is here: No, you don’t want to know. Yes, we’re going to tell you anyway. On Saturday, the Parliament did not vote on Boris Johnson’s new Brexit deal. Instead, they voted for an amendment that says the Parliament ought to have more time to take a look at the deal, and decide how it ought to be executed. The result: Johnson had to ask for an extension from the EU to pushback the October 30 deadline. And so he did by sending two letters: one unsigned photocopy of a letter asking for an extension; one signed personal letter declaring exactly the opposite. That puts the EU in a bit of a quandary over which letter to consider. Coming up this week: A vote to hold a referendum? An approved Brexit deal? A new election? Who knows… and more importantly, who cares? (The Guardian)

India’s water crisis is undeniable: If you have any doubts about the calamity to come, it is writ large across these alarming and must-see infographic charts. (Reuters)

El Chapo’s son goes scott free: The Mexican government was forced to release Ovidio Guzmán López after briefly detaining him for a few hours in his hometown of Culiacán. The reason: the cartel unleashed a “huge and extremely violent response,” forcing the military to retreat and leave Guzman Jr behind. Business Insider has a photo gallery of the war zone. Watch these shocking clips—of civilians trapped in crossfire, from inside an armed cartel car, and this one that’s the stuff of nightmares—that show how bad things are in Culiacán.

Indrani Mukerjea gets her reward: The woman accused of killing her child, Sheena Bora, turned witness against former Finance Minister PC Chidambaram in the INX Media case—which is also what has landed him in jail. She has been duly pardoned but presumably will still stand trial in the murder case. (NDTV)

How safe is your milk? A new food quality survey shows that less than 0.2% of your milk is likely to be adulterated. The bad news: they may be contaminated with a carcinogenic toxin called Aflatoxin M1 instead. And it is more prevalent in processed milk than the raw variety. In related news: Veterinary surgeons in Chennai removed 52 kg of plastic trash from a cow’s stomach.

Feeling guilty about flying? Don’t be, not unless you are a frequent flyer. People who take six or more round trips a year contribute more than 3 tons of carbon dioxide per year. In the United States, that category accounts for only 12% of all air passengers. The percentage is likely to be far  smaller in India—which contributes 2.6% of total global carbon emissions attributed to air travel. That’s compared to the US which accounts for 24%. (New York Times

A new Harry & Meghan documentary: that aired in the UK is making waves for their ‘raw’ and ‘open’ interviews. Everyone’s talking about: this clip of Meghan on being pregnant under pressure; Harry on the ‘wound that festers’—i.e. the trauma caused by his mother’s death. E! Online has the other highlights, including Harry’s rift with William. 

A bizarre case of exam room boxes: Students taking a chemistry exam in Karnataka were forced to wear cardboard boxes on their head—to prevent them from cheating. The administration has since apologised and claimed that the 'headwear' was optional 🙄 (BBC News)

Telegram is the new cesspool of illegal content: From rape clips to child sex abuse videos and fake passports, the messaging app is emerging as the new hub of criminal activity. The reason: Telegram offers more secure encryption compared to WhatsApp and others. The Print did an exclusive investigation into India-related content.

Green firecrackers are a bust: In 2018, the Supreme Court banned barium nitrate—a key ingredient in traditional firecrackers—to cut down on pollution. The government in turn announced a ‘green firecracker’ initiative, but slapped on a long and convoluted approval process. Also: they cost at least 30-50% more to manufacture. The results have not been encouraging. One, as Economic Times reports, there are very few green Diwali crackers available on the market. Two, the firecracker industry has been devastated, and expects to run up a loss of Rs 800-1000 crore this year. The Hindu has that story. 

In news of archaeological discoveries: Egypt unveiled 30 ancient wooden coffins discovered in Luxor. Yes, mummies are included. The last such set were uncovered in 1891. Also found: the world’s oldest pearl.

Weekend reads you may have missed: include the following:

  • New York Times explains why the super-rich continue to work—even though they have piles of money and no good reason to do it. 

  • Times of India takes an amusing look at Bengalis scrambling to find some/any kind of association with Nobel prize winner Abhijit Banerjee.

  • Indian Express has an excellent piece describing the harrowing experience of one of the Punjabi men recently deported from Mexico.

  • Bad feminist Roxane Gay offers a rambling and fun guide to frequent air travel.

  • The Guardian reports on the new industry trend of using plus-sized male models.

  • Mint reveals how the lockdown has destroyed the lives and fortunes of Kashmiri startups.

  • The Big Think offers an engaging read on why adults always complain about ‘kids these days’—generation after generation.

  • Bloomberg has a first-person report on the longest flight in the world—A Qantas flight from New York to Sydney. 

  • Der Spiegel looks at an important—and potentially dangerous—backlash movement sparked by opposition to Greta Thunberg in Germany. Also big in Germany: the delightful sport of pug racing (yes, there are photos).

  • Hollywood Reporter on why book-to-screen adaptations are now a big thing in India.

  • Mother Jones has an interesting read on an art project that ran into trouble at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Its title: #WhitePeopleDoingYoga.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • NASA’s first all woman space walk. The story and videos are here.

  • This football coach who disarmed a student carrying a gun and then consoled him.

  • Rafael Nadal’s wedding to his long-time partner and childhood sweetheart Mery Perello.

  • The must-see face of a 10-day old baby girl when she gets a gentle head rub. 

  • Related: this deaf father communicating with his new born baby—our heart is now a puddle.

  • Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh totally killing it here.

  • One of the finest images of a living dodo painted for Emperor Jahangir back in 1625.

  • Speaking of classical Indian art: This is us getting drunk at every wine-infused party ever. 

  • Virat Kohli winning karva chauth with this tweet that slyly polishes his good hubby cred.

  • This may be the bestest photo ever of a pitbull and a tiny chihuahua.

  • This weird story of a woman who used Metallica to fight off a cougar.
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The best place for the best advice

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How to use a menstrual cup

Editor’s note: Menstrual cups are healthy, hygienic and—above all—100% eco-friendly. Many women have made the switch, and swear they will never go back to pads or tampons again. Our executive editor Sunainaa Chadha decided to take the leap. And here’s all the gyaan she learned along the way.

Why switch at all? Sanitary napkins contribute to roughly 45% of the total menstrual waste disposed every year. Most of them are 90% plastic, often contain harmful chemicals and take anywhere between 600-800 years to disintegrate! Just as important: synthetic menstrual pads and tampons disrupt the delicate pH balance in our vagina. That’s why many of us experience chafing or an itchy rash a few days into our period.

Why not use a biodegradable pad? A single menstrual cup can be used over and again—and they last up to ten years! The math is pretty straight forward: Rs 8 per single pad vs Rs 400-upwards for a reusable cup. More importantly, a cup can hold one ounce of liquid, roughly twice the amount of a super-absorbent tampon or pad. So it works well with a busy lifestyle as you only have to empty it thrice a day. But yes, if you really don’t feel comfortable sticking a cup inside you, a ‘green’ organic pad is a good option. 

Ok, what is this cup? It is typically bell-shaped and made of medical-grade silicone. You insert it into your vagina like a tampon. But the cup collects the blood instead of absorbing it. You empty it out and reuse it after a quick wash. Fair warning: inserting and removing the cup requires some patience and learning. It also takes a little while to figure out which method of insertion suits you best. But once you get the hang of it, it is very comfortable and reliably leak-free.


How do you insert the cup? There are two simple steps:

  • Fold the cup to make it easier to insert. There are three classic ways to fold: the punch down fold, the classic C fold, and the seven fold. I’d try and explain, but this video tutorial does a far better job of showing you the different options. The punch down is best for making the diameter of the cup as small as possible.

  • Insert the cup. Hold the cup with the stem (if it has one) facing your palm. You can either squat or put one leg up on a stool or toilet seat. Now, slowly insert the folded cup. Important note: Don’t apply pressure or try to force it in. Now remove your fingers and let it pop open. Once inside, it is important to make sure that the cup has unfolded correctly, forming a well-sealed barrier. 

More on potential leaks: The cup will leak if it is not positioned correctly—or if it overflows.The trick is to keep pushing the cup until you hear a ‘pop’ or a suction sound.

If you don't hear it or are unsure, ‘feel’ around the base of the cup. It should feel rounded and not have any noticeable folds. Trust me, you won't get it right the first couple of times. So it is always better to wear a light pad or panty liner during the early days. 

How do you take it out? Though the cup can last 12 hours, I’d advise emptying it every six to eight hours for reasons of hygiene. Spread your legs wide and tighten your core to push the cup downwards. Hold the stem—or pinch the base of the cup if it doesn’t have a stem—and then gently and slowly pull it out.  I made my first attempts in the shower in case of spills. 

If your cup seems to be stuck: pinch the base of the cup to release the suction and then ease it out. Once you remove it, empty the blood and wash the cup with V wash or any other intimate hygiene wash. This will sanitize and deodorise the cup and you are ready to place it back in.

Remember to sterilise: the cup in a pot of boiling hot water before and after your period. Make sure you put in enough water so the cup doesn’t get scorched.

What kind of cup should I use? The cups come in various sizes and brands. The most popular ones are Anytime, Sirona, ALX Care, Silky Cup, Wow Freedom and Stonesoup. Take the cup-matching quiz. It helps you figure out which one to buy based on your flow, age, whether you had a vaginal birth and height of cervix etc. I tried the Stonesoup cup because it is an eco-driven Indian brand led by women, and not another Chinese rip-off. it offers a one size fits-all cup and is smooth with a few grip lines. However, since it didn’t have a stem, the cup was tough to pull out the first couple of times, and I was always worried about accidents. If you are a newbie, definitely opt for one with a stem to prevent any spills. 

When should I replace my cup? Once the silicone deteriorates, the cup starts to look worn, or develop tears and cracks, or it may become too slippery. It may also start to leak despite your best efforts. All these are signs to switch ASAP.

Can I have sex with a cup? None of the manufacturers recommend it. As with a tampon, it may become very hard to retrieve the cup afterwards.

The bottomline: The trick is finding the right position that works with your uniquely built vagina—and that will take a little time and patience. But once you ace that challenge,  you can swim, do burpees and hike without any discomfort. The best part is that it doesn’t smell and is super comfortable.  

Learn more: Here are two personal essays of women who tried the cup. This one loved it and will never use a pad again; the other struggled time and again to insert it correctly and has given up for now. Women’s Health magazine reviews the imported brands—a number of which are available in India. Put a Cup In It offers the most comprehensive one-stop resource on menstrual cups. Menstrual Cup Australia tells you what to do when you’re having problems taking it out. Menstrual Cup Reviews has the most information on how to measure the height of your cervix—which you will need to make the right pick. Watch the various fold techniques here. Not sure you’re ready to switch? Vogue India rounds up the organic and environmentally friendly sanitary pads on the market.

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