Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Number of the day: 2%

That’s the teeny percentage of the Indian population which is actually middle class. According to a new Pew Research Center study, up to 95% of India still qualifies as poor or low-income. And yet, half of all Indians in any given income bracket—urban, rural, lowest-income, highest-income—call ourselves middle class.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The Congress party going down, down, down...

As the ruling Congress-JDS ship sinks in Karnataka, the entire party fleet appears to be headed in the same direction. Here’s a snapshot of Congress’ many woes


Karnataka collapse continues: In order to shore up its numbers, the ruling alliance wooed two Independent MLAs with cabinet posts—so enraging its own leaders that 14 MLAs resigned and are now poised to bring the government down. The latest development: both Independent MLAs have fled to Mumbai to join their ranks. Irony? Tragedy? Nope, the dhanda of politics as usual.


Emergency measures: taken by Congress/JDS include the following acts of great desperation. One, all 30 ministers “voluntarily” resigned to allow a cabinet reshuffle—i.e. to woo back the unhappy MLAs with the promise of juicy portfolios. Two, the two parties plan to petition the Speaker to disqualify the MLAs by proving that these are unconstitutional defections instigated by the BJP. If they are disqualified, they cannot become ministers in a future BJP government.


But it’s not just Karnataka: Last week, two Congress MLAs resigned in Gujarat. A month ago, 12 out of Congress' 18 MLAs in Telangana joined the ruling TRS party. In Maharashtra, the Congress leader of opposition in the state assembly exited to become a minister in the BJP government. In Goa, two Congress MLAs are likely to defect to the BJP.


Also turning in their resignations: Congress’ so-called ‘young turks’, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Madhya Pradesh and Milind Deora in Maharashtra—though for very different reasons. Their bright idea: pressure the old guard into resigning as well and vie for the party’s leadership in the post-Rahul era. Point to note: The Congress-led government in MP has a thin majority further threatened by an ongoing CBI investigation into CM Kamal Nath’s finances.


Whither next great leader?  According to Times of India, Rahul’s successor will be appointed in a week. The Congress Working Committee is likely to appoint a ‘veteran’ interim president and one ‘young’ vice-president—or even four working presidents for north, south, east and west zones to introduce “younger people into positions of authority.” All of which is likely to be messy and complicated. And it will do little for the party’s prospects in the coming Assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana, and Jharkhand.


Learn more: India Today has a lengthy take on what Congress may look like after the Gandhis—the answer, ironically, depends on the Gandhis. The Telegraph offers an unflattering analysis of Rahul’s resignation letter. Economic Times reports on the young vs old schism within the party.


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wondering why 'dancing aunties' never trend on Twitter

The market is tumbling: The stock market took a heavy beating on Monday with the Sensex plummeting 793 points. The total loss since Friday: 1,100 points. One reason for this free fall is strong US job growth data. The other big reason: the union budget. (Indian Express)


World Cup semi triggers walk down memory lane: On July 9, 2008, India faced off against New Zealand in the semi-final of the under-19 World Cup. The two team captains: Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. Twitter is aflutter with the question: Exactly eleven years later, will history repeat itself? PS: India beat NZ by three wickets last time around. (The Telegraph)


No misogynist goes unrewarded: The director of ‘Kabir Singh’ defended a man’s right to slap a woman as a sign of true love. There were many angry tweets and op-eds. And a number of South Indian actresses spoke up. The result: #Wesupportsandeepvangareddy became a top-trending hashtag. Also, our response to that bit of happy news is this. (The News Minute


No water? Let’s get us an iceberg: A multi-millionaire plans to drag an iceberg all the way from Antarctica to the Middle East to solve the UAE’s water shortage problem. The UAE is one of the top 10 most water-scarce nations in the world, but it consumes more than double the global national average. Sound crazy? As Quartz reported last month, South Africa is also working on a similar solution. And towing icebergs could soon become routine. 


The worst IVF nightmare ever: Imagine undergoing the stress, expense and discomfort of an In vitro fertilization. Imagine feeling ecstatic when you do finally become pregnant. Imagine delivering twins that look absolutely nothing like you. Now imagine having to give them up. That’s exactly what happened to this couple in New York, and they are suing their fertility clinic. (CNN)


How lacy thongs give Andhra women hope: The profit margins of the global garment industry rest on the underpaid and overworked shoulders of poor women. That said, in Andhra Pradesh, Victoria’s Secret has radically transformed the lives and fortunes of young factory workers. (Times of India)


‘Beijing bikinis’ don’t give humanity hope: When temperatures soar, Chinese men have a special trick to staying cool: They roll their shirt up to just below their nipples and tuck it in under the armpits. Except local authorities have now banned the practice calling it “uncivilised.” (Quartz)

A must-read on Jain deekshas: Young kids are increasingly renouncing the world to become monks: “As a nun, 20-year-old Dhruvi will never again address him and his wife as mother and father. She will pluck out her own hair, always walk barefoot and eat only what she receives in alms. She will never use a vehicle, never bathe, never sleep under a fan and never speak on a mobile phone again.” One reason for this trend: the rise of social media influencer gurus. (BBC


Things we learned yesterday: include the following:

  • Kapil Dev needs a stylist, like ASAP!

  • Slovenian art needs serious help. Evidence: this wooden statue of Melania Trump.

  • Kangana Ranaut is spoiling for an ugly and very public fight–especially with this reporter.

  • There’s a new dancing uncle in town.

  • Never do a live on-air report without checking the mood of the audience–especially if you are in a French bar full of Trump-loathing football fans. 

  • Americans really love their garlic naan, especially on the Fourth of July.

  • Seagulls in the UK keep falling into giant vats of curry

  • Zomato has a pretty smart social media team.

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Drink Wisely’ Edition

A drink is a drink is a drink? Not exactly, as anyone who has mixed their liquors or downed one cup of coffee too many will know. Here are two very different guides to drinking smart.

Pay less and regret it

Hangovers are our body’s way of telling us that we probably should not have said ‘yes’ to that tequila shot. But some hangovers are worse than others because overdoing certain kinds of alcohol is a particularly bad idea. For example, cheap booze. But why is that?

Read: Why Cheap Booze Makes Your Hangover So Horrible | Gizmodo

Sex, Love etc 2

Stop, don’t drink that!

We’re so virtuous about having zero-calorie cokes, but don’t think twice about guzzling down an iced tea or a 'healthy smoothie'. Here are 15 drinks that are as bad as a can of high-sugar soda.

Read: 15 Sugary Drinks That are (Almost) as Bad for You as Soda | Health Magazine

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