Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Video of the day

V.Unbeatable, a group of kids from Mumbai, absolutely blew away the judges of ‘America’s Got Talent’ with this amazing performance set to the Malhari song from ‘Bajirao Mastani’. The group consists of 28 dancers between the ages of 12 and 27. Point to note: their performance is not amazing because they are from the slums. It simply is.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The deteriorating state of Congress

The king has abdicated the throne. His advisors are distraught, and the courtiers are squabbling—placing the already shrinking kingdom in peril.


King Rahul’s abdication saga: Let’s start by noting that it is not a good sign when a major newspaper’s headline reads ‘Rahul sulks’. Well, he certainly isn’t speaking, either to the press or his own party leaders who have earned his ire. Everyone else, however, is talking up a storm. Long-standing loyalists like Sheila Dikshit declared, “We are scared and extremely upset that this is happening.” DMK chief MK Stalin reassured Rahul that he had "succeeded in winning the hearts of the people." Even Rajinikanth weighed in to tell him to buck up and get on with it. So what will Rahul do? As per the latest contradictory news reports, he will:

  • Remain as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha while stepping down as president. (Because that would be truly empowering for his replacement?)

  • Stay on as party prez for 3-4 months, totally rehaul the party structure—and then leave. (Because that makes such perfect (non)sense?)

  • Be replaced by a “praesidium of half a dozen leaders.” (Because the Congress excels in collective leadership?)


Meanwhile, in the royal province of Rajasthan: Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is likely to be toppled, having earned the displeasure of Rahul. His sin: focusing all his Lok Sabha efforts on the election of his son, Vaibhav (who still lost). His own ministers are calling for his head, urging Gehlot be replaced by Deputy CM and arch-rival Sachin Pilot. Coming up next: a mutiny from Gehlot loyalists.


Meanwhile, in the royal province of Madhya Pradesh: Chief Minister Kamal Nath is facing an array of woes. He is on the radar of the tax department which is investigating a “widespread and well-organised” hawala racket of about Rs 281 crore. Nath too is accused of favouring his son Nakul’s election prospects over that of his party. His kid happily won, but every other Congress candidate did not. Hence, five of his ministers have publicly demanded that Nath be replaced as state party chief by his political nemesis Jyotiraditya Scindia. Meanwhile, the BJP—which has been accused of wooing Congress MLAs—is biding its time. As one leader pointed out, “[W]e cannot do anything if the government falls under its own weight.”


Meanwhile, in the royal province of Karnataka: there is all-out political chaos. Three Congress ‘rebels’ (i.e. turncoats) have been flirting with the enemy (i.e. BJP), along with another Independent candidate allied with the party. Their defection would bring down a precariously placed JDS-Congress government. So the plan is to reward them for their disloyalty with ministerial posts. Loyal Congress leaders are now demanding portfolios of their own. Umm, there are only three vacancies in the cabinet.


The bottomline: Unilateral abdication without a viable plan to secure the future of one’s party is short-sighted and selfish. And the current state of the Congress is resounding proof of the same.

Learn more: Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to this appalling mess.

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turning your slow wifi router on and off, on and off...

Netflix vs Georgia: The state—which passed a ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill banning abortion after the first six weeks—has long been a favourite location for Hollywood thanks to its generous tax incentives. CEO Ted Sandross now says that his company will no longer shoot its series ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Ozark’ in the state if the legislation becomes law. Amazon has already pulled two of its productions out of Georgia. A number of production companies, including Netflix, are also funding a legal fight to challenge these abortion laws. (Time)


MacKenzie Bezos signs away her money: The former wife of the Amazon founder made a pile of cash in her recent divorce settlement. She has now signed a pledge giving half of that nearly $37 billion to charity. Her ex, Jeff, was quick to praise her action, but gave no sign of following her lead. (CNN)


Women MPs give good face: We are delighted that women parliamentarians are celebrating their entry into the Lok Sabha in their own unique style. Like Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan from Bengal. Check out their poses here, here, and here. No, dear outraged trolls, winning the popular vote doesn’t require a woman to wear sindoor or a sari.


Dutee Chand’s village weighs in on homosexuality: The star runner made headlines when she became the first sports personality to publicly acknowledge her sexuality. Mint went back to her village in Odisha to capture its residents’ reaction to the news This well-reported piece offers a rare look at rural attitudes toward homosexuality. No, it isn’t comforting but it is a must-read. (Mint)


Will India diss Trump over Iran? Remember the big fight between Trump and Iran over the nuclear deal? (If not, here’s our explainer) In any case, the upshot of the latest White House war was that India would face US sanctions if we bought oil for Iran. Guess who has a plan to buy oil from Iran? (The Print)


Your internet speed is worse than most of the world: India currently ranks #121 among 138 countries in the monthly Speedtest Global Index—down from #108 in December. The average download speed is 10.71 Mbps, lower than many of our neighbours including Pakistan (13.39) and Sri Lanka (24.04). (Quartz)


Keep your effing plastic waste: Malaysia will send 3,300 tons of non-recyclable plastic waste back to Western countries such as the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. Smuggling of electronic and household waste has become a problem in the nation after China banned their import last year.  While people in the West dutifully separate their waste, their non-recyclable trash ends up in poorer parts of the world—processed in illegal recycling plants which leach toxins into the environment. (NBC News)


The best way to keep holiday weight gain at bay: is very, very simple. Just be sure to weigh yourself every day. (Big Think)


Meth trade spikes in NCR: A police raid uncovered1,800kg of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in cooking meth. The drug traffickers were hiding in plain sight—in a nice middle-class house rented from a police officer, no less. The sheer size of the haul is one of the many signs of spiralling drug use in the area. (Times of India)


This is the cutest farmer ever: A golden retriever called Jubjib is the most adorable durian farm worker in Thailand. TBH, none of the photos show her doing any work, but she does own an impressive collection of hats—and looks fabulous in every one of them. (


Yup, your video game addiction is officially unhealthy: or so says the World Health Organisation, which has added "gaming disorder" to its list of diseases. (CNET)


If you plan to watch the GoT documentary: step away from this link. For all others: here’s the one moment from ‘Last Watch’ that everyone is talking about.

The most beautiful headphones in the world: are made of yeast, fungus, and bacteria. (Fast Company)

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Everything we don't know about human desire

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When sex manuals offer bad advice

When in trouble, consult the guide. But in sexual matters, those advice manuals may not have it right. In fact, they may make the problems worse. If your sex manual sends any of these messages, it may be time to go out shopping for a better one.

Read: Five problematic sex messages perpetuated by advice manuals | The Conversation

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A different kind of wedding couture

We've all drooled over Vera Wang gowns and Rohit Bal lehengas. But Lakin Ogunbanwo’s photos of Nigerian brides represent a whole new level of wedding glamour. These are stunning portraits of women who are “self-possessed, idiosyncratic, and queenly,” according to Artsy. And we couldn’t agree more.

Check out: The Photographer Taking Regal Portraits of Nigerian Brides | Artsy

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