Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Number of the day: 21%

Automobile sales plummeted by 21% in May compared to last year’s figures, posting the steepest fall in 18 years. Top car manufacturers such as Maruti Suzuki India and Mahindra & Mahindra have temporarily closed their factories to scale down the mounting number of unsold cars at their dealerships. Automakers are demanding that the government reduce GST and corporate tax in order to arrest the downturn.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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A significant victory for fundamental rights

The Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of a Delhi journalist who was arrested for sharing a video clip related to UP CM Yogi Adityanath. The ruling made it clear that citizens cannot be thrown behind bars without just cause.


First, some background: The TV channel Nation Live aired an interview with a woman who claimed to be in a long-distance relationship with Adityanath. Freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia then shared the interview on social media, accompanied with jibes such as “Ishq chupta nahin chupaane se yogi ji” (You can’t hide love even if you want to, Yogi ji). He was arrested by the UP police and charged with a variety of crimes: defamation, tampering with a computer system, intent to incite, cause a riot etc. (Detailed in Broadsheet’s explainer here)


Ok, so what happened? Kanojia’s wife filed a habeas corpus petition with the Supreme Court seeking his release. The Court ruled that both his arrest and imprisonment were illegal and ordered his release on bail.


Why is this important? The ruling unequivocally upheld the right to free speech. Here are three key examples from the hearing:

  • The government argued that Kanojia’s tweets were inflammatory, citing not just the one pertaining to Adityanath but also older tweets mocking religion. The Court’s responded: “The court need not comment on the contents of the tweets. The question is, should the petitioner have been deprived of his liberty over them. The answer to that is prima facie in the negative. Fundamental rights under Article 19 and 21 are non-negotiable.” (Article 19 guarantees the freedom of speech, while 21 stipulates: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”)

  • When the Additional Solicitor General said, “His release will be construed as an endorsement of his tweets,” Justice Banerjee countered, ”Why should it? It will be treated as an endorsement of his right to personal liberty.”

  • When the ASG questioned the petitioner’s right to approach the Supreme Court, the justices said, “Court does not ordinarily entertain an Article 32 petition… But when something is so glaring, can Court fold its hands and say go to High Court?”


So Kanojia is now free? For now. He has been released on bail. The Court did not weigh in on the legality of the tweets. The UP police is free to build a case against him but must stay within the law. Of course, as we pointed out on Monday, none of the laws used to arrest him apply to his ‘crime’. Also left hanging: The two senior staff of Nation Live who were arrested on similar charges. The channel’s office has been sealed, and the two women are still in prison.


The bottomline: Last month, a BJP youth leader was arrested under similar circumstances for sharing a meme which mocked Mamata Banerjee. In that case, the Supreme Court issued a muddled ruling which ordered her release but asked her to tender a written apology. We are delighted to see the Court finally take a clear and unambiguous stance in support of free speech in the case of Kanojia. May a thousand memes bloom.

Learn more: The Wire has details of the ruling, The Print reports on two more arrests in UP -- they both shared a fake Yogi wedding invite. India Today has more on the fate of the Nation Live editors. Broadsheet also did an explainer on the laws deployed to make these arrests. Read Gautam Bhatia on why the SC ruling in the Bengal case was just plain bad.

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working on your sledging game for the India-Pak match

A snarky Abhinandan-related World Cup ad: put out by Pakistan TV is being slammed by some news outlets like News 18 as “racist” because “it shows Abhinandan’s face blackened to show his dark complexion.” Hmm, can brown people be accused of putting on brown-face? Also: the ‘actor’ also sports a fake OTT moustache to look like Abhinandan—which is surely an insult to Varthaman’s fine whiskers. The ad’s greatest crime? It’s just plain awful. (Watch it here).


In other World Cup-related news: Shikhar Dhawan has a hairline fracture on his thumb. Indian Express thinks he has been definitely ruled out for the World Cup. But Times of India claims Dhawan is still under observation and may be eased back into the team within a week if he recovers. For now, Rishabh Pant remains on standby.


Spotify is selling your emotions: The company that promises “music for every mood” helpfully offers mood-specific playlists to its users. You can opt for ‘Wake Up Happy’, or ‘Feeling Down’, or ‘Drifting Apart’ etc. It then sells all that “streaming intelligence” data to big marketing and advertising companies. This is a fascinating read on how Spotify is using “emotional surveillance” to rake in big moolah. (The Baffler)


World Cup bhelpuri is served: and by a pucca Englishman in a strange hat, no less! It’s ready to eat right outside the Oval. (Watch the clip here)


Planning to give your kid a smartphone? Here’s what a leading rehab clinic specialist has to say to that: “I always say to people, when you’re giving your kid a tablet or a phone, you’re really giving them a bottle of wine or a gram of coke.” Less dire translation: technology is addictive. But we adult junkies already know that. (The Independent)


Your face is ready for boarding: You know that fab plan to use facial recognition make it super-easy to get on your plane? Yes, the same plan that is due to go live next year in airports across India. Here’s why it is a terrible, terrible idea. And it’s not just about privacy. (Washington Post)


Indigo’s Rs 999 mega-sale: That’s the all-inclusive price of an Indigo flight on a number of popular routes if you book your tickets before June 14.  (Business Standard)


The depressing truth about paternity leave: Most men (Indian or otherwise) will not take paternity leave even if they are offered the benefit. But the exceptions to the rule prove how short-sighted these fathers are. Related read: the best guarantee of a new mother’s mental well-being is her partner’s presence at home.


The depressing truth about rape in India: is that it is skewing younger than ever. Forty percent of the victims are minors, and half of those are younger than 15.  (Times of India)


Behold the miracle of owls: Or rather owl wings.


Why life is moh maya: summed up by one puppy gif.


We totally messed up the link on this one: In yesterday’s lead explainer, we plugged a lovely 2012 essay penned by Girish Karnad’s son, Raghu, on his parents and their marriage—and linked it to the wrong story. Here is the right Times of India link. Yes, yes, we triple checked it 😊

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Everything we don't know about human desire

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A little space equals sex in love

Claim that your bae is your best friend, and you’ll be greeted with a collective ‘Awww!’. But that constant companionship and “over-familiarity” could be bad for your shared sex life. One reason why many present-day couples spend all that time chilling together is because they’re not getting down and dirty instead. Or so insists a rabbi.

Read: Want More Sex In Your Relationship? Give Your Partner Some Space | Mel Magazine

Sex, Love etc 2

What does hacking Tinder look like?

This is about a man who hacked Tinder. Sean created a fake profile of his hot woman friend. Then he created software to do this: “It paired men who matched with Haley with one another, in the order that they contacted her. A man would send a message thinking he was talking to Haley—he saw her pictures and profile—and instead another dude would receive the message, which, again, would appear to be coming from Haley.” Behold the results— which are kinda mean but also thought-provoking.

Read: The Tinder Hacker | The Cut

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