Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Messages of the day

Message One: Check out YourStory’s excellent piece on Broadsheet. It does a great job of capturing our vision, values and mission. Please to be reading if you want to know more about us. Message Two: Mumbai Ambassadors, don’t forget to RSVP for our ‘say hello and chill’ event at Khar Social on Saturday, August 24th between 5-7 pm. We so look forward to raising a glass with you. Not an Ambassador yet? Check it out and sign up right here.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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P Chidambaram heading to jail

The former Finance Minister may be arrested on charges of corruption and money laundering in a case that involves two infamous murder suspects.

The INX Media case: This is the original case which triggered it all:

  • In 2007, INX Media was founded by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea—yes, the same couple accused of killing Indrani’s daughter, Sheena Bora, and who are now in jail. 

  • In the same year, INX Media approached the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)—which is part of the Finance ministry—to clear a proposed foreign investment of Rs 4.62 crore in its company. 

  • The company also declared its intent to use these funds to make a further investment in one of its subsidiaries, INX News Pvt Ltd.

  • It then received approval for Rs 4.62 crore foreign investment. But the proposal to use the funds for the subsidiary was nixed.

  • The CBI alleges that INX Media instead brought in Rs 305 crore of foreign investment from three investors based in Mauritius—and used the funds for its subsidiary. Also: the foreign investors paid Rs 862.31 per share, which is 86.2 times more than their Rs 10 face value.

The Chidambaram angle: is best explained as a timeline:

  • In 2008, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND) of the Finance Ministry flags Foreign Direct Investment of Rs 305 crore in INX Media. Also under scrutiny: the unapproved investment in the subsidiary. 

  • In the same year, Chidambaram’s son allegedly strikes a deal with the Mukerjeas: $1 million for scuttling the investigation. In the case against him, a CBI official alleges, “Owing to the influence exercised by Mr. Karti Chidambaram, the then FIPB officials not only ignored the illegalities, but also extended favour to the company by suggesting to it to apply for a fresh approval.”

  • In 2010, the Enforcement Directorate finally registers a case against the company for foreign exchange violations. But the investigation remains dormant until 2017, after the UPA government is replaced by the NDA. 

  • In 2017, the CBI alleges irregularities in the FIPB clearance received by INX Media. The ED registers a case of money laundering. They implicate both father and son. 

  • In 2018, the investigation into Karti heats up and he is sent into custody multiple times before finally getting bail. He is now a Lok Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu.

  • Also in 2018, Chidambaram seeks and receives anticipatory bail. 

  • But in July, 2019, Indrani Mukerjea—currently in jail on murder charges—offers to cooperate with the investigators. In her statement, she claims that when she and Peter approached Chidambaram for assistance, he “told Peter to help his son Karti in his business and make possible overseas remittances in lieu of FIPB approval.” 

Ok, so what changed yesterday? The Delhi High Court ended Papa Chidambaram’s interim bail. More damningly, the judge’s 24-page order declared that the “facts” of the case “prima facie reveal” that Chidambaram is the “kingpin, i.e., the key conspirator in the case”—calling it a “classic case of money laundering.” In other words, the bail judgement itself declared Chidambaram guilty as charged. 

Is he in jail now? Not yet. His lawyers’ appeal for bail will be heard by the Supreme Court today. And he spent most of yesterday in hiding even as law enforcement raided his premises.

Learn more: Indian Express has the High Court judge’s ruling on bail and a more detailed explainer. Times of India details what the Mukerjeas told investigators. The Hindu reports on the CBI and ED raids on Chidambaram yesterday. And in case you need a refresher, Quint sums up the Sheena Bora murder case. Ok, we'll come clean. Everyone is not talking about an Associated Press investigation into the widespread sexual abuse of nuns in the Church. But they really should be.

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wondering if you should just junk that Facebook account

Chandrayaan is now circling the moon: Indian space officials achieved a significant goal yesterday. They successfully placed Chandrayaan-2 into the moon’s orbit. The next task is the separation of the lander from the orbiter on September 2. And on September 7, the lander will begin a planned descent to the South Pole of the moon. (News 18)


Facebook has a new privacy tool: As you may know, the company tracks everything you do even when you are not on Facebook or its sister platforms like Instagram. And that includes the sites you browse, be it online stores or porn. It uses that activity to target you with ads. Now, thanks to a new tool called ‘Off-Facebook Activity’, you can see what information FB has collected on you from third party sites. And you can choose to disconnect your internet browsing history from FB. Point to note: there is no way to delete this data. (Buzzfeed News)


In other Facebook-related news: The company is actually on the right side of a legal battle for a change. There are four High Court petitions—two in Madras, and one each in Bombay and Madhya Pradesh—with complaints ranging from fake news to cyber-bullying. But they all seek the same solution: make it mandatory to link a person’s Aadhar number to their Facebook and/or WhatsApp accounts. The company has now approached the Supreme Court and asked it to directly hear all four petitions—gambling that it will rule on the side of privacy. For now, the Court is still to decide whether it should get involved or not. (Indian Express)


Your Kashmir update: includes this Huffington Post story on Kashmiris being denied hotel reservations in Delhi. Also: a ground report in The Telegraph on Soura—the Srinagar neighbourhood that is emerging as the epicentre of Kashmiri anger. Plus: The Wire’s video capturing a recent protest near Soura.


Save the planet, save your economy! A new research paper weighs the economic costs of climate change. The study found that if we continue with business as usual—which translates to temperature increases of about 0.072 degrees (0.04 Celsius) per year—it would lead to an average 7.2% cut to GDP worldwide by 2100. And some nations will suffer more than others. India—along with New Zealand and Japan—is poised to lose 10% of its GDP. (Washington Post)


In related bad environmental news for India: A new Greenpeace India report based on NASA data shows that we are the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide in the world—and most of it is due to burning coal.  (Indian Express


The trailer for Apple’s answer to ‘Newsroom’: is out, and it stars Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell and Reese Witherspoon. The idea of ‘The Morning Show’ sounds great... except it looks sooo serious! Really? With such a brilliantly funny cast? In any case, check out the trailer here. PS: Apple’s streaming platform is set to launch in 150 countries in November.


Listen up, audiobook haters! Book snobs love to pooh-pooh audiobooks as a plebeian pastime. But neuroscientists say that the same parts of a person’s brain is activated whether they are reading or listening to a book. Ergo, there’s no cognitive difference. Our take on this research: Why not just wait till someone makes it into a movie—or better yet, a Netflix series?  (Telegraph)


Consumer demand is so weak: that people have stopped buying Parle biscuits. Really. (BloombergQuint)


The fake optimism of falsified tiger data: Remember the rosy tiger survey numbers we all celebrated? Well, wildlife expert Ullas Karanth claims that they are all bunkum—and have been ever since the first survey was conducted: “Plainly put, the tiger numbers reported are useful only to generate the media spin to meet the needs of the forest bureaucracy and to satisfy momentary public curiosity.” We leave it to him to explain why. (The Hindu)


The fake glow of falsified photos: Yesterday, we included a link to a tweeted photo of the glowing Chennai seas. We sourced it via the Indian Express—who must have found it on Twitter—but turns out that both of us have been had. Thanks to one of our awesome Ambassadors, Ramita Rajaa, we now know that the photo is not from Chennai but instead from the Maldives. And the actual photos of the phenomenon look more like this. In any case, we think this is an excellent lesson in how false information and images circulate with ease—if it were not for people like Ramita who pay attention and point it out. Also: please feel free to follow her lead if we get something wrong. We all need to play our part in ensuring that satyamev jayate!


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • In a tribute to World Photography Day, lots of people shared lots of photos. Our faves are as follows. One: ESPN CricInfo’s Twitter thread which featured this priceless photo of a streaker on the pitch—but we encourage you to scroll up and down to enjoy the many other photos as well. Two: this lovely series titled ‘Kolkata Rain’ by someone’s cousin—honestly, that’s all we know. 

  • Daily Show’s Trevor Noah having loads of fun with the story of the Haryana man who dumped his birthday gift—a BMW, no less—in the river.

  • This very funny clip (trust us!) of a man welding a metal railing.

  • This witty one-line argument against Prohibition made by a Bombay lawyer back in the 50s.

  • And the Oscar for the best imitation of a dying duck goes to…

  • These people who are hilariously outraged at the sight of a bay leaf—yes, the kind we put in food. 

  • A 135-pound dog and a teeny weeny piglet who adores him. Babe ain’t a patch on this video.

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Everything we don't know about human desire

image levendor sidebar Sex, Love etc image levendor sidebar

The question of oral sex

Every enlightened sex manual emphasises the importance of oral sex, especially for women—many of whom cannot orgasm with just penetration. And yet a number of men are often reluctant to go down on a woman. Why is that? Here are some candid and widely different answers from the men themselves. (Bonus read: The answers offered by sex therapists)

Read: Men Explain, in Great Detail, Why They Don't Eat P**** | Vice

Sex, Love etc 2

Let’s bitch about other people’s weddings

Ok, as any relative-fearing Indian knows, bitching about other people’s shaadis is hardly new. No one throws epic shade on someone else’s big day quite as we do. The West has finally caught on to this excellent family pastime and turned it into a social media phenomenon—and made it ten times meaner.

Read: Inside the toxic world of wedding shaming | BBC

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