Friday, March 15, 2019

Number of the day

That’s how much Wipro Chairman Azim Premji donated to his foundation, making him the most generous Indian ever. His total contribution to charity now stands at $21 billion. Most telling is this fact: “After today’s announcement, Premji’s fortune, which was $22.6 billion, placing him at No.36 among the world’s billionaires, has reduced by 80% to $4.4 billion.” Now, that’s philanthropy.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


The biggest news story today, explained.

image orange sidebar everyone's talking about image orange sidebar

Breaking news of mosque shootings in New Zealand

This story is still unfolding at the time of publication. The details are hazy and many are unconfirmed. Here’s what we know so far:


  • A gunman (or more) opened fire on Friday afternoon at two mosques in Christchurch: Al Noor and Linwood Masjid.

  • Daily Mail is now identifying him as 28-year old Australian named Brenton Tarrant. The publication also has unverified footage of the attack, allegedly filmed by the attacker, plus photos. He has also reportedly published an 87-page online manifesto declaring his intentions.

  • The police say one suspect is in custody, but they are “unsure” if there are others still on the loose, and have asked residents to stay indoors. See the police commissioner’s statement here.

  • Daily Mail Australia claims to have seen the video.

  • Witnesses report hearing anywhere from 20-50 shots. One said there were “bodies all over me.” Others reported seeing 15 people shot, including children.

  • The Guardian reports that a police officer told their reporter about a bomb “located inside a beige Subaru” close to the Al Noor Mosque. There are also reports of a shooting outside Christchurch hospital.

  • PM Jacinda Ardern described the tragedy as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and “an unprecedented act of violence. An act that has no place in New Zealand.” She said of those at the mosque: “New Zealand is their home, they should have felt safe here.” (Full statement here)

  • The Bangladesh cricket team—which is currently touring New Zealand—was at the Al Noor mosque but escaped unscathed. They appear to have been outside in the grounds when the shooting started.


Learn more: The Guardian live-blog is reliable and fast. You can get local coverage over at New Zealand Herald or The Daily Mail report is very comprehensive and appears to be constantly updated.

The Mumbai Bridge that fell down

A collapsed footbridge is raising questions about government negligence and safety standards. It also revealed the ugly face of Indian politics, especially in election time.


What happened? Six people were killed and at least 31 others injured when a portion of the foot overbridge at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) railway station collapsed yesterday evening. This is a very busy bridge used by nearly 10,000 people every day.


Ok, so why did this happen? Because of a total failure of safety regulation and oversight. A structural audit report issued six months ago certified that the bridge was ‘fit to use’, and needed only ‘minor repairs’. In the laugh/weep category is this added fact about its recent history: “In 2016, under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the northern end of the bridge was taken up for beautification but not repairs. The plan included changing the tiles of the bridge and new paint.” The bridge was last repaired in 2010-2011.


What was wrong with the bridge? According to unnamed officials: “The bridge appears to have had serious structural issues since the cross beams collapsed along with the concrete. In a slab collapse, the frame would have remained intact.” Translation: it was in dire need of a lot more than minor repairs.


So who is to blame? Always an excellent question, but with zero credible answers forthcoming -- especially with elections around the corner. There are three potential parties who are energetically playing ‘pass the parcel grenade’ right now:

  • The Shiv Sena controls the local civic authority Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)—and which conducted the audit. But that hasn’t stopped Sena leaders from blaming the Indian Railways: “The Sena had written to railway authorities a few years ago suggesting repairs to the bridge. However, railway authorities did not act on it. So, the railways is responsible for the mishap.”

  • The Indian Railways which was quick to clarify: ““Himalaya bridge is not under railway jurisdiction, it totally belongs to the BMC.”

  • Individual bureaucrats in charge of oversight.


And the winner is: Mumbai police has lodged an FIR against a number of BMC and Railways officials for negligence leading to death. They are also mulling a charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Learn more: Mumbai Mirror has the most detailed reporting, including video clips of the scene.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


blaming your zeroed out credit card on Chacha Nehru


Your neverending Brexit update here: Parliament voted in favour of extending the March 29 deadline. No one knows what that means, or what the EU will make of it. MPs also rejected a second referendum… probably because it would put an end to endless Parliamentary votes that decide nothing. (CNN)


Panditji did it! After China moved to block the UN resolution on Masood Azhar, the BJP decide to turbo-charge its blame game. The party handle tweeted at Rahul Gandhi: “China wouldn’t be in UNSC had your great-grandfather not ‘gifted’ it to them at India’s cost.” Lest you think this was a strategy dreamed up by over-enthusiastic party lackeys, the allegation was repeated by two cabinet ministers: Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Telegraph created this inspired ‘Wanted’ poster for Nehru, while The Hindu republished a 1955 news article establishing the facts… if we’re still interested in that sort of thing.


Arunachal Pradesh CM accused of gang rape: In a Supreme Court plea, a 26-year-old woman has accused Pema Khandu and three others of raping her over a decade ago. She alleges that they laced her soft drink with sedatives and gang-raped her. She also claims that repeated attempts to file an FIR in the state were dismissed by local authorities. (The Print)


The mystery of 21 million 'missing' women voters: According to a new book co-authored by Prannoy Roy, Indian women who show up on census data go missing from the electoral rolls. This huge shortfall— equivalent to the entire population of Sri Lanka—translates to about 38,0000 missing voters per constituency. That’s enough to swing an election in most places. Three states—Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan—account for more than half of the missing female voters. And UP is slated to be decisive in the coming Lok Sabha elections. (BBC)


Spam is killing SMS: According to a new survey, 96% of Indians receive unwanted text messages every day, and nearly half get between four to seven spam SMS-es. And no, signing up for the “do not disturb” list doesn’t do a damn thing. This is also the reason why WhatsApp is killing SMS. (Quartz)


‘Unimoons’ are a thing: That’s when newlywed couples go on separate honeymoons without one another. Well, if the first thing you want to do after your wedding is take a vacation from the other person… (New York Times)


Coke has a plastic problem: For the first time in its history, the company publicly revealed the amount of plastic it produces. That number: 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging a year, which is equivalent to 200,000 bottles a minute. (Guardian)


Louis Vuitton has a Michael Jackson problem: Their star designer Virgil Abloh’s latest menswear collection is heavily inspired by the pop star. And it was unveiled weeks before the release of ‘Leaving Neverland’, a new documentary which contains explosive and persuasive allegations of child sex abuse. Abloh claims he was inspired by the “Michael that I thought was universally accepted, the good side, his humanitarian self.” But that kind of Pollyanna naivete may be hard to swallow at a time when radio stations are refusing to play MJ’s songs. New LV strategy: cross fingers and pray. (Business of Fashion)


Aamir Khan rediscovers Forrest Gump: Bollywood typically rips off a Hollywood (or Tollywood or Mollywood) movie right after it proves to be a success. Aamir, however, decided to wait 25 years to do a remake of ‘Forrest Gump’. It will be called ‘“Lal Singh Chaddha’ and he plans to lose 20 kg to play the role…. Umm, because this is Instagram-ready Gump? (The Hindu)


Some dogs were made to compete at dog shows: This guy—a big adorable puppy named Baron Kratu von Bearbum (Kratu for short)—is not one of them. But hey, we’ve never seen anyone have a better time failing spectacularly. The best part is the very proper but utterly charmed English commentator do his manful best to do justice to Kratu’s performance. (YouTube)


Can’t sleep at night? It is most likely genetic, or so say two major genome studies. And that’s important because over a third of all people suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. (Bustle)


Just call me Rahul: There isn’t much to this clip from his event at a women’s college. But everyone is going gaga over it because a) Gandhi played ‘cool uncle’ and asked a student to call him by his name instead of ‘sir’; and b) the lovely young woman studying finance steals the show—all goofy, nervous, and yet determined to ask her question. We want to flag it, however, for a very different reason: Because some editor at ANI cut that clip right when she starts to actually ask her question -- which tells you everything you need to know about how much she is valued as a voter and citizen. Let’s remember that, ladies, when we #VoteOurRights (Yeah, that’s our hashtag for upcoming elections… because we need to do a lot more than ‘just vote!’).


What Trump said about Brexit: is predictable, infuriating, and hilarious. (BBC clip here)


These are 14 global superstars who know no limits: according to Vogue, and Deepika Padukone is one of them—and here she is on the cover. But Scarlett Johansson, really? (Vogue)

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


Stuff we love, use or buy

A List to Liberate Your Internet
image blue sidebar The informer image blue sidebar

When you want top-grade privacy and unfettered access... 

Download ExpressVPN. A Virtual Private Network is like an invisibility cloak which encrypts your data and routes it through different servers (explainer here). No one can see your IP address, track you, or access your information. Free VPNs make money off your data, so opt for a paid product like ExpressVPN—which is at the top of almost every geek list for good reason. It’s very fast, extremely secure and guarantees access to geo-blocked content around the world—including tough nuts like Sky and BBC. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but you can use it on three devices, and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.


Price: Plans start at Rs 585/month  | ExpressVPN  | Buy here

The informer 2

When all you need is to stream freely…

Add Proxmate to your browser. It’s far cheaper than a full-blown VPN, integrates seamlessly with your browser, and gives you access to most geo-blocked sites, including that mother lode of streaming content: Netflix global! What we like best: Proxmate is extremely easy to set up, and shows up as a little button at the top right corner of the browser window -- which lets us can turn it on and off at will. And you can try it for free without entering a credit card. (Note: it’s not for folks who want assured privacy and protection.)


Price: Plans start at Rs 140 | Proxmate | Buy here

The informer 3

When you want to scale the great Indian firewall…

Download the Tor browser. It’s super-secure, open source software developed by techies who are fanatical about combatting surveillance and censorship (intro video here). It’s all the more handy now that both the Indian government and internet providers like Jio are blocking sites at will. Okay, so Tor is a bit less user-friendly than the rest, and you’ll need to follow these instructions. But it is totally free, as freedom should be.


Price: Free | Tor Project | Download here

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo

Or use your unique referral link
to score some cool swag.

Be an Ambassador

To connect with one another, get unique access, invites to private events,
exclusive content and much more.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.