Monday, June 24, 2019
Number of the day: 38%

Due to delayed monsoons, the country is facing a 38% ‘rain deficit’. The result: reservoirs are running dry; farmers have not been able to sow their summer crops; and great swathes of the country are facing drought-like conditions. In total, almost 80% of the districts have a rain deficit of at least 20% below normal.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Trump's many crimes, proven and alleged

The US President had an eventful weekend. He was accused of rape. And his administration was found to be abusing little children in custody. (Trigger warning: contains description of sexual assault)


The alleged crime: Rape. E. Jean Carroll, a respected advice columnist for Elle magazine, published an excerpt of her upcoming book. In it, she recounts how Trump raped her in the changing room of a Manhattan department store more than 20 years ago: “The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway—or completely, I’m not certain—inside me.”


What did Trump say? “I've never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section." He also pointed out that there is “zero evidence.”


Why does this matter now? This is the most serious sexual violence allegation made against Trump—apart from his ex-wife Ivanka’s claim that he raped her during their marriage (which she’s since recanted). But there are won’t be any legal consequences. A 20-year old rape charge cannot be investigated under US statutory law. Besides, Carroll has no intention of filing charges. She hopes that her story, however, "will empower women to come forward and not feel bad.”


The proven crime: Abuse of migrant children. Little infants and toddlers are being held in inhumane conditions in border patrol detention camps. According to immigration rights lawyers who visited some of these camps:

  • Four children, all under age 3, were feverish, coughing, vomiting and had diarrhoea. Another premature baby was described as ‘listless’. And none of them had received any medical attention—until the lawyers demanded it.

  • All detainees (including babies) are forced to sleep on freezing cold concrete floors, under bright lights with only an aluminium foil sheet for cover. As a result, migrant children are dying of flu and other illnesses.

  • The children are also living in filthy and overcrowded conditions, and many have not washed since their arrival. They have not been given soap or toothpaste.


What does the administration say? A government lawyer argued in court that soap, toothpaste and sleep are not necessary to meet the legal requirement that children be housed in “safe and sanitary conditions.” The judges were astonished and outraged (Watch the clip here). The Border Patrol chief claims he doesn’t have enough money to provide proper care. An immigration lawyer says, “It’s intentional disregard for the well-being of children... The guards continue to dehumanize these people and treat them worse than we would treat animals.”


Learn more: The Cut has the must-read Carroll excerpt which is powerful because it captures the relentless violence women face over a lifetime—Trump is just one in her litany of “hideous men.” Also worth checking out: this Twitter thread that neatly encapsulates the 22 women who have "credibly accused" Trump of assault. Huffington Post has the best-reported story on the migrant children. And as flagged above, here again is the outrageous clip of the government lawyer calmly arguing why children do not need soap, toothpaste or sleep.


In related Trump news: The US President ordered military strikes against Iran last week—and changed his mind at the very last minute. The reason according to Trump: possible human casualties. The reason according to other sources: A Fox News host who advised him that starting a war would hurt his reelection chances. In any case, he’s now settled for “major” new sanctions.

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planning to skip the Eiffel Tower on your next Paris trip

Your World Cup update is here: and it includes the following:

  • India vs Afghanistan was a thriller of a match that was best summed up in this line: “India won, but so did Afghanistan.” Also impressive: Afghan captain Gulbadin’s sincere, zero-swagger performance at the post-match presser where he talked about his favourite team, India.

  • Related world cup reads for cricket nerds: Indian Express dissects the spare beauty of Mohammad Nabi’s spin bowling; Mint on the murder of the ‘good length ball’.

  • In less happy World Cup news, a clip of a Pakistani jerk heckling Sarfaraz Ahmed—calling him “fat as a pig”—went viral. Silver lining: folks on both sides of the border were outraged.

  • Unrelated but brilliant sports clip: The tears of joy as the Indian women’s rugby team celebrates its first international victory


Meet Britain’s most-likely PM: The London police had to intervene when worried neighbours complained about an extremely loud domestic row. The couple in question: Tory leader Boris Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds. The Mirror has the details plus Johnson’s colourful personal history—including infidelity and love-children. Since the incident, Johnson has come under pressure to offer an explanation, and the neighbours have gone public with more damning details.


Your anti-Muslim lynching update is here: First up: A welder in Jharkhand who was accused of theft, beaten for hours and forced to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’. He was later thrown into police custody for days and then he died. Next: A cleric who was nearly run over by a car because he refused to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’. Also: here’s a clip of an earlier near-lynching… again involving ‘Jai Shree Ram’ just so we know how frightening even a close call can be. Guess this is this definition of Ram Rajya today.


A big, fat ugly wedding: A 200-crore wedding in Auli, Uttarakhand, has left behind a mountain of garbage. The dulhas: Two sons of a notorious business family tied to former South African president Jacob Zuma. The Uttarakhand High Court slammed the state government for allowing the Guptas to stage their ‘trashy’ wedding in the pristine hills. CM Rawat’s response: “They could have held this wedding anywhere in the world but they chose Auli… the Gupta family has contributed to turning Auli into a tourist destination by doing the wedding here.” Of course, he was invited to the wedding. (Bonus read: a fascinating Vanity Fair profile of the Guptas of Saharanpur)


A big fat ugly Bollywood movie: The reviews are in, and they are unanimous. ‘Kabir Singh’ is an irredeemably misogynistic movie—even by Bollywood’s Raanjhaana-esque standards. The Wire lays out the horrific details. Huffington Post skewers it with biting humour. Also depressing: the fact that the movie is a remake a hugely successful Telugu film, ‘Arjun Reddy’, which this twitter thread recounts in detail. Most horrifying part: the young male audience’s enthusiastic response (to both Singh and Reddy).


Rahul Gandhi’s triple self-goal: He tweeted out photos of some folks prostrating themselves, accompanied with a snarky jibe, “New India.” Except the ‘folks’ were Army dogs doing yoga with their handlers. Yup, he dissed dogs, yoga and the military—all in one go! He was, of course, widely condemned by all sorts, but the best comeback belongs to this military veteran and current BJP member. We also love: this clip of Border Security Force pups doing yoga. Awesome India, we say!


Dharavi tops Taj Mahal as tourist trap: As per TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards, the most highly-rated tourist experience in India is a group tour of the Mumbai slum. The Taj came a dismal third after 'Bike tour of Old Delhi'. Damn those millennials!! (Zee News)


Weekend reads you might have missed: include the following:

  • Seven reasons why the Chennai water catastrophe is no shocker -- and could have easily been prevented. A good reminder to everyone in every other Indian city.

  • Related excellent read from Scroll: Why India needs climate-smart cities that have lots of green space and a heatwave action plan.

  • BBC’s must-watch report on thought transformation camps where more than a million Chinese muslims are being ‘reeducated’. Note: This is the first time a media organisation has been given access to these camps.

  • Big Think’s piece on a global ‘lost wallet’ experiment that uncovers the surprising psychological reason why people return a wallet—and when they don’t.

  • The Atlantic offers an entertaining read on a branded-for-Insta engagement/proposal that came with its own pitch deck.

  • The Verge has an exclusive on Facebook’s version of white-collar ‘sweatshops’ -- i.e. content moderation sites where workers are traumatised, overworked, underpaid and exploited.

  • This study from Belfast which shows how noise pollution could lead to a severe decline in bird populations.

  • Mint’s insightful column on the ‘Nirupama Roy’ model of self-sacrificing politics—and why it isn’t working for the Gandhis.


Your Monday morning pick-me-ups: include the following (because we really, really need it):

  • A list of ‘animalistic’ pleasures such as the world’s most creative bum-scratcher, a bulldog remake of ‘Jaws’, a gray seal called Zola who can hum the ‘Star Wars’ theme, and this turtle in a lacy thong with a Beyonce soundtrack, no less.

  • This rare and moving clip of Pandit Ravi Shankar meeting his guru Ustad Alauddin Khan, and their jugalbandi

  • This lady in Ahmedabad who demonstrates the hazards of temple worship. We’re not sure if this is a required ritual or a selfie stunt gone very wrong.

  • Swami Nithyananda claiming he has the spiritual “software” to create “proper, linguistic, phonetically capable vocal cords” in lions and monkeys. He is truly a national treasure.

  • Rihanna’s delightful ‘Drinking Day’ with Seth Meyers—it involved insane amounts of alcohol, hilarious drinking games, and Seth’s beauty makeover. Totally worth 12 minutes of your day.

  • An eminently WhatsApp forward-worthy Twitter joke.

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The best place for the best advice

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How to ask for a raise

Men get paid more than women. In India, women are paid 19% less than men—and that gap increases with skills required and experience! In other words, the more highly skilled you are and more years you have worked, you will make far less money than a man in your position. So it is vital that you learn how to ask for a raise—knowing that women are more often turned down than men.


Know your worth: The first step is to get a sense of what other people in your position are getting paid. If you can’t ask your colleagues, suss out information through your contacts in other companies. You need reliable numbers to figure out what and how much to ask.


Know your accomplishments: The groundwork for your next raise or promotion starts now. Make sure your contributions are seen and noted, and save those ‘good job’ emails from the boss. Now, make a list of your achievements—be specific, don’t be shy. Many women underplay their wins because they don’t want to seem aggressive or boastful. Others simply underestimate their worth. So making a list helps both your confidence and your pitch to the boss.


Know your boss’ needs: While you’re reminding your boss of your amazing-ness, you will have to tailor your ask to her bottomline. Why are your skills and experiences critical to that project she is under pressure to deliver? What new roles or responsibilities would you take on?  In the end, your raise has to meet your supervisor’s needs.


Make the pitch: It’s time to bring out that list. Remember, this is a conversation not a confrontation. Your boss expects her employees to ask for a raise. And she expects them to negotiate. But it’s also true that a woman asking for more is often seen as too ‘demanding’.  As one expert explains, “The style that a woman uses to negotiate can backfire and can create a backlash, but using a cooperative style can get you what you want and help you avoid the backlash.” But that does not mean being timid or apologetic. Be confident and collaborative—more ‘we’, less ‘I’.


How/What to ask: Don’t lowball yourself, but also make sure that your number isn’t absurdly high—maybe because you think that she will negotiate you down to a reasonable number. Precisely because women are more easily dismissed, make sure the ask seems at least reasonable—even if reasonably high. And there is greater advantage in putting out your number, than waiting for an offer (that applies to job offers, as well).


Have a backup plan: If your boss can’t or won’t meet your number, be prepared to be flexible. You could settle for less money plus other perks—a better reimbursement package, remote work days, better job title, a new role etc. If you’re turned down entirely, then be sure to ask for reasons – what would you have to do in order to earn that raise in the future? That answer will also clarify your prospects in the company, and whether you should start dusting off that resume.


Learn more: This Lean In video explains the power of making the first offer. The New York Times explains how to be an ace salary negotiator, and The Cut breaks down how to ask for a raise. Ted Talks has three excellent videos on the subject—our favourite is Adam Galinsky’s ‘How To Speak Up For Yourself’. NBC News offers an intriguing neuroscientist’s guide to negotiating anything. This Harvard Business Review article explains why women don’t ask for enough—even when they do ask for a raise. Oh, and here’s a hilarious clip of an airline passenger that neatly sums up why the gender pay gap is outrageous.

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