Friday, October 25, 2019

Announcements of the day

One: Say hello to Sunainaa Chadha, our spanking new Executive Editor. She’s a seasoned news pro with senior editorial stints at Firstpost, Times Now and Business Standard. Her not-so-secret hobby: baking delish sugar-free cookies and treats for kids over at @toddlerbaker.  Two: We will be off on Monday, and will see you first thing Tuesday am. We wish you all a joyous and festive weekend with family and friends. Happy Diwali! ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿฝ 

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Singing the Diwali blues

The economic downturn has cast a long shadow on celebrations, and many are feeling the pinch.

A poorer Diwali for many: The signs of economic pain are writ large across the nation.

  • It’s a kadki Diwali in Rajasthan. The downturn has hit poor farmers the hardest, but even large landowners will not be buying a new car or getting their house painted this year. There are no festive lights or loud music, and the shops are empty or shuttered for lack of business. Mint has more on the Hindi heartland.

  • In Gujarat, crowds at Ahmedabad’s iconic shopping districts are sparse. The verdict: “The small and middle income group, which are large spenders, are worried about their survival.”

  • Malls in the big cities—New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru—had a disappointing pre-Diwali, especially on the crucial shopping weekend before the big day. How bad was it? Economic Times reports: “A senior store executive at a Zara store in the New Delhi region said only 50% of the consumers entered the store while the remainder window-shopped, and the conversion rate was even lower.”

  • Even corporate gifting has taken a big hit. Extravagant gifts like gold and silver plated bowls have become a thing of the past. Orders for the cheapest items—small boxes of almonds, walnuts, and cashews—have fallen by more than 50%, and the biggest companies have slashed gift budgets by half. 

  • Despite record-breaking discounts, there will only be a minor uptick in the sales of cars or motorbikes—not enough to save the auto industry which is already in a tailspin. Biggies like Maruti, Mahindra and Tata Motors have seen sales fall anywhere between 30-60 percent.  

  • For high-end luxury stores in the capital, Diwali is more like Christmas—a time when rich Dilliwalas splurge on their Cartier watches, Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags. But this year, business is down by 30% as even the wealthy tighten their Armani belts. As one store owner in DLF Emporio put it: “People are mostly here for eating and not for shopping.”

  • We are feeling so broke that folks are scrambling to collect Google Pay’s special Diwali stamps—and getting very cranky when we can’t find some of them. The grand prize for collecting all five: Rs 251.

Not feeling poor at all: China. Wholesale markets in Delhi are brimming with 'Made in China' Diwali lights, lamps, idols and other electronics. It’s a big shift from the boycott in 2017 that cut the sale of Chinese products by 40-45%. One stall owner summed up the bharatiya sentiment: “We want to sell Indian products but we don't have an alternative. Indian companies haven't been able to match up with the quality and pricing of Chinese products."

Also raining on our Diwali: the rain gods themselves. A cyclonic storm called 'Kyarr' threatens to bring thundershowers to Mumbai, Goa, Chennai and Vishakapatnam over the weekend.The meteorological department has issued a ‘yellow alert’ for parts of Mumbai.

Your dose of much-needed Diwali cheer: includes the following:

  • A wonderful Diwali ad by Samsonite that pays tribute to many who will be working through Diwali.  

  • The excellent Happy Fridge campaign which is deploying community refrigerators to feed hungry children. 

  • Two bits of good news for Delhi. One, Kejriwal govt is putting on a grand four-day laser show to discourage citizens from bursting their own crackers for entertainment. Two, noisy ‘bombs’ and ‘ladis’ are out. As per Supreme Court orders, only the anar and phuljari are legit this Diwali.

  • The super Diwali sales over at Snapdeal, Amazon and Flipkart. Huffington Post has all the helpful details.
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fleeing far, far away from the Diwali smoke and noise

BJP scrapes by in Haryana and Maharashtra: The latest state elections ended in a whimper rather than a Diwali-sized bang for the ruling party. It will stay in power in both states, but in a far weaker position.

  • Maharashtra: BJP’s seat total fell from 122 to 105—thanks mainly to the resurgence of its rival NCP which scored an extra 13 seats for a total of 54. Also: it will need Shiv Sena’s 56 seats to form the government.

  • Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has already issued “a reminder” of the “50-50 power-sharing” arrangement. CM Fadnavis may have to share his gaddi with Thackeray, or at least make him Deputy CM.

  • Haryana: The party’s ‘Mission 75’—the number needed to gain a majority—was a miserable failure. The party only bagged 40 seats, seven fewer than the last election. It will scrape together a majority with the help of independents—but the strong showing of the Congress party (31 seats) and newbie party Jannayak Janata Party led by Dushyant Chautala (10 seats) is a warning shot.

  • The most telling election stat: the party lost assembly seats in the very same districts it swept during the Lok Sabha—especially in Jat and Muslim strongholds.

  • The Telegraph and Times of India analyse why the Modi-Shah push on Kashmir and national security was a dud with voters.

Supreme Court’s Diwali ‘gift’ to telecom companies: is a Rs 92,000 crore bill. In a devastating judgement, the court sided with the government in a 12-year old case. The point of dispute: whether companies such as Airtel or Vodafone should pay fees only on revenues accruing from their telecom operations—or on all their revenues irrespective of source. This is terrible news for an industry reeling from shrinking profits and increasing debt. And perhaps not so great news for the rest of us either—if the result is an industry dominated by one or two big companies. (Mint)

The Kartarpur deal is done! Keeping in the spirit of the festive season—and at a time of great mutual animosity—India and Pakistan inked the agreement that will create a visa-free corridor to the Sikh holy shrine. (BBC News)

Bye-bye Dhoni? Announcing the team for the upcoming T20 series with Bangladesh, the head of the cricket selection committee had this to say about MS Dhoni’s future: “That’s what I made clear that we are moving on and giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side.” Ouch! On a happier note: Mahi has many excellent ways to occupy his free time. For example, washing his jonga with his adorable daughter. Aww-inducing clip here. 

Guess what $300 billion can buy? Twenty years of grace to save the planet from global warming. How? According to climate scientists, it’s the money required to restore 900 million hectares of land that has turned into desert—due to overgrazing, deforestation or other destructive human activity. Turning that much land to pasture, agricultural fields or trees will be enough to stabilise CO2 emissions for 15-20 years—and buy us time to adopt carbon-neutral technologies. FYI: $300 billion is the GDP of Chile, or the world’s military spending every 60 days. Also: more than 20% of India is considered wasteland. (Bloomberg)

Food delivery app bigotry strikes again! Back in August, a Zomato customer was furious that a Muslim man delivered his meal on the auspicious day of shravan. But that stable genius has now been outdone by Ajay Kumar from Hyderabad. The Swiggy user ordered Chicken-65 from the Grand Bawarchi restaurant, adding the following instructions: “Very less spicy. And, please select Hindu delivery person. All ratings will be based on this.” Sadly for Mudassir Omar, he was given the task of delivering the food to this admirable gentleman—who immediately went nuts the moment he learned Nasir’s name. Long story short: Nasir has filed a police complaint and let’s hope Kumar’s Chicken-65 comes home to roost. But here’s the real kicker: The Grand Bawarchi is owned by a Muslim. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ Related read: this moving essay by Shajahan Madampat on the #BoycottMuslims campaign. (Hindustan Times)

BBC’s list of 100 women of 2019: includes a lot of admirable Indian women, including many we didn’t know about (check out their profiles here):

  • Parveena Ahange, a Kashmiri human rights activist, who set up Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) when her teenage son ‘disappeared’ in the midst of an uprising.

  • Poet Aranya Johar best known for her performance of "A Brown Girl's Guide to Beauty."

  • Spaceship designer Susmita Mohanty who founded India's first space start-up in Bangalore.

  • Yogini and wellness coach Natasha Noel who is a significant body positivity influencer.

  • Vandana Shiva, the original 'tree-hugger', who is a well-known environmentalist and winner of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Dr Pragati Singh who runs Indian Aces, an online community for asexual people.

  • British Indian Sharan Dhaliwal, founder and editor of Burnt Roti magazine that focuses on mental and sexual health for young South Asians. 

No, Yogi-ji, UP is not open defecation-free: A government inquiry has unearthed 14.62 lakh households without a toilet in the state—which was declared ‘Open Defecation Free’ back in 2018. This also means India is most definitely not ‘Open Defecation Free’ either. Someone better send a memo to the PM. (News 18)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg got a drubbing: at the hands of news anchor Katie Couric who went after her not only re Facebook practices but also—gasp!—her Lean In philosophy. (Watch the entire interview here) (Variety)

GQ India’s annual survey of men: claims to reveal the mindset of the (relatively affluent) millennial/Gen Z male. And here are the most interesting nuggets we unearthed. He is almost as worried about climate change (49%) as he is about not making enough money (51%). Nearly 80% defined being married as “spending quality time with their spouse and family”—and nearly as many think it entails sharing childcare responsibilities. We ladies will drink to that! (GQ India)

No Taj Mahal for the blind: Quint took a trip to the Taj with a group of visually impaired tourists. The eye-opening experience ought to make our authorities hang their head in shame. (Quint)

The disappearing picture of Harry & Meghan: When do you know that mummy is really, really mad at you? When she takes down your photos from her ‘audience room’, of course. (Times UK)


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • The brilliant news that Indians will no longer need a visa to visit Brazil.

  • This awesome clip of a Lebanon protest rally that looks more like a glorious rave party.

  • The world’s most expensive chocolate launched by ITC (yes, the company that makes cigarettes and runs hotels). The pricetag: Rs 4.3 lakh/kg.

  • A non-alcoholic beer that helps you get rid of your belly fat. Yes, you read that right.

  • This amazing image of a Hawaiian woman and power surfer running across the sea floor... carrying a 50-pound boulder!

  • Chickens playing football. Really, you want us to say more?

  • This stunning time-lapse video of the moon rotating on its axis from NASA.
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Stuff we buy, use or love.

A List of Perfectly Red Lipsticks
It’s a beauty staple for all of us and yet we struggle to buy the right one. Some leave your lips too dry, others look weird when worn, and some rub right off within the hour. So what is a girl to do? Our amazing Ambassadors have all the answers.
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When you want your lipstick organic and cruelty-free...

Pick Rustic Red by Klome Essentials. Ankita Dasgupta writes: "Rich and sexy, it comes with its own loyal sidekick: an easy-to-glide lip oil that can serve either as a moisture-preserving base or as a finishing touch to get that glossy effect. It’s my best friend of dry winter days. And I use it without the oil for a semi matte or a frosted finish in the summer." The biggest plus: Klome is an organic, vegan brand with cruelty free ingredients. But you will have to sign up on their website to pick one of their reds. You can also get a personalized reading of your skin colour and let them create one for you.

Price: Rs 600 l Rustic Red by Klome Essentials l

The informer 2

When you want a trusty buy everyone swears by...

Pick up a tube of everyone’s fave Mac lipstick, Ruby Woo. Our ambassadors are near unanimous on its virtues. "What makes it great? The long-lasting wear, for starters. Whether you're eating or kissing, Ruby Woo never seems to disappoint," says ambassador Jyotsna Sharma. Sonali Kokra says it is "a rare red lipstick that works for pretty much all skin tones." (Added tip from Sonali: It is important to pick a red that works for your skin tone: darker wines and crimsons better for fair skin, orange bases for darker skin.) The shade is also endorsed by Tanima Saha, Bhavya Vatrapu and Aashika Chittiapa.

Price: Rs. 1650 | MAC Retro Matte Lipstick - Ruby Woo | Nykaa

The informer 3

When you want to splurge on the perfect red…

Opt for the pricey Estée Lauder’s Misbehave. Dasgupta says it offers full coverage that stays put for 8 hours, "even after a (not-too-wet) meal". Yes, it has a hefty price tag, but it’s worth every penny. Why? "Frequent reapplications are not a requisite, keeps lips hydrated and you can choose the exact colour in two different finishes - Creme (creamy satin) and Chrome (pearl finish). For those days when I want to wear makeup and just forget about it, this is a great low-maintenance buddy". Added bonus: Nykaa is currently throwing in a mini purse version with purchases of Rs 3500 and above!

Price: 3400 | Estee Lauder Pure Color Desire Rouge Lipstick - Misbehave | Nykaa 


PS: Need more options? Here’s a longer list from our Ambassadors:


Chatura Padaki: Colorbar Velvet Matte Lipstick, All Fired Up.

Vrinda Uppal: Nyx Professional’s Monte Carlo. 

Nayantara Srinivasan: NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo or Amsterdam. Sugar’s Toast Roast. NYX also has a line of lip crayons called ‘Simply Red’ – I like the shade Leading Lady.

Basreena Basheer: The new range by Sugar. They are also cruelty free and are running a Diwali offer for the red shades

Sindhu Nair: Huda Beauty’s Heartbreaker in matte is just wonderful. Jyotsna Sharma agrees: Huda lipsticks are highly pigmented and less drying.

Akanksha Sharma: Maybelline's Superstar Matte Ink is unbelievably long lasting. For a red to last through festive drinks+meals, would strongly recommend them. My favourite red is Pioneer, but they have a range to choose from.

Shrabonti Bagchi: The Maybelline intense crayon is just so much bang for the buck.

Sadhvi Saran: Please give some love to homegrown clean beauty brands like Ruby’s organics or Spekta cosmetics. I enjoy Brick and Rhubarb from Ruby’s. Its heavy moisturising and paraben-free.

Dineet Dadu: Lady Danger by MAC has a reddish orangish tone, which works well for Indian skin tones.


Note: These products are personally picked by the editors (or in this case trusted Ambassadors). We do not receive any revenue from the brands recommended.

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