Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Video clip of the day

England lost its most-favoured status in the World Cup thanks to a resounding defeat to Australia. We have only two words: Mitchell Starc. And only one clip: of Starc schooling Ben Stokes with a stunning yorker, which is being described as the ‘ball of the World Cup’.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Mike Pompeo’s trip to India

The US Secretary of State is in town to meet PM Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. The visit is likely to be high on optics and low on outcomes. New Delhi will do its best to politely rebuff Washington’s ever-rising list of demands, which include the following:


Don’t buy Russian missiles: India inked a $5.2-billion deal with Russia to purchase its S-400 missile defence system. But the United States is threatening sanctions because it violates Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)—a 2017 US law which penalises countries which ink “significant” deals with Russia, Iran and North Korea. But India doesn’t want to buy US Patriot missiles instead—because they’re simply not as good.


The likely outcome: India is digging in for now. Turkey just defied the US and took delivery of its first shipment of S-400s. If sanctions were to be imposed, it would effectively end the defence partnership between India and the United States—which would hardly be beneficial to either side. 


Don’t buy oil from Iran: The US recently withdrew the waiver that allowed India to buy oil from Iran—which supplied nearly 11% of our imports. India has pretty much given in on this issue, but remains very worried about Trump’s confrontational strategy with Tehran. He ordered military strikes last week—and cancelled them. Now, both sides are trading insults, literally. Any gigantic disruption in Mideast oil supplies spells disaster for India. Why? We simply can’t afford escalating crude prices. (see our explainer here)


The likely outcome: India will do its best to counsel temperance. But don’t expect anything New Delhi says or does to have any effect on Trump’s foreign policy. The result: we are more dependent than ever on US and Saudi oil, and both sources may become unstable and/or hideously expensive.


Tear down your trade barriers: Pompeo has been talking up trade as the primary issue on the agenda, but Indian officials insist it won’t be a big topic. The reason for this cross-talk: trade is the thorniest issue on the table, and for these reasons: 

  • The two countries are in the midst of a tariff tit-for-tat. The US recently removed India’s preferential trade status, and hiked tariffs on steel and aluminium imports last year. India finally retaliated by imposing new duties on US imports. 

  • India introduced new rules requiring foreign companies like Visa, WhatsApp, Amazon etc to store all their Indian user data on local servers. The US in return is threatening to impose a 10-15% quota on Indian H-1B visas—which currently account for 70% of 85,000 work visas issued each year. (See our explainer here)

  • Trump basically wants India to drop its tariffs on US imports—especially on agricultural products—which will spell disaster for Indian farmers and run counter to Indian companies’ demands for protection from multinationals like Amazon et al. 


The likely outcome: is uncertain. With the Indian economy losing steam and rural India in distress, Trump’s trade demands are an unneeded distraction for the newly re-elected government. The best hope is to kick this can down the road and wait for Trump to move on to other trade targets.


Coming up next: The G-20 summit in Osaka where Modi may have a one-on-one chat with Trump on the sidelines.


Learn more: The Wire offers the clearest overview. It earlier carried this scathing and lengthy op-ed on India’s submissive US policy—tracing its troubles to the nuclear deal brokered by Manmohan Singh and Jaishankar. The New York Times breaks down the trade impasse. The Hindu reports on the dim view taken by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee of the White House’s attempts to “coerce India” on various issues.

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signing up for kachori-making classes

Climate apartheid is coming: A new UN report warns, “An over-reliance on the private sector could lead to a climate apartheid scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer.” In related and relevant news: The India Social Report warns of rising inequality, noting that the richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s total wealth. That share was 22% in 2015, and only 6% in the early 1980s.


#MeToo and attention fatigue: “The numbers give way to a numbness. He said and she said and she said and so did she, and the many, many shes, rather than amounting at least to the sum of their parts, end up cancelling one another out.” The Atlantic’s must-read analysis explains why the latest rape allegation against Trump has failed to gain any traction. The explanation holds true of the far broader issue of sexual violence against women, as well. 


Tatas want to bring you Indian Zara: Think the Spanish brand is too pricey? Soon you will have a shuddh desi alternative that will offer the same ‘fast fashion’ styles—but at a much cheaper price. Or so the Tatas claim. Its retail arm will open 40 outlets of its flagship Westside chain every year and hundreds of its mass market Zudio stores. The promise: nothing costs more than $15, i.e. around Rs 1000. (Economic Times)


Revisiting the ‘Jai Sri Ram’ travesty: In the wake of recent incidents, an older 2018 clip of goons bullying blind Muslim beggars to say it went viral—the couple were later beaten by the crowd. The clip is here, and the news story is here. Also: do scroll down the Twitter thread for screenshots of some of the responses to the clip. In other words, there’s nothing new to see here, folks. 


In memory of our 1983 World Cup victory: Here is a lovely 2018 piece that rounds up the personal anecdotes of members of the greatest Cinderella team in cricketing history. It has quotes like this: “Has he [Kapil Dev] gone mad? He’s talking about beating that West Indies team? They had four fast bowlers who none of us want to remember in life.”  We loved it. (The Field


Rebellious cleavage goes viral: A French woman was shamed by a man walking on the street for her “dirty w**** neckline.” She tweeted out a photo saying “my breasts and I say f*** you”… and the rest is boob history and a hashtag named #JeKiffeMonDecollete (I love my cleavage). Lots of women followed suit. (Daily Mail)


Does Judi Dench have a point? She was quick to strongly condemn the likes of Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein. But Dench is sad that their work is also condemned to obscurity: “Are we going to negate 10 years at the Old Vic and everything that he [Spacey] did [as artistic director]—how wonderful he’s been in all those films? Are we just not going to see all those films that Harvey produced?... You cannot deny somebody a talent. You might as well never look at a Caravaggio painting [he was a murderer]. You might as well never have gone to see Noël Coward [accused of predatory behaviour].” (The Guardian)


Who wants to be an engineer? Not the 367 applicants who applied for one seat in a BA degree in journalism at Delhi University. The three programs with the highest number of applicants per seat: BA (Honours) Journalism, BA (Honours) Sociology and BA (Honours) Psychology. Well, maybe they can make pots of money writing novels—or do Indians still need an IIT-MBA education for that? (Indian Express)


Who wants to be kachori-wala? Anyone who wants to make over Rs 60 lakh a year. A small but highly popular kachori shop in Aligarh unexpectedly came under the radar of tax inspectors. They were astonished to discover that it made between Rs 60 lakh to Rs 100 crore a year—and wasn’t registered for GST and had not paid a dime in tax. The owner Mukesh said, “I have been running my shop for the past 12 years and no one ever told me that these formalities are needed. We are simple people who sell kachoris and samosas for a living." In any case, the tax authorities were kind. He just has to pay a year’s worth in back taxes and get a GST number. (Mint)


Boris Johnson ki pyaar kahani: has become a running joke. A set of lovey-dovey photos emerged soon after the infamous domestic row between him and his partner. Except they appeared so blatantly staged that they sparked this series of very funny memes. Also: this disastrous radio interview which indicates that these weren’t even newly staged photos—but old staged photos warmed up and ‘leaked’. The damning evidence: Boris’s haircut. Really. This is the state of UK politics. Really.


Oh look, a man doing his daily makeup: Ok, it’s designer Marc Jacobs but we are amazed and inspired by how carelessly he slaps on his primer, concealer and lipstick—and still looks good. He’s truly our new beauty role model. F-off painful and painstaking YouTube videos. Watch the Vogue video—ignore the text promoting his products.


Oh look, men wearing lace underwear: Ok, allegedly shorts. This is amazing, yes, but certainly not inspiring. (Daily Star)


The relationship between consultants and companies: is summed up in one little clip. 


The definition of self-defeating: is this parrot right here.


When you keep falling over in excitement: you may be an adorable cocker spaniel named Peter who just keels over at the sight of birds, ducks, bikes, other dogs and—wait for it—crunchy leaves! Yes, it’s a disease. No, it doesn’t hurt and he looks positively, adorably goofy. (BBC

How many countries can you fit inside India? The brilliant map that offers the answer is right here.

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Everything we don't know about human desire

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What do men feel when they receive oral sex?

It’s supposed to be the holy grail of male desire. Yet, as this piece shows, men's libidos may be far more complicated than popular media pretends. Like any sexual act with a person of any gender or sexuality, some like it a lot. Others… not so much.

Read: 10 Men on What a Blow Job Feels Like | The Cut

Sex, Love etc 2

The other ‘only child’ syndrome

We always focus on the child when we speak of singletons. Is it too lonely? Are they too spoilt? But what about the parents? What does it do to a relationship between a loving couple when they only have one precious child? Does s/he become the third partner in that marriage?

Read: My Marriage Has a Third Wheel: Our Child | New York Times

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