Thursday, August 1, 2019

Quote of the day

In 1971, California Governor Ronald Reagan called then President Richard Nixon soon after the UN voted to recognize China as a nation—thanks to the support of African nations. Here’s how their conversation went: “Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,’ Reagan said. ‘Yeah,’ Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: ‘To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!’ Nixon gave a huge laugh.” The Atlantic has the story and the audio of this newly unearthed exchange.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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One man’s battle with Zomato

A customer was very unhappy about his ‘bad’ experience with the food delivery app. And like many other enraged customers, he went on Twitter to express his feelings—but sadly for him, it had entirely unexpected consequences.


Amit Shukla ki dukhi kahaani: Here is a full account of his ordeal:

  • It all started when he ordered his food on Zomato from Roopal Restaurant in Jabalpur only to receive a very rude surprise. 

  • His food, his Zomato app cheerily informed him, will be delivered by Faiyaz who “can speak Hindi and English. He is from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. He wishes to pursue higher education.” Oh noooo! 

  • Mr Shukla sprang into action and immediately informed customer support of this food emergency: “We has shrawan and don’t want delivery from a Muslim fellow.” Alas, it was to no avail. Zomato wouldn’t change his delivery person, nor refund his cancellation charges of Rs 237. 

  • Worse, when he took to Twitter to air his rightful grievance, Zomato tweeted back: “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.” Adding insult to injury, the company’s CEO jumped in with: “We are proud of the idea of India - and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values. 🇮🇳” Satya naash! 


Cue the great ‘halal’ debate: Shukla-ji’s supporters did their best to come to his defence with a bit of whataboutery about halal. The logic: If Zomato can tag food as halal in deference to Muslim requirements, it can surely honour Shukla’s religious preferences in delivery personnel. 


Zomato’s response: The company put out a short explainer on all its religion-related tags including ‘Jain’, ‘Vegan’, ‘Halal’ and ‘Navratra Thalis’. It clarified that these tags are displayed on the request of restaurants. In other words, halal or Jain dining establishments routinely advertise themselves as serving a certain kind of food—and want Zomato to do the same. But our vote for best response goes to this clever Twitter user


So who is this guy? According to The Telegraph, “Shukla describes himself as an MBA from Rani Durgavati University and a consultant for several private firms on his Facebook profile. On his Twitter profile, he describes himself as a ‘Nationalist Proud Hindu’ associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-inspired Laghu Udyog Bharati, an organisation of micro and small industries.” His handle reads @NaMo_SARKAAR and was followed by Union minister Piyush Goyal. Unfortunately, we can’t verify a lot of this information as Shukla has since shut down his Twitter account. Sad!


But we do know this: Our god-abiding Shukla-ji has absolutely no objection to Muslim women’s breasts. 


Just to add to the ugliness: some guy jumped into action with this tweet: “Okay a Simple Question : Do you get suspicious or slightly uncomfortable when you get a Muslim Driver in Ola/Uber???” Twitter’s answer: No! 


A related reminder: Last year, Abhishek Mishra tweeted, “Cancelled @Olacabs Booking because Driver was Muslim. I don't want to give my money to Jihadi People.” Ola’s response: “Ola, like our country, is a secular platform, and we don't discriminate our driver partners or customers basis their caste, religion, gender or creed. We urge all our customers and driver partners to treat each other with respect at all times.” Mishra’s bio reads: “VHP Karyakarta Social Media Activist, Fitness Freak, Vegetarian, Hindutva Thinker, Digital & Social Media Advisor.” He is still on Twitter and is followed by a number of cabinet ministers including Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman.


The bottomline: Given Shukla-ji’s immense piety, maybe he should have prepared his food with his own 100% guaranteed non-Muslim hands in his Muslim-free kitchen. That would have made everyone happy—including Muslims.

In far more tragic Muslim-hating news: A 17-year-old boy was kidnapped by four men who poured kerosene over him and set him on fire. He has since died of his injuries. His father is very clear on the reason for his death: Mohammad Khalid refused to chant ‘Jai Sri Ram’. The UP police insist it’s all a terrible lie, and the boy set himself on fire to get attention. Well, who you gonna believe? After all, it is the UP police. Watch the father’s testimony here

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hoping Swiggy will let you request a purple-haired delivery guy

The Amreeki version of ‘Hindi Medium’: First it was super-rich parents cheating to get their kids into elite schools. Now, a new investigation has uncovered another kind of cheating: “Parents are giving up legal guardianship of their children during their junior or senior year in high school to someone else—a friend, aunt, cousin or grandparent. The guardianship status then allows the students to declare themselves financially independent of their families so they can qualify for federal, state and university aid.” (Pro Publica)


Maharashtra’s novel antiterrorism’ experiment: The state’s Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) has a deradicalisation program which uses counsellors and psychometric tests to fight terrorism. It has ‘reintegrated’ at least 114 young men and six women who were being wooed by IS. This is an eye-opening read about a one-of-its-kind program. (Indian Express)


Siri is a terrible sneak! As iPhone users know far too well, it is very easy to accidentally trigger the overly eager Siri multiple times a day. However, this means she is also ‘listening’ when we don’t want her to be. The result: Quality control contractors hired by Apple to assess Siri also listen in on at least 1% of what she overhears. According to a whistleblower, “There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on. These recordings are accompanied by user data showing location, contact details, and app data.” (The Guardian


Celebrity brand ambassadors beware! A new consumer protection law will punish celebs who endorse misleading ads. They can be fined up to Rs 10 lakh. Repeat offenders will pay up to Rs 50 lakh and a jail term of up to five years. The celebrity can also be banned from future endorsements for one-three years. Dear Virat Kohli, meet Herbalife. (Mint)


Pak cricketer to marry Indian woman: Bowler Hasan Ali met and fell in love with Shamia Arzoo, a young woman from Haryana whom he met in Dubai. What the Indian media want to know: who will she and her family support in an India-Pak match? Really? In related news: lovely photos of a more unconventional cross-border romance went viral. (Times of India)


When Govinda dissed James Cameron: Or so he claims. On a recent TV show, the dancing sensation claimed that he turned down a lead role in ‘Avatar’ because a) he is a prophet: “I told Cameron that it would easily take 7-8 years to complete the film, and that really frustrated him.”; b) he has standards: “I told Cameron that this wasn’t my cup of tea as I didn’t want my body to be painted blue all over for such a demanding schedule.” But hey, our Virar ka Chokra let James down easy: “I even gave him the title of the film, and it turned out to be a super hit.” But poor compensation surely for losing out on the opportunity to work India’s finest. (The Hindu)


Even James Bond can’t save Aston Martin: which has lost a whopping £80 million in just the first half of this year. You can now buy a share of the company for less than £5. See? Hamara Maruti Suzuki is in such good company. (The Guardian)


Bad news for bearded men: Children think you are ugly. New research shows that everyone from toddlers to teenagers are overwhelmingly averse to facial hair on men: "As early as 1 year 9 months, they dislike beards… and kids, as they got older, up to about 13 years, continue to dislike beards even more." If it’s any consolation to bearded gentlemen, even kids agree that a daadhi makes you look stronger and more manly. Let the chest-thumping commence! (NPR)


The ultimate North Indian insult: to South Indian sensibilities is this description of bisibele bath. 


A cricket “loser” who wins hearts: Everyone made fun of Romanian bowler Pavel Florin for his bowling. But the 40-year-old bodyguard who took up the sport in his thirties—and travels 500 km to the nearest cricket field—responded, “Maybe someone says my bowling is not beautiful or not effective but I don’t care, because I love cricket.” We ❤️this guy. Watch his interview here


The notorious British class system: is best exemplified in this BBC clip which features a recruiter trying to place a “lovely woman” with an excellent resume, personality and an Essex accent. #ItsNotJustIndians. 


A couple of sunshine items: to get you through the day. 

  • Here’s footage of residents of an apartment building in China teaming up to save a toddler who fell six storeys! 

  • This woman who is the boss of kolam/rangoli

  • Watch this young woman in a UP school take a group of cops to task over the Unnao rape case. The best bit: all her peers clapping wildly in support. 

  • After the latest budget, most Indians making any kind of money right now feel exactly like this kid playing Monopoly. 

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The 'What's In A Name' Edition

Names of humans matter. They most often signify ethnicity, religion, even race. Names of objects matter. They carry the weight of culture and history which created them. Here then are two very different essays about naming.

How 'rich' is your name?

This is a fascinating account of’s effort to use Artificial Intelligence to deduce an Indian person’s affluence from their name. Note: It doesn’t work well for specific individuals, but holds fairly true for large datasets. A worthy read even if you disagree with it or question the value of the project. (PS: Here’s what the founder said when we asked whether their AI was trained to read caste which is connected to both name and affluence in India. We also learned that ‘Lakshmi Chaudhry’ has an affluence index of 3.2. Like we needed an AI to tell us we’re poor 🙄)

Read: What’s in a name? Plenty of possibilities for analytics | Medium

Sex, Love etc 2

How do you say ‘chai’ in your language? 

Did you know that there are only two words (with minor variations) for tea? And it all depends on how the beverage spread to your part of the world—either over land via the Silk Route or over sea to Europe. This is a fascinating account of our history of globalisation—and it comes with its own cool map (yes, we are infographic nerds like that).

Read: Tea if by sea, cha if by land: Why the world only has two words for tea | Quartz

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