Friday, April 5, 2019

Number of the day: 88.04 lakhs

Stop filers are individuals who filed returns in previous years but do not do so in the current year. Their number jumped ten-fold over the course of one year: from 8.56 lakh in 2015-16 to 88.04 lakh in 2016-17. The likely reason: demonetisation which led to a fall in income or loss of jobs. The tax department’s response: There is no such thing as a stop filer.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The (Il)Legality Of Namo TV

NaMo TV has been on air for over a week without any license. The media and the opposition is crying foul.


What is NaMo TV? The channel showcases election rallies and speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and interviews with various BJP leaders. It went on air on March 31 on Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV, and cable TV network Siti Networks.


Ok, so what’s the problem? First and foremost, there is the problem of definition. What is NaMo TV? When a customer tweeted at TataSky, the company called it “a Hindi news service which provides the latest breaking news on national politics.” Then CEO Harit Nagpal hastily backtracked and insisted it wasn’t a “news service.” The channel, he claimed, "does not fall into any genre.” The Information & Broadcasting ministry sources, OTOH, say it is an advertisement channel. (The Election Commission has asked for a formal response from the ministry.)


To confuse matters further: The channel is available under multiple categories on the menu. For example, on Tata Sky, it is both a Hindi entertainment channel on number 145 as well as a Hindi news channel on number 512.


Why does this matter? If NaMo TV is a news channel, then it requires a broadcast license. It did not even apply for one. An I&B official told The Print, “This is possibly the first time when an Indian television channel, possibly owned by a politician or a political party, has gone on air without any permission.” And since it didn’t apply for a license, no one really knows who owns it. Nagpal is the only one to reference the BJP in his clarification. But there has been no response from the party.


The license loopholes: News channels which require a satellite to broadcast their programs have to be licensed and receive a security clearance—a long and tedious process. Now there are ways in which a channel can do an end run around this requirement:


  • If it is being aired by a local cable operator, then there is no need for satellite services. That’s the loophole used by NaMo TV when it first made its appearance in Gujarat back in 2012 before the Assembly elections.

  • A channel can also air on a satellite provider if it is an exclusive offering—which is also what the Tata Sky rep first said on Twitter: “[T]his channel is added to all the subscribers as a launch offer. There is no option to delete the individual channel.” But the channel has to be ‘exclusive’ to qualify... NaMo TV is running on multiple platforms.

  • Tata Sky CEO Nagpal, therefore, went another route. He now claims the feed is "coming from the BJP via the Internet”—ie we are not using a satellite, so it doesn’t need any I&B clearance.


The bottomline: The BJP has a powerful PR operation, far better funded and organised than any of its rivals. It also has the advantage of being the ruling party which allows it to drive media coverage. So it isn’t clear why it needs to so flagrantly flout the law—be it in the letter or the spirit—except because it can.


Learn more: The Print broke the story and has the most details provided by I&B ministry sources. India Today sums up the TataSky angle.

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wondering if you’ll ever love kaju barfi again

AgustaWestland charge sheet names the Gandhis: The Enforcement Directorate filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case involving corruption in a Rs 3,600 crore helicopters deal (our explainer here). Here are the main highlights:


  • The charge sheet cites as evidence “dispatches” sent by alleged middleman Christian Michel James between February 2008 and October 2009.

  • The ED claims they show: “Mrs Gandhi was the driving force behind the deal. The contents of these dispatches have further proved that [the] political elite was constantly helping AgustaWestland by intervention through PMO and Defence Minister.”

  • Rahul Gandhi gets a mention in the quoted dispatches: “Meeting at the beginning of the week with regards to the Italian Lady’s son…”

  • Pranab Mukherjee is off the hook. The dispatches reference “the Finance Minister’s extreme anxiety at the son’s phenomenal rise,” and that Mukherjee was the only one who had reservations about the kickbacks.

  • As for the kickbacks: “The kickbacks paid by AgustaWestland was at least about 12% of the contract amount: An amount of around Euro 70 million was paid through the two middlemen.”


The Congress Party is calling the leaked document an “election stunt.” (Indian Express)


Ethiopian authorities issued their first crash report: and they say, “The crew performed all the procedures repeatedly provided by the manufacturer but was not able to control the aircraft.” In other words, the tragedy was not caused by pilot error. (Reuters)


Microsoft has a sexual harassment problem: An email chain circulated among the company’s women employees has blown the lid on rampant sexism and harassment. Women recount being called “a bitch,” asked to sit on an executive’s lap in a meeting, sidelined to non-essential tasks etc. Microsoft’s response was to hold an immediate town hall meeting with CEO Satya Nadella who “expressed his sadness and disappointment.” (Wired)


What we eat isn’t killing us: A groundbreaking 27-year global diet analysis published in the medical journal, the Lancet, has reached a surprising conclusion. The problem isn’t what’s on our plate—high-fat foods or too much sugar—but what’s missing from it. In India, for example, the lack of whole grains was the greatest risk factor for premature death. In other words: more roti, less double roti, as in the white kind. (CNN has the key global findings)


Amazon vs Woody Allen: The actor sued Amazon Studio for $68 million for backing out of a deal to make four movies with him. The company has returned fire citing his support for Harvey Weinstein and criticism of the #MeToo movement as justification for its decision to break ties. Sometimes, being a misogynist has consequences. (New York Times)


Britney Spears is having a difficult time: The pop singer has checked herself into a mental health facility as she struggles to cope with her father’s potentially fatal illness. Spears has been under her father’s conservatorship since 2008 when he stepped in to take care of her. Spears had been placed on a psych hold at the time. (Page Six)


The high price of cashew nuts: We’ve always loved our kaju, but the rest of the world has now rediscovered the nut thanks to the rise of veganism. But the cashew boom has a dark side. The nuts—which come mostly from India or Vietnam—are shelled by hand. But removing the shell causes painful burns because they encase two highly caustic substances: cardol and anacardic acid. The workers live with constant pain and wounds that never heal. (Daily Mail)


Mo money, mo blues in Mumbai: The city has the least affordable housing market. Since 2013, in every other major city, incomes have grown faster than residential prices. But not in Mumbai—even though its household income growth rate has been the highest. (Quartz)


Your feel good Friday moments: include the following:

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Stuff we love, buy or use

A list of dress-friendly sneakers
Sneakers-with-everything is a rare high fashion trend that is kind to women’s body parts. Here are some light, summer-friendly options that may be more comfortable than sandals which can leave you bruised at the end of a long work day.
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When you need an understated neutral…

Pick up a pair of Chuck Taylors. The brand is a classic and its design has remained unwaveringly the same. These canvas high tops are super-comfortable, good-looking and perfect for running around all day. And they come in a wide number of colours and designs, including neutrals like white and black. (Bonus pick: If you prefer something with a little more modern flair, Zara has a perfect pair.)

Price: Rs 2730 | Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars Hi Shoe | Extreme Pie

The informer 2

When you’re looking to add a bit of whimsy...

Opt for these Vans Unisex leather sneakers. The Snoopy-themed shoes will delight your inner 10-year old, and the moccasin fringe will make sure you don’t look like one. (Bonus picks: These more stylish red-and-black Deadpool-themed Vans, or the more expensive Comme des Garçons Play from Converse.)

Price: Rs 3689 | Vans SK8-Hi Moc Leather Sneakers | Amazon

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When you're looking for a summer sandal-vibe…

Your best bet is Superga’s flatform trainers. The royalty-loved Italian brand is best known for its sneaker-meets-platform sandal design—which offers all the same comfort but with a bit of lift (4 cm) whenever you need it. We also heart the range of monochrome options which make it a great alternative to your go-to dressy sandals.

Price: Rs 4328 | Superga 2790 Cotropew Women’s Shoe | Extreme Pie

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