Monday, March 25, 2019
Number of the day: 1 million

That’s how many people turned out to protest Brexit and call for a new referendum over the weekend in central London, according to organisers. If true, this would be one of the biggest marches in this century, on par with the anti-Iraq war protest back in 2003. The show of strength ratchets up the pressure on PM Theresa May who is already contending with rumours of her imminent resignation.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The shocking home invasion in Gurgaon

A group of men entered a Muslim family’s home and attacked with rods and sticks. The footage of the incident has now become a telling indictment of the communalised climate in the country.


The trigger: Mohammad Sajid’s family came to visit him at his home in Ghosala village in Gurgaon. A bunch of kids went out to play cricket, when two men approached them and said, “What are you doing here? Go to Pakistan and play.” They slapped Sajid when he tried to intervene.  


The home invasion: The men were soon joined by 20-25 others who arrived armed with rods, sticks and swords. They entered Sajid’s home and assaulted its members, including his four-year-old niece. Women and children went up to the terrace for safety. One of Sajid’s nieces, Daanishtha, filmed the attack. The clip which is difficult to watch—then went viral on Twitter.


A communal attack: The men were heard yelling, “Pakistani hai ye! Pakistani hai ye!" And the family is clear that they were attacked for simply being Muslim. One of the victims says, “There are people who are saying we must have said something to them, which is not true. We can’t pick a fight with such men—they are more powerful, they have more land. We are poor and have small houses, how can we fight them?”


The reason for outrage: Communal attacks are not exactly rare in India, especially in UP. But this story struck a raw nerve because it became clear that no one, including neighbours, came to their rescue. Sajid who owns a furniture repair shop has lived in the area for more than 15 years. Also: the Gurgaon police are characterising the incident as a disagreement “between the two groups over playing cricket in the same ground and there was no communal angle to it.”


The aftermath: Sajid plans to move out of the area: “We are planning to either move back to our village or to Delhi. If this has happened here once, it can happen again. Even if something like this happens in our village, at least we will have 15-20 people who will stand by us. We are entirely alone here.” The police have only arrested one suspect thus far.


The bottomline: Words have consequences. The attack is a result of the high-intensity communalisation of politics in Uttar Pradesh under CM Yogi Adityanath. It has aided and abetted a number of attacks on minorities in the guise of cow protection. But as this latest incident reveals, even that figleaf is no longer required. Muslims can now be attacked simply for being Muslim.


Learn more: The Wire details the attack. Indian Express reports on the fallout for Sajid’s family. Quint has a must-read profile of the brave young girl who filmed the attack despite being targeted by the attackers. Also: the kidnapping of two Hindu girls in Pakistan is a reminder that minority hatred knows no borders. India Today has the story, and here’s the moving clip of the bereft father protesting outside a police station.

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waiting for news of a Coldplay threesome

Mr Mueller submits his report: The independent prosecutor appointed to look into Russian interference in the 2016 US elections has finally turned his report to the Attorney General. According to the AG, “[W]hile this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Trump called it “a complete and total exoneration.” But, as Axios points out, Mueller’s impact goes far beyond the report. The damaging information he uncovered has spawned a number of other potentially damaging investigations, and the House is poised to launch a sweeping inquiry into all things Trump. (New York Times)


Kochi Biennale has an ‘unpaid labour’ problem: The foundation which runs one of India’s most prestigious art festivals is being sued by its contractors. These companies claim that the organisation owes them more than Rs 1.2 crore in unpaid bills. And many day labourers, including masons, plumbers etc., also claim they have not been paid their wages since December. (Firstpost)


An alarming exodus of women: Nearly three crore rural women who have left the labour market over the past six years according to the NSSO survey which has been withheld by the government. That’s a massive seven percent drop. If compared to 2004-2005 data, the rural female participation rate has almost halved from 33.3% to 18.2%. The percentage for urban women has fallen by two percent over that same period.


In terrible news for Barbara Streisand fans: this is what she said about Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse allegations: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.” She has since apologised for causing “any pain or misunderstanding.” Oh, we don’t think there was any misunderstanding, Barbara. (Hollywood Reporter)


In good news for Brie Larson fans: Netflix dropped the trailer for her debut directorial venture, 'Unicorn Store', which also stars the woman best known as Captain Marvel, and Samuel L Jackson. (Bustle)


In strange news for Kangana Ranaut fans: she will be playing Jayalalithaa in the upcoming film Thalaivi to be released in three languages, including Tamil, Telugu and Hindi. (MSN)


In strange news for Spice Girls fans: Mel B aka Scary Spice let slip that she had a hot one-night stand with Gerri Halliwell aka Ginger Spice. That will make things at the upcoming Spice Girls tour a bit more awkward/ interesting. We’d be more intrigued if it had been Posh. (The Sun)


Where’s my Ola, asks Bengaluru: The cab company was suspended for six months on Friday by the Karnataka government. The reason: its bike taxi service violates the state’s transport rules. Then came news on Sunday that the suspension will be revoked on Monday—even as transport department officials denied any such decision has been made. The suspense continues. (Times of India)


This story is about the Ambanis’ being scammed: out of Rs 16.9 crores by one of their employees. (Mumbai Mirror)


Hindi, Bengali and Lahnda spoken here: The top ten list of the most widely spoken languages includes Hindi (#4), Bengali (#6) and Lahnda (#10). Yes, we had to look up Lahnda—it’s a dialect spoken in Western Punjab in Pakistan. (Indian Express)


Latest scheme to destroy much higher education: involves the government directing universities to limit approval of PhD thesis topics to those “in accordance with the national priorities.” (Indian Express)


Weekend content you might have missed: include the following:

  • ESPN CricInfo has an excellent piece on the incredible bond the Chennai Super Kings shares with its ‘whistle podu’ army of adoring fans.

  • Mint introduces us to Bangalore’s Kamanahattan, i.e. Kammanahalli, one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods, where Koreans live alongside Africans and Brazilians.

  • Vox explains why the wildly popular ‘toy unboxing’ videos are bad for kids.

  • BBC offers an overview of the riches to rags story of Jet Airways, whose CEO Naresh Goyal maybe the biggest obstacle to its survival.

  • The Ken offers an important deep-dive into the rapid rise polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) cases among Indian women—tying uncertainty about its causes to “a diagnosis and prescription overdrive.” Note: you will have to sign up for Ken’s newsletter or login via Gmail or FB to read the story.


Your Monday morning pick-me-ups: include the following:

  • The Hindu introduces us to the delightful racket-tailed drongo, which can imitate nearly 40 species of birds, two mammals, two frogs and even an insect.

  • Rahul Ram sings ‘Chunaav Ka Mahina’, a tongue-in-cheek ballad skewering the absurdity of the upcoming elections.

  • This clip shows a very large crowd of revellers at a religious festival in Palakkad, Kerala,  quickly and politely making way for an ambulance—which constitutes a miracle in India.

  • More than 1300 passengers were safely airlifted off a Norwegian cruise ship. The rescue itself was a miracle, as each passenger had to be rescued individually. But the reason the story went viral: these insane video of how bad things were on board.

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The best place for the best advice

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All About Getting An IUD

Yes, that unexpected plus sign on the pregnancy stick may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, but most of us would prefer to plan for motherhood. Yet when choosing contraception, less than 2% of Indian women opt for the highly effective and reversible IUD—due to fears of infection, infertility, or its “invasive” nature. Far too many of us are afraid of the dreaded T.



Much of this unfounded paranoia is due to lack of good information. An IUD may, in fact, be the right choice for you, and here are the facts to help you decide.



What is it? An IUD is a T-shaped device, made either of copper or plastic, fitted into the uterus. Insertion entails a quick and easy outpatient procedure.


How does it work? The copper-T is affordable and unmedicated, as compared to the more advanced hormonal plastic IUDs. One releases copper ions, while the other release progestogen, both of which actively hinder fertilization and egg implantation.



What’s the difference? Copper-Ts are cheaper but also more prone to painful side-effects in the first six months, such as prolonged bleeding and cramping. But they last longer: 10-12 years compared to 3-5 years for hormonal IUDs.



Is it effective? Yes, IUDs prevent 99% of pregnancies, which is vastly more effective than any other form of contraception, barring sterilisation. And it is easily irreversible. It comes with threads attached which are used to pull it right out, when needed.



Ok, so what’s the catch? They must be properly inserted by an experienced doctor, and it does hurt when going in. In some cases, your body will take a few months to get used to the IUD, i.e. you may experience intermittent bleeding and/or mild to moderate cramps.



Reading List: Here’s everything you need to read before making that decision:

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