Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Quote of the day

Ramdev’s recipe for population control is as follows: “This will only be possible when the government makes a law that the third child would not be allowed to vote, neither contest election nor he/she would enjoy any type of privileges and facilities given by the government.” MIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s mocking comeback: “That he can do a thing with his stomach or move about his legs shouldn’t mean @narendramodi lose his right to vote just because he’s the 3rd kid.” 

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The death of Payal Tadvi

A resident doctor at a Mumbai hospital committed suicide because she was continually harassed and abused for belonging to a tribal community—lifting once again the seemingly impenetrable curtain of silence around caste discrimination.


First, some background on Tadvi: The 23-year old was doing an MD in gynecology at the Topiwala National Medical College, which is attached to the BYL Nair hospital. Tadvi belongs to the Bhil community in Jalgaon, Maharashtra. Her husband, Salman, is also a doctor in Mumbai.


A pattern of systemic harassment: According to Tadvi’s family, she was persecuted by three senior doctors—Hema Ahuja, Bhakti Mahere and Ankita Khandelwa—because she belonged to a lower caste and was admitted on a reserved seat. Her mother says, "The seniors used to scream at her in front of patients and tell her that they won’t let her learn. They wouldn’t let her conduct deliveries or even enter the operation theatre. They also repeatedly threatened her with complaints to the dean or the head of the department." That was apart from the daily humiliation she faced in the college hostel at the hands of the same doctors.


Why didn’t she complain? Repeated verbal complaints made by Tadvi, her parents and husband allegedly fell on deaf ears. Most recently, her mother went to the college to file a letter documenting the abuse but was not allowed to meet the dean—who says “we received no complaint till date regarding this issue.” A number of Tadvi’s peers, however, have stepped forward to confirm both the harassment and the administration’s knowledge of it.


So what’s happened now? The three doctors have been charged with abetment to suicide under the IPC and other sections under the Ragging Act and the Atrocities Act. They’ve also been suspended by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors. The women are reportedly absconding and cannot be found—yet they have written to the MARD denying all wrongdoing (?!). Meanwhile, a 21-member anti-ragging committee has taken the statements of nearly 30 members of the hospital staff. The hashtag #JusticeForDrPayal went viral yesterday.


The bottomline: Rampant and toxic caste discrimination in universities and colleges is exposed only when someone dies. There’s lots of outrage—as with the Rohith Vemula case—and then it dies down. And we all go back to business as usual. The officials’ wilful blindness to this ongoing tragedy is but a symptom of our own.


Learn more: The Telegraph has the most details on Tadvi’s harassment. This older piece in The Wire lays out the pervasive and shocking level of caste discrimination in universities. Firstpost offers a shorter, up-to-date version of the same. Hindustan Times has this richly reported essay on Rohith Vemula’s family and childhood to reveal the very human and very painful experience of being Dalit in India.

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celebrating your very normal, very straight eyelashes

Rahul Gandhi, interim party president: All efforts to persuade Rahul to take back his resignation appear to have been futile. He has, however, agreed to hold the fort until a replacement is found -- which may be around the same time when pigs are expected to fly. Or at least that’s what senior Congress leaders hope“that this transition plan will extend so long that, eventually, all talk of opting out will fade away.” That said, at least one party leader has expressed his willingness to take the thankless job. Shashi Tharoor declared, “I am ready but I can’t appoint myself.” Meanwhile, Bihar’s Lalu Yadav (currently in prison) has labelled Rahul’s decision as “suicidal” in an analysis of the outcome which is surprisingly level-headed and resolute—two qualities that appear to be missing in the Congress right now.


US Navy pilots spot UFOs: No, we’re not making this up. The New York Times has unearthed official reports of “unexplained aerial phenomena” filed in 2014 and 2015.  There is also blurry video footage of these things. No one knows what these are, but everyone is very insistent that they are highly unlikely to be extraterrestrial in origin. (New York Times)


Ten stories that disappeared into thin air: Here’s a list of media stories that were published over the past five years and then vanished without a trace. Just seeing them clubbed together offers an excellent bird’s eye view of the state of self-censorship in the Indian media. (Caravan)


Coaching schools are death traps: This is a must-read on coaching schools across the country that flagrantly violate fire and safety regulations. Tragedies like Surat—where 20 kids died—could easily happen in any of these places, be it in Mumbai, Lucknow or Chennai. These are dingy buildings with narrow exits and often without windows which cater to kids whose parents have spent all their hard-earned money on these classes. (Times of India)


Another Muslim attacked for being a Muslim: A young man was asked his name, and then shot because of it in Bihar. Required viewing: this video clip where he explains what happened. In related news: This professor was arrested for a Facebook post defending the adivasi tradition of consuming beef. In related news: The Karnataka Police has registered an FIR against a Kannada newspaper editor for daring to report on conflict within JDS leader Deve Gowda’s family.


Smriti Irani’s brand of feminism: The Rahul-felling BJP leader is being praised for lending her shoulder to carry the dead body of her close aide in Amethi. The Print published this interesting take on Irani as a conservative feminist: “By sporting a sindoor at all times, invoking her motherhood in Parliament to corner the opposition, and calling herself a ‘simple housewife, mother of two kids’ who toppled the Congress giant in Amethi – Irani inspires a sense of confidence among Indians while being unapologetically ambitious.” (The Print)


Moby’s brand of ‘nice guy’ sexism: In his memoir, the singer claimed he had a brief affair with a very young Natalie Portman back in the day. But she called it off much to his commitment-phobic relief. However, she told reporters recently, “I was surprised to hear that he characterized the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me.” Ouch! A distraught Moby vehemently denied her denial by posting incontrovertible proof: A shirtless photo of himself with a visibly uncomfortable Portman. Self-goal achieved, he has since apologised and taken it all back. Surprise! Our recommended read on this dismal saga: The Guardian on the misogyny of woke ‘nice guys’ like Moby.


The Delhi zoo is a travesty: A nilgai in the zoological park died because the chief vet couldn’t be bothered to attend to it. So they fudged the records to cover it up. But this isn’t the first time. In the past, the zoo has covered up a number of deaths of endangered species such as brow-antlered deer, blackbuck, sambar deer and white buck. (Indian Express)


See Saudi women run: There are many laws forbidding Saudi women from doing many things—except running. And it’s given them a precious kind of freedom. This BBC video is both moving and inspirational.  


A very bizarre memorial to Princess Di: The trashy tabloid National Enquirer is planning a theme park in the bustling town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Its star attraction: a 3-D computer re-creation of her death in a car crash in Paris. According to one of its promoters, “[I]t shows the pathway as she left the Ritz hotel, and the paparazzi chasing her, and the bang-flash that we think blinded the driver—and how it happened.” The silver lining: there will be no “close-ups of Diana’s limp body” in the backseat of the car. (Daily Beast)


A very bizarre choice of house pet: This Pakistani guy—with way more money than he ought to possess—is raising a 168-pound lion as a pet. Yes, a pet, the kind that lolls on the bed, goes for walks on a leash, and eats 17 pounds of raw meat a day. His owner says, “I'm teaching him commands to sit, go and eat just like a pet dog.” We’d get our conservationist panties in a twist except we've been rendered speechless by the photos. (Daily Mail)


In other strange animal-related news: The first fully albino giant panda has been photographed in China. And Anna the anaconda pulled a ‘Virgin Mary’ and gave birth to two baby snakes all by herself.


Move over nose hair extensions: super curly lashes are here, and they’re truly hideous. (Elite Readers)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Plan Your Vacay’ Edition

Summer holidays are winding down. But the best way to beat those post-vacation blues is to start planning your next big one. So you better get started now.

A vacation tailor-made for your budget

We love the Mint Globetrotter Index because it is a rare travel guide that addresses the average Indian traveller’s greatest anxiety: the daily cost of a phoren holiday. The index collates price data from 50 cities on 25 items across categories such as accommodation, shopping, leisure, and food. So you can check out the price of a Coke or a hotel room or taxi fare, or compare one city to another. And it’s all calculated in rupees. What’s also nifty: clicking on the keyword link offers more stories on a specific item, for e.g., a bottle of wine. (Bonus read: The best $50 day itineraries in cities around the world from Lonely Planet)

Bookmark: The smart Indian globetrotter | Mint

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Alone and ready to holiday

Solo travel is a huge new trend in India. But heading out to unfamiliar shores alone can be nerve-wracking, especially for women who always have to think about safety. And let’s face it: some places are just easier to visit than others. This is a handy list of countries picked on the basis of factors such as safety, the openness of the local culture, the chance to meet other travellers, and the ease of getting around if you don’t speak the local language. Some options that caught our eye: Chile and Tanzania. (Bonus read: Broadsheet’s detailed guide to travelling solo)

Read: The 13 best places to travel alone | USA TODAY

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