Thursday, December 19, 2019

Number of the day: Rs 17,878 crore

That’s how much Kashmir’s economy lost over four months since the lockdown. According to a study released by Kashmir’s chamber of commerce, “Tourism sector is in shambles. Artisans and weavers are jobless. With estimated losses of around Rs 2,520 crore, manufacturing is in tatters.” Also a disaster: the Union government’s attempts to help the apple industry, which instead sparked panic and price instability.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Ratan Tata getting a very rude shock

The grand old man of the Tata empire retired in 2012, and appointed Cyrus Mistry as his replacement. In 2016, he kicked Mistry out. Yesterday, a law tribunal reinstated Mistry as chairman. We explain India’s biggest corporate jhagda—hopefully, without making your eyes glaze over.

The Tata bijness: Founded in 1868, the  $110 billion business is most often described as a “salt-to-software conglomerate”—to indicate that its 28 companies are involved across every sector, ranging from tech to hotels to automobiles. 

  • The apex company in the Tata Group is Tata Sons which holds a controlling stake in these companies, and oversees their operations. 

  • In turn, Tata Trusts holds a 66% stake in Tata Sons, and oversees its board—but to what extent is the ongoing point of controversy. 

  • The present Tata Sons chairman is N Chandrasekaran—the first non-Parsi outsider to lead the Tata Group.

  • Ratan Tata is the chairman of Tata Trusts.

The grand old man: Ratan Tata is one of the most revered icons of India Inc. Over a historic 21-year career as chairman—from 1991 to 2012—he took the Tata Group to dizzying heights. Under his leadership, the Tata empire’s profits grew 50x—and he executed a number of splashy mergers including the acquisition of Land Rover Jaguar and Tetley Tea. He is often described as the "Chairman of Corporate India". Point to note: he never married and has no children. 

The exiled heir: Cyrus Pallonji Mistry trained as a civil engineer in Imperial College. He has worked most of his career at the Tatas and his family business. The two families have a longstanding business and personal relationship: 

  • Back in the 1930, JRD Tata’s younger brother, Dorab, sold his shares in a fit of rage to Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry—mad that his brother had been anointed as the chairman. 

  • Cyrus is the younger son of Pallonji Mistry who now heads the Shapoorji Pallonji Group. It holds an 18% stake in the Tata Sons, and is its single largest shareholder. 

  • Also: Cyrus's sister is married to Ratan Tata's half-brother Noel. 

  • Interesting fact: Pallonji and his two sons hold an Irish passport—and are the richest family in Ireland. The Mistrys are among the ten richest families in India—with a net worth of $15.3 billion.

The Tata v Mistry khandaani jhagda: is best understood in a timeline of events:

  • In 2011, Cyrus Mistry was made deputy chairman of Tata Sons—with the explicit understanding that he was being groomed for Ratan Tata’s job.

  • In 2012, Tata retired and Mistry took his place as chairman of Tata Sons. But things went south between the two men fairly quickly. 

  • Mistry was forced out in 2016 in a surprise Tata Sons board meeting—and Ratan Tata replaced him as its interim chairman.

  • Among the reasons offered by Tata: the $5 billion dip in the group’s value over the course of just one year, 2015-16. The company’s net debt also grew by over a billion during that time. And Tata also severely disapproved of a number of Mistry’s decisions. Examples: selling the steel plan in the UK, pissing off the Japanese telecom company Docomo etc. The board also cited a “trust deficit.”

  • The reasons offered by Mistry: He was forced to leave because he “had confronted and was grappling with serious governance problems and ethical issues for a considerable period of time."

  • At the time, most observers viewed the ouster as an “internal culture clash” between the old guard and the new. Mistry wanted Tata to lay off, and he simply refused to let go.

  • Mistry filed a suit challenging his removal in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

  • In January 2017, Tata quickly replaced Mistry with Chandrasekaran—and converted Tata Sons from a publicly held company to a private enterprise that September. The reason: The Mistrys would now require the board’s approval to sell their shares, despite being the biggest single shareholder. 

  • In July 2018, the NCLT dismissed Mistry’s claims—and in fairly damning language

  • Mistry appealed that ruling in the appellate tribunal (NCLAT)—which finally issued its ruling yesterday.

The shocker judgement: The tribunal, in essence, declared the appointment of Chandrasekaran illegal, and ordered the reinstatement of Mistry as chairman. It also held that the move to convert Tata Sons into a private company was “illegal”—and demanded it be listed as a public company asap! The key reasons offered:

  • The over 550 emails exchanged between Tata and Mistry during his tenure indicated “oppressive” interference—which was “prejudicial” to the company’s interests.

  • Mistry cannot be solely blamed for his job performance as all his decisions were overseen by Tata Trusts. Plus: he’d been given a stellar performance rating just months before his removal.

  • Mistry’s removal did not follow proper procedure—as it required the creation of a committee authorised to do so.

  • The conversion into a private company is illegal as it was done without the approval of the NCLT.

Coming soon: The appellate tribunal has given Tata Sons four weeks to appeal its ruling in the Supreme Court—which is exactly what it will do. Meanwhile, Mistry called it a “landmark judgement for minority shareholder rights.” Point to note: he didn’t mention the prospect of returning to his old job. Experts predict a long and bloody legal fight. Others are calling for a return to sanity and negotiations—to preserve Tata Group’s fortunes. Shares of its various companies fell by 3-4% yesterday.

Learn more: For more details on this maha-yudh, check out:

  • The Wire has a detailed breakdown of the ruling, and quotes specific parts of it, as opposed just summarising it. If you want to read the ruling yourself, it’s right here.

  • Indian Express highlights and explains the company's three 'Articles of Association' that the tribunal judge deemed authoritarian and unfair. 

  • Mint looks at the legal options available to Tata Sons.

  • Economic Times has a juicy reported read on why Cyrus and Ratan fell out.

  • If you want to revisit the original ruling against Mistry, The Telegraph has all the details.

  • This Hindu op-ed lays out why the ruling is bad news for the Tata Group.
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vowing (and failing) to delete your Facebook app

Your citizenship law update is here: and it includes the following:

  • The Supreme Court refused to block the implementation of the new citizenship law—and has deferred hearing petitions challenging it to January.

  • Meanwhile the state government has imposed Section 144—which prohibits the assembly of four or more people in one location—in Bangalore and other parts of the state. Also under Sec 144: the entire state of UP.

  • The reason: it effectively preempts several protests that were scheduled to take place in these places. Point to note: legal expert Gautam Bhatia tweeted: “The imposition of Section 144 in Bangalore - without any well-founded apprehension of violence - is a blatant abuse of power and a violation of fundamental rights.”

  • Also in Bangalore: Nine college students were detained by cops in Bengaluru on Tuesday for attempting to protest—before Section 144 was in place. The police snatched their phones, and refused to tell them the reason for their detention.

  • Odisha CM Biju Patnaik says he will not implement the National Register of Citizens in his state—though his party voted for the CAA in Parliament.

  • A Wire investigation has uncovered a systematic campaign to stoke hatred against Muslims on WhatsApp groups directly or indirectly run by the BJP.

  • Scroll has a disturbing and important story on two Aligarh Muslim University students who were arrested and tortured in police custody. Both have multiple bruises and fractures. Also: The Telegraph contrasts the actions taken by Jamia’s administration with that of AMU’s Vice Chancellor.

  • Here’s an inspiring video on the protests, spliced with Harsh Mander’s moving speech at India Gate.

  • Watch: Students at Harvard reading the Preamble to the Constitution. Also: Oxford University students issued a statement of solidarity with Indian students.

  • Actor Farhan Akhtar will be personally jumping in the fray today, tweeting, "See you on the 19th at August Kranti Maidan, Mumbai. The time to protest on social media alone is over".

  • Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi threw his support behind the government. He urged Muslims not to be influenced by “nefarious elements,” and claimed that the citizenship law “has nothing to do with the Muslims living in India.”

  • Sana—daughter of BCCI Chairman Sourav Ganguly—put up an Instagram post expressing passionate support for the protestors. It was a quote from a Khuswant Singh book that took aim at the Sangh and its fascist politics. Papa Ganguly's response: "Please keep Sana out of all this issues .. this post is not true .. she is too young a girl to know anything in politics."

Trump has been officially impeached: He just became the third US president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. The first article of impeachment—for abuse of power—was approved 230-197. The second, for obstruction of Congress, received a 229-198 vote. And it was split pretty much along party lines. The vote comes on the heels of a somewhat unhinged six-page letter that Trump sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. BBC News has the details. Coming up next: a trial in the Senate. If you want to know what happens next, check out our explainer on Trump’s impeachment.

Australia has the hottest day on record: The average maximum temperature across the country on Tuesday was 40.9 degrees Celsius, breaking the previous 2013 record of 40.3C. The really bad news: it’s expected to get much worse over the weekend. The reason for these record temperatures: climate change that is delaying the onset of the Australian monsoon. Sounds familiar. Also, let’s not forget what this means for those raging wildfires. (ABC News Australia)

Mumbai international school horror: Eight male students at a “top-ranked IB school” have been suspended. The reason: the content of their WhatsApp group messages. The boys routinely referred to their female peers as “trash,” issued threats of rape and “gang-bangs,” and made statements such as: “I’ll destroy that little bi**h” and “should I go full on and kill her existence.” The messages were uncovered by mothers of two girls who apparently are “celebrities.” Just as shocking is one parent’s reaction: “We must trust the school will take care of it. There is no need to go beyond the school to take care of the situation.” (Mumbai Mirror)

Facebook is stalking you, always! The company just admitted to the US Congress that it tracks the location of its users even when they have turned off the tracking feature in their app settings. While it may not know exactly where users are, it can deduce “general locations from context clues like locations they tag in photos, as well as their devices’ IP addresses.” An angry senator summed up the bs: “Turn off ‘location services’ and they’ll STILL track your location to make money (by sending you ads). There is no opting out. No control over your personal information. That’s Big Tech.” (CNBC)

A green card nightmare for Indians: 800,000 immigrants in the US are patiently waiting for their employment-based green card. How bad is the backlog for Indians? Someone who applies today will have to wait 50 years to become a permanent resident! One fix that almost passed in Congress: Eliminating country-based quotas. But it was blocked by critics who want an increase in the total number of green cards issued each year. Without that, only Indians (who represent 75% of those in line) would get green cards for the next 4-5 years. But here’s what’s giving Indians nightmares: “When workers in the backlog die, their families lose their spots in line and are subject to deportation; the same is true for children who turn 21.” How many employment-based green cards does the US dole out each year? 140,000. (Washington Post

Get ready for Lionsgate Play: The movie studio is teaming up with Airtel and Starz to launch a new streaming platform. It will be available on the web and on the Airtel Xstream app. Yes, you can binge-watch all those ‘Twilight’ movies all over again. The partner Lionsgate dumped to hook up with Airtel? Vodafone. Harsh. (Hollywood Reporter)

A huge win for Japanese women: A court has ordered a well-known TV reporter to pay 3.3 million yen ($30,000) in damages to a journalist who accused him of raping her while she was unconscious. Why this matters: Shiori Ito had filed a civil case after prosecutors refused to press charges, claiming there wasn’t enough evidence. She also said that “police forced her to re-enact the alleged rape with a life-sized doll while male officers looked on.” Also: only 4% of rapes are reported in Japan. (BBC News)

Things that make you go WTF: includes this bizarre horoscope chart being circulated by the Australian government to discourage Sri Lankan refugees. Also: grave-dwelling, white-eyed mutant cockroaches are making a comeback after six decades.

Menopause is bad news for your sleep: A new study shows that insomnia and sleep apnea affect 40-60% of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women: “Not only do they impair a woman’s quality of life, but they also can lead to major health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.” (Scienmag)

We totally effed up: that bit in yesterday’s Broadsheet about Nita Ambani tweeting in support of PM Modi and Amit Shah. We were so busy being amused that we didn’t do basic diligence—and therefore didn’t notice it was a spoof account. And that’s especially embarrassing for Broadsheet which takes great pride in checking and rechecking facts in this era of fake news. We have no words except ‘Sorry!’

Your daily quota of sunshine items: include the following:

  • The Global Refugee Summit which ended with substantial commitments to help resettle and rehabilitate refugees around the world. The UN has hailed it as a “decisive shift.”

  • These brilliant news photos that sum up the decade that is soon to pass.

  • 99 good news stories from this year.

  • This gorgeous aerial view of London at night.

  • This five-year-old who sold cookies and cocoa to pay for her fellow students’ lunch bill.

  • A spoiler-free review of ‘The Rise of the Skywalker’

  • This wonderful comic created by a husband and wife that offers an honest look at their post-baby life.

  • A new study that shows chimps quite literally create ‘rock music’.

  • Little Miss Period, the wonderful manga character challenging menstruation taboos.

  • Christmas Tinner, an entire Christmas dinner in a can—a seriously gross dining idea that may or may not be a prank.

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Our Body, Our Selves’ Edition

Broadsheet is committed to uncovering information that nurtures a healthy relationship with our bodies—which are routinely shamed and made invisible. Here are two such guides.

Yup, I peed my pants!

Babies are like retreating armies: they do the most damage on their way out. For many women, their once-trusty bladder is one such casualty. And it gets worse with age. But we never, ever talk about it. Guess what? Stress incontinence is far more common than you think, and it can be treated in a variety of ways.

Read: Peeing Your Pants After Pregnancy Is Preventable | New York Times

Sex, Love etc 2

Know thy vagina!

Your yoni is changing all the time. It’s time to read up on what to expect with each passing decade. Here’s an excellent one-stop guide.

Read: How to Keep Your Vagina Healthy in Your 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s | Healthline

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