Monday, August 19, 2019
Video of the day

Tired of being overshadowed by its uppity terrorist rival, Al Qaeda released a ‘blooper reel’ mocking ISIS. It contains outtakes from an IS propaganda video of Yemeni fighters. Y’know, embarrassing shit like jihadis flubbing their oath to destroy Western infidels etc. The story is here, and the video is here.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The ongoing clampdown in Kashmir

There isn’t a single big headline today that requires an explainer. Most of the lead stories are related to Kashmir. Here is a quick roundup.


Thousands of arrests: There are numerous reports of both protests and arrests:

  • The most notable bit of reporting is an Agence France Presse story on the security crackdown. A local magistrate told the agency that at least 4,000 people have been arrested and held in custody: “Most of them were flown out of Kashmir because prisons here have run out of capacity.” Also: a police official claims that “around 6,000 people were medically examined at a couple of places in Srinagar after they were detained.” (AFP via Firstpost)

  • There are other reports of a similar pattern of arrests in villages. A government employee says, “They have arrested people and taken them to prisons outside the state to instil fear. They have come up with laws that allow them to declare anyone as a militant.” (The Telegraph has a ground report on the ‘iron fist’ approach)

  • There is also news of “heavy overnight clashes” in old Srinagar. Security forces used tear smoke, chilly grenades and pellets to disperse protesters. (Chilly grenades contain a very spicy chili pepper, and irritate the skin and eyes). (Mint)


UN takes a hard pass on Kashmir:  The Security Council held a closed-door meeting on China’s request—which resulted in zero action. CNN reports, “According to a UN diplomat, council members failed to even come up with a statement to the press—the lowest level of Council action. UN diplomats said countries disagreed on wording of a statement, with some fearing any comment would escalate tensions or would show bias towards Pakistan by simply holding the meeting.” (CNN)


On again/Off again lockdown: The government appears to be stuck in a pattern wherein it eases restrictions only to clamp down again. 

  • Over the weekend, basic 2G internet services and landlines were restored in some parts of Kashmir and Jammu—only to be shut down again. (Indian Express)

  • 190 of the 900 schools in Srinagar are set to reopen today. But most parents are scared to send their kids outside: “The interior roads are blocked by protesters and the main road is hemmed in by spools of concertina wires every 100 metres. Would a father like his ward to face harassment at every crossroad of the street? Can she take this intimidation given her age?” And given the lack of bus services, most teachers have no way of making it to work. (The Hindu

How long will Kashmir remain caged? Buried in a detailed Washington Post report is this possible clue: “the BJP spokesman, said that stripping Kashmir of its statehood was necessary to ‘take full control of the security apparatus’ at a sensitive juncture: The government anticipates that militants in Afghanistan will turn more attention to Kashmir if peace talks between the Taliban and the United States are concluded. Such control over Kashmir will be necessary ‘for a year or two at least.’”

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vowing to brush your teeth after every glass of Prosescco

Arun Jaitley is very ill: The former Finance Minister has been admitted into AIIMS in Delhi and is now on life support. It is unclear why he is so ill but he recently flew to the US for treatment of soft tissue cancer. (Mint)


Leaked Brexit doc predicts doom & gloom: A confidential report prepared by the Cabinet committee shows a) the UK government assumes there will be a no-deal Brexit; b) the results of the same will be a "catastrophic collapse in the nation's infrastructure". A senior government official said, “This is not Project Fear—this is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios—not the worst case.” (NPR)


Finally, some good news in Sudan: Widespread protests ended the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, but the military quickly took his place. The result: a brutal crackdown that resulted in the deaths and rapes of hundreds of protesters. After nine months of violence, the opposition and the military have signed a peace treaty and agreed to hold elections. Missing at the signing: Sudanese women who accounted for up to 70% of the protesters. (CNN)


Yogi’s odd definition of CSR: The UP CM plans to erect a 100-metre tall statue of Lord Ram in his state. And he thinks companies should use their mandatory Corporate Social Responsibility spend to fund the statue—either that or the development of a ‘Navyu Ayodhya’ (New Ayodhya) “with a 7D Ramlila, Ramkatha gallery, light and sound show on Ramlila and musical fountains.”  Yeah, why bother with child malnutrition, literacy or other less pressing needs. Point to note: The government toughened its CSR requirements recently, and made everyone nervous with talk of fines and jail time for companies that didn’t comply. (Economic Times)


Jofra Archer’s mean bouncer: The latest controversy in the hotly contested Ashes series involves a bouncer that felled Steve Smith. This is the clip of the 148.7 km/hour ball that has now left Smith with a concussion that will rule him out for the rest of the series. Fans are furious at Archer for callously walking away while Smith lay on the ground—and then seeming to have a laugh about it.


Trump crashed a wedding: at his golf club in New Jersey and tried to smooch the ecstatic bride. We love these photos of this classic Donald moment, and here’s the video if you need it.


Alarming news about American underwear habits: Apparently, 45 percent surveyed wear the same pair of underwear for “two days or longer.” Also: men are 2.5 times more likely than women to wear the same underwear for a week or more. Yikes! (Kron4)


Prosecco is very bad: for your teeth. Red wine may leave your teeth stained, but the mixture of bubbles, alcohol and sugar in the trendy drink will rot your pearly whites. Also beware of some dry wines that can dry out your saliva, and super-sugary mixers in cranberry juice. (Daily Mail)


Weekend reads you might have missed: include the following:

  • Scroll’s excellent analysis of the wide variation in India’s population growth numbers. Did you know that Bengal’s fertility rate is lower than that of Norway? 

  • Inverse has Elon Musk’s plan to nuke Mars to make it habitable for humans.

  • The Wire reports on the enormous alien fish that is now stalking Kerala’s rivers thanks to the floods. It’s usually found in the Amazon!

  • Indian Express has an in-depth feature on how crashing auto sales are reshaping the lives of everyone in Jamshedpur—home to Tata Steel and Tata Motors.

  • Mashable on the hidden, magical world of fairyland Instagram featuring princesses, fairies and superheroes.

  • This Bloomberg op-ed on why people increasingly do things that don’t make them happy. For example, spend a lot of time on social media, opt for a longer commute to live in a bigger house etc.

  • Both Mint and Huffington Post have excellent reviews of Sacred Games 2—in case you’re wondering if it is worth your time.

  • As per the New York Times, the very rich are investing in luxury underground bunkers in preparation for the impending apocalypse—be it of the climate or terrorist kind. A related Ozy read: There is now a ten-step program for ‘climate grief’. 


Your daily quota of sunshine items: include the following:

  • This brilliant interaction between Ladakh’s BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and his soft-spoken but strong-minded wife Sonam—JNU alumni and Kanhaiya Kumar defender, no less!

  • Two pandas, umm, either wrestling or trying and failing to have sex.

  • A desperate puppy and a smart kitten who knows just how much food to share.

  • Ravi Shastri offering up a full military salute inside a… lift?!

  • This story about the Bengaluru neighbourhood of Malleswaram which has dug 1400 recharge pits to collect rainwater.

  • This funny meme that brings together our two great national treasures: Swami Nithyananda and Karnataka’s cabinet-less CM Yediyurappa.

  • This lovely story about five pet dogs who tended to 47 goats and a brood of hens during the Kerala floods.

  • And speaking of inter-species love, Buzzfeed put together an excellent listicle of animals being very kind and loving to each other—just in case you need something to bookmark for more dire moments in life.

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The best place for the best advice

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How to ace your LinkedIn profile 

There are 47 million LinkedIn users in India, and about 32% of them get jobs via the platform. Its top recruiters are big names like Myntra, Uber, Amazon et al. So optimising that LinkedIn profile is a must. Ace this assignment and you’ll be sailing off into the sunset with your dream job. But the trick is to get it right. 


Perfect the profile: No, just keeping it up-to-date isn’t enough. Every field on that profile page offers an opportunity to make yourself more visible and attractive to that Mr/Ms Right Employer. Customise your LinkedIn URL, choose your keywords with care, make sure you have the right endorsements, add and link to specific projects you’ve worked on. Also: take advantage of added sections for volunteering, languages, honours and awards, patents, causes you care about etc. 


Mind your language: The most important part of your profile is the summary, which is also the place where you are most likely to resort to the worst cliches to hype your skills. According to LinkedIn, we Indians overuse “proven track record,” “motivated,” and “innovative”. Use a thesaurus or ask a wordsmith friend to lend a hand. Or use this template guide to nail the version that is the best fit for you. Also: to belabour the obvious, no typos, please! 


Hone your networking skills: You aren’t going to grow your network by bombarding people with generic contact requests, or desperately pitching them your skills or company. There’s a right way to reach out, and engage. First, do your homework on the person. Find common ground, be it your alma mater or shared contacts or places you’ve worked or even a shared interest. Then write a personal note to accompany your request. Remember, when it comes to contacts, quality often counts more than sheer volume. This isn’t a Facebook popularity contest.


Write a recommendation: One of the worst mistakes of networking is to make it “all about me.” Writing a strong recommendation is as important as soliciting one from others. And if you do agree to write one, take the time to explain how you know this person, be specific about their skills, and make it personal—so it doesn’t read like generic praise for a relative stranger. And always be honest. Remember: give and you shall inevitably receive.


Don’t flirt, period: Just because there’s a dumb LinkedIn dating guide, doesn’t mean you should use it. It’s very, very uncool (see why here). When interacting with others, go by the same rules as you would at a work-related event. 


Have more questions? Here’s a list of the most comprehensive resources:

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