Thursday, October 24, 2019

Number of the day: 3.20

Google’s quantum machine took 3 minutes and 20 seconds to do a mathematical calculation that supercomputers would not be able to finish in 10,000 years. Incredibly powerful quantum machines may one day drive incredible advances in artificial intelligence—which are inconceivable with today’s computing technology. But many say Google’s achievement is only theoretical, and does not mean we are any closer to building actual machines. New York Times has more on this mind-bending technology. 

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The big India report on crime 

The National Crime Bureau released its report and it is filled with telling facts, odd omissions and many new additions.

The report: Since 1954, the National Crime Bureau has issued an annual report on crime data in India. However, it did not issue one for the past two years, and has now finally released the numbers for 2017. The reason: a new method of data collection. In other words, these numbers are a little old… but no less telling.

The big picture: Over 50 lakh crimes were registered in India in 2017, which is a 3.6% jump from 2016. That’s about 10 crimes every minute—and three murders, four rapes, and 11 kidnappings were reported every hour. The good news: the number of serious crimes like murder and rape are down. 

What’s new in the report: The home ministry has added 88 new categories of crime that include the following:

  • Crimes by anti-national elements. These “anti-nationals are grouped into three categories: North-East Insurgents; Naxalites/Left Wing Extremists (LWEs); and Terrorists (including jihadi terrorists). They committed 1,450 crimes nationwide—the LWEs (652) being the most prolific. 

  • “Cyber crimes against women and children”. Of the 21,796 cyber crimes, nearly 20% were committed against women. These include digital blackmail or threats, online pornography, cyber stalking and cyber bullying of women etc.

  • Crimes against Dalits registered solely under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe laws—i.e. no other law was invoked in these cases. More than fifty percent of these cases were related to the “Intentionally Insult or Intimidate with Intent to Humiliate” clauses of the act. Karnataka topped this category, followed by UP and Bihar.

What’s missing in the report: Two key categories were missing for the first time.

  • The sub-heads of mob lynching and murder for religious reasons. These were created in 2015-2016, and an official told Indian Express, “It is surprising that this data has not been published. This data was ready and fully compiled and analysed.” But according to the Home Ministry, the parameters under which the data was collected were “vague or unreliable.”

  • Suicides and accidental deaths. The government typically issues a separate report on this category, but has not done so since 2015. It is also the key source to track farmer suicides. When pressed in Parliament in the past, the government claimed that there were “certain discrepancies” in its data on farmer suicides.

  • Also omitted: Offences like rape during communal riots, related to cow slaughter, human rights violations by Central Armed Police Forces and honour killings. 

The other key points: in the report are as follows:

  • Kolkata is the safest of nineteen major cities. Its crime rate—number of crimes committed per lakh of the population—fell for the fourth year in a row. 

  • Delhi is still the crime capital of the country, and its crime rate rose by 8% in a year.

  • Of the states, Uttar Pradesh recorded the most murders (4,324)—but that’s a slight improvement from 2016. Keeping UP company at the bottom is Bihar (2,803).

  • Eight states account for 67% of all financial crimes—and the bulk of these were committed in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana. 

  • Even though the crime rate is up, the number of jails and prison staff is down. There is only one prison staff member for every seven prisoners. 

  • There has been a 45% rise in sedition cases in 2017 with Assam recording the highest number, followed by Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. 

  • Crimes committed against women are rising—and Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 56,011 cases followed by Maharashtra (31,979) and West Bengal (30,002).


A related report: More crime creates more work for our already overworked police. According to the latest Status of Policing in India report, 24% of all police personnel in India work for more than 16 hours a day, and 44% work more than 12 hours.


Learn more: The Hindu has an excellent set of infographics—including the image above. The Telegraph has more on the omissions from the report. Common Cause uploaded a pdf version of the Status of Policing report, but you can read the key takeaways over at India Spend. India Today decodes the numbers on riots.

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looking forward to bingeing on ‘Carrie cupcakes’

A world of protests: People are taking to the streets around the world—stretching from Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia in South America, Barcelona and Britain in Europe, Lebanon in the Middle East, and all the way to Hong Kong in Asia. BBC offers a deep dive into what these protests have in common (Reuters offers a snapshot). A related must watch: Lebanese demonstrators singing ‘Baby Shark’ to a frightened little boy whose car got stuck in the protests.

In protest-related news: The residents of Hong Kong have been flooding the streets for months—in the face of increasing police violence. And their defiance has finally borne fruit. Two of their key demands have been met: The infamous extradition bill has been withdrawn; and leader Carrie Lam is likely to step down. Don’t know what these protests are about? Read our explainer here. A related clip: protesters gently washing down a pigeon affected by tear gas.

Trafficking tragedy in the UK: 39 people were found dead in a truck in England in one of the nation’s worst trafficking tragedies. In 2015, Austrian police found 71 bodies—including those of eight children—on a highway. Al Jazeera has more on how EU regulations make it difficult to crack down on human smuggling. 

White House waffles on Kashmir: At a US congressional hearing on Kashmir, a State Department official offered a stirring defence of Indian democracy, insisting that the “institutions of India's democracy are working.” She also welcomed the Indian government’s actions to address “local grievances.” But another state department official agreed that the situation is a “humanitarian crisis.” 

In related India-US news: PM Modi enjoyed a cosy moment with Henry Kissinger, and tweeted: “Glad to have met Dr. Henry Kissinger. He has made pioneering contributions to international politics and diplomacy.” Then someone unhelpfully dug up this appalling discussion of Indians between Richard Nixon and Kissinger. Guess we’ve learned not to be such b****rds now. 

A BSNL/MTNL shaadi: The two state-run telecommunication companies will become one thanks to a ₹56,000 crore merger and revival plan. (Mint)

Can the Supreme Court handle a gay judge? The Intelligence Bureau has been investigating the Facebook profile of an openly gay lawyer. The reason: They are looking for more evidence of his relationship with his partner. The Delhi High Court recommended his name as a potential high court judge back in 2017. But after the proposal reached the Supreme Court—which has to approve the recommendation—the IB was asked to investigate the lawyer. SC has deferred its decision on his nomination three times so far. Irony alert: In its landmark decision, the court ruled that any discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of a citizen’s fundamental rights. (The Print)

The secret to a good night’s sleep: isn’t some fancy technique or even meditation. Heads that rest the most easy have one thing in common: forgiveness. According to a new study: “The results suggest people who were more forgiving were more likely to sleep better and for longer, and, in turn, have better physical health. They were also more satisfied with life. This was true of people who were more forgiving of others and people who were more forgiving of themselves—although forgiving others had a stronger relationship with better sleep.” (Washington Post)

Another reason to hate poachers: is this guy: Yarlen, an infamous tiger poacher with a taste for the penis of sloth bears. The good news: The Indian police have finally caught him after chasing him for six years. (Daily Mail

A jerk by any other name…: is still a jerk, but we now have a new term to describe his/her behaviour: paperclipping. Named after Microsoft’s annoying (and long canceled) icon Clippy, it is defined by its creator as so: “To me, paperclipping is when someone has you on the back burner and feels like you're about to go cold. They'll reach out—not in an attempt to see you, or move things forward—but to re-stoke the flame and make sure you're still an option.” And this is different from bread-crumbing, benching etc… how? (Refinery29)

SATC-famous bakery heads to India: Get ready for ‘Carrie cupcakes’, Bengaluru! Magnolia Bakery became famous after an iconic scene in ‘Sex and The City’ featuring its vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting. And it’s gearing up to open its first outlet in Bangalore next month. (Lifestyle Asia)

Sea turtles are turning female: thanks to global warming. When the temperature rises above 31 degrees celsius, the eggs produce 100% female hatchlings. The silver lining: We won’t see the effects immediately “because the animals can live for 100 years and lay more than 1,000 eggs. Plus, sea turtles are polyamorous. One male can find dozens of romantic partners.” (Washington Post)


Till death does not us part: A heart-broken and exceptionally devoted groom in China married his fiancee’s corpse at her funeral. (Daily Mail)

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Women@Work’ Edition 

With each passing generation, women are rising ever higher in their careers, achieving so much more at work. But why is it still so hard to ask for a raise? Here are two very different takes on why women usually don’t get what they ask for.


Wanna raise? Who’s your boss? 

A quirky Spanish study revealed something very surprising: women are more likely to ask for more money if their boss is also a woman. Or more precisely: when women want a raise they are likely to act exactly like a man… unless they are negotiating with a man???

Read: When women feel comfortable asking for more pay | Quartz

Sex, Love etc 2

Do women hate to ask for more money? 

The conventional wisdom is that women are too shy or too under-confident to ask for their real worth. But that stereotype is entirely untrue. The reality is that women are as likely to ask for more money as men… they are just far more likely to be turned down. And here is why.

Read: Women do ask for more money, they just don't get it | The Cut

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