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Wednesday, April 10, 2019
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Number of the day: 50%

That’s the outrageous percentage of women who have undergone a hysterectomy in Vanjarwadi, Maharashtra. The reason: They are sugarcane cutters and menstrual periods just get in the way of their work—or so the contractors who hire them insist. Women as young as 25 have had their wombs removed. They pay for the surgery with an ‘advance’ from the contractor, who then cuts it from their income. A woman and her husband together earn Rs 250 for cutting a tonne of sugarcane.

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EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT...

The biggest news story today, explained.

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Who Will Win The Great Indian Election

The world’s biggest spectacle of democracy kicks off tomorrow with the first phase of voting. It also means that all the pre-election survey data is in. And this is what the numbers say.

 

Phir Modi Sarkar? The NDA is poised to lose its massive 2014 mandate which secured a whopping 336 seats. The average of the most recent polls puts the NDA seat share at 273-274.  But that’s still above the majority mark of 272.

 

What about the Opposition? The Congress-led UPA is still way behind with a projected 141 tally, while other opposition parties are expected to score 129 seats. But the numbers still represent a significant gain for the UPA which was reduced to 59 seats in the previous election.

 

Caveat #1: The numbers vary depending on which ‘poll of polls’ (ie average of different surveys) we look at. For example, the Reuters numbers above looked at four surveys. The most conservative CVoter predicts 267 seats for the NDA, while Times Now-VMR poll gives it a bullish 279 seats. India Today, OTOH took an average of seven surveys and predicts: NDA: 277; UPA: 138; Others: 128. But its average includes the Republic Bharat-Jan Ki Baat poll—the only one to predict more than 300 seats for NDA (310, to be exact). And unlike Reuters, India Today does not include the CSDS-Lokniti poll which projects around 273 seats for the NDA, and only 125 seats for the UPA.

 

Caveat #2: Or more of a reminder, really. Unlike some other parts of the world, the entire country does not vote en masse. Our election is spread over a month—with the last phase slated for May 19! That’s plenty of time for public sentiment to move in either direction. For example, this ‘poll of polls’ published by Business Insider back in March 15 gave the NDA 276 seats, but the UPA only scored 132.

 

The bottomline: No one—including you—has cast their vote as yet. In the memorable words of SRK: Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost!’

 

Learn more: Take a closer look at the different ‘poll of polls’ in Reuters, India Today and Business Insider. Deccan Herald has results of the very last survey conducted before the election—and it puts NDA at a comfortable 295. We also recommend checking out the CSDS-Lokniti results in The Hindu which includes a regional breakdown and interesting demographic details. Indian Express has poll predictions in Kerala which project a rousing win for the Congress-led United Democratic Front.

 

In related survey news: A poll on WhatsApp usage conducted in Tier II and Tier III cities in 11 states reveals we may not be such suckers, after all. Nearly 70% never or almost never believe the information they receive on WhatsApp. And less than one percent use the platform for political discussion. (Indian Express)


In related election news: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing coalition is poised to snatch a very narrow victory over his rivals in Israel’s national elections. (Haaretz)

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

working to unleash ‘absolute anarchy’ on the nation

Your Brexit update is here: It’s yet another ‘pivotal week’ in the world’s most repetitive soap opera. The new Brexit timer runs out on Saturday. No, there is no plan to do anything in place. And PM May is off to Europe to ask for an extension. She wants a reprieve until June 30, but the EU might vote for a year-long “flextension” instead. There are four possible outcomes of all this manic last-minute activity. One of which looks like this: “British leaders come up with a plan and look ahead to an orderly exit in May.” Bwahaha! (Washington Post)

 

This guy thinks criminalising ‘marital rape’: will lead to “absolute anarchy.” The ‘guy’ in question: recently retired former Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra. Here’s the full quote in all its glory: “I don’t think that marital rape should be regarded as an offence in India, because it will create absolute anarchy in families and our country is sustaining itself because of the family platform which upholds family values.” (Huffington Post)

 

Just another ‘mob attacks Muslim’ story: 68-year-old Shaukat Ali was beaten up by an angry crowd in Assam for allegedly selling beef. They accused him of being a Bangladeshi, demanded to see his license, and forced him to eat pork. Things to note: selling beef is legal in Assam with a certificate; Ali has been selling meat at the same stall for over 35 years. Also: the police is insisting this is not a communal incident. (India Today)

 

Modi-ji’s beauty secret is now public: thanks to Karnataka CM Kumaraswamy who told reporters, “PM Modi when he wakes up before coming to people or in front of the camera, he applies wax and makeup and then stands in front of the camera. The shine is seen on the face." And silly, silly L’Oreal went and hired Celine Dion as its new brand ambassador. (NDTV)

 

Here are the fairest colleges of them all: The government released its college rankings, and seven of the top ten spots were taken by IITs. The numero uno: IIT-Madras. Yawn! In the college subcategory, we are delighted to note that Miranda House ruled the roost, beating Hindu College (2), Presidency College (3), St Stephen’s College (4) and Lady Shri Ram College (5). (Indian Express)

 

Hey Siri, you are crap at security: The problem is as follows: “Any phone that can be woken up by ‘Hey Siri’ can be used to send a message or make a call from that phone, with the recipient thinking it’s come from the phone’s owner.” The solution: turn off ‘Hey Siri’. (Quartz)

 

Philippines President Duterte spoke about his penis: No, he didn’t reference it in passing, or make a joke about its size. The man discussed it at great length… at a public rally. We’re not going to say much more than that. But, really, who are people voting for these days? (Daily Mail)

 

Are dogs the greatest cancer detection tools? If a new study of pooches is accurate, then yes! Apparently, they can sniff out cancer with nearly 97% accuracy—unless they’re like Snuggles, one of the test dogs who was “unmotivated to perform.” (Futurism)

 

Look, it’s a dog in a? A man tried to board his dog on to a New York subway—which allows passengers to bring along pets “enclosed in a container.” Except in this case, it was a very large dog encased in… a bag, says the owner. A ‘wrap’ insisted the angry conductor. As the philosophical discussion over ‘when a bag is a bag’ rages, the fluffy adorable beast hangs quietly in midair. (New York Daily News)

 

Fifty can be the new 25: if you meditate even for 15 minutes every day. Neuroscientists found that those who meditate regularly have the grey matter of folks half their age. Really! (Inc)

 

Your ‘dance dance’ news is here: Enthusiastic NRI types staged a flash mob routine for Modi in Manchester (spoiler alert: they aren’t very good). OTOH, the 4700 women from the Konyak tribe in Nagaland dancing to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records were lovely.


China’s anti-chopsticks crusade goes global: First, they made Dolce & Gabbana beg for forgiveness for a China campaign featuring a model trying to eat pasta with chopsticks. Now, the Chinese have taken down a Burger King franchisee’s ad which showed “Westerners with an oversized chopstick in each hand, struggling to eat the company’s new ‘Vietnamese Sweet Chilli Tendercrisp Burger’.” The ad ran in… New Zealand. Behold the market power of Beijing. (Reuters)

 

 

Rhino poacher story revisited: Yesterday, we flagged a rhino poacher who was trampled to death by an elephant and likely eaten by lions. We called it ‘karma’—and promptly received a gentle rebuke from Janaki Lenin (who writes brilliantly on the environment). As she reminded us, poachers are most often driven by poverty, not greed. Here then is a more nuanced take from CNN’s Craig Packer who had a very different reaction to the story: “So, when I read about the death of the Kruger rhino poacher, I thought first of the poverty that drives so many people toward danger. Add in Mozambique's overwhelming humanitarian disaster caused by last month's Cyclone Idai, and there's even more reason to ask what drove this man into the park in the first place.”

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SEX, LOVE ETC.

Everything we don't know about human desire

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Whatever Happened to Love at First Sight?

In this age of Tinder, whatever happened to looking across a crowded room, and falling madly in love? Or do we now fall hard for profile selfies instead? It takes less than 1/10th of a second to form an assessment of someone’s face—and it is usually wrong. But speed-dating studies may offer some clues to how not to let our brains fool us.

Read: How accurate are our first impressions? | BBC

Sex, Love etc 2

So You Haven’t Been Getting Any for a While…

We all go through dry spells in our sex life. And there’s no shame in that. But what exactly happens women’s bodies when we’ve been closed for business for some time? More importantly, what should we expect when we break that long spell of celibacy? The answers are right here. women on screen.

Read: Here's What Happens to Your Vagina When You Haven't Had Sex in a While | InStyle

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