Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Loser of the day: Shein

The hugely popular shopping app is under siege thanks to a backlash against Chinese e-commerce imports. Thanks to a Mumbai customs crackdown, Shein has been forced to partially shut down operations and refund money to customers with pending orders. Shein and Club Factory are accused of dodging import duties by fudging the listed prices, marking packages as gifts etc. Millennials everywhere in India are sad!

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Zaira Wasim’s decision to leave Bollywood

A young actor’s decision to quit acting has become a big source of controversy because of the reason she offered for her decision.


Remind me, who is Zaira Wasim? The 18-year-old is a Kashmiri actor who rose to fame for her role in ‘Dangal’ and later ‘Secret Superstar’. Aamir Khan once described her as “the finest actor in the Hindi film industry today.”


Ok, so why is she quitting? Wasim announced her decision in a long Instagram post. (We recommend reading it for yourself.) If we were to sum it up:

  • She felt that her profession and success were forcing her to become somebody she was not—or at least did not want to be. 

  • This environment was coming between her and her faith: “This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applause my way, but what it also did was to lead me to a path of ignorance, as I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan [faith]. While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my imaan [faith], my relationship with my religion was threatened."

  • She lost peace of mind and stability, and regained it by rediscovering her faith.

  • The last bit of her post is an extended sermon which relies heavily on scriptural quotations—and honestly, we didn’t quite understand it.


And why is this a big deal? The fact that she cited religion as a reason for her decision. Wasim was immediately accused of:

  • Being ungrateful by the likes of Raveena Tandon who declared, “Doesn't matter if two-film olds are ungrateful to the industry that have given them all. Just wish they'd exit gracefully and keep their regressive views to themselves."

  • Being a disappointment by liberals like Alt News’ Pratik Sinha who tweeted, “It is sad to see a young adult throw away a promising career and her decision to do so being rooted in religion. 

  • Pandering to patriarchy by op-ed columns like this one which called her decision “deeply problematic if not downright obnoxious.”

  • “Doing a great disservice to her religion” by Shiv Sena leaders.The Congress spokesperson blamed her of giving “fodder to bigots.” 


Did anyone defend her? Sure, there were many who said she has the right to make her life decisions, and everyone should leave her alone. Examples include Omar Abdullah, Milind Deora, and ‘Dangal’ director Nitesh Tiwari. Congress leader Milind Deora offered the strongest defence, tweeting, "Phoneys suddenly lecturing on #ZairaWaseem & #NusratJahan. I have Hindu & Jain friends right here in SoBo who renounced cushy careers for their gurus & faith. You can choose whether religion determines your career or love life. Unless minors, let others decide for themselves."


So is this about her being Muslim? To an extent. Any woman citing religion as a reason to abandon a successful career would be accused of many of the same things. But Islam is more widely viewed as oppressive to women than other religions. Hence, the easy assumption that she has given into—or has been brainwashed by—mullahs etc. 


The bottomline: We have two thoughts on this controversy (accurate or otherwise):

  • Women’s choices are far more scrutinised and judged than those of men. Men have famously given up their careers to follow gurus (See: Vinod Khanna, Cat Stevens etc), and with far less controversy.

  • More importantly, we seem to be sliding into a culture of constant politicisation—where every event is viewed and judged through an ideological lens. Take cricket, for instance. The orange colour of the new Indian uniforms was panned as ‘saffron’ and sparked a pointless debate. A match between India and England became all about Pakistan—with distasteful tweets calling Dhoni’s performance a “surgical strike.”

Learn more: There’s not much more to this one. There was this Swami-ji who emerged as an unlikely supporter of Wasim. And Quint has a good op-ed taking liberals to task for their very different responses to two different Muslim actors, Nusrat Jahan and Wasim.

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binging on Burger Puffs and oat milk ice cream

A 15-year-old just beat Venus Williams: in the opening round at Wimbledon… in straight sets. The Independent has the story on the match. Time has more on the new wunderkid, Cori Gauff.


Hong Kong protests turn violent: The non-violent protests—which have continued unabated—took an ugly turn when some protesters broke into the Legislative Council building (sorta like the Parliament) using force to smash their way in. A recommended related read: New York Times on highly educated and well-travelled Chinese residents of Hong Kong who see the protests as a waste of time. Why? Because economic growth is far more important than individual rights.


There’s a secret Facebook group of US border guards: Its 9,500 members joke about migrant deaths, including the recent photo of the father and daughter who died on the border. They also post vulgar memes of House Democrat Alexandra Ocasia-Cortez giving oral sex and in suggestive poses with Trump. Yes, these are the men charged with taking care of women and children. (Pro Publica)


A man’s body fell off a plane: and landed in a London garden. Authorities suspect he was hiding in the undercarriage of a Kenya Airways plane, and fell out when it lowered its landing gear. (Mirror UK)


Ten of the hottest food trends: include—as always—the most unappetising things, including collagen juice, boozy tea, oat milk ice cream and puffed everything. Think cauliflower puffs, beet puffs and even Burger Puffs. Our response: Bhaiyya, ek pao bhaji dena. (Washington Post)


Aditi Mittal vs Tanmay Bhat: Months after a #MeToo scandal brought down All India Bakchod, its founder finally resurfaced on Instagram. Bhat said he has "mentally checked out", and that he has been diagnosed with clinical depression. His former employee Aditi Mittal immediately tore into him, tweeting, “Damn. I remember when I had to hear on the set of a show that I was working on that I gave "t*t access too soon" coz it was told by Tanmay Bhat to the 22-year-old writers on that set. I spent a year saying no to work after that coz I was terrified I would have to hear that again." She added: “But apparently depression is only newsworthy when someone who had corporates throwing money at him stopped having money thrown at him.” (India Today)


This female boat captain is an international hero: The skipper of an NGO rescue boat forced her way into an Italian port in order to save 40 migrants who were shipwrecked at sea. Carola Rackete is under house arrest and will face trial. A fundraising appeal has already raised £314,000 for her legal fees. (The Guardian)


The strange story of two Indian sailors: These two men are stranded in an empty merchant ship off the coast of Dubai, abandoned by their employers and unable to get permission to go onshore. They are running out of food and water… and no one seems inclined to help. (The Telegraph)


This turtle needs your old bra: A wildlife rescue group has found a way to use the clasps on old bras to keep cracked shells on injured turtles together while they heal—kind of like a cast for fractures. (CNN)


Better to be a ‘pear’ than an ‘apple’: A new study finds that older women of healthy weight have the highest risk of a heart attack or stroke if they had the most belly fat and the least hip and thigh fat. The solution: improve the belly-thigh fat ratio, i.e. lose the tummy. (BBC)


Taylor Swift vs Scooter Braun: If you really, really care about this mega-feud—which now involves Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande—Buzzfeed has a detailed explainer for you.


This Trump cartoon got this guy sacked: Michael de Adder shared this cartoon he created on social media. He immediately lost his contract with a Canadian group of newspapers.

Here are two kinds of cats and a bear: First up, a teeny kitten that just sucks at stalking. Next, sleepy lions who nap on… trees?! Finally, this brave zoo attendant who coolly fended off a polar bear with a dustpan and brush.

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Measuring Health’ Edition

How do we measure our health? Body weight? Exercise? Sleep? But new research shows that traditional yardsticks of well-being don’t always capture reality. And trying to match some of these typical measures of good health may be unhealthy.

Your sleeptracker is not your friend

Sleep, sleep, sleep! That’s the message we hear everywhere. It helps us lose weight, stay young and sharper, and keeps stress at bay. The result: we’re all stressed about not getting enough sleep. Cue a flood of apps and products to help us sleep more/better. And voila! Say hello to orthosomnia!

Read: Why sleeptrackers could lead to the rise of insomnia – and orthosomnia | The Guardian

Sex, Love etc 2

Want to know when you will die? 

Medical research’s preoccupation with health is really about death—figuring out how a person is likely to keel over from a heart attack or a stroke. The indicators include lifestyle choices (smoking, for e.g.), and also numbers—muscle-to-fat ratio, belly fat, BMI etc. But there are far simpler predictors that can measure your life expectancy. For example: the strength of your grip.

Read: The Power of One Push-Up | The Atlantic

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