Monday, March 18, 2019
Video of the Day

The aftermath of a terrorist attack is typically characterised by intense rage—that overwhelming need to assign blame, shame and punish. But the coverage of mosque attacks in Christchurch have instead been dominated by images and stories of great love and compassion: the heroism of victims, grace and mercy of the bereaved, and this incredibly moving video of New Zealand Prime Minister comforting survivors of the attack.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The Demise of Manohar Parrikar

The four-time chief minister of Goa and former Defense Minister passed away over the weekend after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His death immediately unlocked a Pandora's box of political intrigue in the state.

Meet Manohar Parrikar: The only Goan politician to attain a national profile, Parrikar started his political life as a diligent RSS worker. Over the decades, he became best known for his:

  • aam aadmi image as an accessible and down-to-earth leader. BJP’s rise in a state best known for its pluralistic culture is entirely attributed to his ability to bridge political divides.

  • IIT degree in metallurgical engineering which made him the rare technocrat in political circles;

  • workaholic ways and controlling style. Parrikar was notoriously bad at delegating and personally held 50-odd state cabinet portfolios.

Goa after Parrikar: poses a math problem, at least for the BJP. The strength of the Assembly is now 36—after the deaths of Parrikar on Sunday and BJP MLA Francis D’Souza in February. Another BJP MLA is in hospital, and is unable to vote. Hence, BJP’s effective strength in the Assembly is 11 out of 36 seats. Now, the BJP-led coalition still has the majority if you count its two local allies plus independents, who account for nine seats. But, but, but…

But what? The BJP successfully wooed its allies primarily due to Parrikar’s stature in Goa politics. Now, there’s zero Parrikar, bad math, and therefore, mayhem. Finding a BJP replacement will be challenging. Hence all the chatter about picking either the MGP or Goa Forward chief as CM instead—but neither were a popular choice when BJP tried to replace Parrikar back in September.

What about Congress? The party has 14 MLAs and is the single-largest party in the Assembly—which is why it quickly staked its claim to form the government on Saturday.

Ok, what happens now? The answer, as usual, lies in the governor’s mansion. BJP claims it is ready to swear in its new CM at 9:30 am, but there is very little evidence of any consensus within its ranks. Given that the Lok Sabha elections are looming large, Governor Mridula Sinha will most likely recommend that the Assembly be placed in suspended animation until after the polls. However, expect the usual political fireworks and frantic horse-trading as both Congress and BJP jostle for position.

Learn more: Indian Express and The Hindu offer substantive and clear-eyed profiles of Parrikar’s political career—including his role in the Uri strikes and Rafale deal. Times of India offers a quick timeline of the same.

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savouring a death-defying breakfast of eggs

India, Pakistan threatened to unleash missiles at each other: That’s the alarming headline of this new Reuters report based on interviews with “Western diplomats and government sources in New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington.” After Abhinandan Varthaman was captured, there was “a specific Indian threat to use six missiles on targets inside Pakistan.” Islamabad responded: “We said if you will fire one missile, we will fire three. Whatever India will do, we will respond three times to that.” This is the first and most detailed behind-the-scenes report on what happened during the three-day standoff—and none of it is comforting. (Reuters)


Je Suis Chowkidar: That’s pretty much the gist of BJP’s new social media campaign titled #MainBhiChowkidar—which is an attempt to aggressively own a moniker now being used against PM Modi. See: Rahul’s constant chant, ‘Chowkidar chor hai.” So now everyone from Modi to his cabinet ministers have added ‘Chowkidar’ to their Twitter names. And all sorts have indicated their readiness to join the brave new cadres of watchmen. These included (embarrassingly) the former minister accused of sexual harassment, MJ Akbar, and a fake Nirav Modi—who (more embarrassingly) was thanked by the PM’s Twitter handle for signing up.


Indian politics is highly sexist: and hatefully so if you are a movie actress who’s just joined politics. Or if you are Priyanka Gandhi and change your Twitter photo that shows you wearing—gasp!—a t-shirt and jeans.


A near air crash over Mumbai skies: Pakistan has still not opened up its airspace since the Balakot strikes. As a result, a number of international flights have been forced to take an altered route over India. Unfortunately, the added air traffic almost resulted in a devastating tragedy when an Air France flight on its way to Paris from Ho Chi Minh city came close to colliding with an Etihad flight to Dubai The two aircraft came within three nautical miles—i.e. seconds apart— from each other. A Mumbai air traffic controller has been sacked, but the danger remains. (Times of India)

China rubs salt in UN wounds: The editor of the state-run Global Times offered the Chinese view of its decision to block Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar’s designation as a global terrorist. He basically said: a) It’s India’s fault because we didn’t offer any “new proof”; b) Indians are being bratty and “making a fuss of the issue reflects their shallowness; c) By “forcing China’ to place a hold, the Indian government aims to instigate domestic public opinion… and win more support for BJP in the upcoming general election.” With frenemies like that… Also related: This thought-provoking analysis in The Print of Modi’s foreign policy which made the Twitter rounds this weekend.


Nike’s ‘dumb-phone’ sneakers: Remember those overhyped super-smart self-lacing shoes that cost a packet? Well, they came with a special app, which then had a special update… Do you really need us to tell you what happened next? (Washington Post)


You can now watch the IPL with Fido: in Bangalore. Just book a seat in the exclusive lounge called ‘Dog Out’. There are no tickets available for love or money—but you could be one of 30 lucky winners of a ‘selfie with your pet’ contest. (Times of India)


Eggs are kinda bad for you… again! Will the mind-f**k never end? A new study—that looked at data from a whole bunch of other long-term studies—found that “for each additional 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol in the diet, there was a 17 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent increased risk of premature death from any cause.” A large egg contains about 185 milligrams of cholesterol—all of it in its yolk. So even half-an-egg a day is associated with a 6 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 8 percent increased risk of early death. Our response: But we hate egg-white omelettes, waaah! (New York Times)


Weekend content that you might have missed: include the following:

  • BBC video on an Indian island in the Sunderbans that is sinking thanks to climate change.

  • Quartz on the new trend of families spending more ‘alone together’ time together due to those ubiquitous screens.

  • This book excerpt from former New York prosecutor Preet Bharara’s new memoir. It’s on being the most hated Indian American when he went after Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade. The hardest part of his job: dealing with his unhappy parents and kid.

  • Times of India on plus-sized lingerie models and brands in India.


Your Monday morning pick-me-ups: include the following:

  • This brilliant clip of a woman joyously dancing up on a pole as the crowd cheers her on—in Iran where you can be whipped, imprisoned and more for doing so.

  • We haven’t seen the latest episode of Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show on the Indian elections, but this teaser of his Indian family doing their dire best to dissuade him is ROFL funny.

  • This heartwarming Indian Express piece on how temple ponds—and one caretaker, in particular—in Assam are saving our most endangered turtles.

  • This is Britain leaving the EU, summed up in a single hilarious clip of a man trying to cross the road.

  • The worst name ever for a Kerala restaurant, as uncovered by Shashi Tharoor. Added bonus in the story by The Week: The worst ever name for an Australian in South India.

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The best place for the best advice

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How to beat that nasty jet lag

We all fly to distant parts of the world for work or play. And we all dread that inevitable side-effect of modern air travel: jet lag. Many of us just choose to tough it out, embracing the misery as inevitable. But beating jet lag isn’t rocket science, and can be fairly easy as long as you practice a bit of ‘mindful’ travelling.


Know thy disease: Your body has its own internal clock, or circadian rhythm, that tells you when to stay awake and when to sleep. When you travel across time zones, that clock no longer syncs with your geographical location. Our internal clock is powered by two mechanisms: exposure to light (which tells your body to wake the hell up); and melatonin (a sleep hormone that tells our body to go to sleep). You have to tinker with both to reset your clock.


Know how bad it’s going to get: A 2016 study found that jet lag is far worse when you travel east than when you travel west. According to the New York Times, “[I]t would take you about eight days to recover from a westward trip across nine time zones if you did nothing to fight it. But if you cross the same number of time zones going east, recovery would take more than 13 days, according to the model. This recovery time is worse than if you flew smack across the globe, crossing 12 time zones, which is about the distance from New York to Japan.”


Decide if it’s worth fighting: If it’s a short trip, and the time difference isn’t vast, it’s smarter to just tough it out. The rule of thumb according to experts: crossing three time zones or less and only staying three days or less.


Make a battle plan: Ok, so you have no option but to battle the beast. Here’s what you need in your arsenal:

  • Light exposure: It’s always easier to stay up when you land during the day—all that sunshine keeps your body awake. Don’t sleep in: always force yourself out of bed and into the light every morning in your new time zone. Plus: Get rid of the blue light on your devices to help you sleep at the right time. The most popular option is f.lux for your laptop, and iOS’ Night Shift or Android’s Twilight app for your phone.

  • Meal planning: Hunger is one of the primary triggers that regulates your body clock. Planes typically serve food timed to your destination—so try not to sleep through mealtimes. Once you land, force yourself to eat at the ‘right time’ in your new location. Say no to pizza in the middle of the night.

  • Liquid intake: We all know the rules about alcohol on the flight—no more than a small glass to help you sleep. But it’s also smart to avoid alcohol in the first 48 hours after you land—if only because you are more likely to ‘pass out’ at the wrong time. A well-timed cup of caffeine can keep you up during the day, but a latte in the late afternoon/ evening (to fight drowsiness) can keep you up all night.

  • Melatonin therapy: Melatonin tablets are universally recommended as a safer, milder alternative to a sleeping pill. Take it upto 30 minutes before bedtime if you are flying east, and in the early morning hours if you are flying west (and wake up way too early). Dosage is important as high doses can make you woozy instead of sleepy. So start low, and move upwards as needed.

  • A tech assist: Experts typically recommend slowly shifting your schedules in the days before you fly out. And it can be a challenge to remind yourself about sticking to the right timings on the flight and after you land. Well, now there is an app for that. The best of the lot is Timeshifter. If you plan to use exercise to beat jet lag, try SweatLag.

Learn more: Quartz and National Geographic have an excellent list of tips, while Forbes offers a science-based guide to beating jet lag. We found this seasoned traveler’s personal advice (especially on melatonin) hugely useful, as well.

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