Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rank of the day: #13

That’s the rank of Indian badminton star PV Sindhu on the Forbes list of Highest-Paid Female Athletes. She is the only Indian to make the list with total earnings of $5.5 million. At the top of the list: Serena Williams with $29.2 million (of which $25 million were in brand endorsements).

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Pakistan getting really mad at India

Islamabad took a series of measures to express its “solidarity” with Kashmir. But it’s unclear whether its actions will have much of an effect.


Pakistan ups the ante: After an emergency National Security Council meeting, its Foreign Office announced the following:

  • Pakistan has expelled the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria in Islamabad and will not be sending its High Commissioner to Delhi as planned.

  • It has suspended all bilateral trade—a decision that is unlikely to have much of an impact. India exports goods worth $2 billion per year. Imports from Pakistan are at around $500 million—but that number has been rapidly decreasing over the past year. Indian experts say that Pakistan is likely to pay the greater price as it imports basic commodities like tomatoes and onions from India.

  • Pakistan will observe its Independence Day—August 14—“in solidarity with brave Kashmiris” and August 15 as a “Black Day.”

  • The official statement also announced a general “downgrading of diplomatic relations with India” and a further review of all bilateral arrangements.


Is this a big deal? Expelling a high commissioner is a pretty big deal. The last time it happened was 2001 when India withdrew its man in Islamabad after the terror attack on the Parliament. One Pakistani journalist told The Hindu, “Through NSC decisions, Pakistan has accepted — though not expressed in words — it’s an attack and a semi-war like situation.” 


A semi-war? While an actual war may be unlikely (🤞), Pakistan will certainly do its best to make Kashmir an international issue. Their Foreign Minister plans to travel to Beijing to seek China’s support. And the statement declared Pakistan’s intent to take the matter to the UN Security Council. But the UN hasn’t shown much interest in getting involved.


What about the United States? Trump actually hasn’t said a word (shocker!). In response to Pakistan’s actions, an anonymous senior US official made vague noises along these lines: “There is an urgent need for dialogue among all actors to reduce tensions and to avoid the potential for military escalation.” When Article 370 was first revoked, the US called it a "strictly internal matter"—and expressed concern about “reports of detentions” and urged “respect for individual rights.”


Learn more: You can read Pakistan’s announcement on Imran Khan’s Instagram account (?!). Indian Express has more details and background.


In other Kashmir-related news: Here’s a quick round-up of the key news stories on Kashmir today:

  • The first post-Article 370 report of a civilian killed in Kashmir is in. The victim is a 17-year-old named Osaib Altaf, from Srinagar, who died of 13 pellet injuries—including some to his eyes. His family says that he was among a group of boys cornered by the CRPF at a playground. Huffington Post has a detailed report from Srinagar.

  • The government may ease curfew restrictions for Bakri Eid.

  • The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) recommended a ten-point policy agenda to spur economic growth in J&K—including plans to hold an investor summit in the state. CII is an industry lobby group headed by Uday Kotak.

  • Around 600 people marched in Delhi to protest the revocation of Article 370.

  • At a special working committee meeting, the Gandhis and the Congress party’s old guard rapped the knuckles of younger members who expressed support for the government. Apparently, Rahul displayed “amazing maturity and grace.” The Telegraph has more.


Also, four ground reports from Kashmir: Many of our subscribers have messaged us asking for reports from the ground. Here’s what we’ve unearthed:

  • Sanna Wani flew out of Srinagar with her grandmother and pregnant cousin. This Twitter thread describes what she saw on the way to the airport and on the plane. None of it is pleasant. And her rage—which builds as she narrates her story—is likely the tip of the Kashmiri iceberg.

  • Due to the communications lockdown, an Indian Express reporter had to fly back to Delhi to file his story. In the first segment of this podcast, he describes the situation on the ground—which offers more colour and detail than the average news story.

  • Sankarshan Thakur’s ‘Diary of a Srinagar Lockdown’ in The Telegraph details the days leading up to the announcement—and the exact moment when he watched it on TV in a room full of Kashmiris.

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vowing to wear shorts on your next grocery run

Catholic Church fires a brave nun: Lucy Kalapura made headlines last year when she participated in a protest staged by nuns demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco—who is accused of raping one of their peers. She has now been dismissed from the congregation—with the approval of the Vatican’s representative in Delhi. The reasons offered by the church include: failure to hand over her salary to the church since December 2017; buying and registering a Maruti Alto in her name using a “vehicle loan obtained as a salaried person;” not complying with a transfer order; and publishing a collection of her poems. Kalapura plans to challenge the decision: “I have been asked to quit the convent within 10 days. But I am not going to vacate the premises… I will look at legal options after consulting a lawyer. I want to fight, as a woman I need security. I will seek police protection, if required.” Indian Express has the story. Also read: This Huffington Post profile of Kalapura.

The auto industry is having a meltdown: Plummeting car and motorcycle sales have triggered massive layoffs. Everyone from car and auto parts manufacturers to dealers have laid off about 3.5 lakh workers since April. How bad is it? Maruti is planning to operate only one shift at all its factories. And there is no end in sight. (NDTV)


Monica Lewinsky to produce her own story: The next instalment of ‘American Crime Story’ will be titled ‘Impeachment’ and focus on Bill Clinton—and one of its producers is Lewinsky whose affair with Clinton led to said impeachment. Hmm… More importantly: it is set to air in September, 2020—just in time for the next presidential election. Just what the Donald ordered. (NBC News)


Kolkata aunty runs amok: Recently, an older woman in Delhi berated a group of young women in short dresses—and they made her pay dearly for it. In Kolkata, however, the moral policing chowkidar aunty went a step further with a person wearing shorts: “She turned towards me and said: ‘Tomader moto meyeder ekkhun rape kora uchit.’ (girls like you should be raped)” When the college student protested, the woman then slapped her… twice! (Times of India)


Remembering Sushma: Many mourned the demise of the widely liked BJP leader. The PM even became a bit emotional. Our favourite photo unearthed in memory of Swaraj is this fabulous one


Tinder strikes gold: It has become the top-grossing non-gaming app in the world thanks to its in-app purchases. The company added more than 500,000 subscribers worldwide in the last quarter. There are now five million people around the world paying for Tinder Gold or the less expensive Tinder Plus. (New York Times)


Parineeti’s odd take on the gender wage gap: The other PC had this to say about the pay gap in Bollywood: "Always felt like I deserved a little bit more but I got this much but we do make it up with endorsements. Girls do a lot of endorsements. So, we kind of make it up there. That is why I never talk about it because the boys don't do as many endorsements as the girls do - and I hope I'm right and not wrong. But we do so many like beauty commercials, hair commercials, I think we kind of cover it up with that." Let’s just say that her 'hot take' didn’t go down well with the Twitterati. To more fully soak in her wisdom watch her say it. (NDTV)


Pool party haters rejoice! The epic rant you’ve always been waiting for is here: “Pool parties are soul-crushing spectacles of half-naked strangers posing next to an artificial swamp.” (Washington Post)


Say hello to Squawkzilla! Scientists have uncovered the remains of a “toddler-sized” parrot that would have weighed 15 pounds and been three feet tall. Given its size, scientists speculate that it likely couldn’t have been a vegetarian: “This was Squawkzilla. This was a potential horror that was maybe eating other parrots.” Yikes! (National Geographic)


Daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • MS Dhoni very prettily singing ‘Mein pal do pal ka shaayar hoon’. 

  • Barcelona scoring a point for gender equity—and ruling that women also have the right to swim topless in the city’s pools. 

  • These gorgeous winners of the Agora Images' #Nature2019 photo contest.

  • This enthusiastic dhobi who is a… monkey?

  • It’s a monster, it’s a tarbooz, it’s a… golden lab

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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The 'We Speak English' Edition

Fluency in English is the ultimate class marker in India. But who is more likely to speak English? And are English-first Indians more a caste than a class?

What language do you speak?

These are the results of an extensive language survey conducted earlier this year. And its results both confirm and debunk many of our widely held beliefs about who speaks what language and where. For example: “a higher share of residents of several northern and north-eastern states speak English than in the south.”

Read: In India, who speaks in English, and where? | Livemint

Sex, Love etc 2

Only English spoken here

In this fascinating long read, Sajith Pai explores a new “caste” of Indians who speak only in English. And he has a new name for these Indians who are affluent, urban, highly educated, and usually in inter-caste or inter-religious unions: Indo-Anglians. Here he explains who these people are and why they ought to be categorised as a caste.

Read: Say Hello to India’s Newest and Fastest-Growing Caste | Medium

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