Monday, June 10, 2019
Number of the day: 218

At least 218 leopards in India died within the first four months of 2019—that’s already more than 40% of the 2018 death count of 500. The leading causes of death are poaching and infrastructure-related development like roads, railways and electricity grids. Experts worry that the leopard may soon become more endangered than tigers.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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Yogi Adityanath’s war on Indian law 

The arrest of a journalist and two senior editors of a TV news channel revealed how vulnerable citizens are to the flagrant abuse of law.


The ‘crime’: The TV channel Nation Live aired an interview with a woman who claims to be madly in love with the UP Chief Minister—and said he’s been talking to her on video calls. She was outside the CM’s office demanding to meet him. Freelance journalist Prashant Kanojia then did two things:

  • posted the clip on Facebook with the comment “Yogi ji video chatting kar sakate ho, to ishq ka izahaar kyon nahin? Yogi ji aap daro nahin, mat socho samaaj kya kahega bas bhaag jao ham sab aapakee shaadee karava denge.” (Yogi ji, if you can chat via video call, then why can’t you express your love? Yogi ji, don’t be afraid, don’t think what the society will say, just elope. We are all with you, we will get you married.)”

  • tweeted the same video along with this jibe: “Ishq chupta nahin chupaane se yogi ji” (You can’t hide love even if you want to, Yogi ji).


The punishment: Kanojia was taken into custody by the UP police at his Delhi residence, and is currently under arrest. Also under arrest: Ishika Singh, who heads Nation Live, and its editor, Anuj Shukla.


The laws applied for arrest: This bit is important to lay out:

  • Kanojia’s FIR charged him under Section 500 (for defamation) of the IPC and Section 66 of the IT Act. But the UP police’s press release changed Section 66 to Section 67 (obscenity)—and threw in an additional charge under Section 505 (1) of the IPC (for spreading rumours with intent to incite).

  • The Nation Live’s Singh and Shukla’s FIR charges them under Sections 505 (1) (spreading rumours with intent to incite), 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) and 153 (provocation with intent to cause a riot).


All this for a video clip? Yes. And what’s key here is not the disproportionate reaction to a press interview. The real reason for serious alarm is that none of these laws apply to the alleged ‘crimes’ at hand. As prominent lawyers point out:

  • Section 500 and 501 charges of defamation are triggered by a private complaint filed by an individual. Adityanath has not filed any such complaint.

  • Section 66 of the IT Act refers to tampering with a computer system—which does not apply to sharing a clip on a social media platform.

  • Section 505 (1) requires that the offense affect a community of people—either religious, linguistic, or otherwise. The same applies to Section 153 (intent to cause riot). And that certainly isn’t the case here.

  • Section 67 of the IT Act deals with publishing/transmitting obscene material. Nothing the woman said is even remotely obscene.


What happens now? The courts will have to step in and settle the matter. Meanwhile, the woman who triggered the row—and has been entirely sidelined—is under constant police guard. “Her mental condition started deteriorating after the divorce and became worse after she started living alone. She does not work and has no income. My elder daughter lives in Delhi and sends her some money. We are poor people and do not know what to do. She even sold off her gold jewellery to go to Gorakhpur and Lucknow (to meet CM Yogi) and would not listen to us. My husband used to work at a tent house, but now we have no income,” says her mother.


The bottomline: A woman with mental health problems made some claims about the CM. A news channel aired it and a journalist shared it on social media. These may be in bad taste (exploitative of the woman, rude to Yogi) but none of their actions constitutes a crime in a constitutional democracy.

Learn more: Quint interviews leading constitutional lawyers who explain why these are unlawful arrests. Scroll points to Yogi’s track record of using his CM post to withdraw criminal charges against himself. Indian Express has a must-read report on the woman in the centre of this storm.

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cheering Shikhar Dhawan and Rafael Nadal all at the same time

The Hong Kong uprising: People flooded the streets to protest a new extradition which will allow suspected criminals to be sent to mainland China for trial—raising serious concerns about human rights abuse. The organisers put the number of protesters at one million, but the police claim it is 240,000. If the organisers are right, it is the biggest rebellion against the Chinese government in 20 years. (BBC)


Your World Cup update is here: Determined to be reassuringly boring, the Indian super-eleven cruised to a comfortable 36-run victory against Australia—as the crowd chanted, ‘We will, we will rock you!’ Other notable WC moments this weekend:

  • Virat Kohli did a nice thing for Steve Smith when the crowd booed him for being a “cheater.”

  • English fast-bowler Jofra Archer bowled this insane 143kph delivery to Bangladesh batsman Soumya Sarkar—which took his bails and went for a ‘six’!

  • Afghanistan’s wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad was sent home due to a knee injury. We prefer to remember Shazad in happier times—like when he shimmied his hips to a Bollywood number.

  • The Print’s editor Shekhar Gupta took an unpopular but insightful stance on Dhoni’s gloves.


The French Open is officially over: Rafael Nadal won his 12th French Open title by defeating Dominic Thiem in four sets on Sunday. It made everyone from Tiger Woods to Ben Stiller very happy. This ESPN headline pretty much sums it up: ‘Nadal at Roland Garros: 95 matches, 93 wins, 12 titles.’ No less amazing: Ashleigh Barty’s title win over Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova. She went from #623 to a Grand Slam title within three years—and after taking more than a year out from the sport.


India is the most dangerous country for women: in the world. That’s the conclusion of a new Thomson Reuters Foundation survey of 500 experts who ranked countries in six key areas: health care, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural practices, discrimination and human trafficking. India beat Afghanistan and Syria to claim the top spot. The only Western nation on the top ten list: the United States. (Newsweek)


The Bradley Cooper-Irina Shakh breakup: is official. No, it wasn’t Lady Gaga who broke them up—though she was heckled at her concert for it. Her response: “be kind or f**k off.” Irina has already posted her first post-breakup Insta photo. InStyle has all the details, and most of them are kinda blah.

The ‘no laundry’ movement is here: The next big thing in fashion is apparently not washing your clothes. Say hello to seriously expensive tees, shirts and dresses that you can wear over and over again for weeks. Hey, it’s eco-friendly! (Fast Company)

Weekend reads you may have missed: include the following:


  • This enjoyable book excerpt in The Telegraph which maps Dhoni’s beginnings as a football-loving kid in Ranchi--minus the usual cliches.

  • Economist’s must-read analysis of the internet as “the leisure economy of the poor.”

  • The Hindu’s inspiring profile of Yogendra Puranik, who became the first Indian-born assembly councillor of Tokyo—starting life as the son of a machinist on the outskirts of Mumbai.

  • Historian Ram Guha in The Telegraph on Rahul’s failings as a fourth generation political dynast—perhaps the sharpest, most balanced take on the contentious subject.

  • This observant Mint column on the effect of the Lok Sabha’s results on the fragile Bengali ego. Our favourite line: “If nostalgia were a state, Kolkata would be its capital.”

  • Big Think on the surprising conundrum of the many atheists who still believe in the supernatural.

  • This eye-opening Factchecker investigation which reveals that Muslims are often lynched by their own friends and neighbours -- not by strangers or party goons as we’d like to believe.

  • This must-read op-ed in The Wire on the complete disconnect between Indian liberals and their own people.


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


  • This lovely video of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet learning to serve ice cream at a Dairy Queen.

  • French people struggling to pronounce simple English words like ‘thorough’ and squirrel’. It is a whole lot funnier than it should be.

  • This Christie’s video of its upcoming ‘Maharajas And Mughal Magnificence’ auction which features jaw-dropping jewellery and artefacts—including the Arcot Diamond and the Patiala Ruby Choker created by Cartier. (Read about it here)

  • These two priests participating in a special puja to the rain gods. Just as funny: the memes that followed the original photograph.

  • This astonishing clip of Zee News Hindi covering the missing Air Force plane. Our favourite bit: the alien spaceship in the background.

  • The weirdest meet-cute story ever. It involves graves and murderers.

  • This 360-degree infinity pool slated to be built on the roof of a London skyscraper.

  • This golden retriever’s musical performance, accompanied by wind chimes.

  • This perfect illustration of the male ego 😉

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The best place for the best advice

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How to stop ruining your groceries

When in doubt, throw it in the fridge. That’s the mantra most of us follow when it comes to anything in the grocery bag. But we still, we end up throwing jars, fruits and veggies out. Cue the secret, crushing guilt of wasting food. Knowing how and where to store your kitchen ingredients is the first step to recovery.


Fruits: Fruits do better outside the fridge, in general. This applies not just to the usual suspects like bananas or apples, but also to mangoes, papayas, pears and peaches. Fruits that do belong in your fridge: grapes, cherries and any kind of berry—strawberries, raspberries etc. Bonus hint: Bananas and apples—which emit ethylene gas—are ruinous to your veggies in the fridge. But they will help that avocado ripen faster if you store them together.


Vegetables: The staples like onions, potatoes and garlic are best stored outside—but in a dry place outside direct sunlight, and in a mesh bag or basket which allows air to circulate. Repeat after us: tomatoes do not belong in the fridge which makes them mushy and ruins their flavour. Besides, given the high turnover of tamatars in our kitchen, there is no reason to dump them in the fridge.


Bread: Many of us tend to buy multiple bags and throw them into the fridge to avoid repeated trips to the store. But that actually makes them turn hard and chewy faster. Keep them in their plastic bag on the counter. If you absolutely must, it’s a far better idea to freeze bread than to refrigerate it.


Eggs: Americans store their eggs in the fridge. Europeans do not. Given our ongoing battle with heat and humidity in the kitchen, we think it is safest to refrigerate unless you plan to consume them within a day. The most important bit of eggy advice: Never, ever store them in the fridge door. It is the warmest part, and experiences the greatest fluctuations of temperature. Eggs are best stored in their original carton in the middle shelf.


Coffee: is best stored on the counter. If you need to, freeze the coffee beans or better yet coffee powder which better preserves the flavour.


Oils: Keep most oils outside the fridge except sesame oil which will go rancid in room temperature.


Dry herbs and spices: do not belong anywhere warm, be it on top of the fridge or microwave, or next to the stove. Keep them in a drawer away from light, air, moisture and heat. Also: whole spices last far longer and preserve their flavour than the ground variety—and can stay fresh for years in the fridge. So pick that option for spices you use most sparingly.


Ice cubes: We put all sorts of things in our freezer. Even covered ice trays offer little protection from stinky smells. It is best to change out your ice cubes at least once a week. Even ice has an expiry date. 


Condiments: Here’s a quick list of what does not belong in the fridge:

  • Hot sauces. Everything from Tabasco to Sriracha will be just fine at room temperature for up to a year.

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Fish sauce

  • Honey

  • Any kind of artificial syrup like Hershey’s etc.

Here’s a list to ‘refrigerate after opening:

  • Pure maple syrup

  • Nuts—they last up to nine months in the fridge, or two years in the freezer.

  • Mayonnaise because it is egg-based.

  • Most salad dressings, especially creamy ones like Ranch.

  • Ketchup, BBQ sauce and mustard. They may not ‘spoil’ but will lose their fresh taste over time.


Learn more: The TakeOut and Food Network offer more tips on their lists. Times of India has a special guide for Indian spices. EatByDate tells you everything about storing bread. Eggs 101 does the same for every kind of egg, raw or cooked.

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