Friday, November 8, 2019

Number of the day: 90

According to an insane new law in China, a person under the age of 18 cannot play video games for more than 90 minutes during the day—and it is entirely banned between 10 pm and 8 am. On weekends, kids can play for up to three hours a day, but the night-time curfew still applies. The reason for this tyranny: the government is cracking down on video game addiction, nearsightedness, and “poor academic performance across a broad swath of society.” Yes, bad eyesight is a moral failing in China.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


The biggest news story today, explained.

image orange sidebar everyone's talking about image orange sidebar

The government ‘canceling’ Aatish Taseer

The government has cancelled the author/columnist’s Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card. The reason for doing so is a bit suspect and very much up for debate.

What happened here? The government revoked the OCI card of Aatish Taseer just months after he penned a Time magazine story critical of PM Modi. 

What’s an OCI card? Think of it as the Indian version of a Green Card. Originally called a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, it confers virtually all the same benefits as citizenship—i.e. you can live and work here without a visa—with some key exceptions. For example, a person with an OCI can’t vote or own agricultural land etc. NRIs often opt for it since the Indian government does not permit its citizens to hold dual passports.

Who is Taseer, again? He is best known for a number of novels including 'Temple Goers' and 'The Way Things Were'. Taseer also often writes on Indian politics for a number of prominent foreign publications including the New York Times and others. More importantly, he is the son of Tavleen Singh, an Indian Express columnist who is an ardent supporter of Modi. And even more importantly to the Indian government, he is the son of Salman Taseer—a liberal Pakistani politician who was assassinated by terrorists for criticising the country’s blasphemy laws.

Wait, what? Singh was briefly involved with Taseer Sr. back in the day but never married him. She raised her son as a single mother in Delhi and sent him to school in the UK. Taseer did not even meet his father until 2002—which was the subject of a very well-received memoir Stranger To History. His reunion with his father went sour within a few years. In all likelihood, Singh is his only legal parent.

Ok, so why did he lose his card? As per the Home Ministry’s tweet: “Mr. Aatish Ali Taseer, while submitting his PIO application, concealed the fact that his late father was of Pakistani origin.” And its spokesperson claims that he failed to meet its “very basic requirements.” The requirement being Clause 7A of the OCI card rules: “Provided further that no person, who or either of whose parents or grandparents or great grandparents is or had been a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh or such other country as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify, shall be eligible for registration as an Overseas Citizen of India Cardholder under this subsection.”

So they didn’t know about Salman Taseer? Well, officials are claiming that they did not—even though both his mother and Taseer have been very open about the fact. Hence the suspicion—given the timing—that this is more likely a punishment for that Time magazine story. 

Tell me about that: The cover featured Modi with the title ‘India’s Divider in Chief’ (see it here), and was published in May—right before the election results were announced. You should read it for yourself, but to briefly summarise, 

  • Taseer takes direct aim at the PM, accusing him of creating “an atmosphere of poisonous religious nationalism.” And he dwells at length on the lynchings of both Dalits and Muslims. Taseer also accuses him of immorality: "Modi, without offering an alternative moral compass, rubbished the standards India had, and made all moral judgment seem subject to conditions of class and culture warfare."

  • That said, he is no kinder to Congress or the Gandhis: “Nehru’s political heirs, who ruled India for the great majority of those post-independence years, established a feudal dynasty, while outwardly proclaiming democratic norms and principles. India, under their rule, was clubbish, anglicized and fearful of the rabble at the gates.”

  • Most ironically, noting that the government has failed to deliver on its ‘achhe din’ promise, he concludes at the very end: “It is why he has resorted to looking for enemies within… And, as India gets ready to give this willful provincial, so emblematic of her own limitations, a second term, one cannot help but tremble at what he might yet do to punish the world for his own failures.”

  • Point to note: Taseer was widely panned by liberals during the 2014 elections for being soft on Modi. Here he is in Open magazine, saying: “It is for this reason that the Modi election was so important. It was a rare instance of India trusting to herself, throwing up one of her own, one who did not have the blessings of the West at all. And I was pretty dazzled to hear him speak at the U.N. I liked his style and confidence. He seemed so much more urbane and serious than many who had been educated in the West.”

The big picture: Until now, prominent editors were attacked by BJP supporters—even run out of their jobs—if they criticised the government. And if any of them held a foreign passport, it was offered as evidence of their suspect loyalties and journalism. For example, Indian American Bobby Ghosh who was ousted as editor of Hindustan Times soon after he set up a Hate Tracker to monitor hate crimes. This latest move represents an escalation of that same trend. 

The bottomline: In the worldview of BJP supporters, there are ‘good’ NRIs and ‘bad’ NRIs. The bad ones who criticise the Modi government are suspect foreigners. The good ones who wildly cheer at a ‘Howdy Modi’ event are true desh premis. A double standard called out by Ghosh himself after Modi’s interview with Akshay Kumar. But to strip someone of their immigration status based on that skewed worldview is unprecedented and alarming.  


Learn more: The Wire has the most details on the story. Read the now infamous Time cover story. Check out Aatish Taseer’s earlier take on Modi in his Open interview, or this ground report from Varanasi. Reuters has more on the intimidation and harassment of Indian journalists.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


fervently reducing your pesky dopamine level

Your Maha drama update is here: Shiv Sena has moved its MLAs to a hotel. It’s official. ‘Resort politics’ aka MLA poaching season is here. The reason: Today is the last day of the old Maharashtra Assembly. Some party has to step forward to stake its right to form the government or else president’s rule will kick in. BJP is the largest party with 105 seats, but they are nowhere close to the majority. It needs the Sena, which wants its pound of flesh: to take turns in the CM gaddi. (Indian Express)

A cyberattack on ISRO: First came reports of a North Korean malware attack on the Kudankulam nuclear facility—which experts claim was successful in stealing intelligence from at least one computer. Now, the Financial Times reports that hackers also targeted ISRO right in the middle of its Chandrayaan 2 mission. How did they manage this? By sending very senior officials malicious phishing emails which unleashed malware into the larger systems. 

Twitter employees spying for the Saudis: Two former Twitter employees in the US have been charged with spying on behalf of Saudi Arabia. They allegedly shared personal information on Twitter users with the Saudi government— specifically, critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is accused of ordering the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Point to note: “The charges reflect just how much data these tech firms compile on their users, including email addresses, payment methods and Internet protocol addresses that can give up a user’s location.” (Washington Post

A sena of retired military men is a thing: In a first, the Catholic Church in Kerala has formed a unit of retired military and paramilitary men to help with “crowd control” at a farmers rally. It will be called Gabriel Sena—and the word ‘sena’ is making everyone a little nervous. (Indian Express)

Your airline update is here: And it includes the news that Indigo and Qatar Airways have signed a one-way code sharing agreement. In plain english, this means that Qatar will have the right to sell seats on IndiGo flights between Doha and Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. It is only one way—so Indigo cannot sell seats on Qatar flights for now. Quote to note: Qatar Airways CEO said, “We have no interest in buying stake in Air India. Interested in buying stake in IndiGo, but this is not the right time as issues among promoters are yet to be resolved.” In related airline news: Lufthansa was forced to cancel a total of 1,300 flights on Thursday and Friday—a move that affected 180,000 passengers. The reason: flight attendants went on strike demanding better pay, pension and union benefits. 

Kolkata swaps places with Delhi: Its air quality descended from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’, while Delhi’s AQI improved from ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’. Oh, look, it’s Musical Chairs: The Pollution Edition. (Times of India

Meet the worst father of the century: Rapper-actor T.I. who takes his 18-year old daughter to the gynecologist every year to "check her hymen" and make sure it's "still intact." Humanity to T.I.: The World Health Organization calls virginity testing "a violation of the human rights of girls and women." Related read: Check out NGO Haiyya’s report on the sexual shaming of unmarried women by doctors in India. (BuzzFeed News)

Behold the amazing contraceptive patch! The coming revolution in contraception looks like a “spiky Band-Aid.” Here’s how it will work. You press on a patch with 100 biodegradable microneedles—that don’t hurt at all. A minute later, you take it right off—after the microneedles penetrate your skin and detach themselves. Over the next 30 days, they slow-release birth control hormones into your blood. Amazing, right? The only hitch: they have only tested placebo patches on humans as of now. So we will have to wait a couple of years before we can patch our way to pregnancy-free sex. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Goodbye e-cigarettes, hello Iqos! As anxiety builds over traditional vaping devices, an American company is rolling out a hybrid product that is a cross between a traditional cigarette and its electronic version. This “heat-not-burn” device warms the tobacco, and mixes it with other solvents. The claim: Smokers inhale a more pure form of nicotine and therefore avoid the tar that leads to lung disease. Of course, it is likely unavailable—and illegal—in India where the government insists you stick to old-fashioned cancer sticks. (Wired)

Dopamine fasting is a thing: The brain releases dopamine—a neurotransmitter—when we do things that give us pleasure. It is also the neural mechanism that stimulates us to doing things that give us pleasure. This is ordinarily a good thing—except not in Silicon Valley, where tech geeks are eschewing all enjoyable activities in the name of wellness. So no food, screens, music, exercise, work, sex or even eye contact. Welcome to the dopamine fast: “a complete sensory deprivation, like maybe floating in a dark water tank or locking oneself in a closet.” (New York Times

James Dean is staging a comeback! Never mind that he has been dead for nearly 75 years. A “full body” CGI version of the icon of teen rebellion will play second lead in a Vietnam War-era action drama. The creators will use actual footage and photos to recreate Dean. Our vote for the next CGI avatar: Shashi Kapoor ❤️❤️ (Hollywood Reporter)

A tiger-sized tragedy: A tiger jumped off the bridge and died in a river after efforts to rescue him failed. The reason he jumped: two cars got far too close to him. This story is depressing at every level. Watch the Indian Express report.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • The fun tidbit that Quentin Tarantino ripped the famous manga animation scene in Kill Bill from a Kamal Haasan movie.

  • This Pune maid and her fancy business card that went viral yesterday. 

  • This clip that we will title: ‘Panda attempts to lie in a hammock’.  Enuf said. 

  • This saffron-coloured toilet in UP with a mistaken identity problem.

  • Oh look, thousands and thousands of ‘ice eggs’.

  • Oh look, a miniature pony wandering around town on a train, an escalator and crossing a red light.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo


Stuff we buy, use or love.

A List of After-party Beauty Essentials 
Winter in India is party-bingeing time. Between Diwali, weddings and end-of-the-year dos, we are out all night—sometimes night after night. And soon enough all that excess is writ large on our faces. Ambassador Ankita Dasgupta offers excellent quick fixes to revive, refresh and—of course—glow!
image blue sidebar The informer image blue sidebar

If your beauty budget is stretched thin...

Pick up The Solution by The Face Shop. The name couldn’t be more apt—for both the brand and product. This Korean sheet mask—packed with ceramides—is ideal for soothing and super-hydrating tired and irritated skin, and gives you an instant glow. Expect to feel a mild cooling sensation followed by tingling. Pro tip: Leave it on for 15-20 minutes and then store it in the freezer. Not only is this mask budget-friendly, it can be reused 3-4 times! (Bonus: For those spreading dark circles, pick up L’Oréal Paris White Perfect Magic Eye Cream.)

Price: Rs. 150 | The Solution Brightening Face Mask by The Face Shop | Nykaa

The informer 2

If you are extremely pressed for time...

Splurge on Glamglow Flashmud Brightening Treatment. The mask undoes the damage wreaked by smoking, drinking and binge eating in 15 minutes! Trust me, no matter how hungover you are, it wont show on your face. My skin has a flings-only relationship with this wonderful product thanks to the high price tag, but the look of my face right after is totally worth it. Pro tip: Sephora hands out samples of this product. Try it, then buy it, because you will totally want to! (Bonus: Clinique’s Pep Start HydroBlur Moisturiser will both hydrate and hide the remaining evidence of party-related havoc.)

Price: Rs. 1750 | Glamglow Flashmud Brightening Treatment | Nykaa

The informer 3

If you are an organic DIY kinda girl...

Or don’t have the time to shop, there are some in-your-kitchen fixes that work as well. In a mad rush? Quickly rub a lemon all over your face to even out the complexion when you don’t have time for a face pack. Need a DIY brightening mask? Mix egg whites and olive oil. The egg whites also prep the skin for foundation. The homemade remedy for excess partying: the classic haldi-honey combination. The turmeric disinfects and brightens the skin, the honey locks in moisture, and both have natural anti-ageing properties.


Note: These products are personally picked by the editors (or in this case trusted Ambassadors). We do not receive any revenue from the brands recommended.

Share | Facebook logo WhatsApp logo Twitter logo

Or just select, copy and send this link to your friends and you score some cool swag in the process:
Follow us on
Facebook logo Instagram logo Twitter logo

Be an Ambassador

To connect with one another, get unique access, invites to private events,
exclusive content and much more.
Not a subscriber? Sign up here.
Unsubscribe Unsubscribe from this list.
Our mailing address is:
Copyright (C) *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|* All rights reserved.