Friday January 31, 2020

Woman of the day 

Rani Rampal was voted ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ by fans around the world. She is the first Indian and hockey player to win the award. Rampal is the captain of the Indian national teamwhich has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics to be held this year. This is only the third time in history that the Indian women’s team has made it to the Olympics. The Olympic Channel has a great profile if you want to learn more about her.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The man who shot at Jamia protestors

A man shot and injured one student during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Actin the presence of Delhi police!


What happened? Jamia Milia students were assembled outside their campus, readying for a march to Rajghat to mark Gandhiji’s death anniversary. That’s when a young man suddenly whipped out a country-made pistol. He shouted various angry slogans: “Yeh lo azadi “(Here, take azadi); “Desh mein jo rehna hoga, Vande Mataram kehna hoga” (If you want to stay in the country, you have to say Vande Mataram); and “Dilli Police zindabad”. He then shot one of the studentsShadab Farooqtrying to reason with him in the arm.  See the shocking video here.


Who is this guy? Here’s what we know about him:

  • The seventeen-year old is seen identifying himself on the video as ‘Rambhakt Gopal’, but his real name has not been released by the media as the police say he is a minor. Hindustan Times reports that he is a Class XII student. 
  • His Facebook posts are filled with Hindutva rage—aimed at CAA protesters. See examples here. And in a number of the photos he is seen in the company of members of Bajrang Dal, a rightwing organisation.
  • The Telegraph reports that he belongs to a “poor family,” and comes from a village in Jewar, Uttar Pradesh. And some villagers claim that he’d joined the Bajrang Dal a few months ago.
  • Some of his neighbours say that he seemed to have mental health issues: “He was not behaving well for the past few days. It appeared he was unwell. But we did not suspect him to take such an extreme step.”


Was this planned? Yes. His actions are eerily similar to other ‘lone wolf’ extremists who have been involved in mass shootings around the world. His Facebook page—before it was taken down—featured a stream of live videos and posts during the lead up to the attack. 


Frightening point to note: He was particularly angry at Shaheen Bagh protesters—posting “Khel khatam… Shaheen Bagh” (game over). He also compared its eventual fate to Jallianwala Bagh. And according to the police, he first went to Shaheen Bagh before making his way to Jamia.


Where was the police? At least 20 of them were standing right there—as this astonishing (and must-see) photo clearly shows. In fact, more than 300 members of the police and five companies of CRPF were stationed in the area to maintain order during the protest. As videos and photos make clear, they were just watching as the man waved the pistol. And then one of them walks over and easily disarms him—after he fires a shot at Farooq.  Point to note: The same policemen forced an injured Farooq to climb over the barricades in order to go to the hospital. This Telegraph story has a photo that says it all.


Why didn’t they do anything? The long list of excuses offered by various police officials include:

  • “By the time police could react, the person had already fired. Everything happened in a split second.”
  • “We couldn’t see anything as the accused’s back was towards us and there was a lot of distance between where police were and where he was. We acted as fast as we could.”
  • “[I]t was a reporter’s scream for help followed by the sound of the gunshot that made clear what had happened.”


Also this: Some policemen implicitly linked the shooter to the protest: “During this time, one person who was a part of the crowd and was marching with them, came out and waved some kind of weapon-like thing, There was noise and someone stepped forward and said he was injured in the left hand.” But Republic TV—not one for subtlety—did it very explicitly.


So now what? The man has been charged with attempted murder. Farooq mercifully was not critically injured.

The big picture: Not surprisingly, many have connected the shooting to the hate-filled rhetoric employed by a number of BJP politicians in the run up to the Delhi elections. On Thursday, the Election Commision suspended Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma for 72 and 96 hours respectively. Verma told reporters that protesters from Shaheen Bagh “will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters and kill them.” While Thakur riled up the audience at an election rally, chanting ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko’ (clip here). Mission accomplished, we guess.

Learn more: Here again is the clip of the shooting—and the most shocking photo. Times of India has detailed eyewitness accounts, while Quint has audio interviews of the same. Scroll has the most on the shooter’s social media posts—and what they reveal about him. Hindustan Times tracked his family down in the village. The Print asks why the gunman is not being described as a terrorist by the media.

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Wondering WTF is wrong with the Delhi Police

Your viral outbreak update is here: Here’s the latest on the deadly new coronavirus spreading across the world. (FYI, our explainer)

  • A student in Kerala tested positive for the virus, making it the first such case in India. 
  • The government plans to evacuate Indians stranded in Wuhan today.
  • And the WHO has finally declared a global emergency.
  • The case of a 10-year-old boy has raised a new kind of threat: infected persons who show no symptoms, and therefore remain undetected—and help spread the disease.


Your Kunal Kamra update is here: The IndiGo pilot in command of that fateful Mumbai-Lucknow flight has written a letter. And it says that he did not find the incident with Arnab “reportable in any way. Mr. Kamra’s behaviour while unsavoury, was NOT qualifying of a Level 1 Unruly passenger.” That’s pretty darn embarrassing for IndiGo, the aviation ministry and every other ban-happy airline. The Telegraph has the story and the letter. Also: Kamra is still not sorry. Here’s his anti-apology to Arnab.


Loves chicken tikkas and Bernie: A New York Times poll reveals a strong connection between what Americans like to eat and who they are likely to pick as their presidential candidate. According to the results, 71% of those who prefer Bernie Sanders have eaten at an Indian restaurant over the last decadethat’s compared to only 40% for Joe Biden. Also, those who like desi khana also do not like Donald Trump. (New York Times)


Bangalore gets the baddest rap: Karnataka’s capital officially has the worst traffic in the world. That’s according to a report released by TomTom, a Dutch company that makes navigation products. Bangalore beat 415 other cities across 57 countries to earn the title. In 2019, commuters spent an extra 243 hours in traffic during peak hours: “[D]uring the time spent on roads, these people could have planted 244 trees, watched 215 episodes of Game of Thrones or watched 139 football matches.” ( Mint)


Say hello to lab-grown hearts: Ok, to be accurate, heart muscles. Japanese researchers grew heart muscle cells in a lab, and then deposited them on the damaged parts of a patient’s heart. They hope the cells will help regenerate blood vesselsand cure a condition that would otherwise require a heart transplant. If successful, this could be a huge medical breakthrough that greatly reduces the need for donor hearts. (Engadget)


The Hummer is back! Yes, the massive metallic beast loathed by environmentalists, and adored by macho, macho men is making a comebackexcept this time it is electric. The most hilarious and telling quote: “I don’t know that the people who bought Hummers 15 years ago would necessarily be turned off by the fact that it’s electric… What they wanted was the big kind of brutish look, at least the perception of go-anywhere capability even if they didn’t go anywhere most of the time.” (AP News)


Things that make you go WTF: include the following


  • Two men from prominent Kolkata business families blackmailed women by having sex with them, and then using secretly taped videos to extort money. Police found 182 clips in their possession.
  • The time Jessica Simpson kissed Justin Timberlake and regretted it immediately. Let’s just say he’s no gift to womankind. 
  • Kalakshetra in Chennai has refused to host TM Krishna’s book launch. The reason: it talks about how cow skin is used to make the mridangam.
  • This terrifying video shows an Australian wildfire roar through a forest in less than a minute.


Cool stuff we learned online: includes the following:


  • Feeling sluggish? Shape Magazine has a very doable one-day meal plan to perk you up again. What we most appreciated: it’s about nourishing your body, not starving it.
  • Vice carried a first-person account of the latest wellness trend: psychedelic retreatswhere mushrooms are served at a super-expensive resort with “a sauna, vegetarian chef, and an ever-flowing supply of herbal teas.” 
  • National Geographic lists the 20 coolest destinations for 2020. Andaman Islands is #1.
  • This information on how mathematical percentages work kinda blew our mind. 
  • Rediff has a great profile on the American who rushed to bring down Nathuram Godse after he shot Gandhiji.
  • reports on the best sleep position for feeling good the next day. 


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:


  • If you watch only one thing, let it be this adorable video of a four-year old’s first song. The title ‘Dinosaurs in Love’. 
  • Also a must watch: This hilarious interview with an ardent CAA supporter
  • This delightful thread on the many ways to be rude in corporate-speak. 
  • The spectacular taekwondo skills of 21-year-old Wonjin Kim from Seoul 
  • Dazed Digital rates the 10 new and some very odd emojis released by Unicodeincluding a window, anatomical heart and rock. 
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