Monday, February 17, 2020

Number of the day: 9.55

Kambala is a traditional race in Karnataka where the jockey races alongside a pair of buffaloes in muddy paddy fields. Srinivasa Gowda is now the fastest runner in the history of the sportcovering 142.50 meters in just 13.62 seconds. But here’s the stat that has everyone buzzing: To achieve his feat, Gowda would have covered 100 metres in just 9.55 seconds.03 seconds faster than Usain Bolt’s world record! Here’s the clip of the finish. And News18 has the story.

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The warring CCTV clips of the violence in Jamia

New CCTV footage of alleged police brutality on the Jamia campus was countered by the police with two other clips of alleged rioting. The result is yet another round of whataboutery. 


A quick refresher:  On December 15, the Delhi police entered the Jamia Millia campusallegedly in pursuit of rioters who pelted stones and torched vehicles at a nearby protest. Next, the police stormed the Jamia campus, entering the library and mosque. They allegedly used tear gas, stun grenades and lathis on the students and staff—including the resident imam and security guards. The images and clips of police violence on campus went viral. But as of today, no FIR has been filed despite complaints filed by the university administration and students. (Details in our explainer)


CCTV clip #1: Sunday morning, the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC)which includes students and alumni involved in anti-CAA protestsreleased a 48-second clip of CCTV footage. It shows students hurriedly seating themselves in the reading room of the library. Policemen and CRPF soldiers forcibly enter the libraryand proceed to violently attack the seated students, aiming at their heads with lathis. See the clip here.


CCTV clips #2 and #3: By Sunday afternoon, two other clips were released by the Crime Branch. The first shows a number of students—men and women—enter the library. One of the men appears to have a stone in his hands. Some of them drag tables to block the entrance.Watch that clip here.  The second clip—also released by the police—shows men on a balcony, a few of whom are carrying stones. Watch that clip here.


What does the police say? There are several lines of defence:

  • One of the senior officials told Indian Express: “We have taken cognizance of the videos that have emerged. We received footage from JMI a few days ago only after repeatedly requesting them to hand it over to us. We have to verify the footage, see if it’s been doctored, and also establish the chain of sequence.” 
  • He also said: “It appears that the protesters were prepared with stones. Who sits in a library with a mask? They were not unarmed. The sequence, once established, will clarify everything.”
  • Some unnamed officials are also pointing their finger at the CRPF. 
  • Point to note: the police initially denied that it ever entered the library.
  • Also: the lathi-wielding police had handkerchiefs covering their facesunlike the single student sitting with a kerchief around his neck. The likely reason for the ‘masks’: The police were using tear gas at the time.


Are they right? Yes, in that the clips of persons carrying stones offers some justification for the police’s decision to enter Jamia without permissionsince the police insists that it “entered the campus in hot pursuit after rioters started going inside the campus and began pelting stones at police.” 


What do the students say? A JCC member responded to the police-released clips, saying, “These are not ‘rioters’ entering the library, but scared students trying to escape police brutality and tear gas exposure. Anybody with a stone in their hand is not a rioter, and whether there are stones in the hand is also not clear.”


Are they right? Yes, in that the library clip shows the police inflicting grievous and unprovoked violence on students who were quietly sitting at their tables. There is no law that allows law enforcement officials to unleash that kind of brutality without immediate danger or provocation. If they did indeed include armed protesters, the correct procedure is to arrest them, not beat them to pulp. 


Point to note: One of the students being beaten in the video was blinded in one eye due to the attack: “At the door, a policeman in green camouflage (CRPF uniform) hit me with a fibreglass stick on my eye. I felt dizzy but I couldn’t leave as the police had blocked all exits.” This clip of him lying on the bathroom floor with a handkerchief on one eye went viral the day after the violence.


The bottomline: In every democracy, the mighty arm of law enforcement is restrained by strict rules on the use of force. And these rules exist to protect every citizenirrespective of their political views, religion or even innocence. 


Learn more: Indian Express offers the best overview. The Telegraph makes a strong case against excessive use of forcethough it mixes reporting with opinion. Outlook has the reactions of various political parties. MSN has Home Minister’s Amit Shah’s indirect reference to the Jamia clip. The Telegraph and Indian Express also have first-person student accounts of the violence in the library. For more background, read our explainer on the violence in Jamia, AMU and other campuses.

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thriving and rising thanks to your super-supportive bae

Your viral outbreak update is here: and it includes the following:

  • 17 people who returned from China to Delhi have shown symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus, and have been hospitalised.
  • The Chinese government is using hundreds of thousands of workers and volunteers to monitor, restrict and control its citizensin what is “one of the biggest social control campaigns in history.”
  • Beijing is also disinfecting and isolating used banknotes with ultraviolet light and high temperatures.
  • Medics in China1,700 of whom are infectedare begging for face masks.
  • A preliminary research paper published by IIT-Delhi scientists has fueled conspiracy theoriesand forced its authors to withdraw it.
  • This Bond flick headline is the perfect sign of these paranoid times.


No US trade deal for you! President Trump is not bringing the US top trade representativei.e. there will be no new trade deal on the table. The reason: The Americans keep “changing goalposts constantly” every time a deal seems close to being sealed. Also this: “At the same time, US officials have warned that the failure to announce a deal during the president’s visit will reflect poorly on relations between the two countries and one of them said it will be a ‘big setback’, seemingly putting the onus for its failure, or its unlikely success, on India.” Why this matters: Trump has been threatening India with higher tariffs if New Delhi doesn’t reduce the trade deficit. In related news: Times Top Ten has more on the tayyari for Trump.


Your Filmfare awards update is here: and  here are all the deets:

  • Gully Boy was the biggest winner, sweeping best film, best director (Zoya Akhtar), best lead male actor (Ranveer Singh), best lead female actor (Alia Bhatt), best male supporting role (Siddhant Chaturvedi) and best female supporting role (Amruta Subhash). Firstpost has all the highlights.
  • The critics choice for best film went to ‘Article 15’, and to Ayushman Khuranna (‘Article 15’) and Bhumi Pednekar (Saand Ki Aankh) for best lead actors.
  • Yes, we have the red carpet pics here. Also: Grazia picks its top ten (all of them women). And Times of India has a gallery on the evolution of style at the Filmfare awards.
  • In other award-related news, a Tamil movie producer claims that ‘Parasite’ is a knockoff of his 1999 flick ‘Minsara Kanna’—and he plans to sue Bong Joon-ho et al.


A new 1% tax on online purchases: is in the worksas part of the government’s plan to increase tax revenues. Flipkart, Amazon are vowing to fight it. In related tax-raising news: The government has set a target of Rs 2 lakh crore for the income tax department—to be reached before the end of March. The primary means of tax collection: a new scheme that incentivises taxpayers to settle the pending 483,000 tax disputes with the department. 


Your Man City cheatsheet is here: The football team has been banned for two seasons from European competitionincluding the Champions Leagueafter the governing body found them guilty of breaching financial fair play rules. Here’s all you need to know to fake it with your football-mad friends:

  • Financial Fair Play rules were introduced in 2011/12, and they ban teams from spending more on athletes than they earn in revenues and prize money. To put it most simply: Super-rich owners can’t offer an unfair advantage to their team by infusing vast amounts of money to snap up expensive playersbecause it is bad for competition.
  • In May 2014, Man City was fined £49 million along with a number of other football teams.
  • In 2015, a hacker named Rui Pinto accessed internal club emails and passed them on to the medialeading to an extensive Der Spiegel investigation published in 2018. Note: he is still in jail for his efforts.
  • What did the investigation reveal: In order to inflate Man City’s revenues, its owner Abu Dhabi United Group channelled money into the club in the guise of sponsorship deals with Abu Dhabi-based companies, mainly Etihad. And most of the money in those deals was actually put in by Man City owner Sheikh Mansourwho is also deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family
  • Hence, Man City now faces a two-season banwhich it plans to appeal. And its fans are mucho pissed off.
  • Sky Sports has a longer explainer. The Guardian profiles Rui Pinto.


Dharmik rail yatras are here: First up, PM Modi inaugurated the Kashi Mahakal Expresswhich links three sacred Shivling shrines. And it had a seat reserved for Lord Shiva, which may become permanent (yes, there are photos): “Light devotional music, two dedicated private guards in every coach and only vegetarian meals will be some of the new features of the fully 3-AC service that will run thrice a week between Varanasi and Indore.” Coming soon in March: A Ramayana-themed train that will connect key places connected to Lord Rama: “The exterior and the interiors of the train will be Ramayana-themed. We can have bhajans playing on board .... IRCTC is planning the schedule and packages, and we are hoping to run the train after Holi.”


Prince Andrew tied to second billionaire pedophile: and his name is Peter Nygaard who “allegedly told girls as young as 14 he could make them models before raping them and forcing them into performing 'deviant acts'.” The company you keep… (Daily Mail)


Behind every successful person..: is a supportive spouse. A study of 163 married couples reveals that your choice of life partner determines how you make critical decisions which shape your life’s trajectory: “Significant others can help you thrive through embracing life opportunities… Or they can hinder your ability to thrive by making it less likely that you’ll pursue opportunities for growth.” (CNBC)


Weekend reads you might have missed: include the following:

  • Washington Post published a fascinating and alarming investigation that reveals how the CIA spied on nations around the world—including India. Its secret weapon: a company that made encryption devices.
  • Mint has an excellent report on lovers separated by the most challenging borderthe one that separates India from Pakistan. And how they are battling the odds to get hitched.
  • The New Republic has a must-read review of two memoirs that document the relationship between their women authors and two famous novelists: David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest) and Philip Roth. What they also reveal: the toxic masculinity that infects publishing around the world.
  • BBC News offers an eye-opening first-person account of a K-Pop boot camp for budding stars.
  • Politico has rounded up all the insane things that Donald Trump has ever said about women, sex and relationships. Not recommended for anyone who is easily triggered.
  • Quartz asked the top leaders of India Inc to predict the most valuable jobs in the future.
  • India Forum has an overdue analysis of why Indian athletes are so reluctant to speak out on political issues.
  • The Monthly asks: Do authors of historical fiction have to adhere to the facts? Where are the limits of creative license?  
  • A must read from Business Insider highlights an astonishing gap: India leads the world in producing women STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) graduatesi.e. 40% of the total such grads. But women constitute only 14% of 280,000 researchers at our STEM-related institutions.
  • Parent Circle explains why oversharing your kid’s photos is a terrible ideaand even illegal in some cases in India.


Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • Priyanka & Nick getting their Bolly moves on for V-day.
  • These adorable hand-drawn cardswith dinos, no less congratulating AAP MP Atishi on her victory. The artist: her little nephew.
  • Ice cream dosas or idlis, anyone? Yes, there is a video.
  • It’s lovely when art comes alive… except if you happen to be creating a polar bear
  • This photo gallery of the simply gorgeous ‘Tulip Stairs’tbuilt in the 17th century by architect Inigo Jones.
  • NASA astronaut Christina Kochtwho spent 328 days in outer spacewas finally reunited with her dog. And the clip is every bit as aww-inducing as expected.
  • Flying in Pakistan may be riskier than other parts of the worldas this alarming (and kinda funny) list of banned items indicates.
  • Yes, we knew birds have ears, but we had no idea that they look so cute!
  • Are you in desperate need of a science diagram that helps you calculate the impact force generated by the projectile vomiting of a Brachiosaurus? We got you covered.
  • This perfect two-tweet thread of featuring owls doing adorable thingslike sitting cross-legged and sneezing.
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