Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Food of the day

The biggest news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is not a gadget but a kind of food. The creators of the Impossible Burger unveiled offered the "first taste" of Impossible Pork in Bahn mi sandwiches and dumplings. It plans to introduce the Impossible Sausage at Burger King outlets in the US very soon. Impossible Foods CEO said, "We won’t stop until we eliminate the need for animals in the food chain and make the global food system sustainable.”

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The biggest news story today, explained.

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The day after JNU

New eyewitness accounts, new questions about the lack of police action, and a swelling protest in Mumbai. Here’s your update on #JNUAttack (ICYMI, here’s our explainer on the night of terror in JNU)

Lack of police action: is making front-page news this am. Indian Express’ top story points out that the police has not made a single arrest, or identified any member of the masked mob. Both Express and The Telegraph highlight key differences between police action in Jamia and during the attacks on JNU. Namely:

  • The police entered the Jamia campus without permission, and assaulted students at will. But they stayed outside the gates for hours despite urgent calls from students and faculty to intervene.

  • Also this: “[O]ver 50 people, including several students, were detained the same day from Jamia and the vicinity, no arrest or detention had been made in JNU’s case till 24 hours later. Asked why no arrest had been made, DCP Arya said: ‘An investigation is on and we have footage. We are trying to identify the accused.’”

  • Soon after the police stormed the campus, Jamia students were paraded out in a single file with their hands in the air. But in the case of JNU, the police made no attempt to control the ABVP mob gathered outside the gates—even as they assaulted passersby and politicians like Yogendra Yadav. In fact Yadav alleges that a policeman slapped CPI(M) leader, D Raja. See more on his Twitter thread.

  • Also: see this damning clip of the crowd being politely dispersed by the police on Sunday night.

  • And as The Telegraph points out, the police did not use drones or tape the crowds for facial recognition—which are now routine in anti-CAA protests.

The police’s response: They told News 18: “We immediately responded to the calls and brought the situation under control.” Also, the police has registered an FIR against unidentified persons for rioting and damaging property—but against students protesting the recent fee hike! Meanwhile, the Crime Branch claims to have uncovered “vital clues.” 

The birth of ‘Occupy Gateway’: A modest silent protest that kicked off on Sunday night has plans to become a permanent blockade much like Shaheen Bagh. Students from across the city continued to join the sit-in on Monday. Bollywood celebs including Swara Bhaskar, Anurag Kashyap, Anubhav Sinha, Gauhar Khan, Taapsee Pannu joined the protest at Gateway of India and Carter Road in Mumbai. 

  • Watch clips of Kashyap et al here

  • Also: Vishal Dadlani singing at Gateway of India

  • Protesters also gathered outside the gates of JNU to register their support. Watch those clips here.

  • But by late evening, they were replaced by ABVP supporters who returned in an alarming show of strength. See that clip here.

  • Meanwhile, Twinkle Khanna stepped up to the plate, tweeting: “India, where cows seem to receive more protection than students, is also a country that now refuses to be cowed down. You can’t oppress people with violence-there will be more protests,more strikes,more people on the street.” And was promptly trolled for her husband’s close relationship with the Modi government.

More on that WhatsApp angle: Screenshots of rightwing WhatsApp groups planning the attack started to circulate on social media soon after the assault on the campus. According to an Indian Express investigation, at least eight office-bearers of ABVP, the chief proctor of JNU, a teacher of a Delhi University-affiliated college and two PhD scholars were members. Some of them were active participants.” Yup, the chief proctor—who now says: “I am not an active member and have now quit the group. What is most important for me right now is to restore peace… So many times you don’t even look at the messages in such groups when you are added.”

Also of interest: This twitter thread that explains how liberals who infiltrated these WhatsApp groups muddied the waters. Their actions later allowed the ABVP to claim that these were, in fact, left-leaning groups.

More eyewitness accounts: and clips surfaced yesterday. And they include: 

  • This clip of an India Today reporter being roughed up by the ABVP mob outside the JNU gates. You can hear one man in the crowd say, 'Maro saalon ko [beat them]," 

  • Scroll reports on a visually impaired Sanskrit research scholar who was brutally assaulted by the mob while he was sitting in his room. The likely reason: an image of BR Ambedkar on his hostel room door. 

  • Both Mint and News Laundry have more horrific eyewitness accounts of the attack.

If you need more: check out BBC's insightful piece on how both the opposition and the government are failing young Indians. This Quint podcast that explains the true meaning of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’. A thoughtful Hindustan Times op-ed on why the JNU attack is an assault on India’s future.

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being mesmerised by Gwyneth Paltrow’s dress

Your US vs Iran update is here: The consequences of the US decision to launch an airstrike to kill Iranian General Qasem Soleimani continue to unfold:

  • Huge crowds packed the streets of Iran's capital Tehran for Soleimani’s funeral, a man once despised by many democracy-loving Iranians—proving once again that Trump is a uniter not a divider.

  • So how will Iran respond? Well, some experts say that the nation will focus on “crippling” cyber-attacks on US infrastructure and critical institutions like the stock exchange.

  • Also interesting: The leader of Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah took great pains to say that the group will not target US civilians.

  • Democrats in Congress are moving to limit Trump’s ability to take unilateral action against Iran—calling the airstrike "provocative and disproportionate.”

  • Immigration officials at the US border are now detaining and questioning US citizens of Iranian origin.

  • Also: World War III memes are now a thing. 

Your Golden Globe update is here: and it includes the following:

  • Ricky Gervais’ brilliantly scathing monologue left Hollywood gasping for air. Watch it here. Or read Slate’s recap of his jokes, “ranked in order of dickishness.”

  • CNN has more on a night marked by political speeches. 

  • The full list of  winners is here.

  • Buzzfeed has the 15 most awkward moments 

  • Vanity Fair has all the stuff that no one saw on TV

  • Also: Gwyneth Paltrow’s take on the ‘naked dress’. We have no comment.

Everyone’s mad at Zoho and Accenture: The two IT companies Zoho and Accenture are under fire on Twitter. The reason: This poster advertising a Chennai event titled ‘Resurgent Bharath’. It boasts of ‘chief guest’ Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu, ‘guest of honour’ Accenture MD Rama S Ramachandran—alongside ‘keynote speaker’ Anirudha Deshpande, who heads All India Public Outreach for the RSS. Calls for a boycott soon followed, but Vembu doubled down on his political choices, tweeting: “I don't decide my views based on Twitter attacks. If you dislike which events I attend, please do what your conscience dictates and I will do what mine dictates. We earn our daily bread due to our work and we will continue to do quality work. I won't be responding to attacks.” Point to note: A number of corporate honchos have made the RSS rounds, including former Wipro chief Azim Premji. What we found intriguing: this essay by a former employee that suggests Vembu has a double standard when it comes to free speech.

Delhi elections are coming: Assembly elections will be held in a single phase on February 8, and the results will be announced on February 11. Point to note: Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) came to power in Delhi in February 2015, sweeping 67 of the 70 Assembly seats. Dilli is theirs to lose. The most recent survey indicates a clean sweep for AAP—which is slated to win 59 seats. Lower than its previous total, yes, but BJP is expected to score a paltry eight seats. As for Congress… Congress who? Plus: Indian Express lays out the state of play in Delhi.

Cool stuff we learned on the internet: includes the following:

  • Samsung’s mysterious ‘artificial human’ project called Neon—watch the astonishing leaked promo trailer. More details here.

  • Inc on why Amazon is a brand disaster waiting to happen.

  • The Guardian on a new project that uses data from satellites, sonar and radar stalk whales from space. The aim: to give us an early warning if and when whales become endangered. 

  • New York Times profiles India’s ‘pickle queen’, 64-year-old Usha Prabakaran whose cookbook is now a cult classic.

Infant deaths in India: There has been a lot of political shor-sharaba over 110 newborn babies who died in a hospital over 36 days in Kota, Rajasthan. But as this Times of India report points out, infant deaths aren't just a Kota problem. In the last three months alone, 253 infants have died in Gujarat’s largest government hospital in Ahmedabad. The real kicker: that number represents an 18% decline since 2018. The main reasons for the deaths were premature delivery, low birth weight,  infection and asphyxiation. In Rajkot, 134 infants died in just the month of December in its civil hospital. The Wire has a ground report on why babies are dying in Kota, and the politics around this tragedy.

Impossible Pork is here: The biggest news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is not a gadget but food. The creators of the Impossible Burger plan to introduce the Impossible Sausage at Burger King outlets in the US very soon. Impossible Foods CEO said, "We won’t stop until we eliminate the need for animals in the food chain and make the global food system sustainable.” (Mashable)

No detention centres for children: Or so claims the Union government, which told the Supreme Court that if a child’s parents have been given citizenship through NRC, she will not be separated from her family. Point to note: A child born in India after 2004 is considered an Indian citizen only if both her parents are citizens. If only one parent is an Indian, the child will be considered a citizen—but only if the other parent is not an illegal migrant at the time of birth. Of course, thanks to the NRC, many Indians can now retroactively be declared ‘foreigners’ or ‘dubious voters’. (Hindustan Times)

These ‘bloody beauty’ treatments: Here’s a horror story to keep you up at night. This is a deep dive into cutting edge ‘vampire’ treatments that involve using our own blood for a variety of treatments—hair loss, breast augmentation and the very latest: vaginal rejuvenation. A procedure being described as “a kind of vampire facial for down below.” Yikes. (Glamour UK)

Things that make you go WTF:

  • These $24,000 Princess Diana's Beanie Babies. Nope, we’re not going to explain this one to you.

  • The helpful Ola app which asked a woman to dial 100 when she pressed the emergency button. Her emergency: The driver was threatening to kill her. 

  • The world’s largest flower that mimics the stench of rotting meat to attract insects. Hey, it’s pretty!

  • The stadium staff used hair dryers, steam irons and vacuum cleaners to dry out the Guwahati pitch for the first T20 between India and Sri Lanka. Sadly, it was all to no avail. Cue great Twitter hilarity.

  • 'Make women great again' is a three-day conference that advertises itself as “The World's Ultimate Event for Women, By Men”—and claims it is "destined to be the mansplaining event of the century." Well, honesty is a virtue… except not.

Your daily quota of sunshine items: includes the following:

  • This charming video where Shashi Tharoor interviews Sudha Murthy uncovered by our ambassador Lakshmi Gopal.

  • Lists are usually boring but thanks to our ambassador Snehal Sharma, we discovered Rohan Joshi’s excellent Insta round up of his fave 2019 shows. 

  • The sheer delight of this little girl with cerebral palsy when she walks for the first time.

  • The sheer delight of this service pup when she gets to meet her hero… Lilo of ‘Lilo & Stitch’

  • Er, this clip that involves two amorous turtles, a frisky goat and two pigs. We have no words.

  • This unusual 17th century painting of Mary praying to a Shiv lingam

  • Broadsheet ambassador Aarti Natarajan’s ‘Just a Mom’, which captures the many very real moments of being, well, just a mom.
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Unexpected, thought-provoking and always worth your time

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The ‘Aamchi Mumbai’ Edition

Here’s a pop up to delight Bombay-walas and other fans of the Maximum City. One looks at a part of the city that is disappearing, while the other pays tribute to those who love it best.


The chroniclers of the city

We stumbled upon this amazing list of Instagram accounts, each capturing a different and unique aspect of Mumbai—from quirky windows to blooming flowers to art deco buildings. How better to capture the mystique of a city that defies description. This is a must-have visual playlist for all Mumbai lovers.

Read: Mumbaiwale: The 20 coolest city chroniclers on Instagram | Hindustan Times

Sex, Love etc 2

The vanishing cuisine of Maharashtra

Even though up to 60% of Mumbaikars are Maharashtrian, their cuisine is rapidly disappearing from restaurant menus. And it is increasingly impossible to find authentic Marathi dishes in the city. One reason: “They [Maharashtrians] don’t believe in their own food. They think it is too humble, or too simple.” This is a thought-provoking must-read. 

Read: Does Mumbai have no appetite for Marathi food? | CNN Traveller

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