amazon
Amazon May Have to Share Its Algorithm If India’s New Ecommerce Policy Passes

I think we can all agree that the chokehold that Amazon wields over the ecommerce landscape is, quite frankly, a pain in the arse. It’s a pain in the arse for the millions of third-party sellers at the mercy of its platform. It’s a pain in the arse for the lawmakers who have spent the past year and change desperately trying to wield some sort of governmental power over a tech giant. It’s a pain in the arse for unions, for lawyers, and for the reporters who are stuck writing about it. Read More >>

youtube
She Built a Shady Guru’s YouTube Army. Now She’s His Fiercest Critic – But Who Will Believe Her?

It was May 2015, and the Hotel Surya in Varanasi, India, was hosting “Inner Awakening,” the flagship spiritual training program of Paramahamsa Nithyananda. To his followers, he is a god incarnate, “His Divine Holiness Bhagavan Sri Nithyananda Paramashivam,” the living avatar of Shiva, or, as one devotee put it, “the only reviver of authentic Hinduism to the fullest of integrity.” Scandal, including an alleged sex tape, rape allegations, and accusations of shady land deals have plagued the guru’s career, and outside the event, protesters like the pink-clad Gulabi Gang, who combat abuse of women in India, marched through the streets, vandalising Nithyananda posters. Inside though, Inner Awakening attendees, who had paid around $6,000 each for the three-week program, meditated, practised yoga, and gathered to commune and be blessed. Sarah Stephanie Landry describes the 2015 event as a major personal turning point in her life, when Nithyananda himself pulled her out of the crowd, and acknowledged the work she’d been doing to spread his message on YouTube. Read More >>

fossil fuels
Clear Skies Are a Cover-Up for India’s Fossil Fuel Expansion

With blue skies in Delhi and the Himalayas peeking out of Punjab’s smog, you’d be forgiven for thinking covid-19 has inadvertently cleaned up pollution-choked parts of India, the world’s third largest emitter and home to its most polluted cities. Instead, in the months leading up to India’s lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy opening up a fossil fuel expansion at home and abroad. Read More >>

coronavirus
Monkeys in India Stole Covid-19 Blood Samples, Chewed on Them

A band of thieving monkeys attacked a lab researcher in India and made off with blood test samples taken from covid-19 patients. Read More >>

cyclones
Super Cyclone Amphan Is Set to Hit India and Bangladesh

A rapidly intensifying Category 5 super cyclone is moving across the Bay of Bengal and heading for the India-Bangladesh border. The storm could cause extensive damage in an area already suffering from the covid-19 pandemic. Read More >>

coronavirus
India’s Mandated Contact Tracing App Is An Invasive, Insecure Mess

No matter how you feel about contact tracing, it’s been openly embraced by federal authorities around the world, from the UK, to Germany, to, well, you name it, as a way to curb the spread of the current pandemic. And while every country grapples with the long-term privacy implications of downloading this sort of tracking tech onto their phone, one country – India – has drawn more than a few raised eyebrows over its app, which is reportedly not only invasive but quickly becoming a mandatory download for the millions of people currently residing there. Read More >>

coronavirus
Is the Covid-19 Lockdown Really Decreasing Air Pollution In India?

When I saw reports that Indian cities had seen major improvements in air pollution amid the covid-19 lockdown, I WhatsApped my family members in New Delhi to ask about their experience. Did it seem like the air was cleaner? Read More >>

coronavirus
Police Are Wearing Covid-19 Helmets As Reality Just Gets Weirder During Pandemic

Rajesh Babu, a police officer in Chennai, India, has started wearing a helmet while enforcing a lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people. But it’s not just any helmet. Babu’s headgear is designed to look like the new coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19. And it’s just one more sign that our current reality continues to get weirder and weirder as the global pandemic rages on. Read More >>

covid 19
India Locks Down Entire Population of 1.3 Billion For 21 Days

The government of India will ban all 1.3 billion people in the country from leaving their homes for 21 days, according to a new declaration made today by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The total lockdown is an effort to slow the spread of covid-19, an illness that has already sickened at least 536 in India and killed 10, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. Read More >>

crime
Police Used Facial Recognition to Arrest More Than 1,100 People in India Last Month

Shortly after one of the worst riots New Delhi has seen in decades, law enforcement agencies in India used facial recognition technology to identify more than 1,100 people who allegedly took part in those riots at the end of February. India’s home minister, Amit Shah, told parliament that law enforcement provided its facial recognition system with photos from government-issued IDs, like drivers licences, and other databases. Read More >>

climate change
Report: India Prime Minister Proposes Helping the Coal Industry Survive Amid Climate Crisis

Coal may continue to reign in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed to skip a carbon tax on this dangerous fossil fuel, according to documents Reuters reviewed. Given how urgent the climate crisis is becoming, the world simply cannot afford any more handouts to the coal industry. Read More >>

internet
Indian Authorities Order Internet Shutdowns Amid Mass Protests, Outrage Over Citizenship Law

Indian authorities have shut down internet access across much of the nation amid widespread protests against prime minister and far-right supremacist Narendra Modi and his government’s new law designed to bar Muslims from gaining citizenship. Read More >>

environment
India’s Sacred Groves Are Disappearing, Taking Biodiversity and Culture With Them

Past the outskirts of Kochi, a teeming south Indian city of 2.1 million, it’s possible to walk a few short minutes and enter another world. Under a leafy green canopy a 90-minute drive from the city’s busy downtown core, the screech of motorcycle engines is slowly replaced by the trilling of birds. The air is cooler here, pleasant with the aroma of leaves and loam. Read More >>

space
Amateur Space Enthusiast Helps NASA Locate Crashed Indian Lunar Lander

Three months after the Vikram lander slammed into the Moon, NASA has confirmed the exact location of the crash site. The space agency is crediting Shanmuga Subramanian – an Indian app developer and amateur space sleuth – for spotting the scattered remains of the lost probe. Read More >>

surveillance
Indian Government Asserts Widespread Digital Surveillance Powers After WhatsApp Hack

The Indian government has asserted sweeping powers to “intercept, monitor, or decrypt” any information that is “generated, transmitted, received, or stored” on any computer network in the country, per TechCrunch, and for purposes as vague as national security or safeguarding “public order.” Read More >>