The social media attack on Shami and ‘New India’

Last Sunday, the Indian men’s cricket team lost to Pakistan for the first time ever in a Word Cup. Given the near-crazy amount of passion the sport invokes in the subcontinent, it was expected that Indian fans would be disappointed. What was not, though, was for Mohammed Shami, one of India’s finest seam bowlers, ever to be targeted for his religion. Trolls launched a horrific, ugly and coordinated attack on Shami who had had a bad outing.

But as veteran sports writer Sharda Ugra pointed out in a sharp piece in Mojo, the most jarring part of the episode was the long silence of his colleagues in the Indian team. Captain Virat Kohli finally issued a statement on Saturday afternoon – but by then the damage had probably been done. As Ugra writes, “The most vile language was used on your Muslim teammate and silence on the subject is not sanguine. All the Indian team needed to say that no matter where it comes from, online abuse, hatred and bigotry of their own in this case was, is and will always be unacceptable.”

Read more here.

Land and exclusionary politics in Assam

In India Forum, academics Gorky Chakraborty and Shofiul Alom Pathan write about how the discourse of development in Assam “remains embedded in a willful ignorance of history, ecology, and migration patterns”.

The two scholars argue that Bengali Muslims dispossessed by the many ebbs and flows of the Brahmaputra are further disenfranchised by prejudiced government policy embedded in a long history of “exclusivist exclusionary politics” in the state. “While all the communities suffer from erosion, the implications of such suffering vary in terms of the religious affiliations of the victims. Muslim victims get transformed into ‘Bangladeshis’,” they argue.

Read the article here.

Young and prone to heart attacks

On October 29, Puneeth Rajkumar died after suffering what has been described as a “massive heart attack”. He was just 46. Last month, another young Indian actor, Sidharth Shukla, died of a heart attack. He was 40. Earlier this year, filmmaker Raj Kaushal, too, had died of a cardiac arrest. He was 49. In yet another incident that shocked people across the world, 29-year-old Danish footballer Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in the middle of a game.

If you think heart attacks happen only to old people, you are clearly mistaken. More and more young people seem to be getting them. In The Conversation, Dr Jessica Orchard, a postdoctoral fellow at the Centenary Institute, University of Sydney and honorary Cardiac Research Fellow at Cricket Australia, explains the science behind heart attacks and cardiac arrests, the difference between the two, and what makes young people susceptible to them. Does regular heart screening help? Orchard writes: “Some of the conditions that are diagnosable prior to a cardiac arrest run in families, such as ‘Long QT syndrome’. So, it’s important to seek medical advice for anyone with a family member who has had cardiac arrest under the age of 40.”

Read the full piece here.

Do sniffer dogs fail the smell test?

Dogs have long been hailed for their invaluable role in solving crimes, courtesy their incredible olfactory senses. But how reliable are police dogs, really? According to this article in Science by Peter Andrey Smith, there is very little research that concludes dogs know what they are doing. Smith examines in gradual detail a case in which a man was convicted for allegedly killing his own son. The prosecution overwhelmingly “followed” where the dogs led them. But a careful examination of the available evidence, Smith argues, suggests that the man may have been wrongfully charged.

Smith writes: “Critics worry that the criminal legal system has embraced a technique profoundly lacking in scientific validation. Dog-sniff evidence has led to wrongful convictions, and studies show human biases skew animal behavior. Almost no published research indicates just what dogs detect or how they do it. Defendants and their lawyers can’t cross-examine a dog, which means the accused cannot scrutinise the evidence or readily confront their accusers…”

Read more here.