The gender vote

Travelling through Uttar Pradesh, Yamini Aiyar found that an emotive connect with Modi and the promise of welfare benefits were the two twin poles which drove Uttar Pradeshi women to vote BJP.

This is backed up by data from Lokniti-CSDS, which found that the BJP managed a huge leade of 13 percentage points over the Samajwadi alliance in attracting women voters. This was starkest where gender, caste and community combined: an incredible 90% of Hindu upper caste women voter BJP. In comparison, the figure for upper caste men was 83%.

Read more here and here.

The case for Apu

When the iconic American animated show “The Simpsons” stopped using the Indian convenience store owner Apu in new episodes, many saw it as a hard-won victory against cultural stereotypes. The Indian American comic Akaash Singh was not one of them. In fact, he was upset about it — and as stand-ups do, he brought that onstage, writes Jason Zinoman in the New York Times.

“Here is a brown man married to a beautiful brown woman, owns his own business, selling overpriced products to unwitting white people,” he said, building momentum at the start of his 20-minute debut special, “Bring Back Apu,” released on YouTube a month ago. “Apu is not racist. He’s the American dream.”

Read more here.

Why John Mearsheimer blames the US for the crisis in Ukraine

In an interview to Isaac Chotiner in the New Yorker, political scientist John Mearsheimer blamed Washington not Moscow for the Ukraine crisis. All the trouble in this case really started in April, 2008, at the NATO Summit in Bucharest, argues Mearsheimer, where afterward NATO issued a statement that said Ukraine and Georgia would become part of NATO.

The Russians made it unequivocally clear at the time that they viewed this as an existential threat, and they drew a line in the sand. Nevertheless, what has happened with the passage of time is that we have moved forward to include Ukraine in the West to make Ukraine a Western bulwark on Russia’s border. Of course, this includes more than just nato expansion. nato expansion is the heart of the strategy, but it includes E.U. expansion as well, and it includes turning Ukraine into a pro-American liberal democracy, and, from a Russian perspective, this is an existential threat.

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Bringing back ‘woven air’

With wooden spinning wheels and hand-drawn looms, Bangladesh is painstakingly resurrecting a fabric once worn by Marie Antoinette and Jane Austen but long thought forever lost to history.

Dhaka muslin was stitched from threads so fine that popular folklore in European parlours held that a change in the light or a sudden rain shower would render its wearer apparently naked.

But now, writes Shafiqul Alam in Yahoo News, Bangladeshis are trying to review the fabled fabric.

Read more here.

China is supporting Russia only to attack America

Many Western commentators and officials have interpreted China’s noncommittal position over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a manifestation of Beijing’s intensified alliance with Moscow. Focusing on the so-called boundless friendship between the two authoritarian powers, however, deflects from China’s primary focus in this crisis.

Maria Repnikova’s and Wendy Zhou’s analysis in the Atlantic of social-media comments on China’s heavily circumscribed social networks and official statements about the invasion reveals that pro-Russia posturing—whether by government representatives or netizens whose opinions have been widely shared (and thus can be interpreted as representing mainstream sentiment)—is a veil for expressing a deeper critique of American, and more broadly Western, influence.

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Why I will never accept ‘Kyiv’

Kiev is just the latest of many exonyms to be dropped from the English language, a campaign that has until now mainly focussed on Asia. Bombay was replaced by Mumbai, Peking became Beijing and Calcutta turned into Kolkata. Canton is now known by its Mandarin name of Guǎngzhōu and one supposes one might go further back and say Formosa, Siam and Ceylon.

Post-colonial racial sensitivity is the main reason, argues Ed West on his newsletter. The British don’t say Beograd, Warszawa or München. They don’t call Nicosia by its Greek name Lefkosía, although Cyprus was also a British colony and, like India, we left it bloodily divided.

Read more here.