India's 6th largest city just ran out of water

Chennai's 4 main reservoirs are completely dry.

Beautiful handpainted transport signs from Kolkata and south Bengal

South Indian indie publishing house Blaft Publications has tweeted a magnificent thread of hand-painted transportation signs from Kolkata and all around South Bengal, from taxi-door logos to bus-signs to danger signs to "for hire" signs. Read the rest

Magical Women: a new anthology of feminist science fiction by women from India

Factor Daily's Gautham Shenoy (who reviewed the Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction) reviews Magical Women, a new Indian feminist science fiction anthology edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan. Read the rest

Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary "Lays" potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

Pepsi has confirmed that it has files lawsuits against four farmers in India who grew a variety of potato that was registered as being for the exclusive production of the company's Lay's potato chips. Read the rest

Record label censors copyright lawyers' site by falsely claiming it infringes copyright

SpicyIP is arguably the leading blog for experts on India's copyright system, but links to it disappeared from Google's search index following a fraudulent claim of copyright infringement filed by Saregama, India's oldest record label. Read the rest

India's e-waste recycling "markets" are toxic nightmares filled with child laborers

Millions of tons of e-waste -- much of it from rich countries like Australia -- are recycled in India, in "markets" with terrible, dangerous working conditions and equally awful environmental controls. Read the rest

India set to adopt China-style internet censorship

New rules limiting internet freedom could be imposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government any time after Thursday night.

Barefoot Engineers: rural women from Malawi, trained as solar engineers, who are electrifying their remote villages

Malawi's "barefoot engineers" are a group of eight local women who received solar engineering training in the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India and returned home to install solar systems for poor and/or rural women. Read the rest

Study shows that countries that permit Facebook's beloved "zero rating" programs end up with more expensive wireless data

Facebook loves "zero rating," when an internet provider takes bribes from online services to exempt them from data charges on their networks: Facebook says that having a roster of (Facebook-approved) services that are free-to-use benefits the poorest people in a country (and the fact that this also makes "Facebook" synonymous with "internet" for whole nations is merely incidental). Read the rest

Scenes from the Bangalore Literature Festival

I still have Indian dust on my shoes from the city of Bangalore, where I spent almost a week at the international literary festival.

I was mind-boggled at the scale of this national Indian event: literature, politics, activism, feminism. There was music and even street art, but what a crowd. Sixteen thousand highly literate participants, roaming from one outdoor stage to another, and engaged with every atom of their souls.

Literary culture persists in this part of the world, where people still believe that leafing through books is a transformative spiritual experience that can change the world.

Authors of the first world, beset with Internet and economic crisis, often seem like plastic vanity-toys kept past their sell-by date, but maybe what they lack most keenly is a creative readership. As a passionate reader, I often claim it is more difficult to read a book well than it is to to write one. As a less passionate writer, I know that even one ideal reader is enough to motivate a decent book.

The beautiful literary carnival -- held on the broad, leafy grounds of one of Bangalore’s finest hotels, an oasis of glamor and privilege -- contrasted with the crooked streets of Bangalore where the sacred cows, pariah dogs and torrents of honking traffic live with a passion for survival. This was not my first visit to India, so I was ready for the epic scale of grandeur and abject poverty, but it was still a culture shock.

The jet-set’s digitized skyscrapers tower like phantoms over vast bazaars seething with a seize-the-day human vitality. Read the rest

Beautiful and serene footage of a mountaintop fort in India

The Raigad Movie captures the stunning light and windswepts cliffs of a 17th century fort, shot entirely on a phone by Sanket Khuntale. . Read the rest

The future of "fake news": Pepsi gets Facebook to censor jokes about plastic in its Kurkure corn puffs

There is a conspiracy theory that Pepsico's Kurkure corn puffs -- developed and sold in India -- contain plastic; there's a much wider discussion in which people are making fun of this dumb theory (while simultaneously pointing out that Kurkure might as well be made of plastic, given their nutritional value and flavor). Read the rest

Photographers document India's wondrous and weird church architecture

Postcolonial Enlightenment is an exhibition of churches and movie theatres that were built in the wake of independence in 1947, with a bold new aesthetic in mind. As the curators describe: Read the rest

Authoritarians used to be scared of social media, now they rule it

A new report from the Institute For the Future on "state-sponsored trolling" documents the rise and rise of government-backed troll armies who terrorize journalists and opposition figures with seemingly endless waves of individuals who bombard their targets with vile vitriol, from racial slurs to rape threats. Read the rest

The world's most popular smartphones are underpowered, unusable hot messes

The "next billion" are the holy grail of tech and mobile companies -- the next billion users to come online, from the poor world, whose preferences and norms regarding technology have yet to be formed. Read the rest

A viral hoax video has inspired Indian mobs to multiple, brutal murders

Someone edited a Pakistani child-safety education video to make it look like evidence of a ring of kidnappers was snatching children and taking them away on motorcycles; the video went viral in India, spread on Whatsapp, and it has inspired terrified mobs to attack and murder strangers on suspicion of being involved in the fictitious kidnapping rings. Read the rest

Ahead of national elections, India's authoritarian ruling party loses a key regional battle

India's national elections are only a year away, and things aren't looking good for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an authoritarian war criminal who has a mutual love affair with US President Donald Trump. Read the rest

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