The show must go on

When India imposed its nationwide lockdown on 25 March, cinemas were shut and concerts and comedy shows were cancelled. That forced BookMyShow (BMS), India’s largest online ticketing platform, to carry links to TikTok videos and movies on Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar.   Three months later, movie halls have still not reopened and musicians and comics are not getting up on stage anytime soon. A bunch of films have skipped their theatrical release to premiere directly on streaming sites.   What does BMS do now? Become a streaming service itself. 
Sunburn Home Festival, the virtual edition of Asia’s biggest electronic dance music festival, is among the first events (BMS) will stream live on July 10-11. You can pay Rs 99 for a day or Rs 199 for both days.   […]   Other upcoming events include the India shows of Doncaster (South Yorkshire) band Bang Bang Romeo and London-based band Electric Enemy. There are theatre workshops with veterans like Puneet Issar, Rohini Hattangadi, Rakesh Bedi, and Anant Mahadevan. These are among the first of many concerts, events, and workshops lined up by India’s largest ticketing portal in its bid to ride out the pandemic storm. BookMyShow checks in to India’s crowded streaming party with live events, Business Standard
BMS cannot compete with the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar to snag the digital rights of films. So its next best bet is virtual events, which the company’s chief operating officer, Albert Almeida, told the newspaper would help BMS reach a wide audience.
“We are working with theatres to digitise plays. We are collaborating with live event firms to put together events. The content is coming from those partners,” says Almeida.
BMS is also selling tickets to events that will be streamed elsewhere, like masterclasses with actors on Zoom.
BMS’s competitor Paytm* Insider is getting even more creative. 
The lockdown has wreaked havoc on several of our habits, including stepping out for the weekend movie or play. Streaming platforms have a lot to gain in this scenario, as we look for ways to keep ourselves entertained.
But paying for a single movie or event online is not quite as appealing as spending on a subscription that comes with countless films and TV shows. That’s the challenge BMS—which has laid off or furloughed 270 employees—and Paytm Insider are up against. Moreover, what’s the point of watching a play if you are not in the same space as the actors? And an online concert is not the same without a crowd of fans united by their love for the band.
But it’s not just events that BMS is hawking. The company knows how badly you need a haircut so it’s even letting you make a salon reservation.
If you needed any more proof that we are living in strange times, this is it. 
You get Damocles’ Sword! And you! You, too!
Everyone gets one!
On 29 June, the Indian government blocked 59 apps that were “engaged in activities…prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” 
We wrote yesterday that the blocking had led to the Digital Diadochi Wars as smaller players rushed in to stake their claims on the orphaned users of these 59 apps. Between themselves, they had nearly 5 billion downloads in India since January 2014, and 750 million just this year.
But the opaque and questionable manner in which India decided to block these apps—via a simple press release—has left the Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of many other digital services.
Damocles was believed to be a flattering courtier in the court of Dionysius II, a tyrannical Sicilian king from 4thcentury BCE. 
As Cicero tells it, the king’s dissatisfaction came to a head one day after a court flatterer named Damocles showered him with compliments and remarked how blissful his life must be. “Since this life delights you,” an annoyed Dionysius replied, “do you wish to taste it yourself and make a trial of my good fortune?” When Damocles agreed, Dionysius seated him on a golden couch and ordered a host of servants wait on him. He was treated to succulent cuts of meat and lavished with scented perfumes and ointments. Damocles couldn’t believe his luck, but just as he was starting to enjoy the life of a king, he noticed that Dionysius had also hung a razor-sharp sword from the ceiling. It was positioned over Damocles’ head, suspended only by a single strand of horsehair. From then on, the courtier’s fear for his life made it impossible for him to savor the opulence of the feast or enjoy the servants. After casting several nervous glances at the blade dangling above him, he asked to be excused, saying he no longer wished to be so fortunate.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Obliterating apps overnight using a simple press release is India’s version of the sword hanging by a horsehair. No one knows who’s next   Could it be Aliexpress, Alibaba’s global e-commerce site? Perhaps.
AliExpress, one of the oldest and largest e-commerce platforms that ships products to India, has managed to evade the latest ban on 59 Chinese apps, a list that includes three peers Shein, Club Factory and Romwe. Chinese App Ban: AliExpress escapes the axe, The Economic Times
Could it be Hikvision India, the local subsidiary of one of the world’s largest video surveillance companies? A company that the US government alleges is directly controlled by the Chinese military? Who knows.
Of the 59 Chinese apps banned by the Narendra Modi government, all the buzz has been over TikTok. But there is one Chinese company that dominates India’s CCTV market that never made it into the list. It is named Hikvision, which has cleverly projected itself as part of the prime minister’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. China’s Hikvision controls India’s surveillance market. Modi needs to do more than ban apps, The Print
Sometimes the swords are of a different nature. As with Vodafone-Idea, India’s third-largest mobile operator. It’s depending on a favourable judgement from India’s top court to survive.
Vodafone Idea has said that its ability to continue as a going concern depends on the Supreme Court giving it a favourable verdict in the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter. Vodafone Idea loss grows to Rs 11,742 cr, says survival depends on SC order, Business Standard
Sometimes companies don’t even know there was a sword, till they’re decapitated. Like DuckDuckGo, the privacy-conscious search engine alternative to Google.
Source: Twitter
Is DDG even banned? We don’t know. Can India’s ISPs or telcos disclose if they are indeed blocking DDG? No. Will the government? No.
Website blocking is a complex issue which seems to be growing in severity only with time. Ordinary Indians who access the internet — which is a public resource — still do not know the reason why a specific website is blocked. Sometimes, even the persons who run these websites do not have knowledge as to the reasons and the legal authority which has directed the blocking of websites. Whistleblower provides blocking orders for over 4000 websites #WhatTheBlock, Internet Freedom Foundation
Mind your language
Savio   The Black Lives Matter movement has forced a change in language. Not by introducing new words, but by forcing society to be cognizant of the prejudice inherent in the use of certain words. Already beauty product makers L’Oreal and Unilever plan to replace “white” or “fair” with “glow” or “even” on some skin products.   A study by Danish research firm RunRepeat found that racial bias is a significant problem in commentary in Europe’s top four football leagues – the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1. The study found players with lighter skin are regularly and overwhelmingly praised for intelligence, work ethic and quality, while those with darker skin are reduced to their physical and athletic attributes. Consider this:   86.76% of all positive comments about power were aimed at darker skin tone players, with 84.17% for speed 62.6% of ‘intelligence’ praise goes to players with light skin tone, while 63.33% of ‘intelligence’ criticism was aimed at darker skin tone players 66% of all comments on the quality of play were about lighter skin tone players, with 67.57% of negative comments about darker skin tone players   The study, which received the backing of the Professional Footballers’ Association, was based on the 20 skin tones as marked out by the popular computer game, Football Manager 2020. But, ironically, the computer game itself has been accused of bias.   A Quartz analysis of Football Manager’s data in 2019 found that newgens (young, fictional players created by the game engine) with a darker skin tone figure were more likely to rank poorly for professionalism, loyalty and sportsmanship. Sports Interactive, which created Football Manager, has refuted those claims. But, inews reports Football Manager has recently changed the process by which personality attributes of newgen players are created. All to reinforce a message of equality.   Which sports are next – athletics? swimming? gymnastics? Or is it only team sports? Is that why RunRepeat’s next study is planned on American football?
As Thailand reopens, medical tourists get prioritised   Jon   Thailand hasn’t seen a local Covid-19 transmission for over one month, and now it is moving to open its borders for tourists once again. But there’s a twist. Visitors seeking cosmetic surgery, fertility treatment and other medical tourism services will be among the first tourists permitted, as SCMP reports:
Thailand has banned international flights since April but intends to permit 50,000 foreigners, including those with work permits, residency and families in the country, through its borders under a scheme that would include 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.   About 30,000 of these foreigners would be medical and wellness tourists such as those seeking cosmetic surgery or fertility treatment, said Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. Thailand looks to allow entry to some foreigners, including medical tourists from China, South China Morning Post
Hospitals are already preparing quarantine facilities for medical tourists, who must test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of their arrival. They will then be tested before, during and after their treatment.   There will be special dispensation for arrivals from within “travel bubbles,” according to SCMP.
Business visitors from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong could also be exempted from a two-week quarantine period under a fast track entry if they have certificates to show they were free from Covid-19 and were tested upon arrival.
Full details of the policy will be confirmed this week.   Medical tourism is a huge business for the nation. Thailand ranks fourth worldwide with US$589 million in annual medical tourism revenue, according to a November 2019 report from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
The reopening can’t come soon enough for Thailand’s private hospitals, which have seen revenues flatline. Indeed, a US$2 billion M&A deal involving two major hospitals fell through this month as share prices crashed in response to the pandemic. Bumrungrad International Hospital, the acquisition target, is down 20% since 1 January.
Big EV topples Big Oil … and Big Auto   Savio   Remember when oil prices fell below 0 and shook the commodities market? Well, something just as monumental happened in the stock market on Tuesday. Tesla Inc’s market value surpassed that of Exxon Mobil. Then on Wednesday, Tesla displaced Toyota as the world’s most valuable automaker.   Another way to look at it is clean energy has overtaken fossil fuels. Ok, it hasn’t really, but Tesla’s surge this year—its stock has more than doubled in 2020—is symbolic of investor enthusiasm for a company trying to transform an industry that’s relied on internal combustion engines for more than 130 years.   Tuesday:
On Wednesday:
Shifting eras   Olina   Since the first outbreak discovered in Wuhan, China, the pandemic has reset the clock several times. It’s been one step forward, ten backwards. But one thing is for sure—at one point, it brought the whole world to an epoch-defining pause.   Researchers have a new name for it too. We’re now officially in the “Anthropause” age. It’s not human behaviour they want to study though.
In their outline, researchers mention how the scientific community can use these “extraordinary circumstance” provided by global lockdowns to understand how human activity affects wildlife. They maintain that as a result of the lockdown, nature appears to have changed, especially in urban environments, since not only are there now more animals, but also some “unexpected visitors.” Anthropause, the period UK researchers are set to study, Indian Express
The Anthropause era has been kinder to some animals. The reduced human activity has brought forth pumas in Chile and jackals in Tel Aviv. But city dwellers like rats, gulls and monkeys, who depend on humans for discarded bits of food, aren’t doing so great.   Studying the Anthropause, researchers hope, will give clues that maybe useful “in preserving global biodiversity, maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and predicting global zoonoses and environmental changes.”

Leave a Comment