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Vatsap? How Border broke an Indian war movie rule + 4 new things I learnt recently



July 18 · Issue #20 · View online

I love dissecting how the world works. I share some of that through this newsletter.

1. Before Border, Indian war movies could not name the enemy.
There were explicit instructions from Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in this regard, so ‘friendly relations with foreign states’ not be ‘strained’. Earlier Indian war movies like Haqeeqat, Aakraman, Vijeta etc. never mentioned Pakistan or China.
But J. P. Dutta (the director) argued – to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) administration – that because his film aimed to depict ‘history’, not naming or describing the enemy would ‘compromise the authenticity of his war film’.
The ministry, driven by a set of new political and cultural compulsions following the rise of the BJP to power in the 1990s - namely, the continued growth of Hindu nationalist power, and the corrosion of the India-Pakistan relationship due to the worsening insurgencies in Kashmir - acquiesced to Dutta’s arguments. This changed what Indian war movies could say, forever.
//Learnt from the book Bollywood does battle by Samir Chopra
2. The kind of movies we love to watch, is a good predictor of our personalities
In a new research paper, authors find that movies with keywords related to anxiety are liked more by people who are introverted / less outgoing and high in Neuroticism (self-doubting / depressed types). 
In contrast, angry and violent movies (like Border?) are liked more by people who are low in ‘agreeableness’.
3. The first car to ever go over 100 kilometres per hour was an electric.
Although we are hearing about the rise of electric vehicles today, the fact many of us don’t realize is that a hundred years ago, electric fire engines, taxis and buses roamed many of the world’s major metropolises.
In the early 1900s in the US, you could hire electric cars, or pay per mile to drive them. Electric taxis milled around many cities, picking up passengers.
Around 1900, electric cars accelerated faster and had safer brakes than petrol cars. Over time, however, the petrol cars caught up, and the electric car became the slower, more reliable option. Why? Feminine associations with the electric.
The electric cars were seen merely as a natural successor to the horses drawn cab. The petrol car, on the other hand got positioned less as a means of transport, and more of a sport for young (male) daredevils who liked to flash the cash. Since typically men were the ones in charge of making these buying decisions, noisy masculine petrol cars prevailed and the electric vehicle industry died early on (to be revived by Musk only after a century).
//Learnt this in the book - Mother of Invention by Katrine Marçal
4. There was a time when women weren't allowed to become doctors.
When the first few women ended up becoming doctors (after a lot of fight), they were not called doctors. They were called ‘lady doctors’ - a term first mentioned in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1870. 
The same BMJ article also suggested that women should be dependent on men, rather than follow their own ‘eccentric longings for the will-o-the-wisp pleasures of independence’.
//Learnt from the book Lady Doctors by Kavitha Rao
5. In its early years, Twitter did not explode because celebrities started to use it.
For a new social behaviour to get established in a group - say of 100 people, only 20 to 25 in the group need to consistently exhibit that behaviour - that’s the ‘critical mass’ at which the remaining 75-80% populace starts feeling that ‘everyone’ is already exhibiting that behaviour and so they soon start doing the same. Using a social media platform like Twitter, is one such behaviour.
The changed behaviour then ‘snowballs’. When this transformed group interacts with another (yet to be transformed) group, in a way that the interaction is through multiple people (than just few), then the new group gets transformed too. This is called a fish-net spread of behaviour.
That’s how Twitter’s adoption snowballed (not because few influencers tried to spread its usage in a star-network; in fact celebrities came onboard ‘after’ the snowball affect already took place).
That’s also how China’s 50 Cent Party (equivalent of Right Wing paid trolls sponsored by BJP in India) regularly hijacks social media discussions in China and kills narratives where the Chinese Communist Party is questioned / criticised. They make use of the 20-25% critical mass concept to make random topics feel important and the genuinely important discussions in turn, end up dying.
//Learnt from the book Change by Damon Centola
So yes, these were the five new things that I learnt in the past few weeks, that I felt were worth sharing here. Which nugget of knowledge do you think was the best?
Also, any insight that you learnt recently that you’d like to share with me?
I would love to hear from you (your replies will reach me via email, but you can use Twitter or insta too - @amritvatsa). See you soon - may be when I have five more learnings to share! Take care and do well! Book recommendations are always welcome.
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