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Along for the ride

With fans like the fictional Carrie Bradshaw and real-life Beyoncé, Dior saddle bags have topped it-bag lists since their launch in Spring/Summer 2000. The icon gets a lift for 2018 with patchwork, beading, embroidery and prints in pop colours. It’s tugging at our heart. —SD

A year of internet shutdown

India, we have a problem. Our authorities have become addicted to shutting down the internet. According to data collected by the Software Freedom Law Centre, there have been 84 internet shutdowns in the country this year so far, which is already five more than for all of 2017. That also makes India the country with the highest number of internet shutdowns in the world. While most internet shutdowns are ordered by state governments to pre-empt, or in response to, law and order crises or mass protests, some of the reasons given border on the ridiculous. Recently, local internet services were suspended in parts of Rajasthan for two days, in order to prevent cheating during the police constable recruitment examinations.

Apart from causing inconvenience to residents, shutdowns also affect businesses that depend on the internet. The Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) estimates that internet shutdowns between 2012-17 caused a loss of approximately 87,000 crore. More worryingly, the pre-emptive nature of many shutdowns indicates that state governments are using them as a way to crack down on political speech and dissent. —BK

When art is in poor taste

Italian photographer Alessio Mamo wanted to provoke the world with his series Dreaming Food, shot in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Instead he ended up inciting the ire of the internet. The images, shared on the Instagram handle of World Press Photo, a non-profit organization which awarded Mamo this year for his photograph of an 11-year-old Iraqi victim of missile explosion in Kirkuk, are in surprisingly poor taste. Mamo asked villagers to pose with their hands covering their faces and think of food they long for. Then he put “some fake food" before them—to make a point about food wastage, he explained. Not as bad as Indian photographer Raj Shetye’s fashion shoot seemingly based on the 2012 gang rape in a bus in Delhi. But not palatable either. —SG

The new currency note to hurt our eyes features Rani Ki Vav, a stepwell in Gujarat, in a violent shade of violet. We might have overlooked this lapse in colour judgement had it not been for the news that an investment of 100 crore will be required to recalibrate the country’s 240,000 ATM machines to accommodate the currency note’s new dimensions, as Hindustan Times reported last week. “I really wish that the Reserve Bank of India knew that there is a profession called design and designers can do currency notes much better. (For the type design) they have used Arial Bold, which shows that a professional designer was not involved," says Prof. G.V. Sreekumar, head of the industrial design centre at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. We agree. Currency notes need to meet functional requirements and be easy to distinguish from one another but still look like they’re part of one family, he points out. “Just changing the colour, or the size, is not enough. It should reflect Indian visual language. India has a very rich visual language, but what is Indian about our currency notes, I’m not very sure."—AG

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