Researched and collated by: Vagda Galhotra & Elisha Benny
The Russian invasion: The latest update
- Russian troops have captured the first city in the offensive on eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military withdrew from the city of Kreminna in the Donbas region. The official death toll is 200, but the actual number is likely far higher. New York Times via The Telegraph has more on Russia’s new military tactics.
- The IMF cited the Ukraine effect as the key reason for downgrading its forecast for the global economy—projecting a 3.6% growth rate for this year, which is 0.8% lower than its January forecast. The forecast for India: 8.2%.
- Meanwhile President Putin awarded the brigade accused of war crimes in Bucha the title of ‘Guards’ for its “astute and bold actions.”
- OTOH, a Ukrainian family adopted a pregnant street dog—and is now trying its best to send the puppies (not themselves) to safety outside Ukraine—while their city Kharkiv is being bombed by Russians.
Editor’s note: If you need more context, we highly recommend reading our Big Story on the historical roots of the conflict, effectiveness of economic sanctions, return of the Cold War, what is driving Vladimir Putin, India’s “balancing act” and the looming oil crisis.
Today in communal violence
One: Some BJP municipal officials are demanding police protection so they can launch a demolition drive in Jahangirpuri in Delhi—which was the site of a communal clash during Hanuman Jayanti. If you’re wondering what the ruling AAP government is doing (or not doing), a party source told The Telegraph:
“During the riots in 2020 and now, we don’t see merit in merely getting some air time on television by visiting a riot spot. The majority of Hindus do not hate Muslims, but they are vulnerable to propaganda that secular parties do appeasement. We won’t let the BJP derive political mileage from the situation by giving any impression that we are taking sides.”
Two: A Hanuman Jayanti procession in Roorkee, Uttar Pradesh, led to Hindu-Muslim clashes—and 14 have been arrested, including at least nine Muslims. The police has declared the situation “peaceful”—even though a local Hindutva group has demanded the destruction of Muslim homes as punishment. According to The Wire, a number of the Muslim residents have fled—while others continue to live in fear.
Three: The UP CM Yogi Adityanath announced that no religious procession—including ‘shoba yatras’ etc—will be allowed without permission. Only “traditional processions” will be authorised. The government also noted that Eid-ul-fitr and Akshay Tritya could possibly fall on the same day this year—and urged greater police vigilance. (The Hindu)
Four: Meanwhile, in Nashik, Maharashtra, the police commissioner has banned anyone playing bhajans or songs on loudspeakers within 15 minutes before and after the call of azaan—and within the radius of 100 metres of any mosque. The order also said: “Every church, temple, gurudwara and mosque” will have to file an application to get permission to use loudspeakers. Indian Express has more on how the Shiv Sena is trying to thread the azaan needle in Maharashtra.
Five: Hindutva activists have a new target: The country’s biggest helicopter service provider Pawan Hans. It is under fire for allegedly hiring all Muslim trainees from Jamia Millia University. FYI: the company also recruited 15 candidates for its apprentice program from Mumbai University—of which only three were Muslim. (Quartz)
Meanwhile, in Sweden: An anti-Muslim demonstration led by a far-right leader—who posted a picture of himself burning the Quran—resulted in riots. As a result, 26 police personnel and 14 civilians were injured. (CNN)
Netflix numbers are crashing
The company’s shares cratered by 25% after it announced the loss of 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter—a first in 10 years. And it expects to lose another two million global subscribers in the second quarter. Netflix blames the rise of streaming rivals and password-sharing among users for its woes. The platform is now looking at adding lower-cost, ad-driven options—and promising a global crackdown on password sharing. Netflix estimates that its 222 million paying households are sharing access with more than 100 million additional households through account sharing. (CNBC News)
India has a data breach problem
According to a new study, accounts of over 18 million users were breached worldwide in the first quarter of 2022. At the top of the list is Russia—likely due to cyber warfare unleashed by the Ukraine invasion. India came in at #5 with 0.67 million breaches—though the number of attacks were lower than the previous quarter. (Quartz)
Say hello to ‘electric’ chopsticks
Japanese researchers have developed chopsticks that make food taste more salty—without adding salt! How it works:
“[T]he chopsticks enhance tastes using electrical stimulation and a mini-computer worn on a wristband. The device uses a weak electrical current to transmit sodium ions from food, through the chopsticks, to the mouth where they create a sense of saltiness.”
FYI: The average Japanese adult consumes about 10 grams of salt per day—twice the amount recommended by the WHO. (Reuters)
In other health-related news: Researchers have found that lifelong excess weight dramatically increases the risk of womb cancer. It jumps by 88% for every five extra BMI units—which is the difference between the overweight and the obese category. FYI: We tend to have mixed feelings about research like this which are also used to fat-shame people all the time. (The Guardian)
An ‘office birthday party’ lawsuit
An employee of a US company won a $450,000 judgement after a surprise birthday party went horribly wrong. Kevin Berling had specifically asked his manager not to celebrate his birthday at the office because he suffers from panic attacks—and it would bring back traumatic childhood memories. But the manager failed to communicate this to the team—who went ahead and sprang the big surprise. Berling left and sat in his car.
But things turned ugly at a later meeting where he was accused of “stealing his co-workers joy” and “being a little girl.” This prompted a second panic attack—and then the company fired him out of concerns for workplace safety. His lawyers’ argument: “Assuming that people with mental health issues are dangerous without any evidence of any violent behaviour is discriminatory.” (BBC News)
Two things to see
One: A mechanic in Connecticut Jared Whipple felt bad when he saw hundreds of paintings abandoned in a dumpster. So he rescued a bunch of them and took them home—only to find that he’d stumbled on the life work of Abstract Expressionist artist Francis Hines—who has long fallen into obscurity. The entire collection could be sold for millions—though Whipple is holding on to some of his favourites. And he’s now determined “to get Hines into the history books”—and build his own “art world” for local artists. Aww. (Smithsonian Magazine)
Two: Nineteen year old rapper Danupa “Milli” Kanateerakul became the first Thai artist to perform at Coachella. And she offered a unique shout out to her culture by eating mango sticky rice—a traditional dessert—on stage. Now, the Thai government has decided to nominate the dish to be included in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. It’s actually quite impressive to see someone rap and eat at the same time lol! (NextShark)
Three: Liverpool and Manchester United fans came together to honour the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo—whose son died in childbirth. The fans stood and applauded for the entire seventh minute and chanted “You’ll Never Walk Alone” throughout. Ronaldo is on compassionate leave and did not play the game. (Yahoo News)
Good stuff to check out!
On the latest episode of the splainer podcast ‘Press Decode’, the splainer team looks at Punjabi music’s dominion over Indian pop culture—and the messy history of ancient monuments. Be sure to head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to it.