Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
BRICS’ got new members
Argentina, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE will become the newest members of the alliance of the world’s largest developing economies. Of course, the acronym—which stood for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—is now meaningless. Three of them are among the top-10 oil producing countries in the world—the bloc now includes 46% of the world population. But a number of them are also in the midst of an economic crisis—like Argentina.
The hope, however, is that BRICS will now be a more powerful advocate for the Global South. Experts say:
This is significant, and shouldn’t be dismissed by G7 and other global north actors. With these new members — especially the major oil producing ones — on board, the Brics configuration represents a much more significant share of the global economy and global population.
Speaking of China: President Xi and PM Modi made energetic announcements about resolving differences on the border at the BRICS summit—but we don’t know if any of this will lead to meaningful disengagement. (Indian Express)
Sticking with China: Beijing has banned Japanese seafood over fears of radioactive contamination. The reason: Tokyo has started the release of wastewater from its Fukushima nuclear plant—which was devastated by the tsunami in 2011. Although the water has been treated and declared safe by the UN, China’s foreign ministry accused Japan of committing an “extremely selfish and irresponsible act.” Japan will release over one million metric tons of treated wastewater over a period of 30-40 years. Our Big Story has lots more detail on this controversial plan. (Quartz)
Indian wrestling federation suspended
The context: The Wrestling Federation of India has been mired in controversy since January—when angry wrestlers launched a protest against sexual abuse. The main target of their rage was WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh—who is also a BJP MP. And the federation had promised to hold elections to replace him.
What happened now: The WFI has not held the elections within the deadline specified by the global governing body United World Wrestling. And it has therefore been suspended. What this means: Indian athletes are allowed to compete in the World Championships next month—but cannot represent India. And if they win a medal, the national anthem will not be played when they are at the podium. (Indian Express)
And the National Film Award goes to…
‘RRR’ bagged six national awards—‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ took home five. This included best actress for Alia Bhatt—who shared the honour with Kriti Sanon (‘Mimi’). ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ was the best feature film. The Telegraph and The Hindu have all the other winners.
Not winning the big prize: Indian teenage prodigy R Praggnanandhaa—who took on world champion Magnus Carlsen in the final. He lost 1.5-0.5 in the tiebreaker and lost out on the chess title. (Indian Express)
A digital avatar for paralysis patients
Researchers have developed a brain implant—consisting of 253 electrodes—that have helped a paralysed woman speak. A stroke victim, she could only make basic noises like ‘ooh’ and ‘ah’—but now can speak entire sentences like ‘great to see you again’ via her digital avatar. You can check out the study here. (NBC News)
YouTube wants you humming
The company is testing a new feature that allows you to search for a song by humming, singing or recording it. How it works:
Users who have access to the experiment can toggle from YouTube voice search to the new song search feature and hum, sing or record a song for three or more seconds. The platform then identifies the tune and directs the user to relevant YouTube videos featuring the searched song, whether that be the official music video, user-generated content or Shorts.
As of now, this is only available to a small number of beta users using Android phones. (TechCrunch)
LEGO goes all in on braille
The Danish company introduced bricks with braille back in 2020—to help vision-impaired kids enjoy their toys. But these were distributed through its NGO partners around the world. Starting next month, LEGO Braille Bricks will be available to buy in stores across the UK, the US and Australia—and other European countries. Sadly, India and other Asian markets are not on the list. The sweetest quote from a mom: “We can play with braille together as a family and she can introduce braille to her little sister in a way they both love.” Each pack is priced around $100—and is fully compatible with other Lego kits. (The Guardian)
Rafa’s got an Infosys gig
The tennis legend will be the brand ambassador for Infosys for the next three years. His team is also working with the company to develop an AI-driven game analysis tool—which will be used at his tennis academy. FYI: Infosys has long been involved in creating tech products for the ATP Tour, Australian Open and others. (Economic Times)
Three things to see
One: The Rolling Stones found an innovative way to announce their new album—in a newspaper advert for a fictional glass repair business. It included many puns referencing their most famous songs, such as: "When you say gimme shelter we'll fix your shattered windows." The company's name, Hackney Diamonds, is believed to be the title of their new album. See the advert below. BBC News has lots more details.
Three: Sony unveiled a portable version of PlayStation—which will stream games over wifi and has an eight-inch LCD screen. All this for the low price of $199.99. The handheld version will be available later this year. You can see what it looks like below. (The Verge)
Four: Former US President Donald Trump was booked at the Fulton county jail on Thursday after being indicted in the Georgia election interference case. The county jail released the much anticipated mugshot of Trump. Read more about the former president's four indictments in our Big Story.