Researched by: Anannya Parekh, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
End of achhe din of cheap oil
Here’s a bit of bad news that could send our inflation rates soaring even higher. The steep discounts offered by Moscow on its crude oil supplies are dwindling in size—dropping from $15-$20 a barrel to as low as $5. The reason: the world’s second-largest buyer of oil, China. Russia is now its #1 supplier. Moscow’s oil exports to China jumped by 23.8% in January/February—compared to the same period last year. This isn’t good news for a country that imports as much as 87% of its oil needs and 55% of its natural gas. Mint has more on how it will affect the likes of Mukesh Ambani—who made a fortune refining Russian crude oil.
Wrestling’s #MeToo controversy: Et tu PT Usha?
The context: Top Indian wrestlers such as Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik have alleged there is widespread sexual abuse in the sport. And it starts at the top—with wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. They have refused to call off their protest until action is taken against him. See our Big Story for more details.
What happened now: The wrestlers are facing flak from an unexpected corner. IOA chief and track legend PT Usha slammed the protesters for being irresponsible: “Thoda toh discipline hona chahiye (there should be some discipline). Instead of coming to us they have gone straight to the streets. It’s not good for the sport.” The IOA joint secretary chimed in with this: “IOA president would like to say that this kind of agitation is not good for the country’s image.”
FYI: wrestlers like Phogat have also called out cricket stars for failing to speak up on their behalf:
It’s not like we don’t have big athletes in our country. There are cricketers… During the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, they showed their support. Don’t we deserve even that much… You do come forward to congratulate us when we win something. Even the cricketers tweet when that happens. Abhi kya ho gaya? (What has happened now?) Are you so afraid of the system?
HBO is coming to Jio!
Lovers of ‘Succession’, rejoice! Jio Cinema will be the new home of HBO—which had disappeared from India when Disney+ Hotstar failed to renew the licensing deal. Indians will be able to watch all the usual HBO fare—plus shows on Max (previously HBO Max), most of which were never available in India. All Warner Bros content will also stream exclusively on Jio’s platform. We don’t know the details of the deal, but the joint statement described it as a "new multi-year agreement" which will start next month. Point to remember: Jio Cinema already outbid Disney for IPL. And now it will have some of the best English-language entertainment in the world. Well played, Mukesh-bhai. (The Hindu)
Speaking of Disney: The Mickey Mouse company may be losing out to Ambani in India—but it’s kicking ass in its home state, Florida. The company has been battling Republican Governor—and presidential hopeful—Ron DeSantis ever since it publicly opposed the Don’t Say Gay law in the state. It bans any discussion of sexual orientation in elementary schools.
DeSantis went after the company’s control of the special district where Disney World sits. In turn, Disney has filed a free speech lawsuit accusing DeSantis of spearheading a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint.” Why this is notable: this may be the first time that a major US corporation has asserted its constitutional rights. (CNN)
Meanwhile, at Netflix: The streaming platform lost one million users in Spain ever since it cracked down on password sharing. Two-thirds of these were using someone else’s login credentials. More importantly, the number of cancelled subscriptions have tripled, as well. Why this matters: “The loss of a million users, even if most weren’t paid subscribers, would be a blow to Netflix in terms of word of mouth recommendation for its shows and service.” (Bloomberg, paywall, Moneycontrol)
Meanwhile, at Microsoft: The UK government has blocked the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard—which makes some of the most popular games in the world, including ‘World of Warcraft’, ‘Candy Crush’ and its crown jewel ‘Call of Duty’. The reason: the deal would have given Microsoft—which already is the biggest player in cloud gaming—“excessively dominant.”
FYI: The deal is under review in the EU—and the US government has already filed a lawsuit to block the deal in the US. Associated Press, and The Guardian explain what it means for the industry. Related good read: Stratechery offers a breakdown of the history, business and competition in the gaming industry.
IPL’s big move on English players
According to a Times UK exclusive, IPL team owners have approached at least six English players—offering them a deal to play full-time for their franchise. This means they would give up their national and county contracts. The move is linked to the international expansion of the owners—who have bought stakes in T20 tournaments in the UAE, South Africa, Caribbean—and now the United States with the new Major League Cricket venture which begins in July. It’s inevitable that they would now want a 12-month commitment from key players.
The franchises have already held similar discussions with Aussie players. Contracts could be worth upwards of £2 million ($2.4 million) a year and even as high as £5 million ($6.2 million)—more than five times the value of the highest England contracts. However, according to The Times, it is highly unlikely that any of the players will bite despite the tempting offers. And it isn’t clear that national cricket boards—including in India—will be willing to entirely cede control. (Times UK, paywall, Mint)
The appalling inequality of climate change
A new study shows that some of the world’s poorest countries are paying a terrible price for human activity in affluent nations. It shows that the devastating droughts—and ensuing famine—in East Africa were caused by climate change:
Rising global temperatures — largely from burning fossil fuels — have disrupted the weather patterns that typically bring rainfall to Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the scientists found. Last fall, the once-dependable rains failed for a record-setting fifth season in a row. Hotter conditions have also caused more moisture to evaporate from the landscape, desiccating croplands and causing millions of livestock to starve.
FYI: Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have endured five failed consecutive rainy seasons since October 2020—described as “the worst drought in 40 years.” But here’s the kicker: all of Africa accounts for the smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions—at just 3.8%. That’s miniscule compared to China (23%), US (19%) and the European Union (13%). (Washington Post, paywall, Al Jazeera)
Jacinda Ardern heads for Harvard
The former New Zealand PM is going back to school! She has landed dual fellowships at the public policy and law schools at Harvard. The jump isn’t quite as radical as it sounds:
She will serve as the Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow, a program aimed at high-profile leaders transitioning from public service roles, and the Hauser Leader in the School’s Center for Public Leadership, a program where leaders from various sectors help students and faculty build leadership skills…At the same time, Ardern will be completing a separate fellowship at the Harvard Law School’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, where she will be studying ways to contain extremist content online.
CNN has more details.
Four things to see
Two: Fans of ‘Black Mirror’ rejoice. After four long years, Netflix is getting ready to release season six. And the star-studded trailer—which includes Aaron Paul, Salma Hayek et al—is very promising. We don’t have an exact release date, but the series is expected to drop in June. (Hollywood Reporter)
Three: Sticking with trailers, you can also check out the second season of the SATC sequel ‘And Just Like That’—which signals the return of Aidan! That too will drop in June—on HBO’s new home Jio Cinema. (Mashable)