Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
Rahul Gandhi’s defamation case: The latest update
Gandhi will file an appeal in a sessions court in Surat, Gujarat, today to stay his conviction in a defamation case (explained here). But he is already in fresh trouble over his remarks about the RSS. A new defamation case filed in Haridwar cites this remark made during the Bharat Jodo Yatra:
He (Gandhi) compared the RSS with 21st century Kauravas by saying that they now wear khaki half pants, carry lathi in hand, and hold shakhas… and India’s 2-3 billionaires are standing with the Kauravas.
FYI: Gandhi already has more than 10 defamation cases against him. (Hindustan Times)
Also in trouble: Two British nationals—a medic and a hotel manager—who were arrested by the Taliban for illegal possession of a firearm. Also detained but for unknown reason: a 23-year-old “danger tourist” who apparently chose Afghanistan because he enjoys "dark" and "extreme" travel. Well, there’s all kinds of stupid… (BBC News)
A flurry of religious violence
Ram Navami unrest: Hindu festivals have now become an excuse to incite religious violence. Ram Navami—which was celebrated on Thursday—was no different. Around 22 people were injured and 54 arrested around the country. In Mathura, young men waved saffron flags close to the local Jama Masjid—and have since been arrested.
A similar incident took place in Thane where a man flaunted a saffron flag inside the mosque’s premises (see it here). Also: a mob set fire to vehicles in Howrah during a religious rally. CM Mamata Banerjee blamed the participants: “Despite my repeated warning, why did you change the route to target a particular community? Swords and even bulldozers were used in the violence.” The Mathura clip below gives you a taste of the insanity. (Indian Express)
A Karnataka killing: A group of self-styled cow vigilantes allegedly tortured and killed the 39-year-old Muslim driver of a van transporting cattle. The leader of the gang appears to have BJP links—and the case has become a lightning rod ahead of the state elections in May. The Hindu has lots more details.
A temple tragedy in Madhya Pradesh
The floor of a temple in Indore caved in due to the weight of a large Ram Navami crowd of devotees. Fifty people plunged straight into a stepwell—which had 25 feet of water. The death toll is 36—including 21 women and two kids. This is once again a tragedy caused by bad governance. The rescue efforts were so slow that local people were forced to rely on makeshift ropes—with horrifying results—as you can see below (warning: this is hard to watch):
Also this: The temple had illegally slapped a concrete slab over the well—and had been ordered by municipal authorities to remove it. But officials backed down “after being warned by the trust that such a move will hurt religious sentiments.” (NDTV)
Farewell, Salim Durani
The greatly beloved cricket legend passed away at the age of 88. He was the first and only Afghanistan-born cricketer to play Test cricket for India—and was known as 'Prince Salim' to fans. The Hindu and Indian Express have lovely tributes to the great man. FYI: He even acted in a film titled ‘Charitra’ with Praveen Babi—which sadly bombed at the box office. See an awesome throwback photo below:
Yes, it’s true: plants “cry”
New research shows that plants make audible sounds when they are stressed. Scientists studied tobacco and tomato plants—which proved to be surprisingly noisy when they were dehydrated or (ouch!) being pruned. But it isn’t the same as, say, sobbing or moaning:
The researchers suspect the nervous, popping noise is instead a byproduct of cavitation, when tiny bubbles burst and produce mini-shock waves inside the plant’s vascular system, not unlike what happens in your joints when you crack your knuckles.
They have since detected similar sounds made by other greenery, such as grapevines and wheat. The New York Times and Scientific American have lots more details. You can hear what a dehydrated tomato plant sounds like here.
The Nita Ambani show: a highlight reel
Not content with dazzling us with their OTT shaadis, the first family of India Inc threw a two-day gala opening for the Grand Theatre at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC). The guest list included Hollywood glitterati like Zendaya, Tom Holland and Penelope Cruz. Indian Express and Vogue have all the deets about NMACC—which looks seriously fancy:
We are going to focus on the really important bit—highlights from the event which was titled ‘The Great Indian Musical: Civilization to Nation’—which makes absolutely no grammatical sense, but then this is the Ambanis. First up, SRK—who overshadowed all the young hotties in a 10 km vicinity:
More amusingly, Sallu-bhai was tasked with taking boring pics with Shah Rukh’s fam:
As for the women, the theme seemed to be ‘India-adjacent’ couture—long, flowy and subtly reminiscent of traditional attire. Example, Sonam Kapoor:
But the Hollywood ladies went whole hog—and embraced their inner desi. Whoa, Zendaya!
Also see the group pic here—with Gigi Hadid, Tom Holland and Penelope Cruz:
Priyanka Chopra and hubby Nick staged a photo-op with an auto—like the laziest, Western tourist motif for ‘exotic’. Why, PC, why?
Our favourite bit of viral social media is this awesome highlight reel of all the naach-gaana:
The true gift to humanity: the Indian paparazzis—who were hilarious and sweet as they tried to communicate with alien Hollywood celebs. Example: Gigi
And “makdi man” lol:
This hilarious Twitter thread has lots more such gems. And here’s a complete list of the best dressed from the night.
Two things to see…
If you’re not exhausted from all that celeb gawking:)
One: Lamborghini unveiled its first electric hybrid—Revuelto—which has 13 driving modes, goes up to 349 km/hr—but can only manage 8 miles on battery power. Wired has lots more details for car nerds. And you can see cool vids over at the Lambo website. But the pic below gives you a taste of the serious oomph level:)
Two: Gwyneth Paltrow won the case filed by a retired optometrist–who claimed she had caused traumatic brain damage by crashing into him on a ski slope in Utah. She won a symbolic $1 in damages—which is what she asked for. But the true moment of pure Goop-style revenge: when she whispered “I wish you well” on her way out the door. (Buzzfeed News)