Researched by: Aarthi Ramnath & Priyanka Gulati
Northeast elections: Big victories predicted for BJP
Exit polls predict that the saffron party will retain power in Tripura—and stage a comeback in Nagaland. Meghalaya appears to be headed for a hung house. Congress was wiped out in all three states. Pollsters were the most divided in Tripura—which the BJP wrested from CPI(M) in the last election. The results range from a bare majority to a sweeping win. The Hindu and Indian Express have more details.
The Manish Sisodia arrest: The latest update
The deputy chief minister has been sent to five days in CBI custody by a special court. The judge agreed with the agency that Sisodia had failed to “legitimately explain the incriminating evidence which has allegedly surfaced against him in the investigation.”
Reminder: He is accused of passing a favourable liquor excise policy in exchange for 1,000 million (Rs 100 crore) in kickbacks—which were used by AAP in the Punjab elections. We explained the case in detail in this Big Story. Indian Express has details of the arguments made in court. The Telegraph has an odd angle based on BJP sources—who claim this is a clever move to elevate AAP at Congress’ expense.
The end of the Brexit melodrama
The context: The deal sealing Britain’s exit from the EU has been hanging in limbo for years. The reason: Ireland is still a member of the EU but Northern Ireland is not—since it is part of Britain. However, the borders between the two have to be kept open—as a key part of the Good Friday peace deal brokered to end the violence in Northern Ireland.
According to the original Brexit deal, everything coming into Northern Island from the rest of Britain would be subject to customs checks and duties. That made Northern Ireland unhappy. But junking that requirement—as former PM Boris Johnson tried to do—made the EU angry.
What happened now: PM Rishi Sunak finally brokered an agreement with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen—which is now being called the Windsor protocol. They arrived on a compromise: goods that will remain inside Northern Ireland will not be subject to custom checks—since they are moving inside the country. But anything headed for Ireland will not be exempt. Washington Post has all the mind-numbing details you need about this story. Politico explains why King Charles’ decision to host von der Leyen has turned into a controversy.
The first foreign campus in India
Deakin University will become the first to set up a campus in India. The Australian university will open its doors in Gujarat’s GIFT City—and will start operations next year. Deakin is ranked #266 in the world—so not exactly a top tier university. Also waiting to set up shop in Gujarat: University of Wollongong—which is ranked #85 in the world and #10 in Australia. For more context, see our must-read Big Story on the government’s big plan to attract foreign universities to India. (Indian Express)
A new corporate scandal in coal
A Reporter’s Collective investigation has found that an auction for a coal mine in West Bengal in 2015—was deliberately rigged to favour the RP-Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG) group. Here’s how absurd the bidding process was:
[T]he first bid came one hour and 37 minutes later from a conglomerate’s firm. Of the five companies that were eligible to compete, only one kept sparring with the firm. Another made a fleeting appearance once and the rest did not bid. Three of those five bidders, including the winner, belonged to the same conglomerate, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka (RPSG) group.
The investigation published in Al Jazeera has lots more on yet another instance of crony capitalism.
Also playing favourites: the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio. It kicked the Press Trust of India to the curb—and has now inked a deal with a different news agency: Hindusthan Samachar—which has close links to the RSS. It was set up in 1948 because “the country needed a news agency that would not only cater news through its own languages but was also inspired, motivated and informed by a spirit of true bharatiya (Indian) nationalism.” Prasar Bharati has long been unhappy with PTI—and claimed its reporting was not in “national interest.”
But the real significance of this move lies in the soaring popularity of the government’s free satellite TV service: DD FreeDish—which may soon replace cable in rural India. This will be the TV news that most Indians will consume in the future. (Indian Express)
Worrying changes in India’s coastline
A comprehensive study conducted by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shows that we have lost over 3,680 hectares of land due to coastal erosion over 10 years. Researchers looked at data collected from two periods: 2004-06 and 2014-16. Andaman and Nicobar Islands have the longest eroding coastline (231 km). West Bengal (36%) has the highest percentage of eroding shoreline—followed by Odisha (32%), Kerala (23%) and Andhra Pradesh (23%). While coastal areas often erode and accrete—i.e extend beaches, this level of erosion is alarming at a time when the world is bracing for rising sea levels—caused by global warming. (The Print)
And the SAG award goes to…
We are delighted to inform you that Brendan Fraser won best actor for his role in ‘The Whale’—at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards. Of course, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ grabbed the headlines by scoring four big wins—including best actress for Michelle Yeoh—who said: "This is not just for me, it's for every little girl who looks like me.” Watch her emotional speech below:
Four things to see
One: Nokia has changed its icon after 60 years—signalling that it is no longer a smartphone brand but a “business technology company.” The new logo has five different shapes forming the word NOKIA—in different colours. Reuters has more on what the shift means. We personally like the green frog below, but you can see the rest over here.
Two: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was spotted having chai at a roadside stall in Delhi. This is his first trip to India after replacing Angela Merkel back in 2021.
Three: We missed this one yesterday: Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag dancing with the team after they won the Carabao Cup—beating Newcastle 2-0. It’s amazing what the exit of a Ronaldo can do for team spirit. (Sky News)
Four: The Mexican president has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. He shared a photo on Twitter—claiming it was proof of a sighting of Aluxe—a woodland spirit from Mayan mythology. Well, at least now the entire world is suddenly interested in Mexican folklore lol! (USA Today)