Edited by: Piyasree Dasgupta
Researched by: Vagda Galhotra & Aarthi Ramnath
Odisha minister shot dead
Odisha’s health minister Naba Kisore Das died on Sunday evening—hours after he was shot at point blank range by a police officer who opened fire at him. The motive behind the attack hasn’t been ascertained yet and an SIT of the Crime Branch has been set up to investigate the incident. (Indian Express)
Pilot killed after two IAF jets crash
A pilot was killed after two fighter jets crashed in Madhya Pradesh during a routine training mission. Wing Commander Hanumanth Rao Sarathi couldn’t eject himself from the aircraft and sustained fatal injuries in the crash. Two other pilots ejected safely and were rescued. The remnants of the two fighter jets, a Mirage and a Sukhoi, were found at Morena in Madhya Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan, respectively.
Experts told the media that they suspected a mid-air collision considering the two jets took off from Gwalior and crashed around the same time. They added that it is possible that the Mirage went down as soon as the collision occurred leaving no time for the pilot to eject, while the Sukhoi flew a little more distance allowing the pilots to eject safely. An inquiry has been ordered into the incident, which will also determine the cause of the crash.
This accident comes four years after an incident of mid-air collision in Bengaluru that had led to the death of one pilot. In the past 70 years, 62 Indian military aircrafts have been lost to mid-air collisions. (The Hindu)
Campus tensions flare over BBC documentary
The Indian government and college authorities have been cracking down on students who have organised screenings of the BBC documentary titled ‘India: The Modi Question’. The documentary, which features an investigation into the 2002 Gujarat riots, has been termed as “propaganda” by the government and blocked on YouTube and Twitter, in India.
On 28 January, the administration of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) in Mumbai issued a circular asking students not to screen the documentary because it “may disturb the academic environment and jeopardise the peace and harmony on campus.” However, after the students were prevented from showing the documentary on a big screen for mass viewing, they gathered on the campus and watched it on their laptops and phones. On Sunday, ten Rajasthan university students were also suspended for screening the film. A day before, 24 students from Delhi University were detained for planning a screening after the university authorities alerted the police. Earlier this week, on Wednesday, about a dozen students from Jamia Millia Islamia were detained in a similar manner. On 24 January, power was cut at Jawaharlal Nehru University to prevent a screening of the documentary. The students who had gathered to view the film alleged that stones were pelted on them by a group of unidentified people. (BBC News)
Indian women’s historic win at U-19 Cricket World Cup
The women’s cricket team won the inaugural under-19 World Cup on Sunday—becoming the first women’s team in the country to win a cricket world cup. The Shafali Verma-led side dominated the game against England completely—it first sent them packing for 68 runs at the end of 17 overs and then chased the target in just 14 overs. Indian bowlers Titas Sadhu, Parshavi Chopra and Archana Devi picked up two wickets each, which set the team on the winning track. (ESPN)
The Australian Open roundup
Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for the tenth time on Sunday, beating Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets. This is the 22nd grand slam win for the Serb, who now equals Rafael Nadal’s record. He also became only the second male player, after Nadal’s 14 French Open wins, to win a grand slam more than ten times. After winning the match, Djokovic sobbed uncontrollably. Watch the moment below. (CNN)
Belarusian player Aryna Sabalenka won her maiden grand slam at the Australian Open against Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan on Saturday in a thrilling final match. Take a look at her (also tearful) winning moment.
ICYMI: Some more tears were shed after Indian tennis maestro Sania Mirza officially bid farewell to her grand slam career. Mirza lost the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open on Friday and got emotional about her retirement in a post match ceremony. See it below:
Ants can detect cancer
A recent study has found that ants can actually sniff out cancer. Ants don’t have a nose, but have a strong sense of smell due to olfactory receptors on their antennae which can be used to detect tumours in urine samples. The ants can detect certain organic compounds associated with cancer that are present in bodily fluids like sweat, urine and even mouth vapour.
According to researchers, the insects could be used one day as a noninvasive and less expensive way of detecting cancer. It takes around six months to train dogs to detect cancer, but it was possible to ‘train’ ants to detect tumours within ten minutes.
Read more details of this fascinating study in Scientific American.
Earth’s core spinning slower than before
In the 1990s, scientists discovered that Earth’s core spun at a faster pace than the surface of the planet. A recent study by Chinese researchers has now found that around 2009, the core’s spinning slowed down and now the core might be rotating slower than the surface.
However, this is not the first time the core’s speed has changed. The researchers noted that the phenomenon is part of a 70-year cycle and the same thing happened in the 1970s. The workings of the deepest layer of the Earth has been the subject of many debates and discussions in the scientific community—and this study is expected to improve their understanding of it. (Washington Post)
The latest Oscars controversy
British actress Andrea Riseborough was nominated in the Best Actor (Female) category for her performance in the little-known indie movie ‘To Leslie’, giving rise to debates on how the nomination was secured. Meanwhile, two actors of colour who were expected to be nominated—Viola Davis (‘The Woman King’) and Danielle Deadwyler (‘Till’)—did not make it to the list.
Reports suggest that Riseborough was able to secure the Oscars nod because of a relentless campaign mounted by the film’s director Michael Morris and his wife, actor Mary McCormack. They called and emailed several members of the Academy’s actors’ branch requesting them to watch the film. Many A-list stars, including Kate Winslet, Jane Fonda and Amy Adams, then praised Riseborough’s performance. This is believed to have secured the nomination for the film.
Why this matters: The Oscars reportedly have strict rules on how studios can reach out to voters. These include guidelines on the frequency of communication as a part of an Oscars campaign and even content of emails to voters. There are also a long list of rules on screenings, receptions etc. Point to note: Davis and Deadwyler were backed by well-funded campaigns—and some have criticised Riseborough’s nomination as “the worst kind of racially-tinged cronyism, where the connections outshined the work”.
The Academy has now announced that it will be reviewing the “campaign procedures” of this year’s nominees, without explicitly mentioning Riseborough. However, no formal complaint has been filed so far. (Puck, paywalled, The Guardian)
In some good news: SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ scored a nomination at the Oscars in the Best Original Song category for ‘Naatu Naatu’. Two Indian documentary films ‘All That Breathes’ and ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ were also nominated in the Best Documentary Feature Film and the Best Documentary Short Film categories, respectively.
Pathaan smashes box office records
Shah Rukh Khan’s much-awaited movie ‘Pathaan’ broke several box office records in the first week of its release. It earned a whopping Rs 57 crore on its opening day—which is the biggest opening for a Bollywood film ever. Then, the film crossed the Rs 200 crore mark in just four days, making it the fastest Hindi movie to reach the milestone. It has also been doing incredibly well overseas earning a record Rs 313 crore as of Friday, which is the biggest opening weekend collection for a Bollywood movie globally. (Deadline)
Two things to see
One: A team of international researchers have found one of the largest meteorites ever discovered in Antarctica. The rock weighs 7.6 kg and is made of chondrite, the most common type of meteorite material found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Chondrite is also the oldest known material in the solar system. (Independent UK)
Two: A rare first-time sighting of the American Black Vulture in Gurugram, has both excited and puzzled birdwatchers in the NCR. Black vultures are found only in parts of South and North America, and there are no previous records of their migration to India. Many birders and wildlife conservationists suspect that the vulture probably escaped from a zoo or from wildlife traffickers. See it below. (NDTV)