Researched by: Rachel John, Sara Varghese, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
The Adani debacle: the latest update
Ever since Hindenburg Research released its report accusing the Adani Group of stock manipulation, its fortunes have been plummeting with each passing day. If you have no clue what this is about, please read our two-part guide—starting with a summary of the report. Here’s what happened over the weekend:
- S&P Global Ratings–which ranks the credit risk of companies–downgraded Adani Ports and Adani Electricity Mumbai from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’.
- Both Wall Street Journal and Forbes took a closer look at Adani’s investors. WSJ found that one of the key investors in Adani Power has ties to the Adani family. Forbes found that three of the investment funds that signed for the FPO are also closely linked to the Adani Group.
- A flurry of reports raised questions about the future of key infrastructure projects entrusted to Adani. These include three massive projects just in Mumbai, including its airport.
- Everyone is worried about where Adani will find the money to fulfil his big infrastructure contracts—especially since he’s shelved the plan to sell bonds as well—including its international bonds.
- And it’s not just India. Adani also has significant commitments in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.
- Point to remember: he raised $4.5 billion from foreign banks to buy companies like Ambuja Cements and will soon have to pay the first instalment on that loan.
- There is news of the company slashing its capital expenditure to get out of this crunch. And it will pay for the infra products from its own pocket.
- The government has stayed mum on the entire mess—other than to delink the prospects of the Indian economy from that of Adani.
- Unnamed “senior government officials” told Reuters that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs is now reviewing Adani Group’s financial statements. But we still don’t know whether the government plans to throw Adani under the bus—or ride out the political fallout.
- Related reads: Bloomberg News offers a look ahead on what to expect next in this saga. Reuters has an intriguing report that raises a key question about Hindenburg: how can they bet against an Indian company that traded on the Indian stock exchange—when our laws explicitly forbid it.
The General is dead
Pervez Musharaff is one of the most memorable Pakistani leaders of the modern era. A military despot who set out to be the modernising saviour of his country—a la Turkey’s Kemal Ataturk—became hostage to the extremist forces he aimed to blunt. The former president died in Dubai of amyloidosis—a rare disease caused by the buildup of the protein amyloid in organs and tissues. He was 79. BBC News and The Hindu have good obituaries that capture his rollercoaster reign. The Telegraph revisits 1999—the year of the Kargil War. Indian Express has an interesting read on Musharraf’s visit to his old ancestral home in Old Delhi in 2001. (Reuters)
The Grammys 2023: A quick roundup
All the biggest names were up for awards this year—Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Adele and more. Starting with the red carpet, Cardi B looked awesome in this Gaurav Gupta creation:
On the other end of the spectrum, Harry Styles:
Here’s what we know about the awards so far.
- Viola Davis earned her EGOT—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—when she won best audiobook, narration & storytelling recording for her memoir ‘Finding Me’.
- Beyoncé’s ‘Cuff It’ won best R&B song—making her the most decorated artist in history of the awards. She is now tied with Hungarian-British conductor Georg Solti. If she wins one more, it will put her over the top.
- FYI: she wasn’t there to accept the award—which host Trevor Noah blamed on traffic—but showed up in the audience soon after.
- Kim Petras made Grammy history as the first transgender woman to win a Grammy—for her win alongside Sam Smith in the best pop duo category.
- Kendrick Lamar unsurprisingly won best rap album for ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’
Clips to see: We loved Noah’s intro to Harry Styles:
Ben Affleck looking amusingly miserable—that expression is a meme waiting to happen:
Finally, here’s Taylor Swift rocking out to Bad Bunny. What’s not to like?
That’s it. We have to publish. So for the rest, jump on Twitter or wait for our edition tomorrow:)
Contaminated eye drops alert
EzriCare artificial tears have been linked to at least 55 cases of bacterial infection in the United States. Of these 5 suffered vision loss and one person has died. The eye drops contained Pseudomonas aeruginosa—which is resistant to most antibiotics. It is manufactured by Chennai-based Global Pharma Healthcare—which has issued a “voluntary recall” of the product. US health authorities are still trying to figure out the cause: “It is unclear whether the contamination occurred during the manufacturing process, or when bottles were opened by consumers.” Point to note: these drops are not sold in India.
FYI, this tragedy comes on the heels of the cough syrup scandal—in which Indian-made syrups were linked to deaths of little kids in Gambia (explained here) and Uzbekistan (explained here). (NBC News)
A Vitamin D link to suicide?
A small study of military vets found that Vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of suicide and self-harm. Vitamin D2—derived from plant sources—resulted in a 48.8% drop in the risk of attempted suicide. Animal-based D3 supplements reduced the same by 44.8%. Why veterans? Because former soldiers are 1.5 times as likely to die by suicide as civilians.
Interesting point to note: The Vit D was way more effective with Black participants. The likely reason: Vitamin D deficiency is higher among people of colour. In India, approximately 490 million people suffer from it—of which 31% are children and adolescents. Point to note: While previous studies have linked low vitamin D levels to depression and suicide risk, none of the research has been able to establish a cause-effect relationship—including this one. (Gizmodo)
Should comatose women be surrogates?
Everyone is furious at a paper published by a bioethicist that suggests brain-dead women should be used as surrogate mothers. It would be limited to women who have given their consent for whole body gestational donation (WBGD)—much as we give consent to organ donation in advance of our death. The reasoning: it solves the ethical issues of using poor women (typically of colour) to bear children for wealthy parents. And it doesn’t have to be limited to women:
“I suggest that — all other things being equal — it should be an option for anyone who wishes to avoid the risks and burdens of gestating a foetus in their own body,” she said, adding, “I suggest that brain stem dead men would also have the potential to gestate, meaning that the pool of potential donors is further increased – and that certain feminist concerns might thus be assuaged.”
But the argument did little to assuage feminists and human rights activists, who said: “Women are not utensils to be thrown away after use, women have human rights, even if some people forget this.” The Colombian medical association—which published the paper—has since apologised. FYI: The author is Norwegian and a woman: Anna Smajdor. (The Telegraph UK via Yahoo News)
Big transgender moment in India
Zahad and his partner Ziya Paval will soon become the first transgender couple to become biological parents in India. Zahad—the country’s first-known pregnant transman—is eight months along, and almost ready to pop. Both parents-to-be were transitioning, but put the process on pause to have a baby, which is due March 4.
See photos from their pregnancy announcement here. (The Quint)
Nick Kyrgios catches a break
The Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios was in court—on assault charges for pushing his then girlfriend onto the pavement during an argument in 2021. While Kyrgios pleaded guilty, the judge Beth Campbell did not impose any punishment—calling it an act of “stupidity” and “frustration.” (Associated Press)
Two things to see
One: Thirty-year-old Bobi is officially the oldest dog in the world. He is a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo—a native breed who lives in Portugal. He inherits the title from an Australian cattle dog who lived to around 29.5 years—who held the title for almost a century! His owners attribute Bobi’s miraculous longevity to living in calm countryside, never having been chained or kept on a leash and always eating "human food". Watch the Guiness World of Records vid below. (Reuters)
Two: The Election Commission has released a voter awareness anthem titled ‘Mai Bharat Hoon’—which will brighten up your intervals at movie theatres. It’s written and produced by Bollywood director Subhash Ghai—and performed by the likes Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, Hariharan, Mika Singh and Papon. Watch the multilingual version below. (Indian Express)