Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Imran Khan’s arrest: Supreme Court steps in
The former prime minister was arrested on corruption charges (explained here) on Tuesday. The move sparked unprecedented protests aimed at the military. An anti-corruption court approved a request to keep Khan in custody for eight days. But it was overruled by the Supreme Court—which has declared his detention unlawful—and ordered his immediate release. The reason: Khan was arrested on the premises of an Islamabad courthouse—while he was undergoing biometric tests—for a separate case. The Court also assured Khan that he is under its protection. (BBC News)
Supreme Court draws red lines in Delhi
The context: As a national capital, New Delhi has a special status—which gives the Lieutenant Governor extraordinary powers to influence the administration of the city. The constitutional limits on that power became a sore point once AAP came to power. A key issue: the power to appoint and transfer IAS officers to important bureaucratic posts. The Kejriwal government argued that the LG was exercising direct control over these officials:
The party has, over the past year, alleged that L-G Saxena has interfered in the working of the government since the day he was elected by holding meetings with officials directly without involving the ministers. This, it said, has led to insubordination, with former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia filing an affidavit in Supreme Court stating that officers were not appearing for meetings held by ministers or taking their calls.
What happened now: The Supreme Court ruled that the Delhi government has exclusive powers over transfer and posting of IAS officers—except in matters relating to “police, public order and land". Also this:
The involvement of the Union of India in the administration of NCTD (National Capital Territory of Delhi) is limited by constitutional provisions, and any further expansion would be contrary to the constitutional scheme of governance.
Say hello to Bard
Google’s AI chatbot has been rolled out in 180 countries—including India. Until now, it was only available to users in the US and UK—who had to sign on to a waitlist. To outshine its nemesis ChatGPT, Bard is promising lots of new features—including image generation powered by Adobe. You can also see how Google Search will change in the screenshot below. Sadly, only US users can test-drive the new version of the search engine for now. The Verge has more details. You can give Bard a spin over here. This thread lists the advantages the free-to-use Bard has over ChatGPT.
A Google Earth shocker: Twenty years of satellite imagery of India has mysteriously vanished. There are no historical images available beyond 2020. This is the case only for locations in India—not any other country. Why these images matter: they help track changes in topography and urbanisation—such as disappearing lakes or forest cover. Google claims it’s reprocessing the data, but some researchers fear this takedown is the result of a government diktat. Although there is no evidence of that, it is still alarming that Google pulled the data without notice or explanation. (The Hindu)
Meanwhile, at Twitter: CEO Elon Musk announced that an unnamed woman will be replacing him within six weeks: “My role will transition to being exec chair & CTO, overseeing product, software & sysops.” Hmm, that doesn’t sound like much of a change. According to Wall Street Journal, NBCUniversal’s head of advertising Linda Yaccarino is in talks to take the top job.
Death of a Kerala doctor
The shocking murder of a young house surgeon has rocked the state. Vandana Das was stabbed to death by a patient—who was brought in to treat a leg wound. He stabbed Das with surgical scissors—and assaulted four police officers. The man was likely high on drugs. The state doctors union and the Indian Medical Association have called a one-day strike to express their outrage at the lack of security in hospitals. FYI: this is hardly an isolated incident:
An ongoing study by Indian Medical Association reports that 75% of doctors in India have faced violence at some point of time in their life, and most of the time, it is verbal abuse. Emergency and ICU are the most violent venues and visiting hours is the most violent time.
The News Minute has more testimonies from Kerala doctors.
Disney+ gets the IPL blues
The streaming platform lost four million subscribers in the first quarter—bringing its global numbers down to 157.8 million. The culprit: Indians who dumped Disney+ when it lost the IPL streaming rights to Reliance’s Viacom18. But, but, but: losing out on IPL also helped the platform’s bottomline. Its operating loss shrank to $659 million from $1.1 billion in the previous quarter. CEO Bob Iger has been on a cost-slashing spree—which included not renewing the HBO licence in India. But Wall Street still isn’t happy. Disney shares fell 4.4% in after-hours trading. Good to remember: the Mickey Mouse company makes most of its money from its theme parks—whose operating income jumped 23% to $2.2 billion from last year. (Reuters)
Taylor Swift insanity hits bookstores
For all sorts of far-fetched reasons, the pop star’s fans have decided that she is the unnamed author of an untitled book—known as ‘4C Untitled Flatiron Nonfiction Summer 2023.’ The mystery memoir contains 544 pages—and costs a hefty $45. But that has not deterred Swifties from snapping up the book and sending it rocketing up the bestseller list—long before its release. Unfortunately, the fans appear to have misread Swift’s ‘clues—or more accurately, imagined them:
[A]ll these things are apparent coincidences, as she is not gearing up to release a memoir almost simultaneously with her next album and smack in the middle of a national stadium tour, which might count as an excessive exercise in synergy even for someone as capable of project-multitasking as a Taylor Swift.
Four things to see
One: Oh look! It’s Deepika on the cover of TIME magazine—as “the global star” who is “bringing the world to Bollywood.” Padukone is hardly the first Indian actor to get this star treatment. That honour belongs to Parveen Babi who made the cover back in 1976! Since then, TIME has featured Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Aamir Khan (twice!). On a related note: Alia Bhatt became the first Indian brand ambassador for Gucci. (TIME)
Two: Protesters threw cake at the chairman of Volkswagen—to protest the company’s factory in Xinjiang—a region where the Uyghurs have been put in labour camps by the Chinese government. VW has denied using forced labour. (Quartz)
Three: Fans of Modern Love will be happy to know that the next Indian adaptation of the anthology series will drop on May 18 on Amazon Prime. This time, the stories are based in Chennai. See the trailer below. (The Hindu)