Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Sharad Pawar’s bombshell exit
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar shocked his own party by announcing that he’s quitting his job—and will no longer contest elections. The move comes weeks after rumours of his nephew Ajit Pawar joining the BJP—and taking a hefty chunk of NCP MLAs with him a la Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde. The news sparked chaos, panic and tears in the party leadership. Ajit—who has emerged as the heir apparent—did his best to quell the outrage but to little effect. It is unclear whether Pawar Sr is serious about quitting or pulling a political stunt to out-manoeuvre his nephew. He pointedly did not name Ajit as his successor. And Ajit has now told agitated party workers that Pawar “will rethink his decision and requires 2-3 days.”
The BJP angle: There is also speculation that an Ajit-led NCP will jump the opposition ship. Reminder: in 2019, Ajit was sworn in as BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis’ deputy CM—before he went running back to the NCP fold. But it may pose a problem for the ruling alliance between the BJP and the Eknath Shinde-led faction—which made it clear that it won’t be part of any alliance with NCP. Well, never say never in politics. (NDTV)
Tata makes a big Apple move
Taiwan-based Wistron—which manufactures iPhones in India—is shutting down its operations. The Tata Group is readying to snap up its 2.2-million-square foot factory in Karnataka—which accounts for most of Wistron’s output in India. The change of ownership comes at a time when Apple is readying to expand operations in India. Wistron is one of three Taiwanese companies that assemble Apple products in India. It may be just the first of Tata’s acquisitions:
Industry experts believe that the Tata Group is eyeing manufacturing for Apple to be a golden opportunity, especially as the Indian government is courting Apple extensively to shift its production to India. Industry insiders speculate Tata will potentially acquire Pegatron’s manufacturing units for iPhone once the Wistron takeover is complete.
Quartz has more details.
IPL tamasha: Virat Kohli vs Gautam Gambhir
A thriller between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Lucknow SuperGiants ended in a shouting match between RCB’s ex-captain Virat Kohli and LSG mentor Gautam Gambhir. It all started with some on-field sledging between Kohli, RCB pacer
Mohammed Siraj and LSG batsman Naveen-ul-Haq. But after the win, things heated up again between Virat and Naveen—and then Gambhir stepped in and things kicked off:
Initially, Kohli looked like he wanted to pacify things and was trying to explain the incident by putting a hand on Gambhir’s shoulder. In a matter of seconds, things turned ugly and tempers flared with both of them having a go at each other. Kohli and Gambhir were seen exchanging words and had to be separated by the two sets of players, including RCB captain Faf du Plessis and his LSG counterpart KL Rahul.
The fallout: Both Gambhir and Kohli have been fined 100% of their match fee. But none of the men involved appear to be apologetic. Kohli later said: “A sweet win. If you can give it, you got to take it. Otherwise don’t give it.” Naveen struck a similar note: “You get what you deserve. That’s how it should be and that’s how it goes.”
Frankly, this is far more ‘real’ drama than we’ve come to expect in an IPL game—which usually has to rely on gimmicks like ‘impact players’ to keep things interesting. Ofc, since Gambhir is a BJP MP this has become political on Twitter—but it seems the two men have clashed before. Indian Express has a blow-by-blow account—while the clip of the altercation is below.
Warning: Hollywood writers are on strike
The context: In April, members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) voted by a historic margin—98% to 2%—to authorise its leaders to call a strike. The WGA is in the middle of renegotiating a three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Talks have stalled because writers want a bigger slice of the streaming pie:
Writers say they have suffered financially during the streaming TV boom, in part due to shorter seasons and smaller residual payments. Half of TV series writers now work at minimum salary levels, compared with one-third in the 2013-14 season.
But their demands come at a time when studios are under pressure to slash costs.
What happened now: 11,500 TV and movie writers went on strike at midnight on Tuesday. All script writing will stop immediately. The most immediate effect will be on late-night shows and ‘Saturday Night Live’—all which will immediately go dark. But other shows and movies will soon be affected:
Scripted series and films will take longer to be affected. But if a strike persisted through the summer, fall schedules could be upended. And in the meantime, not having writers available for rewrites can have a dramatic effect on quality. The James Bond film “Quantum of Solace” was one of many films rushed into production during the 2007-2008 strike with what Daniel Craig called “the bare bones of a script.”
GoFirst is out of business
The airline has cancelled all its flights due to unpaid fuel bills—and filed for bankruptcy. GoFirst is owned by Nusli Wadia—whose biz empire includes Britannia and Bombay Dyeing. The airline has been in the news for repeated technical glitches during flights—prompting aviation authorities to ground half its flights. All of which cost the company Rs 108 billion (10,800 crore) in lost revenues. Read our Big Story on how the shrinking number of airlines will affect your flying experience. (Hindustan Times)
OTOH: Domestic traffic hit a record high on April 30—as 456,082 passengers flew on 2,978 flights on a single day. (BBC News)
Starship trouble for SpaceX
The context: On April 20, SpaceX’s Starship rocket exploded soon after launch on its first test flight. The blast ignited a 3.5 acre brush fire, hurled chunks of reinforced concrete and metal shrapnel thousands of feet from the site. Mercifully, no one was hurt on this unmanned flight, but it damaged the area around the launch site in South Texas:
The shattering force of the launch hurled chunks of reinforced concrete and metal shrapnel thousands of feet from the site, adjacent to the Lower Rio Grand Valley National Wildlife Refuge… The blast also ignited a 3.5-acre (1.4-hectare) brush fire and sent a cloud of pulverized concrete drifting 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to the northwest and raining down over tidal flats and the nearby town of Port Isabel, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
What happened now: Five environmental groups have sued the Federal Aviation Administration for greenlighting the SpaceX flight—without a proper environmental impact assessment. What they want: “To force the FAA to revoke the launch licence they previously issued to SpaceX and require an EIS before issuing another one.” To be clear, there is no damning evidence of damage to endangered wildlife as yet. FYI: CEO Elon Musk compared the fallout to "a human-made sandstorm." (Reuters)
Tiger trouble for cheetahs
Sigh! Each week brings worrying tidings for the cheetahs relocated from Africa to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Two of them died over the last month due to health issues. Now, a tiger from Ranthambore has wandered into the reserve. Forest officials are keeping an eye for potential cat-on-cat conflict—but aren’t too worried. Wildlife experts disagree:
Kuno National Park has seen the movement of male tigers many times but they never made it their territory. Cheetahs live mostly in open land with lions and hyenas but a tiger will be new for them. In an open land, cheetahs can sense the risk. But in a thick forest, a tiger, which is an ambush hunter, will have an upper hand.
FYI: Kuno also has around 50 leopards. Even before the cheetahs arrived, conservationists warned there is no scientific evidence that “cheetahs, lions, tigers and leopards can coexist comfortably in the same habitat. It has never occurred anywhere else before, so there is no real-life experience to draw upon.” Our Big Story has more on the cheetah project. (Hindustan Times)
Two things to see
One: Liberals love to hate on Kangana Ranaut—and often with good reason. But when she was asked about her views on gay marriage, Ranaut offered this compassionate answer:
Jo shaadi hoti hai, woh dil ke rishte hote hai, ye sab hi jante hai. Jab logo ke dil mil gaye hai, baaki kuch logo ki jo preference hai, usme hum kya bol sakte hai (Marriage is a matter of the heart, and everyone knows that. When hearts have met, what can we say about people's preferences)?
Two: A female walrus named Freya became an internet sensation last year when she was seen basking on boats in Oslo. Sadly, she became a magnet for badly behaved humans—which eventually led to her death:
She became a danger to visitors who ignored the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries orders to keep a clear distance from her, instead getting up close to take photos of the mammal and even throwing objects at her. This prompted the directorate to make the decision to put her down, leaving many across the country enraged.
She has now attained immortality in the shape of a life-sized bronze statue—that shows Freya curled up on her side close to the water’s edge. The sculptor said: “In my head, my goal was to make an immortal symbol of people’s ability to mistreat not just wildlife but also humans.” Well, that’s humans for you. Like we said, it’s complicated. (CNN)