Researched by: Aarthi Ramnath, Rachel John, Niveditha Ajay & Rhea Saincher
Mr Modi goes to Amreeka
The Prime Minister has landed in New York just in time to lead Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations. This is his first official state visit to the US. There will be lots to discuss—including defence, technology and trade. It is unlikely that President Biden will bring up human rights—despite pressure from Democrats in Congress. Modi’s already had a chat with Elon Musk—who called it an “excellent and a very good conversation"—and said Tesla will be in India and “will do so as soon as humanly possible." Translation: don’t hold your breath. (The Hindu)
Paris Olympics 2024: Let the anti-corruption raids begin!
French police raided the offices of the Paris 2024 Olympics Committee on suspicion of embezzlement of public funds and favouritism. We don’t know the exact charges as yet. The committee president is lawmaker Tony Estanguet who faced corruption accusations linked to his support for Qatar’s recent World Cup bid. Estanguet had promised that the organisation’s workings would be “beyond reproach”—which is always a bad sign for a politician:) This is becoming a bit of a trend. The past two Olympics—in Rio and Tokyo—were also embroiled in similar scandals. (Quartz)
Canada’s immigration dividend
The country’s population crossed 40 million and grew by 2.7%—all thanks to its aggressive recruitment of high-skilled immigrants. Last year, Canada added one million people to its population and 96% of them were immigrants:
The government has set an ambitious goal of adding 500,000 new permanent residents a year by 2025 to bolster Canada’s economy by keeping it young. While many other high-income economies are struggling with an aging native-born population and a shrinking workforce, Canada hopes that newcomers will care for its elderly, invent new tech, and cook up Timbits.
In other words, Canadians are importing their demographic dividend. What caught our eye: they are far more supportive of immigration than other Western nations: “69% of Canadians disagree with the idea that there is too much immigration to the country.” (Bloomberg News, paywall, Morning Brew)
Google India takes Apple’s cue
We’ve suddenly become the hottest place to make a smartphone. Google is reportedly planning to assemble its Pixel phones in India—and is talking to local companies and Apple supplier FoxConn. Pixel is Google’s fanciest phone—and its price would drop if it is made at home—making it more competitive in the Indian market. But none of this is a done deal. (Bloomberg, paywall, Mint)
Bad news about Himalayan glaciers
A new report shows that they are melting faster than ever—in fact, 65% faster than previous predictions. And it will get worse as the planet heats up:
With between 1.5°C to 2°C of warming, the world’s highest mountain region stands to lose 30% to 50% of its volume by 2100, the latest report said. If the world breaches 3°C of warming, glaciers in Nepal and Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas are at risk of losing 75% of their ice, and by just one degree more, that ticks up to 80%, according to the report.
Why this is potentially catastrophic: The glaciers in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya mountain range feed 12 rivers that provide freshwater to two billion people in 16 countries. (CNN)
Everyone’s mad at Netflix India
K-Drama fans are angry that the platform will not release new episodes of two popular shows—until a Hindi dub is available. While the rest of the world enjoys new instalments of ‘King The Land’ and ‘See You In My 19th Life’, Indians will have to wait until July 13 for the former and June 29 for the latter. The shows are not available in Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia either—because Latin American Spanish subtitles are not ready. The Hindu has more details about this unexpected Netflix lag.
Bhutan to world: Only fat cat tourists please!
The nation charges visitors a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF)—used to preserve its environment and compensate for the carbon footprint of tourism. It was first a hefty $65 per night—which jumped to an eye-watering $200 to discourage budget travellers after Covid lockdown ended. But now the government wants more tourism moolah. Visitors who pay daily fees for four days will be allowed to stay an extra four days—while those who pay for 12 days can stay for a full month. The catch: this only applies to folks who can pay in dollars. Sad. (Reuters)
AI translator for ancient scripts
The context: Cuneiform is the world’s oldest form of writing—and the Akkadian version was used in Mesopotamia and the Middle East from around 3,000 BCE to 100 CE—that’s 2,000 years ago. Until now, it was very difficult to read—and only a handful of experts possess the skill. As a result, a limited number of the 500,000 clay tablets have been translated.
What happened now: Researchers in Israel have developed an AI program that can translate these tablets into English. But the results are not 100% reliable as yet:
Some translations were very good, some were near the point, where you could start from it, but you would have to make it more accurate manually, and some were total hallucinations. This is the first step for an automatic translation for Akkadian and ancient languages, and I really hope more research will be done in this area and translations will get better and have higher accuracy.
One amusing example of what these tablets say: “If he cleans his garments, his days will be long.” Well, laundry days are a drag. Times of Israel has lots more nerdy details on the tool—and you can check out an early demo version here.
Sticking with ancient history: Rome has opened a walkway that allows tourists to visit the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated. Until now, you could only view it at a distance—behind barriers on a nearby road. (Reuters)
The world’s most expensive city is…
Singapore! It toppled Shanghai from the top spot. It is now at #2—followed by Hong Kong. Other notable movements: Mumbai also became more expensive—climbing from #24 to #18. But Zurich and Tokyo became cheaper—dropped from #7 and #8, respectively, to #14 and #15. (Quartz)
‘Adipurush’ crashes and burns
The movie collapsed at the box office on Monday—earning only Rs 77.5 million (Rs 7.75 crore). A steep drop of 78%. Its total earnings so far: Rs 1.13 billion (Rs 113 crore). What the movie cost: Rs 7 billion (700 crore). Yeah, that is not good news. (NDTV)
Two things to see
One: Get ready for a new dose of Karan Johar magic/bullshit. This one is called ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’—and has an expectedly stellar cast—Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi and Jaya Bachchan. It releases in theatres on July 28. (Indian Express)
Two: The Victoria and Albert (V&A) museum in London is putting on an exhibition of the iconic outfits worn by female pop stars. It has a feminist mission you can read more about here. In any case, we are loving Tina Turner’s Flame Dress. Also check out Vogue France’s ‘Who Wore It Best’ spread for the dress—the other contestants being Cher and Beyoncé. (The Guardian)