Researched by: Rachel John & Anannya Parekh
Are you Indian or a Bhartiya nagrik?
President Droupadi Murmu referred to herself as the ‘President of Bharat’ while sending invites to the leaders at the G20 summit. And mayhem ensued. There was fevered speculation about a government plan to remove ‘India’ from the Constitution at the upcoming special session of Parliament—although government ministers have fiercely denied it.
The southern states are furious for obvious reasons—and INDIA alliance leaders “alleged that the shift to using the name ‘Bharat’ instead of India in English language communication, was a way of preventing the alliance from being identified with the country’s name.” You can see the controversial invite below.
The legal view: according to The Hindu is as follows:
The fact is that the terms Bharat and India can be used interchangeably, especially in view of the authorised Hindi version of the Indian Constitution, but the government cannot stipulate that everyone use only one name: either is permissible and usable interchangeably.
An actual name change will require a constitutional amendment.
The celeb bandwagon: In any case, that single invite is front-page news—and celebs like Big B have jumped in to establish their ‘bharatiya’ cred. Viru Sehwag now wants cricket uniforms to say ‘Bharat’ instead of India—because BCCI prez Jay Shah is clearly short of bad ideas.
Speaking of other bharatiya plans: The PM and CM Yogi Adityanath are contemplating building a “museum of temple” in Ayodhya—which will “showcase the history, architecture and significance of famous temples across the country.” (Indian Express)
New twist in the Adani saga
The context: Gautam Adani’s corporate empire has been making all the wrong headlines ever since Hindenburg accused it of stock manipulation in January. Last week, a global media consortium published the results of its investigation—which named at least two Mauritius funds involved in illegally pumping money into Adani companies. We explained the latest in this Big Story—while this two-part series (here and here) has more on the Hindenburg report.
What happened now: A Mint investigation reveals that six of the eight Bermuda- and Mauritius-based funds named in previous investigations have shut down. This makes it even harder for Indian regulatory authorities—namely, SEBI—to trace the actual beneficiaries of these accounts. That’s because these taxshore havens maintain threadbare records after two years. Mint has lots more on why the Adani investigation may be a deadend because SEBI refused to act on time.
India’s insanely hot August
It’s been the hottest August since 1901. Delhi recorded its hottest day in 85 years on Monday. India also witnessed its driest August in over a century—as the rainfall was 36% lower than average. The main culprit: El Niño–and here’s the Big Story that explains why. (NDTV)
Also soaring: due to the heat: sugar prices—which are the highest in six years. The prices are spiking because sugar mill owners are worried about an upcoming drought:
Sugar output could fall by 3.3% to 31.7 million metric tons in the new season starting from Oct. 1 as low rainfall hits cane yields in the western state of Maharashtra and Karnataka in southern India, which together account for more than half of total Indian output, a leading trade body estimated.
This isn’t good news at a time when food inflation continues to climb. The government will likely curb sugar exports—as it has with rice—which in turn will raise global prices—which are already at record levels. (Reuters)
The sheer insanity of World Cup ticket prices
Tickets for India matches were sold out within minutes when they were released on BookMyShow earlier this week. And a number of fans are crying foul:
“I used four different devices in parallel. All my friends were also trying in parallel. None of us got tickets. It’s not possible that matches will sell out within minutes. There seems to be a backdoor for people who have connections. But what about people like us?”
The reason for the so-called shortage: the BCCI is hoarding tickets:
“It’s total chaos inside BCCI. Earlier, it was decided that at least 30% of tickets would be sold online. But, in reality, less than 10% of tickets are made available to BookMyShow," said one of the officials on condition of anonymity. The second official confirmed that for the most-anticipated clash—the India vs. Pakistan match on 14 October—less than 15,000 tickets were available online. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad has a seating capacity of 132,000.
Point to note: Black market tickets are available on other apps such as Viagogo—but at insane prices. Tickets to the India vs Australia match are selling for as much as Rs 2.85 lakh. The price tag for premium seats to the India vs Pakistan match: Rs 57 lakh. (Mint)
A controversial origin story for humans
The context: Around 7 million years (or 13 million) ago, the first ancient human species diverged from the apes. All the human species that evolved—and went extinct since are collectively known as hominins. But ‘homonines’ includes humans, the African apes (chimps, bonobos and gorillas) and their fossil ancestors. We have always thought that all the evolutionary action started in Africa—apes diverged from early humans—who kept evolving until they spread out of Africa to populate the world. Our Big Story has lots more on the recent scholarship on human evolution.
What happened now: A new study of fossils in Turkey claims to have discovered a species of ape named Anadoluvius turkae—who the researchers think is the common ancestor of all the apes and early humans in Africa. The newly identified ape most notably originated in Europe and then moved into Africa. To be clear: all the exciting bit when the first humans evolved happened in Africa. But here’s why this matters to experts:
[W]e need to know where the common ancestor of African apes and humans evolved so that we can begin to understand the circumstances of this evolution. Between 14 million and 7 million years ago, the areas in which apes were found in Europe, Asia and Africa were different ecologically, just as many regions in these continents differ today. Knowing the ecological conditions in which our ancestors evolved is critical to understanding our origins.
Live Science has more nerdy details about the study. See the recovered fossils below:
No fake French meat for you!
The agriculture ministry in France is planning to make sure that nasty vegetarian foods don’t ever try to pretend to taste like meat. Hence, it has banned words like “steak”, “grill” and “spare ribs”—-which cannot be used to describe plant-based products. The move is aimed at making the meat industry happy—which claims that “customers are unjustly confused by the notion of vegetarian ‘meat’.” Point to note: “France remains a predominantly meat-eating nation and is the European country with the highest beef and veal consumption per inhabitant.” (The Guardian)
A Great Wall travesty in China
Two Chinese construction workers looking for a shortcut used an excavator to drive right through the historic wall—and have caused "irreversible damage.” It was a section of the 32nd Great Wall—which dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). FYI: at least a third of the Great Wall has crumbled—and has become a target for thieves and vandalism. (NPR)
Two things to see
One: The legendary—or fossilised—Rolling Stones announced the upcoming release of their first album since 2005. And they did by projecting their logo onto landmarks in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris etc.
And doing this teaser with Jimmy Fallon: