Researched by: Rachel John & Aarthi Ramnath
Manipur violence: FIR against women’s group
A fact-finding team for the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) concluded that the violence in Manipur was “state sponsored.” Its members were promptly slapped with an FIR—with charges that were astonishing:
[They were] booked by the Manipur Police under penal provisions for conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India, assaulting President/Governor with the intent of compelling them to exercise a power, making statements prejudicial to national integration, defamation and promoting enmity among two groups and inciting riots.
Over 1,500 activists and academics have signed a letter in protest—though it is unlikely to have much effect. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court flatly rejected a plea by tribal organisations to order troops to the state—saying, “The greatest hallmark of democracy is civilian controls over the armed forces.” (The Hindu)
A bizarre Bank of Baroda fraud
The bank launched a new app called ‘bob World’ in 2021—and soon claimed it had five million users. According to a Reporter's Collective investigation, most of these accounts are fake. Under pressure from management, employees came up with an illegal hack:
He and his colleagues learned of a workaround from peers in other branches: fetch the list of bank accounts not linked to mobile numbers, link these accounts to any mobile numbers they could gather — of bank staffers, sanitation and security workers and their relatives — to generate the one-time password (OTP) needed to join the app, and sign up these accounts from the back end. The employees would then deregister these customers from the app and reuse the same mobile number in the same manner with other bank accounts.
Point to note: it is extremely dangerous to link bank accounts to the numbers of strangers for obvious reasons! Al Jazeera has lots more on this appalling scam.
Good news about poverty in India
According to a new UN report, 415 million people have moved out of poverty between 2005 and 2021. We are one of among 25 countries that successfully halved their Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)—which consists of ten indicators that map health, education and standard of living. Point to note: this does not include the effects of the pandemic. In 2022, the World Bank revealed that its effects had reversed poverty decline—and estimated that anywhere between 23 million (2.3 crore) and 56 million (5.6 crore) Indians were thrown into poverty in India. One reason we don’t know the exact number is that the government has not yet released its data. (Economic Times)
Tatas’ big iPhone move
The Tata Group is close to acquiring the Karnataka factory of Wistron—the Taiwanese company that assembles iPhones in India. If the deal goes through, it will become the first Indian company to make iPhones. The Wistron facility is valued at over $600 million and employs over 10,000 workers who assembled the latest iPhone 14 model.
Also this: the Tatas have promised to fulfil Wistron’s commitment of supplying iPhones worth $1.8 billion this year and plan to triple the workforce. FYI: Wistron struggled to make the factory profitable. It remains to be seen if the Tatas have the same problem. Data point to note: smartphones have become one of India's top five exports thanks to Apple. (Bloomberg News, paywall, Business Standard)
Branded content is coming to Threads
When the platform launched last week, Meta declared virtuously: “Our priority is to build consumer value first and foremost, which allows us to explore how to build business value in a way that doesn’t compromise the consumer experience.” But it didn’t take long to change its mind. Companies will soon be able to sponsor posts of influencers. Ads are still off the table until the platform acquires a critical number of users. The current tally: 106 million. Reminder: Insta has been very clear that it isn’t interested in any kind of content i.e politics and news—which makes Threads super-safe for brands. Axios offers more insights on Meta’s strategy.
A Schengen-sized price tag for Indians
The number of Indians applying for a Schengen visa—which gives you entry to most EU countries—jumped 415% in 2022. And the rejection rate has also dropped—from 23.3% in 2021 to 18% in 2022. But it still means that 1,21,188 Indians paid around Rs 7,200 for a visa they never received—which adds up to a whopping Rs 8.70 million (87 crore). (CN Traveller)
No screen-time for gorillas!
Gorillas are no different than teenagers. It is almost impossible to drag them away from their beloved screens. The Toronto Zoo had to crack down on visitors who were
showing videos to the apes—especially this guy:
Nassir, in particular, was really interested in seeing different videos. I think, mostly, he was seeing videos of other animals. But, I think what is really important is that he's able to just hang out with his brother and be a gorilla.
The zoo does show video content to its residents—but only those of other animals and nature documentaries: “[Y]ou want to make sure that your parental controls are on, and that you're in control of what the content is that they're seeing.” To which we’re sure Nassir has the same reaction as any teenager: 🙄. Here’s an adorable video of Nassir and his best bud Sadiki—because why not. (CTV News)
In far unhappier news: Yet another cheetah has died in Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park. The male Tejas likely died in a fight with other cheetahs. As of now, four adults and three cubs have died for various causes—out of a total of twenty that were brought in from Africa. (The Hindu)
Four things to see
One: The rest of the world may be battling heatwaves, but Johannesburg is experiencing unusually cold weather. The South African city was covered in snow for the first time in 11 years. Residents were delighted. And no this isn’t about climate change. (BBC News)
Two: The makers of ‘Barbie’ released their first song. Ryan Gosling mopes over the woes of being a Ken in a Barbie world—in outfits that would make Ranveer jealous. What we learned: Gosling should not sing.
Three: If you’ve been wondering whatever happened to Ben Kingsley, he’s been busy with ‘Jules’—an ET-type heart-warming flick about an adult who bonds with an alien who crash-lands in his backyard. FYI: the rest of the cast is pretty awesome too. It hits theatres on August 11. (Collider)
Four: Fans of Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix rejoice! The Gladiator duo unite once more for another historical epic. He plays the title character in ‘Napoleon’—which apparently charts “Napoleon Bonaparte’s relentless journey to power through the prism of his addictive, volatile relationship with his one true love, Josephine.” The theatrical release is slated for November 22 and it will stream on Apple TV+ at a later date. (Hollywood Reporter)