Researched by: Rachel John, Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
Japan’s plan to release radioactive water
The context: In 2021, the Japanese government announced plans to release 1.25 million tonnes of treated radioactive water into the sea. This is water from its Fukushima nuclear reactor which was damaged during the catastrophic 2011 earthquake. The announcement triggered angry protests by nuclear activists, the fishing industry and neighbouring countries. We explained the Fukuyama disaster in this Big Story.
What happened now: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved the Japanese plan—saying it will have a "negligible radiological impact to people and the environment.” The water has been treated to render it safe:
Japan says the water has been filtered to remove most radioactive elements except for tritium, an isotope of hydrogen that is difficult to separate from water. The treated water will be diluted to well below internationally approved levels of tritium before being released into the Pacific.
This hasn’t appeased China—which furiously called its claims “misleading”—and warned: "If the Japanese side is bent on going its own way, it must bear all the consequences.” FYI: the water will be released over 30-40 years. (Reuters)
Say hello to the Jio Bharat phone
Reliance is launching two affordable 4G-enabled phones called Jio Bharat for the price of Rs 999. These are feature phones—not smartphones per se—and will be loaded with Jio apps. They come with their own Jio Bharat phone plan of Rs 123 per month—which is 30% cheaper than the competition. But as with all things Reliance, it comes with strings:
However, it appears that Jio is limiting the use of UPI to only the JioPay app and OTT streaming to JioCinema and JioSaavn apps. Users don't seem to have the ability to install alternative UPI apps like Google Pay, Phonepe, Paytm, etc., or alternative OTT streaming apps like Disney Hotstar, Sony Liv, Amazon Prime, etc.
We wonder what the Indian antitrust regulators investigating Google for similar practices think about that? MediaNama has more on that angle. In any case, this is guaranteed to revolutionise internet connectivity in India—giving access to 250 million Indians who still use 2G. You can check out the promo ad below. (Economic Times)
World’s hottest day ever
Monday, July 3, was the hottest day ever recorded across the world. The average global temperature reached 17.01°C, surpassing the August 2016 record of 16.92°C. Experts say we should expect many more such records due to climate change—and El Nino (explained here). (Reuters)
Say hello to a Twitter clone
Meta dropped its Twitter rival called Threads in the Apple App Store in the US. The global launch for the platform is slated for July 6. The cool thing about Threads is that you won’t need to build a community from scratch—since it ports over your Instagram followers and following lists. That’s why Elon Musk should be worried:
Twitter users might seem loyal today, but many stay on the platform for one reason only: The people to know are still there, too. The smaller apps might not be ready for prime time, but it won’t be long until they have the potential to start to chipping away at Twitter’s popularity as different communities gravitate toward new homes. Meta’s Threads, meanwhile, has the ability to embrace fed-up Twitter refugees en masse immediately. Once that momentum starts, it will be difficult for Musk to stop it.
Meanwhile, over at Twitter: The platform will only allow verified users to access the TweetDeck—the dashboard used by businesses to manage multiple accounts. TechCrunch has more on the changes.
Want a Flipkart loan?
The ecommerce company will offer its customers loans up to Rs 500,000—in partnership with Axis Bank:
The loan, requiring no document submission and boasting a 30-second approval time, promises customers a seamless borrowing experience, the app says…By introducing personal loans, Flipkart expands its financial services portfolio, which already includes a ‘buy now, pay later’ option and a co-branded credit card.
Customer lending will help boost sales and increase customer loyalty—giving Flipkart an edge over Amazon. (TechCrunch)
Also getting cosy: IDFC First Bank. It is merging with IDFC Limited—which finances large infrastructure projects. Recently, HDFC merged with HDFC bank—creating the fourth largest bank in the world. Experts have been predicting more such mergers in the future. (Economic Times)
And the world’s safest country is…
Iceland—followed by Ireland and Denmark. That’s according to the 2023 Global Peace Index that rates countries based on domestic/international conflict, societal safety and militarization. Seven out of the top ten are European countries. OTOH, we came in at #126—doing a little better than the United States at #131. Read the entire report here. (CNBC)
UK universities unite over AI
An association of the UK’s leading universities—including Cambridge, London School of Economics et al—released five guiding principles that will drive the use of AI on their campuses. Taken together, they embrace the use of ethical AI by staff and students—viewing it as an “opportunity rather than a threat.” This is a remarkable U-turn since many of these colleges had earlier banned the use of AI altogether—warning students they will be expelled if caught using it. (Quartz)
The first case of female CTE
When 28-year-old Heather Anderson—a former rugby player—died last year, her family suspected suicide. They donated her brain to researchers—who have now found that she was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head injuries. This is common among male boxers and American football players. Anderson is the first woman to be diagnosed with this disorder. Experts say such cases may become more common with more women participating in contact sports. FYI: a Boston study found CTE in 91.7% of former NFL players. (The Guardian)
Moving on to cricket: We now have a chief selector: Ajit Agarkar. The former fast bowler played for India’s winning team in the 2007 T20 World Cup in South Africa. FYI: his predecessor Chetan Sharma was sacked after he made a series of controversial allegations about players—captured in an undercover news sting. Scroll has all the details.
Unspeakable hate crime in Madhya Pradesh
A clip showing a man urinating on a tribal person in Madhya Pradesh has gone viral. The only bit of good news is that for once everyone is outraged—including the opposition parties and the Chief Minister. We will not embed the clip, but you can find it here. We found it impossible to watch. (Indian Express)
Three things to see
One: NASA released a stunning new view of Saturn—taken by the James Webb Telescope. You can see three of Saturn's moons—Dione, Enceladus, and Tethys—as teeny specks to the left of the planet. (Science Alert)
Two: The official trailer for Karan Johar’s upcoming flick ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ just dropped. It reveals so much of the plot that watching the film seems unnecessary. Perhaps you will be more impressed than we were. The movie hits theatres on July 28.
Three: Beloved tennis legend Roger Federer received a standing ovation when he entered the royal box at Wimbledon. He was attending a small ceremony honouring his career before the start of play at the Centre Court. Also: That’s an excellent suit. (The Hindu)