Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali & Aarthi Ramnath
The wrestling #MeToo protest: The latest update
The context: Since April, Indian wrestlers have been protesting alleged widespread sexual abuse in the sport. And it starts at the top—with wrestling federation chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh—who is also a BJP MP. For details on the sexual abuse, see our Big Story.
What happened now: Yesterday, Olympic medallists Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik and World Championship medallist Vinesh Phogat, announced that they would ‘immerse’ their medals in the Ganges. The gesture was meant to be a protest against the detention of 700 wrestlers—who were dragged away from Jantar Mantar on Sunday—and have been banned from returning to the protest site.
But after huddling on the banks for over an hour, they changed their mind—soon after the arrival of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) president Naresh Tikait. The wrestlers say they also received a phone call from a BJP leader asking for time—promising to fulfil their demands. They have given the government a five-day deadline. The Telegraph has more from “ministry sources” arguing the medals don’t belong to the athletes—since their training was funded by taxpayer money. See the scene at Haridwar below:
IOC wades in: The International Olympic Committee finally issued a statement in support of the wrestlers—calling on the government to take more ‘concrete’ action:
The treatment of the Indian wrestling athletes over the weekend was very disturbing. The IOC insists that the allegations by the wrestlers are followed up on by an unbiased, criminal investigation in line with local law. We understand that a first step towards such a criminal investigation has been made, but more steps have to follow before concrete actions become visible.
The sport’s global body—United World Wrestling—also issued a statement condemning police actions. FYI: India is hosting the IOC’s annual session in October—where the government hopes to pitch Gujarat as a candidate for the 2036 games. Of course, it’s Gujarat. (Indian Express)
Meanwhile, in London: Financial Times is making headlines for killing a story on a Guardian columnist who had been accused of sexual harassment multiple times. What’s more alarming is that this seems to be standard practice in the UK—where publications protect each other:
The British news media is smaller and cozier than its American counterpart, with journalists often coming from the same elite schools. Stringent libel laws present another hurdle. And in a traditional newsroom culture of drinking and gender imbalances, many stories of misconduct go untold, or face a fight.
Tech leaders issue AI ‘extinction’ warning
Head honchos of three leading AI companies—Sam Altman of OpenAI; Google DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis and Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei—were among those who signed a one-line statement that bluntly says:
Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war.
Notably absent: Yann LeCun, the chief scientist heading Meta’s AI initiative. Reminder: a letter signed by 1,000 technologists in March called for a six-month pause on the development—due to worries about “an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds.”
They may soon get the government regulation they are asking for. Japan announced that the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) summit will consider problems posed by AI-faked content, intellectual property and more. The Verge has more details. A related read in The Guardian: an interesting interview plus review of Doug Rushkoff’s new book on why tech billionaires are in panic mode.
In much happier tech news: Nvidia became the first ever chipmaker to join the trillion dollar club. It is the ninth-ever to achieve this milestone. The company was valued at $1 trillion before the trading closed on Tuesday. So why is Nvidia suddenly such a rockstar?
The company has for years made computer chips that can run graphics-heavy video games. But several years ago, artificial intelligence researchers began using those same chips to run the powerful new algorithms that were causing breakthroughs in the field.
ChatGPT, for example, required 10,000 Nvidia chips. The company’s profits have been soaring along with the AI-mania. It recently announced quarterly earnings that were 50% higher than forecast. The share price jumped by 25% the very next day. Nvidia is now worth more than Tesla ($584.7 billion) and Facebook ($647.6 billion)—though the latter’s parent company Meta is valued above trillion dollars. (The Guardian)
Amusing thing to note: CEO Jensen Huang’s signature leather jacket—which he wears all the time—may replace the Steve Jobs turtleneck as the cool tech look. Retailers are already selling the Jensen Huang jacket. Quartz riffs on this at length. You can see it below:
JioCinema scores NBC deal
Its parent company Viacom18 announced a multi-year partnership with NBCUniversal —which will bring all its shows to the platform. It will be part of the premium subscription—which also includes HBO and Warner Bros content. Well, you know where to go to watch ‘The Office’ reruns. FYI: Twitter is rife with complaints about slow loading time and other glitches on JioCinema. (Quartz)
The Ukraine war: The latest update
According to Russian officials, Kyiv took the fight to Moscow—literally—launching the biggest ever drone attack on the capital. But the eight drones were foiled by Russian defence systems. Ukraine denied any involvement. Why this matters: Kyiv’s Western allies are highly leery of any attempt by Ukraine to expand the war into Russian territory—as opposed to just defending its own. (Reuters)
Manish Sisodia is still in jail
The context: Former Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia is accused of taking Rs 1 billion (Rs 100 crores) in kickbacks in exchange for passing an excise policy favourable to the liquor industry. The funds were allegedly used to fund the AAP campaign in the Punjab elections. He has been in custody since March 9. We explained the case in detail in this Big Story.
What happened now: Sisodia’s bail had been denied by a trial court. Yesterday, the High Court refused to overturn the ruling, claiming there are valid concerns about setting him free: “There are serious allegations of misconduct against Mr. Sisodia. He being an influential person and the witnesses being mostly public servants, the possibility of witnesses being influenced cannot be ruled out.” Why this is notable: it is pretty rare for a senior party leader to be held without bail. (The Hindu)
Weighing Air New Zealand passengers
The NZ aviation authorities have asked the airline to start weighing its international passengers before they board—at until July 2. Don’t worry, this isn’t a new aviation trend. Here’s why the scales are coming out:
We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft – from the cargo to the meals onboard, to the luggage in the hold. For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey.
Four things to see
One: Despite its eye-watering Rs 8 billion (800 crores) price tag, the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad seemed to fall apart in the rains. Leaking roofs and flooded parking lots made fans at the IPL final very unhappy. FYI: it is the largest cricket arena and second largest sports stadium in the world. The clip below sums up the shitshow. (Hindustan Times)
Two: Also getting the wrong kind of attention: giant sculptures of maharishis that toppled over due to strong winds in Madhya Pradesh. These statues—made of fibreglass—were located in the so-called Mahakal Lok Corridor—a 900-metre stretch leading to the Mahakaleshwar temple. It was inaugurated with great fanfare by the PM in October last year. (The Hindu)
Three: The annual cheese rolling race in Gloucester attracts contestants from around the world. They come from far and wide to chase a 3 kg wheel of Double Gloucester down an English hillside. Sounds quaint and fun but the race is fairly hazardous for reasons that are obvious below. FYI: one of the winners was knocked unconscious this year. (BBC News)
Four: Congress leader KC Venugopal held a triumphant presser after brokering a truce between the two squabbling Rajasthan titans—Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot. Sealing the deal: they shared a giggle at Venugopal’s attempt to say ‘chod diya’. Also: why Tamilians should never be forced to speak Hindi lol! (The Print)