Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Priyanka Gulati
The arrest of Manish Sisodia
First, some context: The Deputy Delhi CM is Arvind Kejriwal’s chief lieutenant. He practically runs the Delhi government, leaving Kejriwal free to focus on growing the party’s national clout. He has been under investigation for corruption since August, 2022—when Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena asked for a CBI probe.
He accused Sisodia of crafting a favourable excise policy for liquor retailers in Delhi in exchange for kickbacks—that were used to help AAP win the Punjab elections (which the party won in a landslide). As a result, Delhi lost over Rs 1.44 billion (144.36 crore) in potential revenue. Also: these changes were made without the LG’s approval—which is a violation of Delhi’s excise laws. We have everything you need to know about the allegations and capital’s booze-meets-netagiri drama in this Big Story.
What happened now: Yesterday, the CBI arrested Sisodia after eight hours of questioning—claiming that he was uncooperative and gave evasive replies. The arrest was not unexpected. Sisodia made a dramatic visit to Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat—and led a rally to the CBI office on Sunday. Sisodia’s arrest puts the squeeze on Kejriwal—just when he needs to focus on the upcoming elections in four states:
This development in Delhi will have the same reverberations across states where the AAP seeks to expand on the basis of its ‘Delhi Model’; the party will pitch it wherever the AAP attempts to gain an electoral foothold especially with elections to 4 states scheduled this year.
Also this: According to Indian Express, BJP leaders are already focused on arresting Kejriwal next—calling him the ‘real kingpin’ of the excise scam.
A G20 stalemate over Ukraine
India hosted the first summit of finance ministers as the newly anointed president of the Group of Twenty. But finding common ground proved tricky—after China refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Instead of the usual joint statement, the meeting ended with a wide-ranging "chair's summary"—which noted that there were "different assessments of the situation" in Ukraine. Why this is notable: Beijing has so far stayed in the background in any debate over the war. But it recently put forward a peace plan—which has been criticised as pro-Moscow. And foreign minister Wang Yi recently made a high-profile trip to Russia. Coming up next: the China visit of Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko—who is a staunch Putin ally. (BBC News)
New confirmation of ‘lab leak’ theory?
According to a confidential intelligence report, the Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak. This is also the view of the FBI—but four other US agencies disagree. They believe that the virus spread through natural transmission. Why the Energy Department’s view is notable:
The Energy Department’s conclusion is the result of new intelligence and is significant because the agency has considerable scientific expertise and oversees a network of U.S. national laboratories, some of which conduct advanced biological research.
Why it may be overblown: The department only has “low confidence” in its conclusions. (Wall Street Journal)
Nigeria holds a momentous election
The country has been stuck in limbo for eight long years—ruled by an ailing president, Muhammadu Buhari—a military dictator turned democrat. He is finally stepping down thanks to a two-term limit. The outcome of the election is critical given the dire state of the country: “Over 60% of the people live in poverty, while security crises — including kidnapping, terrorism, militancy in oil-rich areas and clashes between herdsmen and farmers — have multiplied.”
It is also significant because it will be the first election where none of the candidates have a military background. The elections were held on Sunday—and early results have started to trickle in. BBC News offers an overview of the elections and the three main candidates. The New York Times has the big picture view of what this election means for Nigeria.
Alarm over Adani listings
Financial experts are raising the alarm over the National Stock Exchange’s decision to include five Adani companies in 14 NIFTY indices. This will essentially help drive lakhs of investors’ savings into the Adani Group’s sinking stocks—starting March 31. The NSE says the changes were made in the course of standard review—and were based on “objective stock selection criteria.” Why this matters:
Nearly 16% of India’s mutual fund industry’s 41 trillion (Rs 41 lakh crore) is parked in index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) that mimic indices constructed by the NSE and BSE, some of which will be steered to these stocks from March 31. Wealth managers have begun advising clients to shift out of any exposures to index funds or ETFs linked to the Nifty indices that retain or will add Adani group stocks.
The Hindu has more details.
A racism row over Dilbert creator
Hundreds of US newspapers dropped the Dilbert cartoon after its creator Scott Adam launched a strange racist tirade. Adam was reacting to the results of a poll conducted by the conservative pollster Rasmussen—which found that only 53% of Black Americans agreed with the statement, “It’s OK to be White.” In response, Adam said on his YouTube show:
If nearly half of all Blacks are not OK with White people — according to this poll, not according to me, according to this poll – that’s a hate group… I don’t want to have anything to do with them. And I would say, based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to White people is to get the hell away from Black people, just get the f**k away … because there is no fixing this.
Adam later said that he was only “advising people to avoid hate.” But most people read his remarks as an open endorsement of segregation. (CNN)
The Elon Musk angle: The tech billionaire jumped into the fray—accusing the US media of being racist on Twitter:
For a *very* long time, US media was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites & Asians. Same thing happened with elite colleges & high schools in America. Maybe they can try not being racist.
Reuters has more on Musk’s sudden chattiness around matters of race.
Rejoice Roald Dahl purists!
After the massive brouhaha over revisions to the original text—made by ‘sensitivity readers’ to edit out offensive text—Penguin has backed down. It will now publish both the revised and unedited versions of 17 Dahl novels. They will be released as part of the “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection” so “readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.” (Associated Press)
Two tech stories of note
Meta: rolled out its own version of AI tech. Say hello to LLaMa—Large Language Model Meta AI. But this isn’t a chatty chatbot like ChatGPT or Bard, but a research tool for scientists. CEO Mark Zuckerberg claims:
LLMs have shown a lot of promise in generating text, having conversations, summarizing written material, and more complicated tasks like solving math theorems or predicting protein structures.
Apple: is close to developing a monitoring system on the Apple Watch—which will track your blood glucose. No nasty needles required. How it works:
The system uses lasers to emit specific wavelengths of light into an area below the skin where there is interstitial fluid — substances that leak out of capillaries — that can be absorbed by glucose. The light is then reflected back to the sensor in a way that indicates the concentration of glucose. An algorithm then determines a person’s blood glucose level.
While the technology has not yet been peer-reviewed, if successful, it would upend the billion dollar diabetes industry—and make the watch a must-have device. FYI: 537 million adults suffer from diabetes worldwide. (Bloomberg News, paywall, Gizmodo)
Two things to see
One: Ukraine marked the first year anniversary of the Russian invasion with this stamp—which features one of Banksy’s murals—a spin on the David vs Goliath theme. It is one of seven murals he painted on walls in Ukraine. The stamp includes one bit of creative licence—adding the phrase “FCK PTN” in Cyrillic. (BBC News)
Two: Lewis Capaldi was performing ‘Someone You Loved’ at a packed stadium in Frankfurt—when he suffered an episode of Tourette’s. Watch the audience take over to help him complete the song. (Yahoo News)