Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
Pop quiz: Who is a national party?
The Election Commission is full of surprises. It has given AAP the status of a national party while yanking it from Trinamool Congress, CPI, and the NCP. So as of today there are only six national parties other than AAP: BJP, Congress, National People’s Party, CPI(M), and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Who is the NPP, you ask? The party—led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma—met the criteria by scoring more than 6% of the vote in the 2019 general election. And it was recognised as a party in four states—Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
A recognised political party enjoys privileges like a reserved party symbol, free broadcast time on state-run television and radio, consultation in the setting of election dates, and giving input in setting electoral rules and regulations.
Indian Express has more on the definition of a national party.
Ukraine courts New Delhi
Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, New Delhi has refused to take a position against Moscow. But Kyiv has been doing its damndest to make the government take its side. The latest move: it has invited PM Modi to visit the war zone—and has sent its deputy foreign minister to implore India for support. After holding several high level meetings, Emine Dzhaparova tweeted:
Happy to visit the land that gave birth to many sages, saints & gurus. Today, #India wants to be the Vishwaguru, the global teacher and arbiter. In our case, we’ve got a very clear picture: aggressor against innocent victim. Supporting Ukraine is the only right choice for true Vishwaguru.
Nicely played but it’s unlikely to change the basic component of any foreign policy calculation—the price of oil. Russian oil, in this case. (New York Times)
IMF’s gloomy growth forecast
The International Monetary Fund predicts that the global economy will grow 3% annually over the next five years. This is its weakest medium-term projection since 1990. The latest report forecasts that 90% of advanced economies will stop expanding this year. But India and China will remain “bright spots”—and will account for 50% of the global economic growth in 2023. (Quartz)
Speaking of gloomy predictions: The weather forecasting company Skymet says the Indian monsoon will be delayed by two weeks—and will be more muted. It will only be 94% of the long term average—but most experts don’t expect it to affect the crops. The culprit for less-than-average rainfall: El Niño. We explained why the shift from La Niña to El Niño is a big deal in this Big Story. (Mint)
News alert: Britain is, umm, racist
A significant survey shows that ethnic and religious minorities still suffer "strikingly high" levels of abuse. It found that more than one in three people from minority backgrounds have experienced racially motivated physical or verbal abuse.
Among the findings, the survey found more than a quarter of those from minority ethnic groups had experienced racial insults with almost one in three experiencing racism in a public place. One in six reported suffering racism from neighbours while 17% had suffered damaged property in racist attacks.
Why this matters: This is in direct contradiction of the recent findings of a government commission which declared:
We no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities. The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism.
Not. The Guardian has more details.
Speaking of hate: A man of Indian origin ran amok in a Canadian mosque:
The National Council of Canadian Muslims… alleged that the suspect entered the mosque, tore a copy of the Quran and went on a “racist and Islamophobic rant directed towards the worshippers”. He then exited the mosque and then tried to run over or strike worshippers with his car.
Indian Express has more details.
Air India passengers strike again!
The airline had to turn its Delhi-London flight around due to an unruly passenger who got into a physical altercation with the crew:
A 25-year-old male passenger attempted to open one of the doors of an Air India flight from Delhi to London on April 10 and physically assaulted two women cabin crew members, including grabbing one by her hair and slapping the other on her face, which forced the pilot to turn back the aircraft 90 minutes after takeoff.
It was so bad that members of the crew had to be taken to hospital. According to some reports, he may be mentally unwell. The passenger has been detained but not yet officially arrested. (The Hindu)
Dalai Lama accused of child abuse
We’re going to leave it to you to judge this one—since there is zero reporting beyond a clip, Twitter reactions and the response from his office. This clip was taken at the temple in Dharamshala in late February. The Dalai Lama interacted with students who had completed a skills training programme organised by a foundation. His exchange with one of them went something like this:
There are two issues here. The Dalai Lama kissed a child on the lips on the stage—and then invited him to “suck my tongue.” Here’s how the BBC News describes it:
As some people laugh, the boy sticks his tongue out before withdrawing a little, as does the Dalai Lama. There are then more hugs, as the spiritual leader speaks to the boy for a while longer, telling him to look to "good human beings who create peace and happiness.”
Many people on social media viewed this interaction as evidence of pedophilia. The Tibetan leader responded by tweeting this:
A video clip has been circulating that shows a recent meeting when a young boy asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if he could give him a hug. His Holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused. His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.
Covid protocols are back!
With the case count rising, Indian companies like Aditya Birla Group and Tata Motors, are asking their employees to wear masks and do rapid antigen tests at home if they feel unwell. The health ministry on Monday reported 5,880 new infections—with total active cases reaching 35,199. States like Haryana, Kerala and Puducherry have also brought back mask mandates. (Mint)
The most expensive licence plate in the world is…
Since 2021, a UAE charity auction—known as Most Nobles—auctions off special car plate numbers and phone numbers. The money typically goes toward feeding impoverished families during the month of Ramadan. This year, a VIP car number plate with the designation ‘P7’ sold for a staggering 55 million dirhams—approximately equivalent to Rs 122 crore and $14 million. If you’re wondering why random licence plate numbers are so valuable, here’s what a businessman who bought plate ‘D5’ in 2016 for 33 million dirhams says:
[Balvinder Singh] Sahni told of how when he first visited the luxury hotel Burj Al Arab in 2006, he was refused entry because his car licence plate had too many numbers. He was told he needed either a two-digit number plate — or a reservation. “It was always my dream to have a single-digit number,” he said. “When I got the chance, and they told me this money all goes to charity, I went all in.”
Three things to see
One: Buckingham Palace revealed new details about Charles’ coronation next month—including a new emoji. This is what you get when an outdated institution tries way too hard to be trendy. (The Hindu)
Two: Elon Musk is annoying… let’s see now—ah, it’s the turn of his landlord. Musk covered up the ‘w’ of the Twitter sign outside its San Francisco headquarters. So it now spells (somebody shoot us already) ‘Titter’. The landlord first objected when someone (who?) covered the ‘w’ with tarp—since “the company was legally required to keep the name ‘Twitter’ on its sign.” Musk’s solution: Paint the ‘w’ white—so it becomes invisible—and gleefully tweet out his handiwork. FYI: Only boobs make boob jokes. (Gizmodo)
Three: This is totally not a headline that matters—but it certainly cheers us up. The Yuba City Police Department has a new “wellness officer”, a bunny named Percy. The police officers found him hopping around in the middle of the city—and gave him gainful employment. As you can see he is ridiculously cute. (BBC News)