Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath, Anannya Parekh, Niveditha Ajay & Rhea Saincher
The wrestling #MeToo protest: The latest update
Here’s what happened over the weekend:
- Indian Express and The Hindu published the allegations of four survivors documented in the FIR against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. They describe being groped, pressured to have sex in exchange for favours etc.
- Indian Express also corroborated these allegations with interviews with an Olympic medalist, a Commonwealth gold medalist, a referee and a state-level coach.
- Home Minister Amit Shah met with the wrestlers—who want the police to file a chargesheet. Shah apparently insisted that due process must be followed.
- There is a growing rift between the UP and Haryana BJP—since Brij Bhushan is a powerful politico from the latter state, but the women wrestlers are from Haryana. The Tribune has that story.
- The wrestlers announced that they will hold a large mahapanchayat before deciding the next steps.
- Meanwhile, Brij Bhushan and a number of Ayodhya seers are demanding an amendment to sexual harassment laws.
US ducks the great default
The context: The US government typically runs a budget deficit—and borrows money by issuing securities like a Treasury bond. The debt ceiling puts a limit on how much it can borrow. The House Republicans were refusing to raise the debt ceiling—holding it hostage to their demand for deep spending cuts. If the stalemate was not resolved, the US government was in danger of defaulting on its debts—causing chaos in the global economy (explained in this Big Story).
What happened now: As always, all that high drama ended in a damp squib (thank god!). The Biden White House cut a deal with the Republicans—and the ceiling has been suspended for two years—until after the next presidential election in 2024. Needless to say, no one on the right or left is happy with the compromises made to get the bill through Congress. But, but, but: America’s credit rating is still shaky—and at risk of a downgrade. (CNN)
Monsoon is running late
The IMD announced that the monsoons have still not arrived in Kerala. The usual date is June 1. It expects the rains to be delayed by three to four days—but remains optimistic. Last year, it arrived by May 29. (Economic Times)
A new Twitter exodus
Two top executives responsible for content quality and safety resigned late last week. This is bad news for users worried about hate speech—but also anyone who cares about Twitter’s brand revenue. Along with the head of trust and safety—responsible for monitoring extremist content—the company also lost two top execs responsible for brand partnerships. The trigger was a deal to air a rightwing documentary on Twitter—which many have called transphobic. TLDR: The execs backed out of the deal, Musk overturned their decision in a tweet, they resigned. Mashable has that saga. Is Twitter now a rightwing platform? The Guardian thinks so. (Bloomberg News via Yahoo Finance)
A new list of banned meds
The government has banned 14 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs—which contain combinations of different drugs in a single dose. According to an expert committee, there is "no therapeutic justification” for these drugs and they may pose a health risk. Some of the widely used meds include Nimesulide, Paracetamol dispersible tablets and Chlopheniramine Maleate. Mint has the full list. (The Hindu)
About ‘manglik’ brides, rape and the Supreme Court
Here’s an ‘only in India’ story. The Supreme Court had to step in to overturn an Allahabad High Court order directing the astrology department of Lucknow University to examine a plaintiff’s chart. The reason: She has accused a man of rape—as in he persuaded her to have sex by falsely promising to marry her (yes, this is considered rape in India.) In any case, the man insists he cannot marry her because she is ‘manglik’—has a badly placed Mars in her chart that makes a disastrous life partner, as per Hindu astrology. The highest court said it violated the woman’s right to privacy—but said it did not doubt that astrology is a “science.” Sigh. (The Print)
Also going backwards: Our high school textbooks. Since 2017, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been chopping vast swathes of the syllabus—in the name of reducing the burden of learning on school kids (explained in this Big Story). The latest victim: the periodic table—which has been axed from the Class X textbooks. This is on the heels of taking out Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The decision is raising eyebrows around the world:
Researchers, including those who study science education, are shocked. “Anybody who’s trying to teach biology without dealing with evolution is not teaching biology as we currently understand it,” says Jonathan Osborne, a science-education researcher at Stanford University in California. “It’s that fundamental to biology.” The periodic table explains how life’s building blocks combine to generate substances with vastly different properties, he adds, and “is one of the great intellectual achievements of chemists”.
Nature has more on the extensive cuts and their implications.
IMAX wars: Tom Cruise vs Chris Nolan
‘Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One’ is slated to release on July 12—and Tom Cruise is already anxious about the number of IMAX screens his movie will claim. The problem: Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ drops in theatres on July 21—and Universal has locked in all IMAX screens in North America and other territories for three full weeks. That will freeze out Cruise’s flick. The Hollywood top gun has been leaning on IMAX to make an exception for him—which is unlikely since Nolan is an IMAX devotee—who has shot his entire film in that format. Also releasing on July 21: Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’. Well, it’s certainly an early Christmas for movie buffs. (Puck, paywall, Business Insider)
Three things to see
One: Infrastructure collapse has become a bit of a theme over recent months. A four-lane bridge in Bihar collapsed into the Ganga for the second time. Mercifully, it was still under construction and not being used. FYI: the project to build the bridge kicked off in 2014—and has failed to meet its completion deadline eight times. (The Hindu)
Two: Volkswagen is bringing back its iconic bus—but in an electric avatar. The seven-seater van is called ID Buzz—and has a larger 85 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery to increase range. Reminder: the VW bus played a starring role in ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘Back to the Future’. Sadly, there are no plans to bring our true love—the VW Bug—back from the dead. See Ewan McGregor’s whispery promo vid below. (Reuters)