Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Anannya Parekh
Karnataka exit polls predict Congress win
The exit polls of actual voters seem to confirm the findings of previous opinion surveys. Most of them give Congress a big lead over the BJP—and two predict it will secure an outright majority. The most optimistic of the lot: Axis-India Today—which gives Congress between 122-140 seats and the BJP a paltry 62 to 80 seats. Other surveys expect it to emerge as the single largest party—which will need JD(S)’s support to form the government. Point to note: most predictions have a range of plus or minus 10 seats—hovering around the majority mark of 113. So we won’t really know until the votes are counted. The Telegraph and Indian Express have all the numbers.
Imran Khan’s arrest: The latest update
The context: The former prime minister was arrested on corruption charges (explained here) on Tuesday. The move sparked unprecedented protests aimed at the military—which orchestrated the latest attempt to keep Khan from running the national elections later this year.
What happened now: It doesn’t look like Khan is getting out any time soon. An anti-corruption court ruled that he can be held for eight days by the anti-corruption bureau. And another lower court indicted him in a separate case—where he is accused of illegally selling gifts received from foreign leaders when Khan was PM. Also notable: a prominent leader of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has been arrested for inciting violence—and another is in hiding. Meanwhile, the protests continued to rage in the streets. Khan’s supporters tried to storm PM Shehbaz Sharif’s home—throwing petrol bombs at it. The army has now been called in to restore order. (Press Trust of India via The Telegraph)
Twitter gets an upgrade
New features on the platform include a ‘reply’ function similar to WhatsApp in direct messages—so you can respond to a specific message from a person as opposed to the latest one. More interestingly: voice and video chat. CEO Elon Musk claims you can use Twitter “to talk to people anywhere in the world without giving them your phone number.” Of course, the announcement was made via a Musk tweet. (The Verge)
Coming up soon: A big BCCI bonanza
The International Cricket Council—the sport’s global governing body—is getting ready to implement a new model to distribute revenue among its members. The Indian cricket board will take home 40% of the pie—earning approximately $230 million per year between 2024 and 2027. Consider this: the next highest earner is the English cricket board which will earn $41.33 million—or 6.89% of the ICC’s revenue. ESPNCricInfo got an exclusive peek at the model—and how it will work.
Wagner Group labelled as ‘terrorists’
The context: The Wagner Group is a private military company founded by a close friend of President Putin—the Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. Its mercenary soldiers made headlines for their key role in the Ukraine war. But Putin has long deployed its troops in parts of the world where Moscow does not want to openly intervene. Wagner has been associated with human rights abuses wherever its soldiers go—including Africa.
What happened now: The UK government is getting ready to blacklist the company as a ‘terrorist’ group. What this means:
This would make it a criminal offence to belong to Wagner, attend its meetings, encourage support for it, or carry its logo in public, the Times said. It would impose financial sanctions on the group and there would be implications for Wagner’s ability to raise money if any funds went through British financial institutions.
And it would put Wagner on the same footing as Al Qaeda. The French government has called on the EU to follow Britain’s lead. But let’s get real: most of this is symbolic and is unlikely to have any effect on Wagner. Read our Big Story on how Wagner is thriving in Burkina Faso and Sudan. (Times UK, paywall, The Guardian)
Mr Modi goes to Washington
President Joe Biden will host the Prime Minister for an official state visit on June 22. There will be a state dinner at the White House, as well. Modi’s last state visit to the country was in 2014—when he was invited by Barack Obama. Reuters has more on why Biden is wooing India—and why some experts think it’s a wasted effort.
A global tragedy of preterm babies
There are 1.9 million stillbirths a year—and another 2.3 million babies die within the first month. The reason: every fourth baby in the world is ‘born too small’ or ‘born too soon.” A UN report shows that 45% of these preterm births occur in five countries—India, Pakistan, Nigeria, China and Ethiopia. However, a separate Lancet study found at least one million babies can be saved each year by providing basic health support—such as vitamins, antimalarials and aspirin. And it won’t cost all that much: “Our series suggests that we already have the knowledge to reverse the current trend and save the lives of thousands of babies a year at a cost of $1.1bn, a fraction of what other health programmes receive.” (The Guardian)
The great time-suck of workplace drudgery
New data from Microsoft shows that the most active users of its business software spend an equivalent of two workdays a week only on email and meetings. Even more depressing:
In all, the average employee spent 57% of their time using office software for communication—in meetings, email, chat. The remainder of time, 43%, they used for creating things, such as building spreadsheets or writing presentations.
Unsurprisingly, in a separate survey of 31,000 people worldwide, nearly two out of three said they struggled to find time and energy to do their actual job. That sums up everything that is wrong with the 21st century workplace. (Wall Street Journal)
Chlamydia vaccines for koalas
You read that right. Just like humans, the endangered little bears are vulnerable to this sexually transmitted disease. And it can spread from mothers to babies, as well. But in the case of koalas, the bacterial disease is often lethal: “It’s killing koalas because they become so sick they can’t climb trees to get food, or escape predators, and females can become infertile.” Scientists are therefore trying to vaccinate them in the wild. The koalas are trapped and vaccinated while under anaesthesia—and then released back into the wild. We use this excuse to offer you this excellent photo of a koala. (Gizmodo)
Three things to see
One: A petit basset griffon Vendeen named Buddy Holly won best of show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show—beating out more than 3,000 dogs. He is the first of his breed to win the honour. As you can see below, he should have won the 'Mr Cuddly' award as well. If you’re wondering how to pronounce that absurd French breed name, here you go. (Reuters)
Two: The Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar staged a novel publicity stunt—offering prayers to a gas cylinder—to underline the skyrocketing cost of buying one. No, don’t think too much about it. Nothing in Indian politics makes any real sense. (India Today)
Three: ‘Air’—the flick about Nike’s Air Jordans—may have got all the rave reviews. But we’re sure it isn’t a patch on ‘Flamin' Hot’. The upcoming flick—produced by Eva Longoria—tackles a far weightier subject: the creation of spicy cheetos! Watch it to believe it. One slight problem: this so-called true story may not even be true.