Researched by: Rachel John & Aarthi Ramnath
The Economic Survey is here!
The context: The annual report is the government’s assessment of the state of the Indian economy—released by the Chief Economic Advisor each year ahead of the union budget. It lays the foundation for how the government plans to spend its money next fiscal year.
What happened now: The latest one paints “an exuberant picture of the Indian economy’s prospects thanks to ‘New Age’ reforms undertaken since 2014.” It confidently predicts that our GDP will grow 6.5% in 2023-24—slightly less than an estimated 7% this year—thanks to “solid domestic demand and a pickup in capital investment.” The report also expects inflation to be “well-behaved” in the coming year—though it did acknowledge the risk of “entrenched inflation” leading to “higher and longer” interest rates and a “depreciating rupee.”
Point to note: The International Monetary Fund predicts the Indian economy will grow at the rate of 6.1% in the coming year—dipping from 6.8% last year. It too pointed to India’s “resilient domestic demand” as a key protective factor. The IMF is optimistic that we will be able to avoid a global recession—due to the better-than-expected performance of the US and China. And that can only be good news for us.
Quote to note: Udit Misra offers this cautionary observation in Indian Express:
India is the world’s most populous country with a growing youth bulge. It has the world’s largest pool of poor people and the largest pool of malnourished children. Given the low levels of per capita income, it requires much faster growth than many developed countries. A growth rate of 4% in India can feel like a recession and even though a 6% growth should be achievable, it may not create enough jobs to satisfy a growing population.
PS: The UK is the only G7 economy expected to go into recession this year. But its troubles are insignificant compared to those of Lebanon—which was forced to devalue its currency by a whopping 90%.
Gautam Adani: The latest update
For the past week, the world’s third richest man and a US-based short seller have been engaged in a bitter war of words. In a 32,000-word report, Hindenburg Research accused the Adani Group of stock manipulation and accounting fraud. The company retaliated with a 413-page response—in a hasty attempt to limit damage to its public share offering and stock price. So what’s the fallout of all this tu-tu main-main?
The Adani FPO: The company held a ‘follow-on IPO’ to sell shares worth $2.5 billion. Thanks to Hindenburg, the initial response was weak. But by the end of Tuesday, the shares were fully subscribed (sold out, in layperson language). Adani was finally bailed out by fellow fatcats—i.e institutional investors, corporates and high net worth types—rather than the average retail (individual) investor. Retail investors subscribed to just over 10% of the shares reserved for them. Adani’s primary guardian angel: an Abu Dhabi-based fund which bought 16% of the offer through a subsidiary company. BBC News and The Telegraph have more on the FPO.
Adani’s fatcat ranking: None of Gautam-bhai’s friends could save him from the precipitous drop in his personal net worth. The man who was ranked the third richest man in the world just last week is now stationed at #11. But, hey, he is still one notch above Mukesh-bhai so 🤷🏾. (Economic Times)
Something to read: ICYMI, Samarth Bansal did an excellent two-part guide to the Hindenburg drama. Part one explains Hindenburg’s claims, while part two looks at why they matter.
Climate change has a 1% problem
The debate over climate change focuses on the gap between the wealthiest countries and the rest of the world—where the former are responsible for the greater part of global warming. But the latest Climate Inequality Report reveals an important shift:
The difference between the carbon emissions of the rich and the poor within a country is now greater than the differences in emissions between countries, data shows. The finding is further evidence of the growing divide between the “polluting elite” of rich people around the world, and the relatively low responsibility for emissions among the rest of the population.
Why this matters: Rather than just targeting entire nations, each government also needs to take measures to reduce the carbon footprint of its own elites. But here’s the really good bit: it shows that we can work to raise people out of poverty without significantly adding to emissions, if we curb the excesses of the very wealthy. (The Guardian)
Say hello to AI music
We have AI art, AI essays and now AI music. All you need to do is offer Google’s MusicLM a text prompt—like “a calming violin melody backed by a distorted guitar riff.” It can also turn a hummed or whistled melody into a different music style. While there have been AI music tools in the past, Google insists that its creation is far superior. But it isn’t planning an official release since there is great potential for copyright violations. You can check it out on their demonstration page. (Ars Technica)
Good news for black coffee haters
A new study shows that adding milk to your coffee offers greater anti-inflammatory benefits than keeping it black. The reason: drinks like coffee, tea and even wine contain antioxidants called polyphenols. But these are more effective when they are combined with amino acids—which are the building blocks of proteins. But here’s the bigger picture beyond just coffee:
Therefore, the researcher does not find it difficult to imagine that the reaction and potentially beneficial anti-inflammatory effect also occur when other foods consisting of proteins and fruits or vegetables are combined. "I can imagine that something similar happens in, for example, a meat dish with vegetables or a smoothie, if you make sure to add some protein like milk or yogurt," says Marianne Nissen Lund.
Or maybe drinking that glass of vino with a side of cheese? Science Daily has all the nerdy details.
Usain Bolt: Olympic legend, fraud victim
The iconic athlete was defrauded of $12.7 million by an investment firm enmeshed in the biggest financial scam in Jamaican history. Bolt had invested $7 million in Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) as part of his pension planning. That balance grew over time—but suddenly dwindled to just $12,000. The former sprinter insists that while he’s not “broke,” his financial health is most certainly damaged: The money “was for my future. Everybody knows I have three kids, I am still looking after my parents, and I still want to live very well.”
More astonishingly, a single SSL employee has confessed to the $3 billion fraud—claiming she needed money for her family’s medical expenses. The Jamaican government has requested the FBI’s help with the investigation. (CBS Sports)
And the best children’s book is…
The winners of the two most prestigious awards in the genre—Newbery Medal and Randolph Caldecott Medal—were announced yesterday. The Newberry award for the most distinguished children’s book in the US went to ‘Freewater’ by Amina Luqman-Dawson. The novel—which follows the journey of two enslaved children who escape from a plantation—combines historical fiction with magical realism. Caldecott recognises the best picture book, which this year was ‘Hot Dog’ illustrated and written by Doug Salati. It’s a very relatable tale about a stressed out dachshund—a city dog who finds peace and contentment by escaping to the beach. You can see the grumpy sausage dog below. (NPR)
Three things to see
One: Cristiano Ronaldo is in trouble with his club—again! After signing an eye-watering $210 million with the Saudi club Al Nassr, he once again failed to perform in a 3-1 loss to Al Ittihad in the Saudi Super Cup. His club director was caught on camera experiencing a severe case of buyer’s remorse: "I spent 200 million euros and he [Ronaldo] only knows how to go 'Siuuuu'. It's not possible." Watch him below. (Marca)
Two: The gift of SRK’s press conference keeps on giving. We now have this adorable visual of our two fave middle-aged hotties cuddling—which we will treasure forever:) FYI: ‘Pathaan’ is poised to cross the Rs 6 billion (600 crore) mark.
Three: Residents of Scotland were treated to the rare sight of nacreous clouds—which usually form in the polar region. The name is derived from nacre or ‘mother of pearl’ in tribute to their gorgeous colours. Sky News explains why they form, but we just included them because they’re purty:)