Your Daily Wrap, June 13: Retail inflation above RBI tolerance band; Rahul Gandhi appears before ED; and more

◾ India’s retail inflation has eased slightly to 7.04 per cent on an annual basis in May, down from an eight-year high in April, government data showed on Monday. The CPI-based inflation has breached the upper limit of RBI’s tolerance band, ranging from 2-6 per cent, for the fifth consecutive month. In April, the consumer price-based inflation (CPI) rate stood at 7.79 per cent.

◾ In the wake of the controversy sparked by now-suspended BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks against the Prophet, the BJP leadership at the central and state levels have asked their party leaders and spokespersons to refrain from commenting on any controversial or sensitive matter and stick to development issues in their public statements. Here are the details

◾ A senior Sri Lankan bureaucrat, who had claimed that the country’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had asked him to award a 500-megawatt renewable energy project to the Adani Group due to pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stepped down on Monday. MMC Ferdinando, who headed Ceylon Electricity Board, had soon retracted his statement, and Gotabaya’s office had also dismissed the claim, but it created ripples politically. This is what the whole issue was about.

◾ The West Bengal Assembly on Monday passed a bill to make Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee the Chancellor of all state universities, a position traditionally held by the state Governor. The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was passed by 182 votes in favor against 40 not in favor in the 294-member Assembly.

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◾ Top Congress leaders, including Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh Chief Ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, were detained and taken to various police stations as the leadership tried to accompany senior leader Rahul Gandhi to the headquarters of the Enforcement Directorate where he appeared for questioning in the National Herald case. Here is how it all played out.

Political Pulse

◾ There have been several instances over the last eight years when the ruling BJP has realised that its numerical majority alone hasn’t been enough for it to push its ideological and legislative agenda through. Thus, the party appears to be moving carefully ahead of the 2024 general elections and the upcoming presidential polls. Read all about the BJP’s strategy for the presidential polls in this piece by Liz Mathew.

◾ After the Shiv Sena lost its second seat to the BJP in the just concluded Rajya Sabha elections, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who himself survived a scare before managing a win, said, “Give us control of the ED for two days and we’ll get even Devendra Fadnavis to vote for us.” Raut’s remarks were in reference to the BJP’s alleged control over central agencies. But the Sena leader’s statement was as much a nod to Fadnavis, the Leader of Opposition and former CM, and his masterful tactic in pulling off a big win for the BJP. Here is why

Express Explained

◾ A senior engineer at Google claimed that the company’s artificial intelligence-based chatbot Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) had become “sentient”, sparking a debate on the capabilities and limitations of AI-based chatbots and if they can actually hold a conversation akin to human beings. Here is an explainer on Google’s LaMDA, why its engineer believed it to be sentient, why he has been sent on leave and where the other AI-based text bots are.

◾ In recently published guidelines on nutrition, the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences recommended that newborns be given a mixture of ghee and honey, a paste of gold, and several herbs some of which contain psychoactive ingredients. However, doctors say breastfeeding should start as soon as possible, preferably within one hour of birth, and babies should be exclusively breastfed for six months. Here are the details.

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