Hey folks!

The top 10 finalists of the Miss AI Beauty Pageant are here. And the list also features India’s Zara Shatavari.

Now, if you haven’t heard about it yet, then brace yourself.

In April, Fanvue, an AI-infused creator platform came up with a de trop beauty pageant that’s a crossover of AI technology and aesthetic beauty standards.

As if unrealistic beauty standards for women weren’t enough, the idea is to get AI generated women models or “AI influencers” to compete against each other, so that the top three winners can promote brands online! Their creators are vying for a $20,000 prize package too!

And guess what? A panel of four judges of which two are AI influencers themselves are judging this bizarre contest. They’re going to rate these AI contestants on the basis of their looks, personality, their social media influence and the AI tools that their creators have used.

So here’s something we want to ask the folks at Fanvue World AI Creator Awards―

Hey, why are all the finalists so lean and curvy? And why didn't you think of Mr. AI? 🤨

Anyway, here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵

One Sided Stories by Raghav Meattle

Quite candid lyrics, we must say! Thanks for the rec Ruchita Jain.

A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀

Why has India come to love tequila?

Tequila sales in India have tripled ever since the pandemic and seems to be a new trend!

But if you go back a few years ago, tequila was almost non-existent in the Indian alcohol industry, and it was mostly whiskey that ruled the roost! So, what’s fanning this fad, you ask?

Well, for starters, you could blame George Clooney.

Nearly a decade ago the Hollywood star launched Casamigos, his own tequila brand. And seeing it grow at a fast clip, global alcoholic beverages leader Diageo Plc jumped to buy it in 2017. Now, if you don’t know this already, Diageo bought India’s United Spirits for $3.2 billion in 2014. And that connection along with Casamigos’ association with a celebrity, sort of sparked off a tequila revolution in India.

Agave based spirits started gaining popularity too, probably because 100% agave tequila had less sugar and calories than other liquors. So it must have felt like a smart alcohol choice. For the uninitiated, tequila comes from the agave plant that’s native to Mexico. And the fact that it’s a foreign liquor made it seem premium. So folks with rising disposable incomes were warming up to it.

But there was also something else that pushed the agave spirits rally ― India’s newfound love for Mexican cuisine.

Yup! Mexican restaurants were mushrooming in metro cities like Mumbai and Kolkata. Maybe because of the close connection between Indian and Mexican cuisine as Pablo Benitez, a professor of Mexican pre-Hispanic cuisine puts it ― There’s a culinary connection between India and Mexico because they are located on the same geographical axis even if they are on opposite ends of the planet.

The proof is in the pudding. Both cuisines liberally use spices to bring in bold flavours into their food. And the best part? Both cultures appreciate the underrated art of eating with hands!

And Diageo probably noticed this. So a couple of months ago, it made another move. It bought a small stake in an Indian agave spirit brand called Pistola, which was gaining popularity since its tequila is made using the Agave americana plant. This plant grows in South India’s Deccan plateau and the tequila is aged and bottled in Goa.

So yeah, this new connection is also probably what will give tequila more wings. Add to that the fact that it makes a great base for classic Mexican cocktails such as Michelada, Paloma and Margarita, and the rise of tequila could be unstoppable!

What do you think of the sudden rise of this alien drink? Could it be whiskey’s new competitor?

Why are India’s airlines fighting over bilateral rights?

There’s a brawl brewing between airline companies in India. The reason?

The UAE wants the government to allow it to operate 50,000 more seats per week on its flights to and from India under their bilateral rights arrangement.

If you’re wondering what that is, it’s simply an agreement between two countries that decides how many flights and seats each can operate to and from each other's territories. India has bilateral agreements with 116 countries. And they’re important because they dictate the level of access airlines have to different markets.

Now here’s the thing. Indian airlines’ flights on overseas routes are on the rise. So India wants to convert its existing airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad into aviation hubs. That can help it grab a portion of the long haul air traffic that flows to other countries mostly via like Singapore, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Think of aviation hubs as airports which act as transit points for passengers travelling to international destinations. And since over half of Indian passengers travelling to Europe, the US and Australia do so via hubs such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Singapore this plan makes perfect sense.

But the problem with this idea is that it needs infrastructural improvements like more parking space in the form of one terminal exclusively per airline. But that could mean billions of dollars of investments and adjustments to parking spaces of small airlines.

And that’s exactly why the government has only been mulling over this idea despite wanting to revise bilateral rights.

But companies like Air India who want to invest in more wide-bodied aircraft for long haul international destinations don’t want the government to revise bilateral agreements. Because this could mean that airlines in the middle east will use it as an opportunity to take traffic from India to other destinations via their countries. Airlines like Emirates already take traffic from India and transfer 80-90% of it to other parts of the world. And giving them more allowance will mean snatching away business from Indian airlines.

On the flip side, airlines like Indigo and Akasa want the government to go ahead with the bilateral rights revision since they’re looking to launch new flights to the middle east.

And this seems to be a new problem in town. How’s the government going to sort out this dilemma? We’ll only have to wait and see.

Jargon of the day ✏️

This Day in Financial History 📜

3rd of June, 1839 ― A Chinese official triggers the first Opium War

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, Britain bought popular Chinese goods like silk, porcelain and tea. But China wasn’t willing to buy anything in return. And that meant that Britain was buying more from China than it sold, triggering a trade imbalance. Besides, China only accepted silver, which dragged Britain into a silver shortage too.

To combat that, Britain had a brainwave. It grew opium, a highly addictive drug in its Indian colonies, exported it to China and got its people hooked. That set off a widespread silver loss in China. No sooner had the Chinese realised this than they banned opium in the country. They slapped other trade restrictions on Britain too. For instance, the British could only trade with the Hong merchants in Canton.

That obviously frustrated the British. But nevertheless, British merchants kept illegally smuggling opium into China.

By the early 19th century, opium smuggling worsened, leading to severe Chinese crackdowns. And on June 3rd 1839, Lin Zexu, a Chinese official seized opium from the British and expelled them to Hong Kong. Failed negotiations over trade and food supplies increased tensions and sparked the First Opium War, which began in September 1839.

Britain won the war, resulting in the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded Hong Kong Island to Britain and allowed free trade. Unsatisfied, Britain demanded further concessions, leading to the Second Opium War in 1856 and the Treaty of Tientsin in 1858, which gave Britain Hong Kong’s Kowloon.

A few years later, Britain leased the territory above Kowloon, or what they called the new territories for 99 years.

Finally, when the lease expired in 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to China under one condition ― ‘one country, two systems’. This meant that Hong Kong’s social and economic systems and lifestyle would have to remain the same for the next 50 years.

So yeah, that’s exactly why Hong Kong won’t be a part of mainland China until 2047.

Readers Recommend 🗒️

Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by Ernst F. Schumacher

This week our reader Esha Sharma recommends a book that has a message for a modern world struggling to balance economic growth with the human costs of globalisation.

Thanks for the rec, Esha!

Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩

It’s time to announce the winner of our previous weekly quiz. And the winner is…🥁

Srikanth Sriramagiri! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch. And for the rest of you, we’ve moved the quiz to our weekly wrapup. So make sure you answer all the questions correctly and tune in here next week to check if you got lucky.

That’s it from us this week. We’ll see you next Sunday.

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