rahul gandhi

Can Rahul Gandhi Revive Congress Party?

 

Another Gandhi scion is at the helm of the Congress party. Will he be able to revive the fortune of the party?

 

89

What is it? The number of nominations received in favour of Rahul Gandhi who was elected as the President of the 132-year-old Congress party on Monday.

Why is it important? The announcement coincides with the Gujarat assembly elections, which are being seen as a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom Gandhi would take on in the 2019 general elections as well. The big question before the new Congress president is whether he can revive the Congress party, which put on its worst performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections when it won just 44 (8%) of the 543 seats. Since then, it has lost six assembly elections and is now in power in just two major states (Karnataka and Punjab) and three smaller ones.

Tell me more: Gandhi, who will take charge on December 16, will be the sixth from the Nehru-Gandhi family. His mother Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving president, has been at the helm since 1998.

 

3

What is it? The number of people injured in an explosion at a busy commuter hub in New York.

Why is it important? The city Mayor said it was an attempted terrorist attack. Among developed countries, the US reportedly sees the highest lone-actor attacks, most of which are carried out by citizens inspired by extremist ideologies. The study indicates the country is under threat of less-sophisticated, home-grown attacks, similar to the one allegedly carried out by 27-year-old Bangladeshi national Akayed Ullah on Monday, who reportedly detonated an “improvised low-tech explosive device” attached to his body.

Tell me more: The suspect is also being treated for injuries and it is unclear if he has any affiliations to any terrorist organisation.

 

77.3%

What is it? The percentage of women who reported mistreatment by their healthcare provider during childbirth in government hospitals, according to a study.

Why is it important? This highlights the trauma women face that numbers and data cannot capture effectively and, hence, a call for stricter enforcement of rules that ensure humane childbirth conditions. The mistreatment was reported in areas such as non-consensual care and inadequate dissemination of information with respect to treatment or care for them or their children. Infrastructure inadequacies and gender/caste/class discrimination, higher footfalls in state-run hospitals and stretched resources are likely among the top reasons for such occurrences.

Tell me more: The study was jointly conducted by Sambodhi Research and Communications, University of California, India Health Action Trust, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in association with the National Health Mission of Uttar Pradesh. It is based on direct observation of deliveries and follow-up interviews of 900 women in Uttar Pradesh.

 

10.6%

What is it? The increase in the share price of real estate company Unitech on Monday after the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) authorised the government to appoint its 10 nominees on the company’s board.

Why is it important? This effectively amounts to the government taking over the management of the company, in a rare corporate move. Unitech has opposed the move in Supreme Court; its petition is scheduled to be heard today, but it is unlikely to get relief in this matter. Unitech, once India’s second-largest realty firm, owes over Rs 7,800 crore to 16,300 homebuyers in 61 projects.

Tell me more: On December 21, a special court will also give its judgment on the case involving the issuance of telecom licences, in which Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra is one of the accused.

 

81

What is it? The number of cricket matches across formats that India will host between 2019 and 2023, according to the revised Future Tours Programme (FTP) that was agreed in principle by the Indian board on Monday.

Why is it important? If this FTP is ratified, the number of games India will host will be 30 more than scheduled under the current FTP. However, overall, the number of playing days for India will reduce from 390 days to 350 days in this four-year cycle. Overall, India will play more at home, and fewer tests and more T20s. Significantly, India will play more than half their cricket against Australia, England and South Africa, creating fears of a Big Four hegemony in world cricket.

Tell me more: While the schedule includes a debut test match against minnows Afghanistan, it excludes any bilateral match with Pakistan, which the latter is set to challenge.

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modi-supporter

The ‘Criminal’ Quotient of Gujarat Elections

 

When the crime accused stands to administrate the people in his region, it’s probably the biggest irony of all. In Gujarat elections, something like that is unfolding. Both the ruling BJP and Congress have fielded some candidates that are accused of crimes against women, and attempt to murder. Here, take a look.

 

101

What is it? The number of candidates fighting the second phase of Gujarat elections with criminal cases.

Why is it important? This represents 12% of all candidates, and more than 8% of candidates have serious criminal cases like crimes against women, attempt to murder, offence carrying punishment more than 5 years. Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress – the two leading parties – have 13 and 18 candidates with serious criminal cases.

Tell me more: In the first phase, 137 or 15% of candidates have criminal cases against them.

 

155 crore litres

What is it? The amount of ethanol that will be purchased by oil marketing companies (OMCs) in current financial year.

Why is it important? This is more than double the amount purchased by OMCs during last financial year, and this would mean sugar companies or ethanol manufacturers will get additional revenue of Rs 4,500 crore. This will benefit sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which together will provide more than 75% of the 155 crore litres.

Tell me more: India targetted ethanol blending of 10% in fossil fuel to reduce import bill. Ethanol is produced from molasses, the byproduct from sugar production.

 

30,000

What is it? The number of Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in last month. 1,500 arrived last week alone, according to UNCHYR

Why is it important? The flow of refugees continues, though the numbers have come down. More than 625,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. Both  Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on November 23 to start the return of refugees. The continued flow of refugees is an indicator of unsafe conditions still prevailing in Myanmar, said United Nations High Commission for Refugees or UNHCR.

Tell me more: Rohingya are muslim minorities with majority of them living in Rakhine state of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. The latest exodus started after Rohingya Arsa militants attacked more than 25 police posts on August 25 this year.

 

12 million

What is it? The number of people eligible to vote in the second phase of the elections in Nepal.

Why is it important? This is the first time Nepal will elect representatives to seven state assemblies since the land-locked country adopted the republican constitution in 2015. Since the civil war ended in 2006, Nepal has seen political instability with 10 governments in as many years and two years later, the Hindu monarchy ended.

Tell me more: Voter turnout is estimated at 67%, and the elections will be closely watched by India and China. The left alliance is seen as pro-China, and the alliance led by Nepali Congress Party is seen as pro-India.

 

Rs5 crore

What is it? The amount of penalty levied by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living for damaging the Yamuna floodplains in 2016.

Why is it important? NGT held Art of Living responsible for ‘causing damage and environmental degradation’ of the Yamuna floodplains. The tribunal did not impose additional penalty despite its own expert committee estimated the damages at Rs42.02 crore. Art of Living has denied the charges and is now planning to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Tell me more: NGT was established in 2010 to deal fast with environmental cases. So far, it has decided on 20,696 out of 23,720 cases filed.

 

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rahul gandhi

Lineage Wins Yet Again

 

Congress gave in to lineage once again. It’s sole candidate has filed his nomination and would soon be elected. The telecom watchdog, TRAI has recommended that a telecom firm should first test its network before going all out in the market. In the world, China may become the biggest importer in next five years. And, Madhya Pradesh has unanimously passed a bill to legalize death sentence for those guilty of raping minor girls.

 

1

What is it? Number of candidates who filed a nomination to contest elections for the post of the president of the Indian National Congress. The sole candidate, Rahul Gandhi, filed his nomination on Monday.

Why is it important? If elected, as is expected, Rahul Gandhi will become the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to become president of the Indian National Congress. It will further the hereditary nature of Indian politics, where political parties speak of party democracy in letter, but submit to supreme leadership in spirit.

Tell me more: From his immediate family, Rahul Gandhi, 47, will be the third member to become party president, following his father (Rajiv Gandhi, 1985-1991) and mother (Sonia Gandhi, current president since 1998). Before them, there were Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Motilal Nehru.

 

90

What is it? The maximum number of days a telecom firm should get to conduct network testing and enroll only a small number of users before commercially launching its services, according to recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sent to the department of telecommunications.

Why is it important? If accepted, this suggestion could help new operators that are planning to launch their services in a telecom circle, given that under the current rules, a telecom service provider has to get its network testing done before launch of operations and also meet certain quality criteria. Incumbents had accused Reliance Jio, which made its entry last September, of running full-fledged services in the guise of trial launch/networking testing, though it has denied any wrongdoing.

Tell me more: TRAI also said that if a telecom operator was unable to carry out networking testing in the above mentioned time frame, it could be extended provided it had valid reasons to do so.

 

5

What is it? The number of years within which China is likely to become the largest importer in the world, leapfrogging the US, according to a research note by CICC.

Why is it important? This would help China in becoming a bigger economic power as it turns from being a major exporter to one that starts importing more consumer-led products. The Asian country recently reduced import tariffs on 187 consumer goods to an average of 7.7% from 17.3% in a bid to move towards a consumption-driven economy. The research note says this would help the global economy that has struggled with lower demand since the 2008 financial crisis.

Tell me more: In 2016, US imported goods and services worth $2.25 trillion while China’s imports were $1.59 trillion.

 

14

What is it? The minimum number of years of rigorous imprisonment for raping girls aged 12 or below, according to a bill passed unanimously by the Madhya Pradesh assembly on Monday. In addition, the bill proposes death sentence or life imprisonment for the same crime.

Why is it important? This is the first time a state in India has legalised death penalty for rape of minor girls. It now requires the assent of the President to become a law. According to the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2016, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases in India. However, some legal experts say this could have an adverse effect by resulting in under-reporting of such cases and may also put the lives of children in danger as they may be killed by their perpetrators.

Tell me more: The bill also proposes jail term and penalty for harassment, stalking, assault with intention to disrobe or use of force among others.

 

39

What is it? Number of years since Prithvi Theatre has had a permanent home in Juhu, Mumbai. It was set up by actor Shashi Kapoor, who died yesterday, and his late wife Jennifer Kendal.

Why is it important? Prithvi is a firmament on the theatre scene in Mumbai and India, promoting the art form in a holistic sense that includes staging performances, conducting workshops and promoting stage artists and others involved in theatre. It’s also a rare instance of a mainstream actor making theatre a bedrock of his or her life’s work.

Tell me more: Shashi Kapoor’s father Prithviraj Kapoor began Prithvi Theatres in 1944 as a moving theatre company, travelling across India and staging plays in Hindustani. He leased 2 plots of land in Juhu to build a permanent space, but could not see it through because of ill-health.

 

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News in Numbers, Mar 13, 2017: Overruns ⚠

287

What is it? Number of infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above which saw a cost overrun of Rs 1.66 lakh-crore, out of a total 1,186 projects.

Why is it important? Over 24% of December, 2016’s high-value infrastructure projects suffered from cost overruns. Delays and cost overruns in infrastructure projects are often a source of budget crises for state and Union governments. They also erode the benefits initially expected from such projects. The projects with cost overrun will now be 11.39% costlier than originally estimated at Rs 14.6 lakh-crore.

Tell me more: Around 326 projects got delayed for various reasons, including land acquisition, funds constraints.

 

4:1

What is it? The tally of state election wins of BJP vs Congress.

Why is it important? After decisive victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, BJP since Sunday has staked claims to two other states —Manipur and Goa — which had no clear victors. The party rallied regional parties to support it and gathered the required numbers to form governments in these two states.

Tell me more: In Manipur, BJP presented a list of 32 MLAs (BJP won just 21), a lead of two, and in Goa, it has shown support of eight more MLAs besides the 13 seats it won.

 

15%

What is it? The share of social bots of active Twitter accounts.

Why is it important? While Twitter comes under regular fire for being happy hunting grounds for trolls, research estimates at least 48 million accounts on the social network platform are bots. These automatic programmes/robots interacting with others on Twitter can have malicious applications too. It beats Twitter’s own estimates of 8.5% bot accounts.

Tell me more: Two US universities who conducted the research say 15% is a conservative estimate of Twitter’s total 319 million active monthly users. These can fake support for political/terrorist propaganda and even help in terrorist recruitment.

 

350

What is it? The number of archeological remains unearthed by researchers in Madhya Pradesh

Why is it important? They are claimed be 50,000 years old, and could potentially offer clues about the ancient history of human beings and other members of animal kingdom. In 2009, pieces of 42,000 year old ostrich eggs were discovered in the same site.

Tell me more: A team of researchers have been working on the excavation since the second week of February in Narmada valley at Mehtakhedi village of Khargone district.

 

57%

What is it? The percentage of respondents of a survey who thought service charge was levied by the government.

Why is it important? It’s in fact levied by commercial establishments, and earlier this  year the government said that customers can opt not to pay for service charges in hotels and restaurants. Responses to other questions asked in the survey also indicated a lack of awareness about charges in bill, and underlined the low standards of consumer rights in India.

Tell me more: The survey was a part of a research paper, ‘Critique of service charges in hotels and restaurants’, by students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

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