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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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4 Accidents, 12 Hours, 7 Deaths, And One Institution

 

Four accidents in 12 hours, that translates to an accident every 3 hours. That’s Indian Railways for you these days. One year after demonetization, government is cracking down on ‘benami’ transactions significantly. India is seen bolstering its coastal security after the deadly 26/11 attack in Mumbai in 2008. And, in Nepal, after two decades, the war torn country has held elections in its last effort to move towards a federal democracy.

 

Rs 15.9 crore

What is it? The value of cash deposits made at a bank in Delhi after demonetisation was announced last November that has been declared to be ‘benami’ by a special court.

Why is it important? This is among the first five adjudication cases under the amended Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 that came into effect from November 1, 2016. This is one of the measures taken by the government against black money. The income tax department recently said it had attached benami assets worth Rs 1,833 crore, and had made 541 attachments and issued 517 notices. Violations of the Act could lead to up to seven years of jail time and a monetary fine of up to 25% of the fair value of the benami property.

Tell me more: Both the depositor and the beneficial owner in this case remain untraceable.

 

1,000

What is it? The number of transponders to be provided by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by March 2018 to track suspicious vessels and boats through satellite imagery.

Why is it important? This is to prevent a 26/11 kind of attack, when terrorists entered Mumbai through the Arabian Sea, killing 166 and injuring over 300 in 2008. An automatic identification system would monitor boats above 20 metres while satellite monitoring would handle those under 20 metres. As many as 46 coastal radars and 74 automatic ID systems have been installed to strengthen infrastructure to monitor suspicious sea activities. India is considering setting up a coastal security force.

Tell me more: Officials claim there is improved coordination between various agencies and the police to check preparedness to defend the seas, though there have been a few incidents that have breached India’s coastal security in the last few months.

 

18 years

What is it? The number of years after which Nepal held elections to its Parliament and provincial assemblies. The first phase of elections was held on Sunday, recording a 65% turnout, and the second phase will be on December 7.

Why is it important? These elections are being seen as the last step in Nepal’s transition to a federal democracy after the end of a decade-long civil war in 2006, the abolition of monarchy in 2008 and the scripting of a new Constitution in 2015.

Tell me more: Besides the people of Nepal, there is also interest among external actors in these elections, notably the country’s two neighbours, India and China.

 

4

What is it? The number of train accidents recorded in a 12-hour period between Thursday night and Friday morning.

Why is it important? This again brings to fore the urgent need to stepping up safety measures in Indian Railways. Two of these resulted in the deaths of seven people. In a recent report submitted to the Railway Ministry, the World Bank has found the current system of investigating accidents by the Commission of Railway Safety to be inadequate. It has also recommended that an independent rail safety regulator and investigator be setup to prevent accidents.

Tell me more: In the last five years, 60% of rail accidents have occurred due to mistakes by or negligence of railway staff, according to a study by government think-tank Niti Aayog.

 

10

What is it? The number of times that France has won the Davis Cup, following its 3-2 defeat of Belgium on Sunday for the 2017 title.

Why is it important? This win brings France level with Britain to be joint third in title wins. Only the United States (32) and Australia (28) have more titles in the premier team competition in men’s tennis since 1900.

Tell me more: So far, 22 nations have played the finals of the Davis Cup. US has the maximum number of appearances (61), followed by Australia (47). India has reached the finals thrice, but never won.

 

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News in Numbers, Sep 19, 2016: Uri attack, value of self-driving talent…

17

What is it? The number of Indian soldiers killed in a militant attack in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. Around 30 were injured.

Why is it important? It is said to be the worst attack on the Indian army in a decade by ‘fidayeen’ (belonging to a suicide squad) militants. There is usually heavy military presence in and around Uri, which a few kilometres away from the Line of Control. India suspects the hand of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed behind the attack.

Tell me more: Four militants attacked the rear office of an Indian Army infantry installation early in the morning yesterday when there was a change in command (one unit was replacing another one). They threw grenades and fired randomly. All four have been killed.

 

$1.04 billion

What is it? The cost of a 588 km road construction and upgradation project that will link India to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.

Why is it important? This is expected to help increase intra-regional trade within South Asia by 60%. This could also boost the Motor Vehicles Agreement signed by the four countries last year that looks to increase passenger and goods movement across borders. South Asia has a trade potential of $80 billion compared to the current $28 billion and its constrained by a lack of connectivity, according to experts.

Tell me more: The Asian Development Bank will fund 50% of the project cost and the initiative would cover West Bengal and Manipur on the Indian side.

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15%

What is it? India’s share of global maternal deaths in 2015, according to a report in UK medical journal Lancet. There were 45,000 maternal deaths in India last year.

Why is it important? Globally, maternal deaths per 100,000 live births decreased by 44% (from 385 to 216) between 1990 and 2015. India is one of the 5% of countries that accounted for over half of such deaths.

Tell me more:  India’s maternal mortality ratio was 174 per 100,000 live births in 2015 (from 215 per 100,000 live births in 2010). It was supposed to decrease it to 109 per 100,000 live births by last year, as per the United Nations Development Programme’s Millennium Development Goals.

 

147

What is it? The number of government subsidy schemes in which cash will be directly transferred to beneficiaries’ accounts.

Why is it important? It is expected to plug the leakages, and ensure the intended benefits reaches the target population in full. The expansion of schemes under direct benefit of transfer comes after government saw huge savings in cooking gas subsidies, even though some argue that limitations of technology leaves out a good number of the poor.

Tell me more: The government already has pilots for food, kerosene and fertiliser subsidies, and uses direct cash transfers in 74 schemes of 17 departments and ministries. It wants to increase this to 147 by March 2017.

 

$10 million per person

What is it? Value of self-driving talent, according to Stanford University professor and former Google engineer Sebastian Thrun.

Why is it important? Thrun, who is often referred to as father of self driving cars in Silicon valley, arrived at this number from acquisitions in the sector, which were mainly for talent. Uber, for example bought six month old startup Otto for $700 million. It employed 70 people. While the exact number can be debated, this reflects the intensity of competition among companies to win the self-driving vehicles race. 33 companies are working on autonomous vehicles, and the talent is scarce.

Tell me more: Last week Uber launched self driving cars in Pittsburg. More recently, the CEO of its rival Lyft said a majority of rides in five years will be on self driving cars.

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News in numbers, Nov 5, 2015: All-time low solar tariff, human trafficking from Nepal to India…

Rs 4.63

What is it? Price at which US-based SunEdison will sell solar power per kilowatt-hour in India.

Why is it important? This is an all-time low solar tariff in India and gives a boost to the Indian government’s ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100 GW would be comprised of solar energy. India’s solar generation capacity is 2,900 MW now. This would also help India’s plans of providing solar power at Rs 4.75 per unit to state electricity boards, which are struggling with mounting debts and losses and reluctant to buy power.

Tell me more: SunEdison won the auction for a 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh. The previous low tariff was Rs 5.05 per kilowatt-hour for Canadian company SkyPower’s project in Madhya Pradesh.

 

5 to 9

What is it? Multiple by which nitrogen oxide emissions were higher in a sample of 11 vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group in India – compared to levels tested during the approval stage, according to the Automotive Research Association of India.

Why is it important? Indicates that despite tough laws, some companies are able to get through the approval process without playing by the rule book. It remains to be seen if it’s a one-off or an industry-wide phenomenon. For VW, it is more bad news as its emission scandal gets murkier. According to the ARAI, VW India has informed them that 314,000 cars (across Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi models) have been fitted with engines from the E 189 diesel engine family, which have been used to fool emission tests in the US and Europe.

Tell me more: The Indian government has issued a show cause notice to VW asking it to explain its position on these findings and disclose if it has used an emission defeat device in India. The company has confirmed that it has received the show cause notice from the government-owned agency, Automotive Research Association of India, and would respond to it by the end of this month.

 

25%

What is it? Share of devices connected on mobile networks in India that are 3G-enabled, according to a survey by Nokia Networks.

Why is it important? Of this, only 45% are used for 3G services – pointing to an opportunity for telecom companies to tap into. The survey shows that of the sample size of 650 million subscribers, just 2.3% have 4G-enabled devices. Given the likelihood of prices of 4G devices coming down in the near future, there is a possibility of 4G overtaking 3G in terms of subscription, Nokia Networks said.

Tell me more: Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata are the top five cities in terms of 3G device penetration. 

 

500%

What is it? The percentage increase in human trafficking from Nepal to India in 2015 (with two months to spare) compared to 2014.

Why is it important? The human trafficking from Nepal has seen a threefold increase after a massive earthquake devastated large parts of the country this April. Shows the levels of poverty that people have been subjected to, after the quake and their desperation to escape it all.  

Tell me more: Till this September, the Sahastra Seema Bal, one of India’s Central Armed Police Forces, has rescued 206 victims, of which 159 were rescued after the quake. In 2014, 33 victims were rescued.

 

€2 billion (over Rs 14,000 crore)

What is it? France’s committed investment for India’s Smart Cities Mission.

Why is it important? Despite the various challenges that the Indian economy faces, particularly the infrastructure sector, this indicates international interest in India’s long term growth story. But, there are serious concerns about how such ambitious urban projects would get funded.

Tell me more: The Western European nation is also investing 200 million (over Rs 1,400 crore) for the extension of the Bangalore metro network.

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