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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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, July 4, 2016: Uttarakhand floods and landslides, Aadhaar enrolment…

40

What is it? The number of people feared dead due to flash floods and landslides in Uttarakhand over the weekend.

Why is it important? The toll could be higher as many people are missing and/or stranded due to the blockage of hundreds of roads by landslides. Continuous rains have added to the problem. The previous major floods were in 2013, where the state government announced that 5,748 people were presumed to be dead as they remained untraced. A report by the National Institute of Disaster Management had attributed the 2013 disaster to climatic conditions in addition to haphazard human intervention.

Tell me more: The Uttarakhand government has announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the victims’ families.

 

125

What is it? The number of people killed in a terrorist attack in central Baghdad on Saturday night.

Why is it important? The attack has been claimed by ISIS. The bombing happened a week after Iraqi security forces recaptured the city of Falluja (an hour away from Baghdad), which was used as a base to launch attacks by the ISIS militants on Baghdad.

Tell me more: It is the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and has left around 200 people wounded. This came a day after the group claimed responsibility for an attack on a cafe in Bangladesh that saw 20 people dead, including an 18-year-old Indian student.

 

9-43%

What is it? The range of error for energy expenditure recorded by popular wrist-worn fitness monitors, according to a study.

Why is it important? The demand for these devices have been going up (estimated to touch 5.8 billion by 2018), despite inaccuracies. The metrics recorded by such devices were compared to electrocardiography (measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat) readings and a portable gas analysis system that measured the number of calories burnt.

Tell me more: A total of 22 healthy people (an even split of males and females) were monitored while completing different activities such as running, walking, cycling, seated and rested.

 

150

What is it? The number of public meetings Priyanka Vadra will hold in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the assembly elections in 2017, as the likely leader of the campaign in India’s most populous state.

Why is it important? It indicates that Vadra may have a bigger role to play in the Congress, which has failed to revive under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. The party which has been routed in the last few state elections has also had a poor performance in the state earlier: winning 28 of the 403 seats in the last assembly elections and just two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Tell me more: Vadra has so far limited her campaigning to Rae Bareli and Amethi where Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have contested from.

 

16

What is it? The number of states in which the enrolment levels of Aadhaar exceeds 100% of the estimated 2015 adult population figures as of June 15. These include Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala and Rajasthan.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator that migrants have enrolled for Aadhaar in states where they are employed – providing them some form of identification. The high numbers would also enable implementation of applications such as e-KYC (know your customer), payment services, e-signatures, besides helping plug leakages in government services.

Tell me more: Delhi has the highest Aadhaar enrolment rates at 127% of the projected adult population. Enrollments in Bihar and Gujarat are at 85% and 91% respectively.

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News in Numbers, May 9, 2016: Unequal access to education, Haryana’s land allotment case…

23%

What is it? The percentage of the poorest (the bottom 20%) who go to higher secondary schools in urban areas, compared with 66% for the richest fifth of the population.

Why is it important? An indicator of unequal access to education and increase in disparities between rich and power as we go higher up the ladder of education. Underlines the need for better-focussed government spending in education. India spent 3.8% of its GDP (gross domestic product) in 2012, which is lower than the spend (as a percentage of GDP) in some poorer countries such as Nepal (4.7% in 2014) and Vietnam (6.3% in 2012).

Tell me more: This percentage is expressed as net attendance ratio – the number of students attending a particular class-group divided by the total number of people in that age group.

 

~ $500 million

What is it? Restaurants listings company Zomato Media’s valuation, according to brokerage HSBC Securities and Capital Markets India – slashed by half since its last round of funding in September.

Why is it important? Though the reduction is not by its investors, it keeps alive the concerns about overvaluation of Indian unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion). Flipkart’s major investors – Morgan Stanley and T Rowe Price – cut the value of their stakes by 27% and 15% respectively while two minor investors slashed it by around 30-40%.

Tell me more: HSBC’s reasons for the marking down include: Zomato being non-profitable in any of the 23 markets it operates in, increasing competition and the firm’s heavy reliance on advertisements as an intrinsic part of its business model.  Zomato, which has raised $224 million since its inception in 2008, has disagreed with HSBC’s estimates terming them “valuations markdown speculations of third parties” and said it is on course to becoming profitable soon. Zomato laid off 10% of its 3,000-strong workforce last year.

 

121%

What is it? Lok Sabha’s productivity in the second half of the ongoing budget session (up to May 5) while that of Rajya Sabha is 98%.

Why is it important? This is despite the NDA and Congress training their guns on each other with issues (especially in the Rajya Sabha) such as Uttarakhand political crisis, Panama Papers and the AgustaWestland deal. The Lok Sabha has passed six bills while the Upper House has passed seven.

Tell me more: The ones passed by the Lok Sabha include: the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015 while those passed by the Rajya Sabha include: The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2016.

 

10%

What is it? The share of women candidates contesting in four state elections – West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.

Why is it important? Except for Tamil Nadu, which has seen an almost doubling of share of women contestants since 2011, the share has remained almost the same in the other three states. Only 9% of the seats won in these four states in 2011 were by women. A women’s reservation bill that would set aside 33% of seats in the Parliament and state assemblies is pending.

Tell me more: The national average of women legislators in state assemblies is just 9% with states such as Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan having 14% representation while some other states such as Nagaland and Puducherry have no women MLAs. In the Lok Sabha, just 12% of the members are women.

 

Rs 62 lakh

What is it? The alleged loss to Haryana state government in a land allotment case connected to National Herald.

Why is it important? This is the first FIR filed in the land deal and is likely to have a bearing on the case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others for allegedly acquiring AJL (Associated Journals Limited promoters of National Herald) and its assets reportedly worth Rs 5,000 crore through a private firm. This adds further trouble to Congress, which finds itself embroiled in the AgustaWestland scam, as it readies to face elections in five states/UTs this year.

Tell me more: Haryana State Vigilance Bureau has filed a case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior Haryana Urban Development Authority officials and trustees and directors of AJL, on charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating, conspiracy and violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The officials reportedly re-allotted the plot measuring 3,360 square metres to AJL at 1982 rates instead of selling it through an open auction. The current market value of the plot is estimated to be about Rs 100 crore.

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