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?



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.



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.



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.



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.



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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Counting Terror Deaths


Australians voted ‘Yes’ in favour of making same- sex marriag legal. To curb vehicular pollution, government would require diesel and petrol vehicles to limit sulfur content by 2018. India ranked eighth among the top 10 countries that were most affected by terrorism in 2016. And, Sri Lanka hasn’t won a single test match against India in India. How about that!



What is it? The percentage of Australians who voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, according to the results of a voluntary national survey.

Why is it important? A bill to change the marriage laws was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government would try to pass the legislation by Christmas. Around 12.7 million or 79.5% of the Australian population participated in the survey, and every state and territory recorded a majority saying ‘yes’. With this, Australia could potentially join the list of over two dozen countries, including the Netherlands, Brazil, Canada, Ireland and Spain, to have national laws allowing same-sex marriages.

Tell me more: The postal survey, which was estimated to cost Australia around $122 million, has been criticised by some same-sex marriage supporters who said it was unnecessary and that the Parliament could debate the topic directly.



What is it? The number of years by which the Indian government has advanced introducing Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) fuel, which will now be available with effect from April 1, 2018, in Delhi.

Why is it important? The step has been taken to reduce vehicular pollution in the national capital, which is repeatedly seeing hazardous pollution levels. The new rules will require petrol and diesel vehicles to contain sulfur content of 10 parts per million, down from the current 50. According to a study by IIT-Kanpur, vehicle emissions contribute an average of 25% of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) levels, which go up to 36% during winters. This is the second biggest contributor to pollution after road dust.

Tell me more: In related news, the Delhi government said in a reply under the Right to Information Act that it had used only only Rs 93 lakh of the Rs 787 crore (or just 0.12%) collected as environment cess in the last two years.



What is it? The number of deaths due to terrorism in India between 2000 and 2016, according to Global Terrorism Index 2017.

Why is it important? This is the sixth highest among the top 10 countries ranked as the most affected by terrorism in 2016, where India ranks eighth. Its position has improved slightly in the last two years: it was ranked between second and sixth during the period from 2002-2015. Also, India has the lowest rate of deaths per attack (average of 0.4 deaths per attack) compared to an average of 2.7 deaths for the nine other countries. Last year, 929 terror incidents were recorded in India, killing 340 and injuring 636; Maoists were responsible for over half the deaths.

Tell me more: Only India, Pakistan and Afghanistan were ranked among the top 10 in 2002, with Libya and Syria being relatively new entrants. Between 2002 and 2016, eight of the nine regions in the world experienced an increase in terrorist activity.



What is it? The number of electric vehicles for which the state-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) is planning to float a tender in March-April 2018.

Why is it important? This would be the second tender for electric vehicles from EESL, as it tries to provide a fillip to electric mobility in India. The first tender for 10,000 vehicles for government use was awarded in September, to Tata Motors and Mahindra, the delivery of which is scheduled to start by November 30. The Indian government has a stated objective that by 2030 all new cars should be electric.

Tell me more: EESL is a joint venture of public sector undertakings under the power ministry. It has been leading the Indian government’s initiatives towards the adoption of energy-efficient alternatives.



What is it? The number of test matches won by Sri Lanka against India in India. Sri Lanka has played 17 tests in India, and lost 10 of them and drawn 7.

Why is it important? The first test of the three-match India-Sri Lanka series gets underway at Kolkata today, though under the threat of rain. Smarting from the loss of hardened veterans in recent years, Sri Lanka is in rebuilding mode, and is not fancied to change that record on this tour.

Tell me more: In the International Cricket Council test rankings, India is ranked number one and Sri Lanka six. India has four batsmen in the top 10, Sri Lanka none. India has two bowlers in the top 10, Sri Lanka one.


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News in Numbers, July 11, 2016: Mallya accused of fund diversion, Burhan Wani’s killing…

Rs 1,225 crore

What is it? The potential amount that United Spirits has allegedly diverted when it was under chairmanship of Vijay Mallya.

Why is it important? This adds to Mallya’s woes, who is wanted by Indian investigation authorities with a Mumbai court issuing a non-bailable warrant for his arrest. United Spirits, now owned by Diageo, a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, has informed Enforcement Directorate and the Securities and Exchange Board of India about the diversion of funds, and has directed the management to pursue its recovery and sue Mallya if necessary.

Tell me more: United Spirits has said the funds have been diverted to Force India Formula One, Watson Ltd, Continental Administrative Services and Ultra Dynamics, in which Mallya “appears to have a material, direct and indirect interests”. Mallya said in a statement that all transactions were above board.


500,000 tonnes

What is it? The quantity of duty-free, non-genetically modified corn India will import.

Why is it important? This would help overcome shortages and check prices, giving relief to starch manufacturers and the poultry industry, the main consumers of corn. Due to two consecutive years of drought, India’s corn production is estimated to have decreased to 21.02 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 23.67 million tonnes in 2014-15. India has traditionally been a major exporter of corn to the Southeast Asian region.

Tell me more: India, which allows cultivation and consumption of only genetically modified cotton, has been facing difficulties in sourcing non-genetically modified corn recently.



What is it? The number of people reportedly killed after protesters clashed with the police, angered by the killing of separatist militant Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir.

Why is it important? Wani, who led the Hijb-ul Mujahideen (one of the largest and important terrorist groups perpetrating violence in the state), was seen as the face of new-age militancy in the region. The show of support by thousands who attended his funeral despite orders to restrict movement of people and traffic, indicates support for the cause and there are concerns that death might prompt increased attacks on security forces and civilians.

Tell me more: Around 200 people were injured in the clashes that erupted after Wani’s killing. Wani was popular on social media, releasing videos and pictures online with an aim to recruit young Kashmiri men for terror.



What is it? The percentage of seats that go unoccupied in Air India flights on the routes connecting Delhi to Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Why is it important? The state-owned carrier hopes to fill this up by offering tickets (booked within 4 hours of departure) at the same rate as 2-tier AC fares in Rajdhani trains. It’s Rs 2,870  from Delhi to Mumbai; Rs 3,905 from Delhi to Chennai; Rs 2,890 from Delhi to Kolkata and Rs 4,095 from Delhi to Bengaluru. High air fares charged by carriers have come under criticism recently.

Tell me more: The domestic traffic between the metros account for around half of the domestic air travel. Air India’s losses were expected to be Rs 2,636 crore in 2015-16 compared to Rs 5,860 crore in 2014-15.


79.1 crore

What is it? The number of person-days of employment generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme in the first quarter of this year.

Why is it important? This is the highest since the first quarter of 2012 and around 12% higher than the projected figure of 70.5 crore person days in the first quarter of this year. The spurt in numbers was due to higher than expected demand in some drought-hit states such as Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Tell me more: Some states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand have been lagging behind in terms of person-days of employment generated and the central government has written to them to increase the pace of the scheme’s implementation.

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


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.



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.



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.



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.



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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