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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jan 17, 2016

Startup Policy Shift

It was a week in which India's nascent start-up community got a big encouraging push from the central government. PM Modi announced a slew of measures which his govt. hopes would boost start up investment in India and act as a boost to the larger economy in general. Among the measures announced are a Rs 100bn fund and a list of tax holidays for both start up companies and their investors. The attention now focuses on the implementation of the initiatives. The reaction of the initiatives were positive and some states have also jumped onto the bandwagon but some concerns remain, specially around whether the govt. should adopt the role of an investor in start-ups.

Punjab Politicking

It was a week of hectic political activity in Punjab. The state does not go to Assembly polls till Feb 2017 but already the battlelines are being drawn. CM Prakash Singh Badal reaffirmed his faith in the SAD-BJP coalition despite their poor performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal held a massive rally in Moga and has sounded the bugle of his party's campaign in the state. Interestingly, it also seems to be acquiring unusual allies in its march. The Congress absorbed the People Party's of Punjab in its fold and has brushed aside the threat that the AAP would eat into its vote as the principal opposition to the Badals. It remains to be seen whose word comes out as final a year from now.

Bowling woes

It was a difficult week for the Indian cricket team as it lost 3 consecutive ODIs to Australia despite posting scores of around or above 300 in each of their innings. On each occassion however, Australia came out trumps fairly comfortably. The Indians have now lost the 5 match series and Captain MS Dhoni did not mince words in blaming his bowlers who failed to defend high totals in each of the outings.

Opinions you must read:

  • There have been a few incidents lately related to people standing or not standing while the national anthem is played in movie halls. Firstpost asks the question whether the practice of playing the anthem is even needed in the first place.
  • Nitin Pai makes a provocative case in The Hindu on whether the state and the judiciary should even attempt to implement social reform measures.
  • US President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address this week. What are its implications on US's foreign policy towards other key players? Read a take here in the Mint.

Chart of the Week

Air pollution in Delhi is definitely getting close to dangerous levels and the new measure to rein it in will hopefully make the air cleaner. Measurements by local authorities, the World Health Organization and the American embassy all pointed to this sobering fact. Why is air pollution a big deal? According to the World Health Organization, 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution!

How is air pollution measured? By measuring the amount of tiny airborne pollutants in a given volume of air. Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as "fine" particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can get past the body's normal defenses and penetrate deep into the lungs. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities and certain industrial processes.

How do Indian cities fare compared to major cities in the world? Indian cities unfortunately have the highest levels of PM2.5 pollutants- worse than China. Some say actual figures in Chinese cities are vastly under-reported and should be thrice as much but this would still make Indian cities among the worst hit in the world. The chart below shows air pollution (PM2.5) levels across major cities in the world.