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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jan 31, 2016

PDP's wait and watch post Syed

Weeks after the death of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, there is still no sign of government formation in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti is keeping the BJP guessing and the state continues to stay under President's Rule. There is speculation that Mehbooba is adopting a cautious approach due to concerns that the alliance may be harming PDP's political interests and is also facing internal pressure within the party to discontinue the dalliance with the saffron party.

Budget 2016 and fiscal policy

India's GDP numbers were back in the spotlight this week. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is getting all set to present his third budget this February, has vowed to undertake more reforms and push the growth rate to 8-9%. RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan however sounded a note a caution, on both the way GDP is currently being evaluated (before doing a mini-reversal on his stand) as well as on avoiding the use of fiscal stimuli to boost the economy. It remains to be seen what reform measures the Finance Minister rolls out this budget and how the government ends up meeting its fiscal deficit target.

Naxal Violence decline

India's security establishment had a reason to cheer as official statistics reveal the year 2015 to be have witnessed the lowest level of Naxal violence since 2009, when the major offensive against the rebels began across multiple states in the country. The year witnessed a decline both in number of incidents and casualties related to Naxal activities.

Consolation or Redemption?

The Indian cricket team avenged its loss in the ODI series against Australia by completing a clean sweep in the T20 series this week. The Indians won the 3 game series and had several positives to take away, most notable among them, the form of their top order and the discovery of Jasprit Bumrah as a fast bowler with great potential. Captain Dhoni has other reasons to smile about as well with the Supreme Court staying criminal proceedings against him in the case related to the publication of a picture depicting him as Lord Vishnu.

Opinions you must read:

  • The US begins its long process of electing a new President this week as the state of Iowa goes to caucus. The Hindu profiles one of the key candidates in the race, Democrat Bernie Sanders, who is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Democratic party primaries.
  • Ram Guha looks at the various forms of inequality that India must battle as the nation celebrates another Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti.

Chart of the Week

Most readers of Vartaa, including our editorial team, probably have never stepped inside a home that does not have electricity. This can lead us to believe that most households in India must be electrified. Unfortunately, this is not true. According to census numbers from 2011, only 67.3% of India's households use electricity as their primary source of lighting. The urban-rural dichotomy across several development metrics is well known. It is especially pronounced when it comes to electrification.

The chart below shows the percentage of households that use electricity as their primary source of lighting. Rural India has been closing the gap with its Urban counterpart but it still has a long way to go.