The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on May 30, 2016

2 years of Modi Govt

It was a week in which the NDA government led by Narendra Modi celebrated its second anniversary in office. The government went all out in communicating its achievements with multiple ministers giving interviews and a 5 hour gala being held at the India Gate that also involved Bollywood celebrities. While the PM presented a 'report card' of his government, the opposition did not lose the opportunity of reminding the country of the glass half empty. There were also other voices that questioned the choice of holding a mega event just to celebrate 2 years in office.

Delhi's racial edge

In an incident that yet again brought to the fore, national capital Delhi's aggressive and often racial culture, a number of African nationals were subjected to violent attacks in South Delhi's Mehrauli area in the past week. The incidents caused a diplomatic issue with several African nations raising concerns over their citizens' safety. While the Delhi Police has made initial arrest, the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj found herself intervening with the Delhi LG Najeeb Jung as well as Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The Home Minister though was quick to move to quell the fire and has promised strict action by the Delhi Police in the matter.

Banking on stress

The pressure of rising Non Performing Assets is now beginning to show in the financial results of India's public sector banks. Bank of India posted a record loss of Rs 6000 cr for 2015-16 and its Managing Director had to come out with a set of explanations and a turnaround strategy to deliver to the market. India's largest PSU bank, SBI, also recorded a 66% drop in its Net Profit for quarter ended March 2016 from the corresponding period last year on account of higher provisioning for bad loans. The Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, meanwhile had expressed hope that consolidation within the industry will help weed out the loss making players and leave stronger banks in its wake.

Opinions you must read:

  • Stephen Cohen, one of the leading global security analysts and an expert on Pakistan, speaks to The Hindu about the calculus between India and Pakistan
  • Pratap Bhanu Mehta evaluates the performance of the Modi government in the Indian Express
  • The Mint tries to take a balanced view of Jawahar Lal Nehru's legacy in the light of the recent controversy regarding the deletion of his name from school textbooks in Rajasthan

Chart of the Week

First things first- if you are wondering why the chart stops at 2010 and does not have more up to date data, blame the India Meteorological Department, Pune. The 'free' data does not go beyond 2010. You need to pay this institution if you wnat access to comprehensive precious weather data. You would think an institution funded by your tax money would make its findings free to the taxpayers but you would be mistaken. You can browse through a 'example estimate' pricing scenario posted on the IMD website.

Now that our outrage about the IMD's data policy is out of the way, we would like to draw your attention to the chart of this week- highest temperatures recorded annually in the country in recent years. Phalodi has been in the news for the past few days after it recorded a searing temperature of 51 degree celsius, the highest temperature ever recorded in India. But it looks like Phalodi is no stranger to record high temperatures. It recorded the highest temperature in the country in 2009 and 2010 as well. Some readers might wonder why the 1997 high is a mere 44.2. We wondered as well and our hypothesis is that only a few stations reported their highs in 1997, 44.2 as an annual high in India does beggar belief.

What does all this mean? Obviously it would be preposterous to draw any meaningful global warming related conclusions from such a small sample size but the IMD has indeed released a report on the general warming trend in India after analyzing surface temperature data for more than 100 years. More urgently, it means that the central, state, and local governments need to launch campaigns educating citizens about the health hazards associated with such extreme temperatures and measures to counter them. Lastly, India needs some urgent innovation around affordable and energy efficient cooling solutions for homes.