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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jul 31, 2016

Dalit protests in Gujarat

Gujarat was thrown into a vortex of caste agitation this past week when a group of Dalits were beaten up for skinning a dead cow by anti-cow slaughter vigilante groups. The issue quickly escalated with the Dalit community protesting strongly across the state. Political calculations were quick to come into the play with the Dalit community showcasing its anger and willingness to exercise their power at the voting booth. The Congress has been quick to attempt to capitalize on their opening while the BJP Dalit MPs are urging the government to take action to assuage the community's sentiments.

Rains bring trouble but also relief

The parched lands across India finally had relief when the monsoon hit with full force and brought relief from the heat. The district of Latur in Maharashtra, perennially drought hit, now finally seems to be close to recovering from water woes. It was not all rosy however as India's urban infrastructure crumbled against the weight of water. From Mumbai to Gurgaon to Delhi to UP, the rains affected everything ranging from train schedules to election rallies to office productivity.

Nanny state in Bihar

In India the sarkaar knows best. The Bihar govt. is proposing a new prohibition law that will see not just the person consuming alcohol but also his family and his entire village being punished for voilating prohibition. In a country where women are often at the receiving end of domestic violence at the hands of drunk husbands, many are asking why the Bihar government is introducing such a retrogressive law. The law comes at a time when the liquor consumption is banned in Bihar and the government is struggling to define the scope of the ban itself.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Hindu examines how governments can build consensus for economic transitions.
  • The Mint believes that the monsoon session is a do or die moment for the NDA's GST bill.
  • Sudeep Chakravarti writes in Mint on India's internal conflicts.
  • What does the VCR's demise tell us about the technology cycle?

Chart of the Week

Recently, someone we know moved from Hyderabad to Gurgaon. Within the first few weeks, they noticed that the traffic in Gurgaon was markedly worse. In fact they claimed "This is probably the worst traffic in the country..." We decided to test this claim.

We used data from the website Numbeo.com which aggregates and synthesizes large amounts of data around the world about Cost of Living, Crime, Pollution etc. We used 2 Indices- Time Index and Overall Traffic Index. The Time Index is nothing but the average time per trip in a city and the Overall Traffic Index is calculated using several factors such as time per trip, estimation of dissatisfaction due to commute times (every minute beyond 25 minutes exponentially adds to the dissatisfaction), inefficiencies in traffic, and CO2 emissions.

As you can see from the chart, Kolkata emerged as the city with the worst traffic. Even when you look at the Overall Traffic Index based ranking (you can click on the filter box in the chart to switch between Time Index and Overall Traffic Index), the rank remains the same for all cities. Surprisingly, Mumbai comes next. Popular perception seems to be that Mumbai has figured out how to tame its unruly traffic with a mix of new infrastructure projects and enforcement. We also thought, however overcrowded, a vast majority of the city's commuters use the public transport system. It will be interesting to specifically analyze the latter with some reliable data. Gurgaon, although probably the smallest city in the top 10 list, does make to the No. 3 spot! So it is not an exaggeration to say that it has amongst the worst traffic issues in the country.

Although Bangalore traffic looms large in social media feeds, it comes in at No. 5. Bangalore netizens probably are more vocal than other citizens about their traffic woes. At an average trip time of 49 minutes you can see why. Due to a huge influx of technology professionals in the last decade and the concentration of the tech employers in a relatively small part of the city, Pune too has suffered from traffic jams and takes the No. 6 spot.

Long story short, the commute times in all the top 10 cities are horrendous. In fact, if you look at major cities in the world, Kolkata and Mumbai take the No. 1 and No. 3 spots respectively. Gurgaon is at No. 10 worldwide! Bad traffic adversely affects the quality of life, leads to road rage, and even accidents and fatalities. India needs innovative ways to combat traffic congestion. Otherwise, the rapidly increasing rate of car ownership amongst India's middle class will make everybody worse off.