The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Sep 18, 2016

Terrorists attack Army camp

In the deadliest terror attack on the Indian Army since 2014, 4 heavily armed terrorists, entered the rear base of an army battalion in Uri behind the Line of Control and killed 17 soldiers through indiscriminate firing and lobbying of grenades. All 4 terrorists were eventually killed after a three hour long gun battle. The attack led to political repercussions in Delhi with Home Minister Rajnath Singh cancelling his foreign trips and using strong words on Pakistan while the PM condemned it in strong words. Ahead of the upcoming UN General Assembly session in New York, the Uri attack might set the stage for more sniping between India and Pakistan at an international stage.

Family wars in UP

The fault lines within UP's first political family were out in the open this week. Former CM and Samajwadi party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav blasted his son and current CM Akhilesh Yadav indicating that the latter was CM only because he was his son. Mulayam's harsh words came after an internal family arrangement had been agreed to which was supposed to grant more power to Akhilesh over party matters. While Akhilesh himself tried to play down the matter, BSP leader Mayawati, who analysts believe is strongly positioned for next year's Assembly polls, wasted no time in wooing Mulayam's disgruntled brother Shivpal Yadav.

Reliance Jio in competitive battles

Mukesh Ambani grand telecom foray, Reliance Jio, has run into fights with competitors pretty early. Jio accused Airtel of causing 2 crore call drops by not providing sufficient interconnection points to carry calls through its network. The company has also alleged that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are not allowing their customers to port their numbers to Jio. Reliance though seems to be doubling down on Jio and has filed a deposit of Rs 6500 crore, more than the combined deposit of all other telcos, for the latest round of spectrum auction by the government. The company hopes to soon hit the mark of 250mn users with Jio in the coming months.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Economic Times argues that the latest Cauvery water row shows why India needs to shift towards becoming a low water usage economy
  • Has the Aam Aadmi Party become not so 'aam' and a bit too 'khaas' these days? The Economic Times asks the question.
  • The Hindu looks at Saadat Hasan Manto, an iconic writer on India's partition, and calls out his focus on those on the margins of society

Chart of the Week

The Indian Railways recently introduced Surge Pricing in premium trains i.e Rajdhani, Duronto, Shatabdi. The move is an attempt at generating more revenue for some loss making trains. Railways is increasingly feeling the need to remove inefficiencies, despite increase in revenue year over year

Government's premier think-tank Niti Aayog reports that the railways' profits have not been able to keep up with its expenditures. This graph looks at the surplus/deficit of Indian Railways since Independence. The railways noted heavy surplus up until 2008-2009 after which the graph shifts dramatically in the negative. Niti Aayog suggests that after the 6th pay commission in 2008, the burden of payment of employee salaries increased considerably and now with the 7th pay commission in effect from October 2016 that liability is set to increase even more.

The rising deficit means railways will have to depend heavily on funds from the government for sustenance which if not addressed could become a serious concern soon.