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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Oct 23, 2016

Civil war in Samajwadi Party

The cracks in the Samajwadi Party came out in the open with recriminations, back biting and sackings taking place to settle scores between factions led by CM Akhilesh Yadav and party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav. On Saturday, state party Chief and Akhilesh's uncle Shivpal Yadav had sacked Ram Gopal Yadav, the party general secretary and spokesperson for anti-party activities. Ram Gopal is seen as being close to Akhilesh and had also proclaimed that only Akhilesh could lead the party to victory in the next polls. The Akhilesh camp struck back by sacking Shivpal Yadav and three others from the cabinet while also expelling Jaya Prada, who is seen as close to Amar Singh, someone whom Akhilesh has been blamed for the current crisis. The Congress party also suffered an embarrassment in UP with ex state chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi joining the BJP and blaming Rahul Gandhi's leadership for the party's declining fortunes.

Rajnath Singh on the road

Home Minister Rajnath Singh hit the road and will be travelling to Bahrain to press India's case against Pakistan at the Organisation of Islamic Countries meet. The OIC has recently backed Pakistan on the Kashmir issue and asked India to 'cease hostilities' after the recent surgical strikes. Meanwhile, Russia, which has been signing defence deals with India after the BRICS summit, has come out in support of India's stand and stated that they stood by India in its 'darkest hours' and will continue to be a strong ally. Russian defence interests are under pressure as India seeks to expand military procurement and contract with the US and other nations.

India win Kabaddi World Cup

India won the third Kabaddi World Cup this weekend in Ahmedabad by defeating Iran 38-29 in the finals. India has now won all three of the World Cups held thus far. In all three finals it has defeated Iran. The final saw some brilliant strategizing from the Indian captain Anup Kumar. India's campaign start however was less than ideal. The team suffered a shock 34-32 defeat at the hands of South Korea in the opening game. Twitter was abuzz with India's win and congratulatory messages were tweeted by several prominent people including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Opinions you must read:

  • Indian Express writes about the historic Kigali Agreement by 197 countries of phasing out the use of HydroFluoroCarbons(HFC's).
  • Prabhat Kumar from Mint discusses India's power consumption and the future in the coming years.
  • This opinion in the Mint worries that India will be implementing a flawed GST.

Chart of the Week

The Swacch Bharat Mission was launched on October 2, 2014 by the Indian government. Among its ambitious goals was ridding India of open defecation by 2019 by building millions of toilets across the country. This week's chart examines the progress made thus far.

As you can see from the map, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Sikkim have 100% household toilet coverage. The average across the country still stands at a dismal 56%. This is however an impressive improvement from less than 42% in October 2014. States that have been laggards include Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, and Odisha with less than 35% coverage. Odisha however has seen a 23% jump in coverage second only to Gujarat's 26% improvement. Andhra Pradesh and Manipur too saw over 20% improvement in coverage. Among the larger states, Kerala was the best performer.

Despite the impressive gains, the program has come under criticism from several fronts. The World Bank which has provided $1.5 billion in funds wants to know how much progress has been made over the last 2 years. The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) is currently conducting studies to answer that question. One concerning fact that has already emerged however is that only 42.5% of rural households do not have access to water. The other issue is of drainage- effluents from the toilets appear to be drained into open field or ponds largely defeating the purpose of building the toilets. Another challenge appears to be convincing people to use toilets.

In order to achieve its goal by 2019, the Swacch Bharat Mission will have to not only build enough toilets but also address the aforementioned issues. For now, it is hard to say whether the campaign will be successful.