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The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jan 30, 2017

Campaigning in full swing

The assembly elections campaign gathered further steam this past week across the critical states of UP, Punjab and Goa. In UP, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party leader and CM Akhilesh Yadav appeared jointly before the press in a rare public appearance and called upon the electorate to halt the BJP in the state. The two leaders also commenced a joint campaign effort to sell the voters the idea of their unlikely alliance. Akhilesh's disgruntled father, Mulayam Singh, however has refused to campaign for this alliance. In Punjab, the Congress finally named Capt. Amarinder Singh as its CM candidate while PM Modi made a push for Prakash Singh Badal's re-election. The AAP meanwhile released its manifesto for Punjab which contained a slew of populist promises.

Weather troubles for the Indian Army

Indian army posts across the LoC have been hit by severe snow avalanches in the past week. One avalanche swept away a patrol of 21 soldiers of whom 7 were rescued while 14 others lost their lives. In another instance, an army post with 5 soldiers was buried under the snow. The army however was able to rescue the buried soldiers just in the nick of time.

CIA papers and Indian history

A bunch of declassified CIA documents gave plenty of juice for historians and news watchers in India to chew over. The documents cover the period till the 1990s and reflect the CIA's assessment of political events in India. Prominent among the disclosures is the agency's fear that India would capture PoK in the 1971 war, their prediction about Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, Indira Gandhi's moves to influence General Zia over Afghanistan and China giving Pakistan a free nuclear pass.

Opinions you must read:

  • Are the UP polls a soft launch for Priyanka Gandhi into the hurly burly of full time politics?
  • Why Finance Minister Arun Jaitley does not have a lot of wriggle room to curb the pains of demonetization through budget goodies?
  • How China is using its debt trap diplomacy to spread its tentacles across the world?

Chart of the Week

A 2015 report from National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) notes that almost all Central Jails in India are either full to the capacity or overcrowded. This week's graph illustrates the capacity of jails state wise in India and the actual prisoner population for each.

Chattisgarh prisons are bursting at their seams- the average occupancy across the states is 263%. Delhi is also in a dire state with an occupancy of 244%. Almost all large states such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Punjab all have prisons well above capacity.

Of all government services, prisons are likely to get the least public attention and sympathies. But overcrowded prisons can lead to riots, crime within the prison walls, suicides, and criminals being handed out mild sentences that do not involve incarceration.