Archives  >  2019  >  October  >  23rd

India Decides

1. What’s the story?

Exit polls for Maharashtra and Haryana’s assembly elections are out – and it looks like BJP has done it again. Most major survey agencies and news outlets have predicted massive wins for BJP and its allies across the two states. Congress has almost been decimated. Counting is set to happen on 24th October, Thursday.
Tell me more.

In a sweep like no other, BJP and Shiv Sena’s “Maha Yuti” alliance in Maharashtra is set to win 243 out of the state’s 288 seats, according to the News 18-IPSOS exit poll.

If the numbers hold true on October 24, it would be the first time that the Sena has crossed the 100-seat mark. It assumes significance as its partner, the BJP, is being widely seen as the ‘Big Brother’ in the alliance now.”

The picture is not much better for the Opposition in Haryana. According to most sources, BJP is set to win 75 out of the 90 seats in the state. Congress, under former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is predicted to hold on to just 10 seats. BJP had made “Mission 75”one of its campaign points in the state. It looks like that promise is all set to fulfilled. According to BJP National President Amit Shah, campaigning around Article 370 worked in this state with a high number of recruits to the Indian Army.

Former Haryana Chief Minister Hooda, however, insisted that he did not believe in exit polls. “I do not believe in exit polls, I believe in exact poll results”, he said.
So, what now?

Congress is all set to win even fewer seats than it did in 2014. By all accounts, the future looks grim for this party.

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I keep my eyes on?

The Supreme Court, that’s where. In a dramatic move, the apex court of the nation has decided to transfer all cases related to the linking of social media and Aadhaar to itself. A significant ruling about right to privacy, digital citizenship, and the limits of Aadhaar might be in the offing.

“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology told the court that internet had become a potent tool for causing “unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity”. The ministry said that although technology had aided economic growth and development, it had also given rise to hate speech, fake news, and anti-national activities.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing the Centre, said on Tuesday that the move to notify rules for social media was not a ploy to breach the privacy of citizens but was only meant to protect security.

(Attorney General KK) Venugopal said Facebook and WhatsApp should decrypt any information that the government wants for analysis. But the companies said they didn’t have the key to decrypt the information, acccording to NDTV.

“The government wants the key from the house owner and the owner says he doesn’t have the key,” the court observed. But it also noted that while the Information Technology Act empowered the government to seek such information, intermediaries cannot be forced to decrypt data for the government…”

3. What more?

Climate change and ways of tackling it are on everyone’s mind – and rightfully so. However, in our zeal to save the world quickly, we may be leaving the most vulnerable behind.

“The plastic ban came amidst wild uproar from climate change activists and policy-makers. Its objective? To undo decades of damages caused to the environment. The move was widely welcomed, appreciated, and enforced with full swing (well, almost). Single-use plastic including polythene bags and straws came under attack.

Nipun Malhotra was diagnosed with a condition called arthryogryposis. The muscles in his arms and legs are underdeveloped and will remain so all his life. He is unable to lift his hands. A plastic straw is indispensable to him. The alternatives (paper straws) are dissoluble and not as efficient.

Nipun doesn’t know how he is supposed to drink without straws. An activity as basic as drinking will become a struggle for him.”

4. Anything else?

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has a new report on Indian prisons. And things look grim. Most current prison inmates have not yet been pronounced guilty by the court, and over 70% of them haven’t finished Class 10.

“Significantly, the data also suggests that the criminal justice system is more likely to incarcerate people from the marginalised sections of society. Among the total undertrials in the country, 70.2 percent have not studied till Class 10. Undertrial prisoners who are illiterate comprise 30.9 percent of the total, which means that nearly one in every three of such inmates has not had any access to education.

The situation is nearly identical when it comes to convicted prisoners. Data shows that 70.8 percent of convicts have not studied till Class 10, while the percentage of illiterate convicts is 28.5 percent.

According to the report, Uttar Pradesh prisons are most crowded in the country with 165.0 percent occupancy, followed by Chhattisgarh (157.2 percent) and Delhi (151.2 percent). On the other hand, Tripura has the lowest incidence of overcrowding (47.7 percent) among the states, while Lakshadweep has the lowest (3.1 percent).”

5. Is that all?

9th October 2019 will remain a historic day for Iran’s women. That was the day when, for the first time since 1981, female fans were officially permitted to enter the Azadi stadium and actively participate in watching a football match.

“Fifa qualifiers don’t usually attract much interest. But, as if to welcome the women to the stadium, Iran beat Cambodia 14-0. Despite the action on the field, the women in the stands were the centre of attention. At last count, nearly 6,000 women attended.

Any mention of the ‘Blue Girl’ was strictly banned. Iranian authorities preferred to overlook the attention and enthusiasm that the 29-year-old woman’s suicide injected into the Iranian women’s open football stadiums campaign. Sahar Khodayari, dubbed the ‘Blue Girl’ for her favourite team, Esteghlal’s colours, committed self-immolation in early September, after her trial for attempting to enter the Azadi Stadium disguised as a man was postponed.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at the “messy and angry” prospect of Ireland reunifying.

“Changing demographics and sentiment signal that the possibility of a reunion is increasing. Yet few are prepared for what that means.”

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