There are two aspects to news. Knowing the Headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Second Edition we are covering the following news:
1. Oil Prices drop to the lowest since 1991
2. What does Scindia’s Exit Mean for INC?
3. Massive Fall in the Indian Stock Market
4. The Dilemma in Afghanistan
5. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
6. Haiti’s Dance of Democracy
7. 5G Technologies declared safe by scientists
8. Indian Citizens stuck in Italy – Lessons to be learned

Oil Prices Drop to the lowest since 1991

The global markets experienced a fall in oil prices and a subsequent impact is to be seen on the global economy. This has marked as the largest weekly drop since 2008. Along with that, Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, were down 22%, last trading at $35.45 per barrel. US oil trading saw a decline of nearly 20% and settled at $33.15 per barrel. All in all, the oil prices have experienced a total fall of 31.7 percent from January 1 to March 9. The reasons for these are as follows:

  1. The demand was falling with the spread of COVID-19 at the rate of two to three barrels a day. With the demand being directly connected with the prices, the prices of oil have taken a bad hit.
  2. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) held an emergency meeting in February in to decide upon the production level for next year. The offer was to cut production by another 1.5 mb/ d till the end of 2020, which would have reduced global supplies by 3.6 per cent. The outcome became quite obviously disastrous when Russia refused to sign to this deal.
  3. On top of the ongoing situation, Saudi Arabia gave another shock to the global economy by further lowering the price of crude oil exports upto 30 percent in a single day, thus waging a price war. The Kingdom plans to boost the production starting next month by 2.6 million barrels a day and capture the market share. This move places a threat on the position of Russia as the second biggest producer of oil as well as proves costly for United States

The impact has also been noted on the Indian Stock Markets with the Sensex recording its worst intra-day fall at over 2200 points on March 9. According to Care Ratings, any decrease in the price will have an impact on inflation number as crude oil has a heavy weight in the overall wholesale price index, as much as 10.36%. The government has benefitted the most as the impact of price fall is not entirely passed on to the consumers. This gain can be used to cover the fiscal deficit or for the welfare of people.

By: Somya Yadav

What does Scindia’s exit mean for INC?

Jyotiraditya Scindia’s exit from the congress has sent shockwaves throughout the corridors of power in Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere in the country. After Congress’s major victory in Madhya Pradesh, no one could have predicted that one fine day, Madhavrao’s son would be heading to the BJP headquarters in Amit Shah’s range rover to join hands with Congress’s arch nemesis. But the impossible has happened. BJP has managed to nab one of the young guns of an already crippled Indian National Congress. His grandmother Vijaya Raje (Co-founder of BJP) would be smiling down from heaven after witnessing this development. What does this mean for the state of Madhya Pradesh and INC?

  1. Firstly, the most immediate consequence of this tectonic shift could be the fall of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. In a 230-member house, Congress had 114 MLAs and had formed the government in 2018 with the support of other independent MLAs. After 22 Scindia loyalists resigned alongside him, Congress’s number has come down to 92. The total strength of the house is now 208 and hence the majority mark is 104. BJP already has 105 seats. So, there is enough reason to believe that after Monday’s floor test, the Kamal Nath government will fall. After that, Shivraj Singh Chauhan can approach the governor and form a government by showing the required number of MPs. In another scenario, the current assembly could be dissolved and mid-terms could be held.
  2. Secondly, this move is likely to make it tougher for Congress to come back into power in MP. According to Yatindra Singh Sissodia, the director of Madhya Pradesh institute of Social Sciences, Scindia is the second most popular figure in MP after Chauhan. People of Madhya Pradesh, especially those living in and around Guna, have a special place in their hearts for the Scindia dynasty. He virtually led the entire congress campaign in 2018 only to be overlooked for the post of the Chief Minister. YS Sissodia also said that Congress stalwarts such as Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are not as popular as him in the state. Hence, many political experts feel that he should have been the natural choice for the post of Chief Minister and that the Congress committed a grave mistake by choosing Kamal Nath. This tempted Scindia to leave the party and now BJP has both the first and second most popular person in the state. This is tantamount to a political suicide by Congress.
  3. Thirdly, this is an indicator of Congress’s gross inability to let go of the Gandhi dynasty and its loyalists. Other young leaders of the INC such as Sachin Pilot and Milind Deora have also been denied posts which were later given to old Gandhi loyalists.

Congress must shake itself out of its slumber and be more open to young leaders who are willing to make a difference. If it does not happen, it is hard to see a viable prime ministerial candidate emerging out of the Grand Old Party in near future.

By Manraj Uppal

Massive Fall in the Indian Stock Market

Five months ago, the stock markets were on a rise even though the entire economy was at a slowdown but with the corona virus outbreak, the Indian markets are at an all-time low. The stocks are falling more than 10% from their recent highs. BSENSE 1.82 % flagship Sensex has fallen 11.11 per cent from its all-time-high of 42,273.87 attained on January 20. Similarly, its NSE counterpart Nifty has slumped 11.67 per cent from its high of 12,430.50. Adding fuel to fire, the shift of 49% stake of YES BANK under SBI and the control of board under the RBI caused the BSE flagship Sensex to settle at 893 points lower to 37,576 and its NSE peer Nifty down 289 points to 10,979. Even though the falling oil prices and falling money value may turn out favourable for the Indian economy at a large but it will have a negative impact on the savings of the people. Trade has stopped, tourism has stopped, and hospitality and airlines at a low and people can see their retirement and saving funds going down by 20-25 percent in a very short time. With the current state of the economy, we are looking forward to another slowdown. Experts are advising customers to stick to high quality stocks and avoid derivatives and leverage due to extremely high volatility.

By: Somya Yadav

The Dilemma in Afghanistan

In September 2019, the Ill-fated and unstable country of Afghanistan went to polls. Over the past few years, many efforts have been made by internal and external forces to restore normalcy in Afghanistan but none of them have prevailed. An environment of hopelessness has set in. The fact that only 2 million out of the 9.6 million registered voters showed up on the Election Day confirms this proposition. In an election that was mired with bitter conflict and allegations of corruption, the final results were not announced until February. The incumbent Ashraf Ghani won a slight majority by raking up a little over 50 percent of the total vote. His rival Abdullah Abdullah got 39 percent of the total vote and did not accept the results. He announced himself the victor and has since threatened to form a parallel government. He even held a parallel swearing-in ceremony for himself. To make matters more complicated, the results represent a major geographical polarization as well. Abdullah Abdullah’s wins are largely concentrated in Northern Afghanistan and the Central highlands while Ghani won virtually everything in the South. What are the possible ramifications of such a split?

  1. Firstly, this conflict could not have come at a worse time. USA and Taliban have just sealed a deal in accordance with which all US military personnel will soon be withdrawn. The deal also specifies that Taliban will have to negotiate with the Afghan government to discuss power sharing measures. Considering that Taliban does not accept the legitimacy of the Afghan government, it is reluctant to go through with this Intra Afghan dialogue amidst fears that Taliban may even launch a military overthrow of the government once US leaves. In such a context, when Taliban is already unlikely to sit at the table, the existence of two planks of power in the Afghan ‘government’ is likely to cause further fragmentation and delays.
  2. Secondly, this conflict can lead to yet another civil war in this fragile country. Abdullah Abdullah has the support of many Northern Warlords who have expressed the desire to resort to violent means to overthrow what they see as the illegitimate government of Ghani.
  3. Thirdly, many Afghan people are now likely to lose trust in the democratic framework of the country. This is the second consecutive election which has produced a disputed result amidst allegations of vote tampering and corruption. So, even if the stakeholders can work out a power sharing arrangement, that arrangement may not have any legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.
  4. Fourthly, all of this plays into the narrative being propagated by Taliban. Taliban claims that democracy is not possible in Afghanistan and hence every person living here should accept the indisputable suzerainty of Taliban without looking for alternatives. This may be the start of an even worse time for this country.

By: Manraj Uppal

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

December 16, 2012 marked one of the darkest days the country had ever witnessed when a 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally raped by 6 men inside a bus along with her friend who was beaten up by the men. This brave heart fought a battle with death for 13 days and then finally gave up. The incident shook the nation. The public demanded justice for Nirbhaya, for her friend and for millions of other women and girls not just in India but across the world who are too scared to step out of their homes and follow their dreams in the fear of something similar happening. The public demanded that the convicts be hanged till death and for justice to be served. It was a test for the Indian judicial system. It was time the judiciary showcased its true power.

However to our sheer and utter dismay the 6 rape convicts have made a mockery out of the justice system. 8 years have passed and the case is still going on. The convicts have proven guilty in the courts it is the execution of the punishment that has been carried this far. Each time the court comes up with a new date the convicts make use of some legal loop hole in the justice system as if to defeat the courts and the justice system in its own game. It is as if there is some power rested not only in the courts but also in the convicts by the judicial system.

It is important that such cases be solved at priority. And punishment be executed. The severity of the crime committed must be taken into account when considering a change in punishment. Justice delayed is justice denied and it very rightly is so. Every time a mother has to come begging to the doors of the court to serve her daughter justice the Indian Judiciary fails. It fails the public, it fails the belief we restore in it because every time a guilty man is able to walk out of the courtroom free of all charges the victim prays that the judiciary should not have been blind. It is important the system is made more transparent and more efficient. The judge to case ratio is extremely poor in our country, there is a single judge handling a lot of cases which leads to reduction in efficiency.

By: Gunika Vij

Haiti’s Dance of Democracy

A few days ago, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise appointed Josepsh Jouthe as the Prime Minister, the third one in less than a year despite popular protests and the opposition demanding his resignation. The President refused to hold legislative elections which were due last year in October. The President is trying to alter the constitution to enable any piece of legislation to become a law if the irrespective of the parliament’s rejection in a particular period.

In October 2017, Haiti’s Senate report found that billions of dollars were misappropriated from the Petrocaribe oil programme, intended for education and infrastructure development. This was corroborated last year by the country’s court of auditors, which also implicated a firm managed by Mr. Moise.

Haiti is Latin America’s first country that won independence in 1804. But millions of dollars paid in French reparations over the next 100 years, the U.S. occupation last century, the Duvalier dictatorship, and continuing misrule have crippled the economy. More than half the population lives below the poverty line. One of the world’s poorest nations, Haiti’s people have borne the brunt of some of the worst natural disasters in recent times. Haiti is the perfect example of how power corrupts. It shows the transformation of democratic state is transformed into a dictatorship or a false democracy.

By: Gunika Vij

5G Technologies Declared Safe by Scientists

The millimetre-wave 5G, the most high-frequency version of the telecommunications standard raised questions about the safety. It was supposedly causing diseases such as tumours or cancer because of the [electromagnetic field] exposure of human body in the 100 kHz to 300 GHz range. Recently, experts at the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection in Germany have declared that there is no scientific evidence that 5G technology poses a threat to human health. Still many people who have stood against this technology for a long time are not convinced by these findings. “Twenty years of research should reassure people there are no established health risks from their mobile devices or 5G antennas,” said the chief regulatory officer of GSMA, John Giusti. In UK, the telecom regulator has been testing this technology and has conducted 16 tests in high usage areas by now. In all these areas the radiations has come well within the prescribed limits. There have been a certain set of guidelines which need to be adhered to while using this technology, including whole or partial body exposure. These new and improved guidelines will provide better protection from 5G. Subsequently, new handsets are being manufactured which suit to the new guidelines.

By: Somya Yadav

Indian citizens stuck in Italy – Lessons to be learned

After China, the country which has been most affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 is Italy. It has more than 24,747 cases of Coronavirus and has reported about 1,800 deaths. The entire country is in a state of lockdown and everyday life has come to a standstill. Such an emergency situation can send chills down the spines of native Italians. Imagine being a student in a foreign country and such a public health emergency arises. Hundreds of Indian citizens are going through this right now. They are stranded at various airports across Italy in cities like Rome, Milan etc. The tickets that they had booked for their return to India got cancelled as major flight operators suspended their flights. At the time of writing, the Ministry of External Affairs has been able to send an Air India flight to Italy and bring back 218 Indian citizens. But many of them are still stuck there. Some of them claim that India is not allowing them to return without producing a medical certificate which is really tough to procure at this moment. What is to be learned from all of this?

  1. One thing is clear, more needs to be done in terms of defining, in concrete terms, the procedure that is to be followed in cases of a pandemic like Coronavirus. Lack of effective rules and regulations in this area is the main reason why so many Indians are stuck in Italy. This can prove to be a costly affair for India as the risk of these Indian nationals getting infected increases almost every additional minute that they spend there. Hence when these infected people eventually return, the propensity of the virus spreading domestically increases.
  2. Secondly, there needs to be increased co-operation with foreign countries to ensure that each and every Indian is guaranteed medicare and unbridled access to local clinics. Given that more pandemics are likely to arise in the future, international agreements must be negotiated in major organizations to deal with issues such as closing of borders and visa denials.
  3. Thirdly, this crisis highlights the importance of having a certain amount of contingency budgetary allocations so that the government can afford to pass relief packages for containing the situation.

By: Manraj Uppal

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