High turnout in Phase 1 of Lok Sabha Elections 2024, One year of war in Sudan, Iran-Israel conflict, and more | The week in 5 charts

Here are five charts that will help you understand some of the key stories from last week

April 22, 2024 10:13 am | Updated 10:13 am IST

(1) Phase I of Lok Sabha polls registers 63.89% polling

Despite the intense heatwave across the country, the voter turnout in the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls on April 19, which sealed the fate of candidates in 102 constituencies across 21 States, was 63.89%.

Polling has been completed for 10 States and union territories in this phase, including in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep and all most north-eastern States. Prominent leaders such as Nitin Gadkari, Kanimozhi, Gaurav Gogoi and Bhupendra Yadav were among the contestants in this phase.

Among the States where the polling took place, incidents of violence were reported from Manipur, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Lakshadweep saw the highest voter turnout at 83.88% and Bihar the lowest at 48.88%, according to the EC.

The fate of 950 candidates in 39 Lok Sabha constituencies of Tamil Nadu was also sealed on April 19, with 69.46% of the electorate turning up to exercise their franchise in a four-cornered contest.

Also Read |Battle for Dravidian homeland | Infographics

Voters in Vengaivayal in Pudukkottai district boycotted the polls in protest against police inaction in finding the culprits behind mixing human faeces in an overhead tank supplying drinking water to Dalits, while residents of Ekanapuram in Kancheepuram district boycotted over acquiring farmland for a greenfield airport for Chennai.

Due to the scorching heat, the polling percentage was poor till afternoon, but it picked up after 3 p.m., Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo said. "Many turned up between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.".

Turnout at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the Lok Sabha polls was the lowest recorded in the last 15 years, at 63.99%. The figure was only marginally better than what was recorded 20 years ago in 2004, which was 63.66%.

(2) Iran-Israel’s shadow warfare turns into a direct conflict

Iran fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site near the central city of Isfahan after spotting drones early on April 19 morning, raising fears of a possible Israeli strike in retaliation for Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed his country would achieve victory after the military said it shot down almost all of the more than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran in a sharp escalation of the Middle East conflict on April 14.

Also Read |Retaliation without escalation: Netanyahu’s tough choice

The first direct Iranian attack on Israel after a suspected Israeli air strike on Tehran’s embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 is part of a wider escalation since the war in Gaza began last year, but their enmity stretches back decades.

Listen | Will Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel trigger a wider regional war? | In Focus podcast

Iranian media and officials referred to the incident as an attack by “infiltrators”, rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation. Israel has said nothing about the incident. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had not been involved in any offensive operations, while the White House said it had no comment.

(3) Low representation of women in the Lok Sabha elections

Women constituted only 8% of the candidates in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 19. This could change slightly by the end of the election cycle.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, women were only 9% of the candidates. And fewer were elected. In fact, the success rate of women candidates was a little over 10% in 2019.

Also, although there were more women in the current Lok Sabha — 78 — than previously, they added up to only 14%. These low numbers contrast sharply with the increase in women voters. In 2019, their numbers were marginally more than that of men — 67.18% women compared to 67.01% men.

Despite decades of struggle for equality in the widest sense, and loads of political rhetoric about ‘Nari Shakti’, Indian women continue to fight each step of the way for recognition and for the rights guaranteed to every citizen.

Read more about The missing women in Indian politics here.

(4) Buttler nails an improbable chase with a Royal ton

Jos Buttler played one of the greatest IPL knocks on April 16. His sensational 107 not out (60b, 9x4, 6x6) gave Rajasthan Royals an unforgettable — and for much of the match — an unlikely last-ball win against Kolkata Knight Riders. The two-wicket victory has consolidated Royals’ position at the top of the table.

RR was set a daunting target of 224 by the host, thanks largely to Sunil Narine’s maiden career century (109, 56b, 13x4, 6x6). If RR was to win, it had to equal its own record of the biggest successful chase in IPL history.

That didn’t look likely when the Royals lost wickets regularly. When Shimron Hetmyer, who had taken them home in the last match, fell for a duck, the score read 121 for six in 12.2 overs.

A tall order it certainly was, with not much batting left. But Buttler’s 57-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Rovman Powell (26, 13b, 1x4, 3x6) allowed Royals to dream. The dream was realised by Buttler, the Impact Player who had just the tail to support him.

(5) After a year, Sudan’s war rages on

A conflict in Sudan that erupted a year ago has wreaked havoc across swathes of the country, unleashed waves of ethnic violence in Darfur, driven millions into extreme hunger and created the world’s largest displacement crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on April 15 that world donors are pledging more than €2 billion euros aid for Sudan after a year-long war that has pushed its population to the brink of famine.

Macron spoke at the end of an international conference in Paris aimed at drumming up support for Sudan’s people. He did not give a detailed timeline or breakdown of the funding.

In a final statement, top diplomatic envoys, U.N. officials and aid agencies gathered at the conference also urged Sudan’s warring parties to stop rights violations and allow access for humanitarian aid. Members of Sudan’s civil society took part in the Paris meeting, but neither the Sudanese army nor its rival paramilitary were represented.

Sudan descended into conflict in April last year when simmering tensions between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.

More than 14,000 people have been killed and at least 33,000 have been wounded in a yearlong war. Nearly 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes either to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries, according to the U.N.

The United Nations’ humanitarian campaign needs some $2.7 billion this year to get food, health care and other supplies to 24 million people in Sudan — nearly half its population of 51 million. So far, funders have given only $145 million, about 5%, according to the U.N’s humanitarian office, known as OCHA. Hunger, sexual violence against women and girls and continued displacement are rampant and much of the country’s infrastructure — homes, hospitals and schools — has been reduced to rubble.

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