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The week in 5 charts | India’s financial assurance to Sri Lanka, Nepal plane crash, ASER 2022 and more

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

January 21, 2023 10:55 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:08 am IST

Aftermath of Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara, Nepal. Picture Credits: Reuters

Aftermath of Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara, Nepal. Picture Credits: Reuters

(1) India gives financial assurance to Sri Lanka for IMF funding

On Monday, India extended financial assurances to Sri Lanka as part of the process for the debt-stricken country to avail IMF’s emergency fund. Although the fund itself is small, it will help the island country get more credit from different sources to prop up its suffering economy. This is a crucial step for Sri Lanka in availing the $2.9 million dollar IMF fund. Other creditors include Japan and China, who have to extend similar financial assurances as a pre-requisite for the IMF to release the funds.

However, economists say that around 40% of Sri Lanka’s debt comes from private creditors in the form of International Sovereign Bonds (ISBs). These bonds were lent at a premium to cover the risks, and this meant that over 50% of Sri Lanka’s external debt payments went to cover ISB debt.

Through the last year, Sri Lanka saw massive protests across the country amid soaring inflation and cost of living. The unrest led to the ouster of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose management of the country’s finances after the pandemic was seen as the problem.

Also read |Explaining Sri Lanka’s economic crisis

(2) Nepal plane crash

The Nepal Army has recovered bodies of and confirmed the death of 71 of the 72 people aboard the Yeti Airlines aircraft, which plunged into a river gorge in the resort city of Pokhara on Sunday, January 15. Many of the passengers on Sunday’s flight were returning home to Pokhara, though the city is also popular with tourists since it’s the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit hiking trail. On Monday evening, relatives and friends were still gathered outside a local hospital, some shouting at officials to speed up the post mortems so they could hold funerals for their loved ones.

Over the course of this past week, rescuers have combed through the debris, and scattered down a 300-meter-deep (984-foot-deep) gorge to retrieve the bodies of the deceased. But the search for the lone missing person in the Nepal plane crash intensified on Friday, Nepal Army officials said, as the postmortem of the remaining victims continued at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital.

Five Indians, all hailing from Uttar Pradesh, who were aboard the Yeti Airlines aircraft, lost their lives too and have been identified as Abhisekh Kushwaha, 25, Bishal Sharma, 22, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, 27, Sonu Jaiswal, 35, and Sanjaya Jaiswal. Excited to share their experience on the flight, one of them can be heard saying ‘Mauj Kar Di’ in the 1:30-minute video shot by Sonu, which is doing rounds on social media. The video shows the aircraft taking a sharp turn and then bursting into flames as the camera keeps rolling. Other foreigners who were found dead included four Russians, two South Koreans, and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.

The Nepal Army officials also conducted search operations from the Seti River in Pokhara to Damauli and Kharenitar of Tanhu district looking for the remains of the crash. According to the Safety Matters Foundation’s data, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946. Sunday’s crash is the country’s deadliest since 1992 when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it plowed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.

According to the Aviation Safety database, there have been 27 deadly plane crashes in Nepal over the last three decades killing over 700 people in total. The timeline shared below shows the major air disasters to hit the country in recent years.

(3) Annual Status of Education Report, 2022

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 was released this week. It surveyed 616 rural districts and covered 6.9 lakh children in the age group of 3 to 16 years to record their schooling status and assess their basic reading and arithmetic skills. According to the report, enrollment rates went up after the pandemic. At the national level, the proportion of children out of school across age brackets fell to all-time lows since 2006. This is despite school closures during the pandemic.

However, learning levels also dropped across language and arithmetic categories for standards III, V, and VIII. Standard VIII children’s arithmetic ability is an exception. The percentage of children in standard VIII who could do division went up marginally from 43.9% in 2018 to 44.6% in 2022.

The decline in standard III students’ language learning was more marked in some states. The proportion of students in this age bracket in government or private schools who could read a standard II text dropped more than ten percentage points in Kerala (from 52.1% in 2018 to 38.7% in 2022), Himachal Pradesh (from 47.7% to 28.4%), and Haryana (from 46.4% to 31.5%). Large drops are also visible in Andhra Pradesh (from 22.6% to 10.3%) and Telangana (from 18.1% to 5.2%).

When it comes to the education levels of mothers and fathers, the report found that 33.7% of rural mothers and 20.8% of rural fathers never went to school. However, the figures have been dropping since 2010. In 2010, 49.2% of rural mothers and 28.9% of rural fathers had no schooling.

Government officials in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have said that state schemes helped keep learning levels from falling further but acknowledged that there was scope for improvement.

Also read |Tamil Nadu students score poorly in basic reading skills after pandemic, shows ASER 2022

(4) Northwest India shivers in cold wave

Cold wave to severe cold wave conditions has prevailed in many parts of Delhi and some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. In the plains, a cold wave is declared if the minimum temperature dips to 4 degrees Celsius or when it is 10 degrees Celsius and 4.5 notches below normal. A severe cold wave is when the minimum temperature dips to 2 degrees Celsius or the departure from the normal limits is by more than 6.4 notches.

“The minimum temperatures are in the range of one to three degrees Celsius over many parts of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, northwest and east Rajasthan; in the range of three to five degrees Celsius over the remaining parts of Rajasthan, many parts of west Uttar Pradesh,” IMD said. Churu, located near the Thar desert, logged a minimum temperature of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius, the lowest in the plains on Monday. The Safdarjung observatory, Delhi’s base station, saw the minimum temperature plunge to 1.4 degrees Celsius, the lowest in the month since January 1, 2021. Delhi saw an intense cold wave spell from January 5 to 9, the second longest in the month in a decade, according to IMD data. It has also recorded over 50 hours of dense fog this month so far, which is the highest since 2019.

Also read |Northwest India shivers in cold wave | What you need to know

(5) Meghalaya and Tripura Assemblies

Ahead of the general elections to the legislative assemblies of Tripura and Meghalaya, the dates of poll to which are February 16 and 23, respectively - we take a look at the current composition of their legislative assemblies coupled with what the results to the elections were in 2018.

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