Iran-Israel conflict, O.J. Simpson dies at 76, ADB pegs India’s GDP growth at 7% in 2024-25, and more | The week in 5 charts

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

Updated - April 15, 2024 01:20 pm IST

Published - April 15, 2024 01:19 pm IST

(1) ADB projects India’s GDP growth rate at 7% this fiscal

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecast a 7% GDP growth for India in 2024-25, down from 7.6% in 2023-24. In 2025-26, it forecast a growth rate of 7.2%. For South Asia, the Bank forecast the GDP growth rate to be 6.3% this year and 6.6% the next. That made India the fastest-growing country in the sub-region.

India’s growth, the report said, will be driven by public and private sector investment demand and by gradual improvement in consumer demand as the rural economy improves. A normal monsoon weather forecast will help revive rural consumption. However, exports and Foreign Direct Investment will remain muted, the report said.

India’s growth, however, is not without risks. These risks include a sharp rise in oil prices or prolonged high interest rates in the West to tackle inflation. The report estimated that India’s economy would be the most affected because of this due to greater sensitivity of the rupee to western interest rates.

Also read | Risky premise: On Asian Development Bank forecast, India’s GDP growth

(2) Iran launches attack on Israel

Tensions between Iran and Israel reached a culminating point late Saturday (April 13) when Iran launched drones on a first-ever full-scale military assault on Israel. Iran had been threatening to attack Israel ever since an airstrike last week killed two Iranian generals in Syria. Israel has not commented on that attack. but Iran accused Israel of being behind it.

The drone attack late Saturday marked the first time Iran had ever launched a full-scale military assault on Israel, despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In a statement carried by Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard acknowledged launching “dozens of drones and missiles towards the occupied territories and positions of the Zionist regime.” The statement did not elaborate.

Israel said that Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles, 99% of which were intercepted. President Joe Biden, in Washington, said U.S. forces helped Israel down “nearly all” the drones and missiles and pledged to convene allies to develop a unified response. Mr. Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke early on Sunday, Israeli time, their governments said. Mr. Biden said in his statement that he reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security — a departure from his growing criticism of Israel’s conduct in its war on Hamas in Gaza.

Iran warned Israel and the United States on April 14 of a “much larger response” if there is any retaliation for its mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight, as Israel said “the campaign is not over yet”. G7 leaders offered their full support for Israel following the attack and said they were ready to “take further measures” in response to “further destabilising initiatives”.

Condemnation from the United Nations chief and others was swift, with France saying Iran “is risking a potential military escalation,” Britain calling the attack “reckless” and Germany saying Iran and its proxies “must stop it immediately”.

However, later on April 14, Iran said that it’s retaliation had concluded and warned Israel not to respond.

(3) O.J. Simpson dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, the American football star and actor who was acquitted in a sensational 1995 trial of murdering his former wife but was found responsible for her death in a civil lawsuit and was later imprisoned for armed robbery and kidnapping, has died at the age of 76.

Nicknamed “The Juice,” Simpson was one of the best and most popular athletes of the late 1960s and 1970s. All that changed after Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman were found fatally slashed in a bloody scene outside her Los Angeles home on June 12, 1994. What ensued was one of the most notorious trials in 20th century America and a media circus.

Simpson, who at the outset of the case declared himself “absolutely 100 percent not guilty,” waved at the jurors and mouthed the words “thank you” after the predominately Black panel of 10 women and two men acquitted him on Oct. 3, 1995.

On Oct. 3, 2008, exactly 13 years after his acquittal in the murder trial, he was convicted by a Las Vegas jury on charges including kidnapping and armed robbery.

Simpson was released on parole in 2017 and moved into a gated community in Las Vegas. He was granted early release from parole in 2021 due to good behavior at age 74.

(4) Opposition achieves landslide victory in South Korea elections

South Korea’s liberal opposition parties scored a landslide victory, winning 176 out of 300 seats in the 2024 parliamentary election held on April 10, 2024. This dealt a resounding blow to President Yoon Suk Yeol and his conservative party, however falling just short of a super majority of 180.

“When voters chose me, it was your judgment against the Yoon Suk Yeol administration and you are giving the Democratic Party the duty to take responsibility for the livelihood of the people and create a better society,” Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung said. The final voter turnout for South Korea’s 44 million eligible voters was tentatively estimated at 67%, the highest for a parliamentary election since 1992, according to the National Election Commission.

Regardless of the results, Mr. Yoon will stay in power and his major foreign policies will likely be unchanged. But these elections were widely seen as a mid-term confidence vote on Mr. Yoon, a former top prosecutor who took office in 2022.

Mr. Yoon’s critics have accused him of failing to resolve livelihood issues such as soaring prices, refusing to quickly fire some top officials implicated in scandals, and lacking efforts to communicate with Opposition leaders for policy coordination.

South Korea’s Prime Minister and senior Presidential officials even offered to resign en masse on April 11 after their ruling party suffered the crushing defeat.

(5) March 2024 records highest average temperature

This year’s March registered the highest average temperature for the month at 14.14 degrees Celsius. This was one tenth of a degree higher than March 2016. Every month since June of last year has been recorded as the highest for that month. This comes on the heels of an El Nino season continuing since last year. Last year was the hottest on record

The El Nino phenomenon is when trade winds blowing from the east to west of the Pacific Ocean weaken or reverse. In a normal year, warm ocean water is carried by westward winds from the east of the Pacific to the west, towards Asia and Australia from North and South America. When these winds weaken, warm ocean waters spread eastward, increasing the sea’s surface temperature. This results in changes to surface air temperature. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Climate Prediction Centre shows the departure of sea surface temperature in a region in the Pacific Ocean relative to a 30-year base period that is revised every five years. These departures are recorded for overlapping three-month periods. A departure of over 0.5 degrees for five consecutive three month-periods is considered an El Nino season.

The graphic below shows recent El Nino seasons along with the departures of sea surface temperature. The darker the colour, the bigger the departure.

2015-16 was a severe El Nino season. Five consecutive three-month periods recorded a deviation of more than two degrees.

Also read |More heat-wave days than usual for most of India this summer, IMD says | Explained 

Closer to home too, temperatures are rising. The Indian Meteorological Department said the number of heatwave days in this year’s April to June period will be more than average. Above-normal temperature is forecast for most parts of the country.

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