The week in 5 charts | Sikkim floods, Global Internet freedom, Nobel Prize 2023, and more

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

October 08, 2023 12:06 pm | Updated 12:06 pm IST

(1) Sikkim floods

A cloudburst was recorded near South Lhonak lake in North Sikkim on Tuesday. The lake started to overflow and increased the water level in Teesta River. This caused flash floods downstream. The flash flood in the Teesta River reached Chungthang Dam, destroying the power infrastructure before moving downstream in spate, flooding towns and villages.

Map shows how the flash flood developed in Sikkim

Map shows how the flash flood developed in Sikkim

The death toll rose to 21 on Friday, with 103 people - including 15 jawans - missing. Around 13 bridges were washed away. The national highway NH-10 connecting Sikkim to the country was also damaged at several places and over 20,000 people have been affected.

South Lhonak lake is a glacial lake formed from the melting Lhonak glacier. The phenomenon of glacial lakes overflowing and causing floods in the downstream part of rivers is called Glacial Lake Outburst Flood or GLOF.

Some activists have said that the floods would not have caused such huge damage had it not been for the 1200 MW Teesta Stage III hydel power project in Chungthang.

Also read |Sikkim floods a natural disaster’? Activists question the role of ongoing hydel projects along Teesta

The Central Water Commission is monitoring 10 glacial lakes in Sikkim for overflow and breach. The 2013 flash flood in Kedarnath was also due to a GLOF.

(2) Global Net freedom on the decline

According to a new report by Freedom House, a Washington DC-based non-profit, global Internet freedom has declined for the 13th consecutive year. The environment for human rights online has deteriorated in 29 countries, with only 20 countries registering net gains.

The report, titled ‘Freedom on the Net 2023: The Repressive Power of Artificial Intelligence’, has raised a red flag on the increasing use of artificial intelligence by governments for censorship and spread of disinformation.

Also read | India leads in Internet shutdowns, but lacks tool to assess impact

The report, the 13th edition of an annual study of human rights online, covers developments between June 2022 and May 2023. It evaluates Internet freedom in 70 countries, accounting for 88% of the world’s Internet users.

As per the report, the sharpest rise in digital repression was witnessed in Iran, where authorities shut down Internet service, blocked WhatsApp and Instagram, and increased surveillance in a bid to quell anti-government protests. China, for the ninth straight year, ranked as the world’s worst environment for Internet freedom, with Myanmar the world’s second most repressive for online freedom.

Also read | Media raids and breaking the silence on press freedom

Warning of adverse repercussions for Indian democracy, the report noted, “As the country prepares for general elections in 2024, the government’s expanding censorship regime is creating an uneven playing field by silencing criticism of and independent reporting on the ruling party.”

(3) The Nobel Prize 2023

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has announced this year’s Nobel Prizes in fields of Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature, and Peace. The winner of Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will be announced on Oct 9, Monday.

Also read | Narges Mohammadi: The Iranian activist who continues to fight from behind the bars 

This year’s laureates have opened doors for disease control, technological advancements and subversive literature. Here is some information about this year’s winners and why they won:

Also read | 2023 Nobel Prize in physics: Seeing electrons in brief flashes of light | Explained

(4) GST revenue growth slowed in September

Growth in India’s gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenues slowed to a 27-month low of 10.2% in September, from around 10.8% in the previous two months. However, collections improved 2.3% over August revenues to touch ₹1,62,712 crore.

Of this, Central GST was ₹29,818 crore, State GST was ₹37,657 crore, Integrated GST was ₹83,623 crore (including ₹41,145 crore collected on import of goods) and cess was ₹11,613 crore (including ₹881 crore collected on import of goods).

Revenues from domestic transactions, including services imports, were 14% higher than the tax collected from these sources during September 2022. This is the fourth time that the gross GST kitty has crossed the ₹1.60 lakh crore mark in 2023-24, the Finance Ministry said.

Also read | Opportune moment: On the uptick in GST revenues

Revenues in strife-torn Manipur, which recovered from a contraction in August, recorded the highest growth among States in September, rising 47%. GST revenues in Telangana grew 33%, followed by Jammu and Kashmir (32%), Arunachal Pradesh (27%), Tamil Nadu (21%), and Karnataka (20%).

As many as 17 States recorded revenue growth below the national average of 14%, while 12 States reported 14% or higher growth. States seeing a slower uptick included Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Odisha, and Jharkhand, with Delhi, Meghalaya, and Assam recording the weakest growth of 2%, followed by West Bengal (3%).

(5) Manufacturing PMI eased to 5-month low in September

India’s manufacturing activity failed to hold the 58 mark in September, as the S&P Global Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 57.5 as against 58.6 in August. A reading of 50 on the survey-based index reflects no change in activity levels.

The September PMI data pointed to an improvement in overall operating conditions for the 27th straight month. In PMI parlance, a print above 50 means expansion while a score below 50 indicates contraction.

Also read | RBI’s MPC keeps policy rate unchanged; real GDP growth for FY24 projected at 6.5%

“India’s manufacturing industry showed mild signs of a slowdown in September, primarily due to a softer increase in new orders which tempered production growth. Nevertheless, both demand and output saw significant upticks, and firms also noted gains in new business from clients across Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East,” said Pollyanna De Lima, Economics Associate Director at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Also read | Indian economy to grow at 6.3% in FY24: World Bank

On the inflation front, supply-chain conditions were broadly stable, which helped drag down the rate of input price inflation to its weakest in over three years, the survey said.

Also read | India’s external debt rises to $629.1 billion at end-June 2023: RBI

Meanwhile, India’s services sector activity gained momentum in September, with new orders rising at the second fastest rate since June 2010, as per the S&P Global India Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which moved up to 61 from 60.1 in August. A reading of over 50 on the index indicates an expansion in activity levels and September’s number, albeit slightly lower than the 13-year high of 62.3 in July, still indicated one of the strongest upticks in output in 13 years.

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