News Wrap


Only half of urban slum households surveyed in six states in India exclusively use liquid petroleum gas for cooking, despite 86% of these families having LPG connections. Many families turn to alternative cooking fuels, owing to poor doorstop delivery of LPG cylinders at slums, and the sharp rise in cooking gas prices. The alternative fuels can cause severe indoor air pollution, and leave households more vulnerable to Covid infection. The cooking energy access Survey 2020, was conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which together account for nearly a quarter of India’s slum population. The survey covered 656 households across 83 urban slums in 58 districts. Some 16% of the house holds still use traditional fuels such as firewood, dung cakes, farm reside, charcoal and kerosene, as their primary cooking fuel, thus increasing indoor air pollution. Over a third stack LPG, with these polluting fuels. A sizeable share of urban households cannot afford LPG for all their cooking, especially because of the rising fuel prices, and the economic impact of the pandemic.

Electoral Autocracy
Through one of the largest ever social science data collection efforts, the report of the V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute conceptualises and measures democracy. The V-Dem Institute, an independent research organisation, based in Sweden, has declared India an “electoral autocracy”, downgrading the world’s largest democracy from the 2019 ranking. The new ranking suggests India is as autocratic as Pakistan when it comes to censorship and worse than Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2019, India was counted among the ten autocratising countries. On the V-Dem Institute’s scale, India recorded a 23 percentage point drop from 2013 to 2020 end.

Media Workers Detained In Ethiopia
Tigray, a northern province in Ethiopia has been in armed conflict with the federal government since Nov, 2020. Alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s six million people, as fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopean and allied forces, and those supporting the now fugitive Tigray leaders, who once dominated Ethiopia’s government. The United Nations is concerned on the humanitarian situation, which continues to deteriorate, as fighting intensifies across the northern region. No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. Humanitarian officials in Kampala, have warned that a grousing number of people might be starving to death in Tigray. At least four Ethipean media workers assisting members of the international press have been detained in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray on 27 Feb 2021. They include two translates working for the French News Agency AFP and the Financial Times, as well as a local fixer.

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Vol. 54, No. 10, Sep 5 - 11, 2021