India Twitter backlash over confusing graphic

Crowds protest against a fuel price hike in Kolkata on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018
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India Twitter backlash over confusing graphic

  • Social media outcry over misleading graphic
  • Fuel price hike provokes popular anger

NEW DELHI: The rising price of fuel has hurt the Indian economy in general and low earners in particular and while past governments have usually cut fuel taxes when international oil prices risen, the Modi’s administration has so far blamed global factors, such as Turkey’s economic crisis.
As Indians’ anger grows over record fuel prices, the ruling party is getting advice on social media to seek lessons in mathematics and graphic design after it posted a bar-chart graphic that showed fuel prices lower than in prior years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing criticism for not doing enough to cut fuel taxes that account for more than a third of retail petrol and diesel prices, which have soared to record highs this month.
Twitter users on Tuesday derided Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the graphic, which showed the price of petrol in New Delhi, the capital, at 80.7 rupees a liter, while using an arrow showing a drop of 13 percent, rather than a rise, to compare it to a price of 71.4 rupees four years ago.
Titled “Truth of Hike,” the graphic included Modi’s picture and used four bars to show petrol price rises since 2004, but represented the current, higher price with a smaller bar.
The post was retweeted 2,100 times, attracted 3,200 comments and figured on primetime news shows after it was posted late on Monday, becoming the butt of jokes on social media, with some users questioning how 80 rupees could be less than 70.
Amit Malviya, the chief of the BJP’s information technology cell, said the graphic was not being interpreted correctly and was aimed only at showing that the 13 percent increase since 2014 was lower than in previous years.
“It may sound paradoxical, but that is what it is,” Malviya told Reuters.
Twitter users were unconvinced.
Zaineb Hakim joked on the social network, “Based on this graph, you are all entitled to a full refund from the mathematics department of the school you graduated from, assuming you did attend one.”
Another user, Jas Oberoi, wrote, “Modiji needs to spend taxpayers’ money on a better infographic provider. This is outrageous,” referring to the prime minister with a honorific suffix.
Past governments have usually cut fuel taxes when international oil prices shot up, but Modi’s administration has so far blamed global factors, such as Turkey’s economic crisis.
The fuel price hike has also furnished ammunition for the opposition Congress party to criticize Modi ahead of general elections next year. On Monday, protests against the high prices shut down many businesses, government offices and schools.
The Congress countered the BJP’s graphic with its own, showing a crying Bollywood actor looking at the graphic and retweeting inverted versions of the BJP chart.


EU takes aim at Turkish steel sector

Updated 7 min 43 sec ago
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EU takes aim at Turkish steel sector

  • The Commission said it will extend and beef up its existing ‘safeguard’ steel import caps until July 2021
  • For Turkey’s vast steel sector, the fourth largest contributor to the country’s economy, the caps could prove particularly painful

LONDON: The European Commission’s move to extend its steel import restrictions threatens to force Turkish mills, already buckling under the weight of US tariffs, to cut production further or in some cases close down, sources said.
The Commission said on Wednesday it will extend and beef up its existing “safeguard” steel import caps until July 2021 to counter concerns that European Union markets are being flooded with steel no longer being exported to the US.
For Turkey’s vast steel sector, the fourth largest contributor to the country’s economy, the caps could prove particularly painful as the EU has given it additional “country-specific” quotas.
Under the safeguards, Turkey has a tariff-free quota for rebar, a construction steel that makes up most of its steel exports, of around 300,000 tons for the first nine months of the respective quota periods, down 60 percent from its 2018 exports.
Country-specific restrictions do not apply in the last three months of the quota periods and Turkey could make up some sales then, but its annual export levels will still be sharply lower.
“Our export markets have disappeared, the local market hardly exists, we’ve got lots of capacity and no market,” said a London-based Turkish steel trader.
He added that hopes the US would soon cut its 50 percent tariff on Turkish steel imports were also fading given it is demanding that in return, Ankara hold fire on Kurdish forces in Syria, something Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan cannot do ahead of local elections.

 

 Major Turkish mills such as Cebitas and Ekinciler said they had, before the EU announcement, already slashed output while Koc Metalurji said it had stopped output for about a month.
Erdemir, Turkey’s largest producer, said it was producing as normal.
Investment bank Jefferies estimates EU caps on rebar from all countries combined should reduce its total rebar imports by at least 28 percent a year, adding that producers such as ArcelorMittal and CMC should benefit most from EU caps on long products like rebar.
“(EU) quotas for (Turkish) rebar are extremely low and will be exceeded in the first one or two months. Local demand is also extremely poor,” said Turkish Steel Exporters’ Association (CIB) head Adnan Aslan.
The CIB estimated late last year, before the latest EU move, that Turkey’s steel production, consumption and exports would fall 30 percent this year.
Wednesday’s beefed-up EU safeguards come after the US placed tariffs of 25 percent on
imported steel early last year, while singling out Turkey later in the year with tariffs of 50 percent due to political tensions with
Ankara.
The US had been Turkey’s largest steel export destination in 2017, but the country’s steel flows to the EU ballooned 80 percent last year, according to Jefferies, making the EU Turkey’s the largest steel export destination.
“Traditional export destinations (for Turkish mills) are closing one after the other. Most probably, the (EU) quotas will be filled immediately, so EU producers will have a relatively good year,” the International Rebar Producers and Exports Association said in a note.

FACTOID

The US had been Turkey’s largest steel export destination in 2017, but the country’s steel flows to the EU ballooned 80 percent last year.