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April 6, 2014 5:00 pm
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Indians go to the polls in an election that takes nearly six weeks; London mayor Boris Johnson launches MedCity; an important oil summit is held in Paris; boat industry specialists gather in Shanghai; Holy Week begins
Indian elections get under way
The Indian elections, the world’s biggest democratic process, will take place over nearly six weeks beginning today, writes Simon Greaves.
More than 800m voters are eligible to cast ballots at 930,000 polling booths to elect a new 543-seat lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha (House of the People) and decide who will lead the huge emerging economic power for a five-year term.
Chief election commissioner, VS Sampath, has described the poll as “yet another milestone in the history of Indian democracy”. Mr Sampath said counting would take place on a single day, May 16.
The contest is being seen as one of the most significant since India won independence from Britain in 1947. It pits Narendra Modi, candidate of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), against Rahul Gandhi, the scion of India’s most prominent political dynasty, who is the face of the
ruling Congress party’s campaign.
Congress has been in power since 2004 but has been badly hit by corruption scandals, a failure to push through political reforms, high inflation and struggling economic growth.
Mr Modi, one of India’s most polarising political figures, has topped most recent popularity surveys. Congress appears set to be reduced to one of its smallest parliamentary presences ever, as voters demand wholesale change.
About 4m staff will be deployed for the polls, which will take place over nine phases to allow security personnel to be moved around the country. The Indian constitution demands that voters do not have to travel more than 1.2 miles (2km) from home to vote.
With half the population aged under 25, a record number of first-time voters will take part. Security is an important issue and sheer logistics make it impossible to conduct the poll on one day. Camel carts carry voting booths across sand dunes in dusty western constituencies.
The Global Water Summit in Paris considers the impact of climate change. The theme is growth and water’s role in economic recovery (to April 8).
The World Health Care Congress in Washington expects to host more than 2,500 chief and senior executives and government officials from all sectors of healthcare (to April 9).
The European Forum on Eco-innovation in Hanover takes place during the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, Hannover Messe. Speakers include EU environment commissioner Janez Potocnik (to April 8).
Lots of glamour
Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills holds a “Hollywood legends” sale of costumes, memorabilia, props and celebrity figures from a Belgian museum (to April 12). Lots include David Hasselhoff memorabilia, a Wizard of Oz dress and Gimli’s Lord of the Rings axe.
Unctad holds the Global Commodities Forum at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. Its theme is “Global value chains, transparency, and commodity-based development” (to April 8).
CRU, an independent business analysis and consultancy group, hosts the World Copper Conference in Santiago for over 600 leaders from the mining, financial and related sectors (to April 9).
The Royal Economic Society’s annual conference at the University of Manchester welcomes all interested in analytical economics and policy problems (to April 9).
Life sciences push
London mayor Boris Johnson launches MedCity, a new organisation that aims to make the capital and southeast the world’s leading region for medical and life sciences research within 20 years. The government aims to bring its “golden triangle” of three cities of science closer together, linking London with Oxford and Cambridge. The plans propose a new district based around Euston Road in central London, near University College Hospital, the Wellcome Trust and the Francis Crick Institute, a medical research centre.
Free trade deal signed
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visits South Korea during a regional tour for summit talks with President Park Geun-hye and the signing of a free-trade agreement in Seoul. The deal was concluded after six years of talks.
The Commonwealth Business Council holds its Africa Investment Forum in Addis Ababa, bringing investors and projects together to enhance African trade (to April 10).
Nominees for the Webby awards and People’s Voice awards, which honour excellence on the internet, are announced. Webbys are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-member body of web experts and business leaders in four categories; website, interactive advertising, online film and video, and mobile.
Hagel in China
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel visits China on a regional tour. Pushing for openness before the trip to China, Mr Hagel said last week the Pentagon would exercise restraint in using the military in cyberspace and urged other nations to do so as well. The Beijing visit is his first as defence secretary (to April 10).
The US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, or Helsinki Commission, meets in Washington for members to debate Ukraine, focusing on internal challenges and external threats, including Russia’s seizure of Crimea.
Sotheby’s Hong Kong sells one of the most highly prized pieces of porcelain, the Meiyintang Chenghua “Chicken Cup”, one of only four chicken cups in private hands, which is estimated at $25.6m-$38.5m. It follows its Monday sale of the Hutton-Mdivani Necklace, the most important piece of jadeite jewellery, which could realise HK$100m ($13m).
World Bank chief speaks
World Bank head Jim Yong Kim, is due to speak ahead of the IMF/World Bank spring meeting.
G20 ministers meet
G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet in Washington (to April 11).
The World Anti-Doping Agency gives its verdict on former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, 31, in Quebec. Powell, who tested positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine in June 2013 faces up to a two-year ban, and is among five Jamaicans who failed tests at World Championship
Chatham House debates “Foreign Fighters in Syria: A Threat at Home and Abroad” in which an expert panel will consider how to counter the threat of “radicalised” foreign fighters returning to their home countries.
Floating Asia’s boat
China International Boat Show at Shanghai Expo Exhibition and Convention Centre expects more than 400 exhibitors and 17,000 visitors (to April 13).
The International Oil Summit in Paris gathers ministers and senior executives to debate energy sector developments and prospects. Abdullah El Badri, secretary-general of Opec from Libya, attends.
Gaming convention Salute, at London’s Excel centre, is a family event that sees the recreation of famous battles by wargamers, with role-playing and military modelling included.
Presidential elections are held in Macedonia, with a run-off vote on April 27, when parliamentary elections are also held.
Go Mo, go
Mo Farah makes his marathon debut at the London Marathon , with the two-time Olympic gold medallist facing some stiff competition, among them Wilson Kipsang, bronze medallist in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics and winner of the London Marathon earlier that year.
Presidential and parliamentary elections take place in Guinea-Bissau in a long-delayed election intended to draw a line under a 2012 military coup in the west African nation, a coup-prone former Portuguese colony.
Pope Francis leads Christians marking Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week with the blessing of palms, processions and mass in the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square.
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