Is Facebook Losing Friends?

What is it?The number of teenagers aged 15 to 19 who were newly infected with HIV per hour in 2017, according to United Nations children’s fund UNICEF

Why it’s important? This underlines HIV crisis among the teenagers, especially girls. Of the 30, infections, 20 were in girls. UNICEF attributed it to the lack of access to information, services and of power to say no in many countries, making girls most vulnerable.

Tell me more: UNICEF in its report said, 130,000 children under the age of 19 died last year, and 430,000 children were newly infected.


$13.2 billion


What is it?Facebook’s revenue in the second quarter of 2018, up 42% from last year.

Why is it important?That didn’t stop the market from battering down the stock by nearly 20%, shaving off over $120 billion in its market capitalisation.  Analysts were expecting the technology giant to perform better, and the company executives warned about lower revenues, and smaller margins. This comes at a time when there is an increasing concern over privacy, and regulators are responding by tightening privacy norms.

Tell me more: Mark Zuckerberg’s personal fortune slid by $16.8 billion.




What is it? Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lead in the general elections with 30% of the total votes counted.

Why is it important? PTI contested in 272 seats. The assembly has 342 seats, and 172 are needed for a majority. While it’s not clear if PTI will get a majority on its own, or whether it will have to seek coalition partners, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has rejected the results. It said the election was rigged in favour of PTI. PML-N was ahead in 66 constituencies, and the other big political party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was ahead in 39. It will be the second civilian transfer of power in the country’s history.

Tell me more: The elections took place in the shadow of killing of 31 people by a suicide bomber near a polling station in Quetta, capital of Balochistan, one of the five provinces in Pakistan.


$3.8 billion


What is it?The amount government hopes to recover from Reliance Industries, Shell and (Oil and Natural Gas Corp)ONGC over its share from the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields.

Why is it important? The government has now moved Delhi High Court to enforce the recovery. This follows a ruling by English Commercial Court in May 2018 regarding the government’s share in the fields.

Tell me more: The liability is to be split among the three entities per their stake. ONGC has 40%, RIL and Shell 30% each.




What is it?The tariff that United States president Donald Trump had threatened to impose on auto imports into the US.

Why is it important? Even as United States and European Union had agreed to work on lowering trade barriers, after a meeting with Donald Trump and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, there was no mention of tariffs on auto imports. The tariffs will have an impact European car makers such as BMW and Volkswagen.

Tell me more: Among other things, Europe has agreed to lower trade barriers to American soybeans. Earlier Trump announced a $12 billion emergency aid for US farmers.

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Marathas Rally For Reservation 

$524 million 
What is it?Non-bank loans and deposits in Swiss banks by Indians, according to Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Why it’s important? This is down 34.5% from $800 million in 2016, and was cited by finance minister Piyush Goyal in the parliament to say the efforts to curb black money by NDA government have been successful. This comes a month after the government faced flak on data released by Swiss National Bank, saying money parked by Indians in Swiss Banks went up by 50% to over Rs 7000 crore in 2017. Goyal said locational banking statistics by BIS is a better indicator of money held by Indians in Swiss Banks.

Tell me more: According to BIS, the non-bank and deposits in Swiss banks by Indians have been coming down year after year – from $2.6 billion in 2013, to $2.3 billion in 2014 and $1.4 billion in 2015.




What is it?The number of protest rallies held by Maratha community since July 2016, starting at Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Why is it important?The protests seeking 16% reservation in government jobs and education have been mostly peaceful, but took a violent turn, leading to the death of a constable. On 23rd, a 28 year old protestor Kakasaheb Shinde-Patil committed suicide by jumping into the Godavari river during protests at Aurangabad District, and that was followed by suicide attempts by two more protesters. Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is organising these protests, has called for a bandh in Mumbai-its 60th – on Wednesday.

Tell me more: Marathas are the dominant caste group in Maharashtra, and data shows they are better off than other groups. However, there is a rising sense of insecurity among the community members who believe that the future is in jobs and education rather than farm incomePatidars in Gujarat and Jats in Haryana have earlier protested for reservations.


$12 billion 

What is it? Aid promised by the Trump administration to United States farmers hit by the ongoing trade wars.

Why is it important? Republican party has traditionally opposed such government assistance. US president will not need approval from Congress for the giveaway, and will use US Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation. Some observers believe it is a temporary measure that will give President Trump enough time to reset the trade policies. Critics said the move might violate World Trade Organisation rules and could distort the market.

Tell me more:  US is fighting a bitter trade war with China, a country that imported $12.3 billion worth of soybeans from United State’s, more than half the country’s soybean exports. US agri exports were $138 billion in 2017. Earlier this year, India signed deals with 8 countries, including US, for farm exports.




What is it?Growth in sales expected by paints industry in 2018-19 as result of reduction in Goods and Services Tax by ten percentage points.

Why is it important? Last year, the industry grew by about 9%. The recent cut in GST rates for 50 products, including refrigerators and other electronic goods, is expected to bring down prices and drive sales.

Tell me more: Some industry players have raised concern over the impact of input tax credit under the revised rates. Domestic sanitary napkins makers, for examples, fear that loss of input tax credit will cancel the benefits of zero GST on the product. The government in planning 46 amendments to GST law to address some of the concerns.




What is it?The number of people killed by wildfire in the resort town on Mati, near Athens in Greece.

Why is it important? This is the worst wildfire to hit the country since 2007, when similar fires led to death of 46 people. The drying out of undergrowth and foliage thanks to heat waves (it’s the fourth hottest year on record) and wind blowing at the speed of 50 miles per hour are two of the key causes of wildfires.

Tell me more: Greek government has deployed 500 firefighters and approved $23 million in relief.

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Venezuela’s Hyperinflation Nightmare

4,57,000 barrels per day
What is it?India’s oil imports from Iran in the first three months of this financial year, according to India’s oil ministry.

Why it’s important? Iran has replaced Saudi Arabia as the largest supplier of oil to India. It’s up from 2,79,000 bpd during the same period last year, and is driven by better deals from Iran including inexpensive shipping and extended credit periods.

Tell me more: It comes amidst escalating tension between Iran and United States.  U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Iran would face dire consequences “the like of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.


One million percent

What is it?Venezuela’s inflation rate by end of the year as projected by International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important?It could turn out to be one of the worst hyperinflationary crises in modern history. The projection was to signal that “the situation in Venezuela is similar to that in Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000’s,” IMF director Alejandro Werner wrote in a blog.

Tell me more: The country’s central bank stopped publishing inflation data, and the legislature said the consumer prices are up 46,305 % this year. Venezuela’s economic crisis was triggered by a sharp fall in oil prices in 2014, which brought the state’s revenues down. Unable to sustain its social welfare programmes rolled out by previous government headed by Hugo Chavez, it started printing more currency, leading to high inflation.




What is it? Percentage of Indian IT security managers who reported a data breach last year, according to a survey by technology firm Thales.

Why is it important? This is higher than global average of around 36%. It’s true of earlier years too, with 75% of Indian respondents saying there was a data breach in the past, compared to 67% global average. The results come from a survey of over 1,200 senior IT security managers globally (100 of them in India) between October-November 2017.

Tell me more: Earlier this month,a report by IBM security and Ponemon Institute placed the average cost of data breach in India at $ 1.77 million, up 7.9% from 2017, but lowest in the world.




What is it?The number of banks and financial institutions that have signed an inter-creditor agreement.

Why is it important? The agreement will help these banks to resolve bad loans problems faster. 12.5% of all loans given by Indian banks are categorised as bad loans. The agreement effectively gives the lead lender a bigger say in recovery of loans from defaulters.

Tell me more: This is a part of Project  Sashakt, a five pronged mechanism to solve India’s NPA problem. The agreement was signed by 17 public sector banks, including State Bank of India, five private sector banks and two financial institutions.


60 billion times per minute


What is it?The spinning speed of a rotor created by researchers at Purdue University.

Why is it important? This is the fastest man-made spinning object, and could help study quantum mechanics and virtual particles that may temporarily appear in a vacuum.

Tell me more: The researchers created a nanoscale rotor, made from silica, and levitated it in high vacuum using a laser. It is over 100,000 times faster than a high-speed dental drill. Scientists have been fighting a race to make the fastest spinning object to study the behaviour of materials in extreme conditions. A previous record was an object that could spin 600 million times a minute.

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China is Buying Influence

1,095.41 MW
What is it?Total installed capacity of rooftop solar installations in India, according to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Why it’s important? Crossing the 1GB milestone underlines India’s efforts to push solar power as an alternate source of energy. The country’s overall solar energy capacity has grown eightfold in the last four years, to 22GW at present. India’s progress in solar power comes at a time when China is slowing down on this front.

Tell me more: Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu lead the rooftop solar installations in India together accounting for about 40% of the total installed capacity.


$295 million


What is it?China’s new grant to Sri Lanka.

Why is it important?The grant, that China said can be used for any project of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s choice, is yet another example of how China is buying influence in the island nation. Such financial flow – towards ports and hospitals – has been chipping away India’s influence in the region. In fact, Sri Lankan president made the announcement while inaugurating a China-funded kidney hospital Polonnaruwa.

Tell me more: Still, it’s a tug of war. Sri Lanka’s ruling party, UNP (United National Party) has also accused China of funding re-election of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015, and has demanded investigation.




What is it? India’s basic custom duty, applicable for sanitary napkins, which has now been exempted from Goods and Services Tax.

Why is it important? Industry experts believe that the slashing of GST on sanitary napkins from 12% to 0% will not bring down the prices of locally manufactured napkins because the manufacturers will now lose input tax credit. Meanwhile, zero GST also implied zero IGST, which could make imported sanitary napkins cheaper.

Tell me more:  On Saturday, India slashed sales tax across sectors, ahead of 2019 parliamentary elections.




What is it?The number of jawans government is to hire for central armed police forces.

Why is it important? It’s among the central security forces’ largest recruitments, and comes on the back of its decision to raise new battalions, and fill in vacancies. Over 14,500 jawans and officers had quit central security forces in 2017, compared to 3,422 in 2015

Tell me more: Nearly 40% of the new recruitments will join Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).




What is it?The percentage of tech CEOs who expect to increase their companies’ headcount by at least 6% over the next three years, according to a survey by KPMG.

Why is it important? It’s more optimistic than non-tech CEOs’ hiring plans. Only 37% of all CEOs expect to increase headcount by 6% over the same period. The outlook underlines the continued dominance of tech firms, which have been outperforming traditional industries in valuation.

Tell me more: The hiring plans also reflect the general optimism expressed by the tech CEOs about their companies’ and industry’s growth prospects. 88% of tech CEOs expect their companies to grow. Their top worry is growing sentiment against globalisation.

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