End Of Triple Talaq In India


    18 years

    What is it? The number of years when A M Naik headed Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T), a diversified conglomerate.

    Why is it important? L&T doesn’t have a controlling promoter group and is largely run by A M Naik, who played a key role in decision making both in the board and in operational role. Naik will quit as executive chairman this year, and a new CEO will take over the reins of the Rs 1.1 lakh crore conglomerate.

    Tell me more: Naik will receive Rs 38 crore as retirement benefits, mostly in the form of leave encashment, for his 52-year stint at L&T. In 18 years when Naik was at the helm, L&T’s fought off one takeover battle with Aditya Birla group, but lost the cement business in the process.



    What is it? The number of Islamic countries that have banned triple ‘talaq’ (divorce) – the practice by which a Muslim man can end his marriage by saying the word ‘talaq’ thrice.

    Why is it important? India joins these nations in banning this practice as the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared this to be unconstitutional. According to a survey of 4,710 Muslim women across 10 states by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, over 90% wanted a ban on oral and unilateral ‘talaq’ and rejected polygamy. Divorce rate of Muslim women is twice the national average, but divorce rate for Muslim men is close to national average, according to Census 2011, which means that Muslim men tend to remarry far more quickly than the Muslim women.

    Tell me more: Though many Muslim women have been campaigning for a ban on this practice, it gathered momentum when 35-year-old Shayara Bano, a mother of two, filed a petition in the Supreme Court in February 2016 challenging her divorce on the grounds that her fundamental rights had been violated. This was followed by similar writs in the apex court after which a multi-faith bench of five judges was set up to decide on the 1,400-year-old practice.



    What is it? The cost of a full vaccination course of Pfizer’s vaccine, which protects children and adults from 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria, on the Indian market.

    Why is it important? India granted Pfizer Inc a patent for its pneumonia vaccine Prevenar 13, which it can sell exclusively in the country until 2026. Other drug manufacturers cannot make cheaper copies of it and sell, which could mean the treatment could be out of reach for the poorer people. India is home to the largest number of pneumonia cases in the world. According to a report, pneumonia caused 175,000 child deaths in 2013 in India. This could affect other poorer countries that rely on India’s drug industry to provide cheaper copies of medicines and vaccines.

    Tell me more: Under India’s national immunisation programme, this vaccine was introduced this year but since it is being done in phases, only about 2.1 million people of the 25 million people eligible would get it this year.



    What is it? The number of AIADMK state legislators who withdrew support to the government headed by Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

    Why is it important? This means the ruling AIADMK is two votes short of majority in the 233-member state assembly. AIADMK won 134 seats and without the support of these 19 state legislators, the party’s strength is reduced to 115 as against a simple majority of 117.

    Tell me more: These 19 state legislators owe their loyalty to TTV Dinakaran, nephew of Sasikala, who took over the party but is now spending time in a Bangalore prison after being convicted of corruption. Two factions of AIADMK came together two days back, and they expelled Sasikala as head of the party.


    76.7 million

    What is it? Samsung’s global smartphone sales in the April-June quarter this year, according to American research and advisory firm Gartner.

    Why is it important? The South Korean multinational firm was able to increase its global sales by 7.5% from the corresponding quarter a year ago and maintain its market share, after three straight quarterly declines. Though it was hurt by the problems with its Galaxy Note 7 product, its Galaxy S8 and S8+ were able to help increase demand for its smartphones. While Apple saw its market share slip to 12.1% in the April-June quarter from 12.9% a year ago, Chinese brands – Huawei, Oppo and Vivo – increased their market share to nearly a quarter (23.5%) in the latest quarter.

    Tell me more: The global smartphone sales registered an increase of 6.7% on a yearly basis to 366.2 million units in the second quarter of calendar year 2017.

      Read More

      Your McBurger May Go Away



        What is it? The number of McDonald’s restaurants that are in danger of shutting down within a fortnight, after the US fast food major terminated franchise agreement with one of its two Indian partners citing non-payment of royalties.

        Why is it important? 6,500 people employed directly by Connaught Plaza Restaurants Ltd (CPRL), the company which runs McDonald’s in northern and eastern parts of India, are in danger of losing their jobs. The market size of quick service restaurant is likely to grow by 48% to Rs 246.7 billion by 2017, as compared to Rs 91.3 billion last year.

        Tell me more: If termination notice is not withdrawn, Vikram Bakshi, the Indian partner with 50% stake in CPRL, will not get any return from building McDonald’s in India for more than 22 years. In contrast, Westlife Development, which runs the McDonald’s outlets in western and southern parts of India, is valued at Rs 40.32 billion


        $12.9 billion

        What is it? The amount for which Russian oil major Rosneft and its partners closed their purchase of Indian refiner Essar Oil on Monday.

        Why is it important? This is the biggest foreign acquisition ever in India and Russia’s single-largest investment made anywhere in the world, also marking Rosneft’s first foray in Asia’s refining sector. For Essar, it would help pare the group’s debts by $11 billion, of which $6 billion would be transferred to the new entity controlled by Rosneft while the rest would be paid off. Rosneft and its partners will pay off $600 million of the debt to some Indian lenders in addition to $2.4 billion owed to Iran for past oil purchases.

        Tell me more: Essar group will not use the sale receipts to pay off debts in Essar Steel, which is one of the 12 companies identified by the central bank for early bankruptcy.



        What is it? The number of children aged 14 years and under that have been estimated to have died from tuberculosis in 2015 in India, according to a study.

        Why is it important? India has the highest number of child deaths due to TB (about 23% of total global child deaths due to TB), according to the study that estimated such deaths in 217 countries. The disease is preventable and treatable. Of the total 239,000 children under 14 years and under who died from TB, nearly 80% are below five years and almost all (96%) occurred in children not on treatment.

        Tell me more: Overall (including adults), India has the highest TB burden in the world as well. It accounts for over a fourth of new TB cases in the world, according to the World Health Organization Global TB Report 2016.



        What is it? The approximate number of people killed due to floods and landslides in the last few days in Nepal, Bangladesh and India.

        Why is it important? This is the worst floods to hit Nepal in 15 years, which has affected about a fifth of the landlocked nation’s population. In Bangladesh, over a third of the country was submerged, the worst flooding in a decade. In India, states including Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have been hit by floods, which is among the worst to hit the country in recent times.

        Tell me more: In Nepal, 141 people are confirmed dead while about 115 people have been killed in Bangladesh. The death toll in Bihar and Assam, which are among the most affected Indian states, have increased to over 250 and 154 (including the lives lost due to floods that ended in mid-July). Over a million people are estimated to have been displaced in these three countries.



        What is it? The number of companies whose shares will be compulsorily delisted from the Bombay Stock Exchange.

        Why is it important? This will give an exit option for shareholders as 117 companies have remained suspended (meaning no trading) in the stock exchange for more than a decade. BSE has asked the promoters to buy back shares at a price to be determined by an independent valuer appointed by BSE.

        Tell me more: Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India – the market regulator – is investigating the role of 100 brokers who are suspected of helping to launder Rs 16,000 crore through shell companies, which have no real operations, by floating know-your-customer norms.

          Read More

          Indian Railways: Running Off Its Rails



            What is it? The number of train accidents caused due to derailments between 2010-11 and 2015-16, according to data from the Ministry of Railways.

            Why is it important? This means nearly half of the train accidents that occurred in the last six years were due to derailments. The Indian Railways, which is in the middle of a $133 billion five-year modernisation programme, is struggling with underinvestment, overcrowding and rising debts. Among the primary reasons for rail accidents are overworked tracks and lack of maintenance. Though passenger and freight traffic increased by 1,344% and 1,642% from 1950 to 2016 respectively, the network’s route kilometers have increased by only 23% in the same period.

            Tell me more: On Saturday, the Puri-Haridwar Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in western Uttar Pradesh, leaving 23 dead and injuring at least 123 people (though reports differ on these figures). This was the fourth biggest accident on the world’s fourth largest rail network in the last one year.


            Rs 300 crore

            What is it? The upper limit for acceptance of bids to execute contracts by an additional director general of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

            Why is it important? This was Rs 20 crore earlier, beyond which all tenders had to be sent to director general of BRO. The government, with the view to avoid delays on account of seeking permission from higher authorities for projects and also, to complete ongoing and new projects faster, has given greater administrative and financial powers to the BRO (up to the level of chief engineer and task force commander), which is engaged in road construction activities in the most difficult areas. This comes amid a face-off between the Indian and Chinese armies at Doklam.

            Tell me more: Of the 73 ‘strategic roads’ totaling 4,643 km identified for construction along the line of actual control over 15 years ago, only 27 strategic roads totaling 963 km have been completed so far.


            Rs 823 crore

            What is it? The domestic net box office collections of the top 10 Hindi movies in the first seven months of 2017.

            Why is it important? This is about 19.5% lower than that (Rs 1,022 crore) recorded in the corresponding period in 2016. This may be an indication of an emerging trend where star power is less effective in attracting movie-goers to the theatres as movies starring big names such as Salman Khan in Tubelight, Hrithik Roshan in Kaabil, Shahrukh Khan in Raees, Anushka Sharma in Harry Met Sejal, Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor in Jagga Jasoos) struggled or are struggling in increasing their box office collections.

            Tell me more: It remains to be seen if the growing video streaming services in India, which is still at its nascent stage and has around 30 online video service providers, has a significant effect on the occupancy rates at the movie theatres in the future.



            What is it? The percentage fall in share prices of Infosys Ltd after 30 minutes of trading on Monday.

            Why is it important? This is despite the Bangalore-based software major announcing a Rs 13,000 crore share buyback at Rs 1,150 per share on Saturday, or 25% higher than closing price on Friday. Infosys’ share price fell by 9.3% on Friday after its CEO Vishal Sikka quit.

            Tell me more: Share buybacks by Indian companies increased to Rs 48,180 crore in current financial year till August 19, as compared to Rs 34,,468 crore in 2016-17. Share buyback helps existing investors to exit at a premium to current market value, and also done when companies might not be able to deploy their cash productively.



            What is it? The number of deaths because of floods in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam on Sunday.

            Why is it important? 15.5 million people located in 57 districts in these three states are affected due to floods. 473 people have lost their lives to floods so far, with Bihar and Assam reporting 253 deaths and 151 deaths respectively.

            Tell me more: Floods in Bihar and Assam repeat every year, and yet the state administration hasn’t developed and implemented a long term plan to relocate people from vulnerable areas, or build infrastructure to prevent flooding.



              Read More

              Fatal Floods of Assam, Bihar and West Bengal


                53 deaths

                What is it? The number of people who died due to floods from three states – Assam, Bihar, and West Bengal – on Thursday.

                Why is it important? Continued heavy rains and flooding has left 12 million people marooned in these three states. The continued death toll has put spotlight on disaster preparedness in these states, which have witnessed such events last year too. In Assam alone, 133 people have died in flood-related incidents.

                Tell me more: Extreme weather events due to climate change could cost India $ 10 billion a year because of drop in productivity of crops like wheat, rice, and pulses, according to Agriculture Ministry.



                What is it? The number of donations through which national political parties – BJP, INC, NCP, CPI and CPM – received around Rs 384 crore between 2012-13 and 2015-16 that do not contain Permanent Account Number (PAN) details in the contribution forms, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms.

                Why is it important? This raises questions about the sources of the voluntary donations received by the political parties and makes a case for mandating that all fields be filled in form 24A through which they provide details of donations above Rs 20,000. The ruling BJP, which has taken several measures in the recent past to fight black money, accounted for 99% of donations without PAN and address details worth Rs 159.59 crore.

                Tell me more: A total of 1,546 donations through which the national parties received around Rs 355 crore did not have the address details mentioned.


                650 million

                What is it? The number of years ago when there was an algae explosion, according to a study led by the Australian National University.

                Why is it important? This discovery is said to provide the answer to a fundamental question: how did animals first appear on earth, without which humans couldn’t possibly exist. About 50 million years before the algae bloom, the Earth’s oceans were frozen when huge glaciers ground entire mountain ranges to powder that released nutrients. Then, an extreme global heating event caused these nutrients to be released into the oceans. The cooling of global temperatures to hospitable levels created the perfect conditions for algae to spread and the oceans were dominated by algae replacing bacteria. The presence of algae, which are complex, large and nutritious organisms, at the base of the food web gave the required burst of energy for complex ecosystems to evolve.

                Tell me more: The researchers crushed some ancient sedimentary rocks from Central Australia to powder and extracted molecules of ancient organisms from them when they found out about the algae explosion.



                What is it? The number of Apache helicopters, manufactured by Boeing, that the defence acquisition council chaired by defence minister Arun Jaitley has cleared on Thursday.

                Why is it important? This is the first time the Indian Army will be able to operate attack helicopters, which has been a long-held demand by them and opposed by the Indian Air Force. The AH-64 Apache, which is said to be among the world’s most advanced helicopters, is a multi-role combat chopper, can function smoothly in any weather, has a maximum cruise speed of 284 km per hour and has the capability of classifying and prioritizing up to 128 targets in less than a minute.

                Tell me more: These choppers are said to be in operation in countries such as the United States, the Netherlands, Greece, Japan and Israel. The six choppers would be procured at a cost of Rs 4,168 crore.



                What is it? The number of seats won by the Trinamool Congress in the local body elections held for seven municipalities in West Bengal.

                Why is it important? The ruling party, Trinamool Congress, won 95% of the seats in the election held last Sunday. The opposition parties – Bharatiya Janata Party and CPI (M) – could win only seven seats, while the Congress didn’t win any seat.

                Tell me more: The left front, which ruled the state for seven consecutive terms between 1977 and 2011, came a distant third with BJP emerging with second largest vote share in four municipalities – Haldia, Coopers’ Camp, Durgapur and Panskura.

                  Read More