PNB Fraud Effect: Slower Growth Rate



    What is it? The number of Indian construction workers, kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) militants in Irag whose deaths were confirmed by the Indian government on Tuesday.

    Why is it important? Since their disappearance in 2014, India had maintained that they were alive. Minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj said the government needed concrete evidence and made the announcement based on DNA test results. She came under fire for having conveyed this news in Parliament first without informing the kin of the deceased. However, Swaraj maintained she had followed protocol.

    Tell me more: Harjit Masih, the only one who managed to flee from IS captivity, had claimed that all the other 39 workers were shot dead by the militants. He was arrested last year on charges, including human trafficking and cheating, after families of nine of the missing men filed a complaint against him.



    What is it? India’s projected economic growth rate in 2018-19, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs. It is a downgrade from its earlier forecast of 8%.

    Why is it important? It says the $2 billion Punjab National Bank fraud, along with other smaller bank frauds, could hamper credit growth in a country where state-run lenders account for nearly two-thirds of banking assets. With mounting bad debts, the central bank has banned all debt recast plans, which means higher provisioning, lower profitability and the need for increased capital. This raises questions if the government’s recent $32-billion, two-year recapitalisation plan is enough.

    Tell me more: Gross non-performing assets of all Indian banks stood at Rs 8,40,958 crore at the end of December 2017.


    10.8 million hectares

    What is it? The estimated area under cotton cultivation in the 2018-19 crop year, down 12% from 12.26 million hectares in the current year.

    Why is it important? The downward revision is mainly due to pink bollworm infestation, which affect crop yields, forcing farmers to opt for other crops. This could affect India’s cotton exports, which has recently gathered pace due to lower prices, and could increase international cotton prices. Farmers are being advised to use hybrid cotton seeds instead of genetically-modified Bt cotton as pink bollworm has become resistant to the latter.

    Tell me more: The Cotton Association of India has lowered the cotton production estimate for 2017-18 to 362 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) from 367 lakh bales estimated last month.


    $45 billion

    What is it? The erosion in market value of Facebook in the last two days,

    after it was revealed that a data analytics firm had harvested data of 50 million users to direct political campaigns, including that for US President Donald Trump.

    Why is it important? The fallout continued to build on Tuesday, even as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg maintained a silence. A Parliamentary committee in the UK issued a summons to Zuckerberg over the issue of user consent in sharing data. The board of Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm in question, suspended CEO Alexander Nix with immediate effect pending a full, independent investigation.

    Tell me more: Cambridge Analytica is in talks with the BJP and Congress for a possible collaboration in the 2019 elections.


    6 hours

    What is it? The duration of a hearing over video conference on whether the two-match disciplinary ban on South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada should be overturned.

    Why is it important? At the end of the six hours, ICC’s code of conduct appeal commissioner Michael Heron reduced the censure, paving the way for Rabada to keep playing in the ongoing four-match series against Australia. With 15 wickets at an average of 16.80 in the first two tests, Rabada is the leading wicket-taker in this series, and his availability is a lift for South Africa.

    Tell me more: The compelling series is locked 1-1, with the third test beginning in Cape Town on Thursday.


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      Lalu Yadav: 4/5



        What is it? The percentage of Karnataka’s population that the Lingayat community constitutes.

        Why is it important? On Monday, the state government accepted a proposal to grant separate religion status, a long-held demand, to the community. This comes ahead of the crucial assembly elections, where the Congress is desperate to retain power as just one of the four states it currently rules.

        Tell me more: This was done on the basis of recommendations of a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court judge HN Nagamohan Das. The proposal will be sent to the Central government for approval.



        What is it? The number of fodder scam cases in which Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has been found guilty, of the five cases against him.

        Why is it important? A special CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court in Ranchi found the politician guilty in the 20-year-old case that pertains to the alleged fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from the Dumka treasury (now, in Jharkhand). The quantum of punishment will be pronounced later this month. Yadav has been given a total of 13.5 years of imprisonment in the first three cases.

        Tell me more: In the fourth case, former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra has been acquitted. Yadav would consider moving the high court after the quantum of sentence is pronounced in this case.


        Rs 7,266 crore

        What is it? The amount for which Aditya Birla Group’s UltraTech Cement has offered to buy a 98.47% stake in Binani Cement from its parent, Binani Industries.

        Why is it important? Debt-laden Binani Cement will now apply to the National Company Law Tribunal to ask for termination of its insolvency proceedings, after UltraTech offered to clear all its liabilities. Both Binani and Ultratech have alleged that the bankruptcy resolution process of the former’s cement arm has not been transparent.

        Tell me more: The Committee of Creditors of Binani Cement recently gave its final approval to the consortium led by Dalmia Bharat Cement to acquire the firm for Rs 6,700 crore despite Ultratech putting in a higher bid.



        What is it? The rate at which domestic air traffic grew in February 2018, over February 2017.

        Why is it important? This is the highest rate of growth since January 2017. Further, in the last 14 months, domestic airlines have grown above 15% as many as 12 times. March, though, will be a test. On March 12, the aviation regulator grounded 11 aircraft belonging to IndiGo and GoAir due to engine issues, and IndiGo has since withdrawn one more aircraft citing a different issue.

        Tell me more: Having to operate with a reduced fleet, both airlines have cut flights on 41 routes for two weeks, including in a major way on select smaller routes.



        What is it? The number of birdies by Rory Mcllroy in the last six holes of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

        Why is it important? McIllroy’s surge at the end helped him win the event by three shots, his first win since September 2016. Once anointed the heir apparent to Tiger Woods, the former world number one ended 2017 ranked 11, his lowest year-end ranking since 2010. This win lifts him to 7, with the Masters at Augusta just two weeks away.

        Tell me more: Interest in this year’s Masters is soaring. McIllroy is one story. Another is Tiger Woods, who was among the contenders last weekend, before finishing a promising fifth.


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          U.S. Started It. Europe Is Now Responding.



            10 pages

            What is it? The number of pages in a list of items released by the European Union on Friday of potential items on which it could slap retaliatory duties on shipments from the US.

            Why is it important? The move comes about 10 days after the Donald Trump administration slapped new duties on steel and aluminium coming into the US from all countries except Canada and Mexico, while allowing for case-by-case exemptions. It triggered fears of retaliatory action by other countries against the US move and the eruption of trade wars, something which is likely to come up in an informal meeting of WTO countries in New Delhi on Tuesday.

            Tell me more: In calendar 2017, Germany accounted for 4% of US steel imports and was ranked number eight among countries.



            What is it? The likely inflation in airfares in April and May due to the interim reduction in fleets of IndiGo and GoAir, according to Sharat Dhall, chief operating office of travel website Yatra.com.

            Why is it important? The aircraft in question is A320Neo, with a certain configuration of Pratt & Whitney engines. On Sunday, IndiGo “proactively” withdrew another A320Neo aircraft citing engine issues, despite it not being among those listed by the aviation regulator for grounding.

            Tell me more: IndiGo and GoAir have cancelled flights on 41 routes. On most affected trunk routes, the reduction in capacity is below 10%. But on smaller routes, the capacity impact is more pronounced.


            $450 million

            What is it? The amount that Match Group, which owns the dating app Tinder, reportedly previously offered to buy Bumble, a rival dating app that lets only women make the first move.

            Why is it important? On Friday, Tinder’s parent company sued Bumble, alleging patent infringement and stealing secrets. The two companies have always had a fractitious relationship. Bumble was set up in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who left Tinder after alleging sexual harassment and discrimination, a case that was eventually settled out of court for $1 million.

            Tell me more: Bumble has about 22 million registered users, against Tinder’s 46 million, but is growing faster.



            What is it? The number of British diplomats expelled by Russia on Saturday, in a tit-for-tat move.

            Why is it important? On March 14, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats after blaming the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and her daughter by a nerve agent on Russia. This is reportedly the first time a nerve agent was used since World War-II, a move that was condemned by prominent world leaders, who issued a statement backing the British government.

            Tell me more: On Sunday, Russian president Vladimir Putin was elected for his fourth term. His next term runs till 2024, which will make him the first Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin to serve two decades in power.



            What is it? The number of balls taken by Dinesh Karthik to score 29 runs in the final of the Nidahas T20 series against Bangladesh in Colombo yesterday.

            Why is it important? Karthik’s blitzkrieg helped India past the line. When he walked into bat, India needed 34 runs of 12 balls. They needed 5 off the last ball, which Karthik smashed for a six to bring up the 20th last-ball finish in T20 internationals and India’s second.

            Tell me more: Sri Lanka have the maximum last-ball wins in T20 internationals: four.


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              The Case Of Fleeing Willful Defaulters


                What is it? The number of months within which the government aims to achieve “tangible results” from its recently launched ‘LaQshya’ programme, which aims to improve the quality of care in labour rooms and maternity operation theatres.

                Why is it important? India has a high maternal mortality rate: 167 maternal deaths occur for every 100,000 births. Obstetric violence is prevalent with to-be-mothers facing problems such as verbal abuse and discrimination, denial of pain relief to avoid prolonged birth and use of invasive procedures without their knowledge or permission.

                Tell me more: A recent study conducted in five states in 11 public and five private hospitals listed seven types of abuse that women seeking maternal care face, such as neglect or denial of care, non-consented care, physical abuse and non-confidential care.



                What is it? The fine that Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, will pay the US market regulator to close a case in which she and her company were accused of making false claims while raising $700 million from private investors.

                Why is it important? It competes the fall from grace of one of the most visible voices in Silicon Valley of moonshot entrepreneurship and casts a harsh light on the hype in startup investing. Holmes pitched Theranos as a revolutionary blood-testing process, but it was later revealed the company could service only 12 of the 200 tests it claimed. Theranos has, so far, raised $1.4 billion from investors and raised funds in 2014 at a valuation of $9 billion.

                Tell me more: Holmes and Theranos neither denied nor admitted the charges. In addition to the fine, Holmes will have to relinquish her shares acquired during this period of dispute and all her voting shares, and is barred from holding an executive position or serving as a director in a listed company for 10 years.



                What is it? The number of individuals the Indian government is reportedly planning to prevent from leaving India.

                Why is it important? These individuals are directors or owners of companies that have been identified as wilful defaulters, which have defaulted on loans despite having the capacity to repay. A total of 31 top defaulters have already fled the country to avoid prosecution, including Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. As of December 2017, lenders had filed suits against 8,598 wilful defaulters to recover loans worth Rs 1,07,221 crore.

                Tell me more: Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2017 to seize the assets of loan defaulters and financial offenders who flee the country to escape prosecution in cases that have claims of Rs 100 crore or more.



                What is it? The number of members required to support the motion of no-confidence moved by YSR Congress against the BJP-led NDA government. It has asked the Lok Sabha secretariat to include it in today’s list of business.

                Why is it important? If accepted, this would be the first no-confidence motion against the government. This comes as the Centre has refused to grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh. YSR Congress has nine MPs in the Lok Sabha. The motion, if accepted, is likely to be defeated as BJP has 274 members and 56 members from allies in the 536-member Lower House.

                Tell me more: The Telugu Desam Party, which pulled out its ministers in the Central government a week ago, is reportedly going to back the motion and likely to pull out of the NDA alliance today.


                41 years

                What is it? The age that Valentino Rossi, seven-time MotoGP world champion, will be if he sees out the two-year contract extension he signed with Yamaha yesterday.

                Why is it important? It’s a testament to the charismatic Italian’s longevity as a premier racer. Rossi first drove in MotoGP in 2000, finishing second. The following year, he won his first title. Rossi said he was still motivated to compete at the highest level and wanted to avoid a situation like Michael Schumacher’s, who walked from Formula 1 in his prime only to make a difficult comeback a couple of years later.

                Tell me more: Rossi last won the world championship in 2009. Last year, he finished fifth, with 1 race win, in which he became the oldest man to win a race in MotoGP.


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