The Case For Maratha Reservation

    Rs 3,200 crore

    What is it? Tata Motors’ net profit in the three months ended June quarter, a 41.5% increase from Rs 2,260 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

    Why is it important? This was possible mainly because of a one-time gain from changes made to its pension plan at its UK unit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) with the company saying that the first quarter results have not met its expectations. Its revenues fell by nearly 10% year-on-year to Rs 58,651 crore in the April-June quarter due to lower wholesale volume sales of JLR, a slowdown in its heavy vehicles business among other factors.

    Tell me more: The one-time gain due to the changes made to the JLR pension plans was Rs 3,609 crore.

    4,765 MW

     What is it? The installed solar capacity in the first six months of 2017, according to a report by Mercom Capital Group.

    Why is it important? This has surpassed the total capacity addition in all of 2016, which was at 4,313 MW. The report forecasts nearly 10.5 GW of solar installations by December this year. The country had installed 12.2 GW of utility scale solar as of March 2017. While the pace of capacity addition has increased, it remains to be seen if the government can achieve its solar power target of 100 GW by 2022, given the confusion around the recently-introduced goods and services tax.

    Tell me more: India is likely to leapfrog Japan to become the third biggest solar market in 2017, according to another consulting firm in the clean technology space, Bridge to India.

    8

    What is it? The number of MLAs (members of legislative assembly) the Congress party has expelled in Gujarat.

    Why is it important? They have been expelled for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in favour of the BJP. The Congress says that it would take action to ensure they will not be able to participate in the elections for the  next six years. The party, which has not been in power in Gujarat for the last 20 years or so, has faced infighting and defections recently and it remains to be seen if these expulsions would further weaken it ahead of the assembly elections later this year.

    Tell me more: Ahmed Patel, political advisor to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, secured a dramatic win in the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat, which is likely to boost the morale of the party, whose relevance has been considered to be diminishing in the recent past.

    58

    What is it? The number of protests by the Maratha community in the last 12 months across Maharashtra seeking concessions from the state.

    Why is it important? The 58th protest took place in Mumbai on Wednesday, with lakhs of people flooding the streets of Mumbai in a show of strength. Following this, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced reservations in education (currently given to OBCs or other backward castes) to the Marathas as well. He also announced land and Rs 5 crore grant for hostels for the community.

    Tell me more: India has seen similar protests from other communities, including Jats in Rajasthan and Haryana and Patidars in Gujarat.

    80

    What is it? The number of countries whose nationals can enter Qatar without a visa.

    Why is it important? Qatar announced the visa waiver programme even as it faces blockade from four of its neighbours – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – which have accused the oil-dependent country of supporting terrorism. 25% of all Qatar Airways flights served these four states. The blockade has been on since June. Earlier this month, Qatar passed a law that will grant permanent residency to some of the foreigners.

    Tell me more: Qatar’s visa waiver – which are given on arrival at no cost – allows citizens of 33 countries to stay in Qatar for up to 90 days, and citizens of 47 other countries (which includes India, China and United States) to stay for up to 30 days.

      Read More

      The Swelling Indian Taxpayer base

         

        2.83 crore

        What is it? The number of income tax returns filed as on August 5, 2017.

        Why is it important? This compares with 2.27 crore income tax returns filed as on the same date a year ago, registering a 24.7% increase. The government attributes this increase to its move to ban high currency notes last year in addition to the Operation Clean Money it carried out later. The government has been trying to increase the tax base as there are only seven taxpayers for every 100 voters (aged 18 and above) in India.

        Tell me more: The government said advance tax collections of Personal Income Tax as on August 5 this year increased by 41.8% over that recorded in the corresponding period a year ago.

         

        $1 billion

        What is it? The amount reinsurer General Insurance Corporation is likely to raise via the initial public offering (IPO) route.

        Why is it important? It will be the first government-owned non-life insurance to tap the capital market. This is part of the government’s plans to list five non-insurance companies in which it holds stakes and the proceeds are likely to help the state to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of gross domestic product for the year ending March. The government has set an ambitious target of Rs 72,500 crore in 2017-18, of which it expects to get 15% from the listing of state-owned general insurance companies.

        Tell me more: The government will sell 107.5 million shares while the insurer will sell 17.2 million shares – a total of 124.7 million or 14.22% of the company’s post-issue share capital.

         

        6

        What is it? The number of Trinamool Congress legislators in Tripura who joined the BJP on Monday.

        Why is it important? With this, the BJP made its maiden entry into the state assembly in Tripura, which has been ruled by the Left for the last 24 years. This gives the BJP a better foothold in Tripura, which is one of the three northeast states going for state elections next year. The party has been making efforts to strengthen its presence in the region and recently, it won the state elections in Assam and formed governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.

        Tell me more: The six legislators were sacked by Mamata Banerjee from her party after they supported NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the Presidential elections last month.

         

        50%

        What is it? The percentage of retirement fund of government employees which the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) wants to invest in equity markets.

        Why is it important? The proposal, if accepted, by the government would mean additional Rs 57,000 crore flow into equity markets, and could provide superior returns to government employees as returns from debt funds are low. This will also bring parity between government and non-government employees under the National Pension Scheme administered by PFRDA.

        Tell me more: In the last eight years, NPS has generated 18% return on equity investment and 12% on corporate bonds. Government securities have generated returns lower than corporate bonds.

         

        100 tonnes

        What is it? Estimated amount of fresh fruits that are waiting at Kabul to be airlifted to New Delhi.

        Why is it important? The export from Kabul is part of the air corridor announced between the two countries to boost bilateral trade, which stood at $700 million. But the lack of adequate number of planes and infrastructure at Kabul airport to deal with fruit exports has resulted in loss for Afghan traders.

        Tell me more: The first cargo, carrying medicines, water purifiers and medical equipment, flew from Delhi on June 18th this year. The next day, India imported 60 tonnes of ‘hing’ from Afghanistan.

          Read More

          Pyongyang’s sanctioned trade

            $3 billion

            What is it? North Korea’s annual export revenue.

            Why is it important? This is likely to be cut by a third due to the new sanctions imposed by the United Nations for its intercontinental ballistic missile testing in July. The resolution against North Korea represents the “strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test”. These sanctions are to cut off Pyongyang’s money supply and prevent it from further developing its outlawed missile expansion program.

            Tell me more: It was a unanimous decision of the UN Security Council with 15 votes in favour that targets North Korea’s primary exports including coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

             

            10 days

            What is it? The number of days spent by Congress MLAs (member of legislative assembly) from Gujarat at a hotel resort near Bengaluru, ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

            Why is it important? The forty-four MLAs returned to their home state after being flown away to Bengaluru to prevent them from either quitting or defecting ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat on Tuesday.

            Tell me more: At stake is the fifth re-election of Congress head, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. The MLAs were again whisked away to another resort in in Anand, near Ahmedabad on return.

             

            2 lakh-tonne

            What is it? The quantity at which the Indian government has capped the import of arhar dal (split pigeon pea).

            Why is it important? This comes at a time when farmers are demanding a better price for arhar dal following a record production of 22.4 million tonne of pulses in 2016-17 and 4.6 million tonne of arhar dal (record) in the same year. The prices of arhar dal shot up to Rs 200 per kg last year, following which the government imported 30 lakh tonnes of pulses, of which 20 lakh tonne are lying in its warehouses.

            Tell me more: India is not only the biggest producer but also, the largest consumer and importer of pulses.

             

            116

            What is it? The number of sexual harassment complaints reported in IT software and services company, Wipro, in the year 2016.

            Why is it important? This was the highest number of such complaints with a listed company in the latest reporting year (FY17, according to Sebi guidelines), of which 102 were resolved. The numbers increased last year compared to previous years, and not just for Wipro. While Wipro’s went up from 111 in 2015 (with 107 solved), Infosys’ went up from 62 in FY16 to 88 in FY17 (77 resolved), and TCS’ cases went up from 34 to 65 (with 61 resolved) in that time.

            Tell me more: The Securities and Exchange Board of India had made it mandatory for listed company to disclose the number of complaints and their pendency at the end of the financial year in their annual reports.

             

            56

            What is it? The number of employees in United Spirits who received above Rs 1 crore in salary in FY17.

            Why is it important? This could be an attempt by Diageo, which has majority stake in United Spirits, to professionalise the management by attracting talent in an industry affected by multiple factors — alcohol ban in Bihar, demonetisation and the Supreme Court banning alcohol sale along the national highways. The number of crorepatis is more than even some tier-I IT companies such as Infosys (51).

            Tell me more: Diageo completed buying controlling stake of 55% in the company in 2014.

              Read More

              Indians in Qatar for residency

                650,000

                What is it? The estimated number of Indians, the largest community, living in Qatar.

                Why is it important? Some of them will benefit from a draft law passed by the Qatar cabinet that would grant permanent residency to foreigners. This is the first such action among Gulf Arab Monarchies, which are strict about guarding their nationals’ privileges and curbing expatriates’ access to public services and property rights, though they have depended on their labour for decades to run their economies.

                Tell me more: Foreigners can receive permanent resident status if they get married to a Qatari, have “performed great services to the state” or “have special competencies”. The expatriates would get the same privileges as Qataris in terms of education and healthcare and will have the right to own real estate as per the country’s laws and run certain commercial activities without a local partner.

                 

                6

                What is it? The number of international offices Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider, operates currently.

                Why is it important? Earlier, the law firm had 45 international offices and it has had to shut down most of its operations in foreign countries due to a slump in its business. This follows the revelation of 11.5 million files from its database that showed records of wealthy people had used offshore companies to stash their assets in April 2016 — the biggest leak in history. In the same year, at least 150 inquiries or investigations were launched in around 70 countries to probe the possibilities of money laundering or tax evasion. After the leak, the firm has denied any wrongdoing.

                Tell me more: The Panama Papers included some big names such as former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hong Kong’s film star Jackie Chan, a $2 billion-trail leading to Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff and Argentina’s football player Lionel Messi.

                 

                28%

                What is it? The increase in the share prices of Cognizant in the last seven months or so, since Elliott Management Corp, an activist investment firm, that advised the company to focus on sustainable shareholder returns.

                Why is it important? The IT firm, which said in February that it would cooperate with Elliott Management, seems to be showing signs of having benefitted Cognizant’s shareholders. The increase in share prices of Cognizant during the last seven months or so is much higher than the 8% return that its competitors such as Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys have managed in the same period.

                Tell me more: Cognizant’s revenues increased by 8.9% year-on-year in the June quarter compared to 5.2% and 6% growth rates clocked by TCS and Infosys respectively in the same period.

                 

                62.81%

                What is it? The percentage of schools with electricity in the country.

                Why is it important? Over one-third of India’s schools go without electricity, according to Unified District Information System for Education (2015-16). Populous states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and most of the northeastern states fare lower than the national average of electrified schools, as revealed by a Rajya Sabha reply.

                Tell me more: The Ministry of Human Resource Development claims 187,248 elementary schools and 12,930 secondary schools have internal electrification as of March, 2017, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan programmes.

                 

                40,000

                What is it? The number of families who would need to be rehabilitated once the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam gates are finally closed.

                Why is it important? Over two decades have passed and the families are still waiting to be properly resettled after their homes were flooded when the dam was built. The Gujarat government was allowed to shut the gates of the dam in June this year by the Centre.

                Tell me more: Activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan is on a fast, for eight days now, to demand rehabilitation. Development projects have displaced no less than 21.3 million people in India in over 50 years till 2007, with dams accounting for 16.4 million of them.

                  Read More