End To Delhi’s Power Tussle?

Rs 200

What is it? The increase in minimum support prices (MSPs) for paddy (per quintal), the crop most planted by farmers, in the 2018-19 rain-fed kharif season, from Rs 1,550 in the previous season.

Why is it important?On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a hike in MSP—the price at which the government buys from farmers— of all kharif crops for the 2018-19 season. This comes at a time when farmers have been demanding better prices for their produce, after a sharp fall in prices affected their income last year. The announcement comes ahead of state elections in agrarian states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, besides the general elections that is less than a year away.

Tell me more:The impact of the MSP hike, according to some analysts, could result in an increase in inflation rates, add to fiscal deficit and likely to bring on steeper hikes of interest rates than anticipated.


What is it? The number of judges on the constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, that unanimously ruled on Wednesday that the Delhi Lieutenant Governor does not have independent powers to make decisions and is bound by the aid and advice of the council of ministers.

Why is it important?This is a landmark verdict that sets a new framework for the power tussle between the Delhi government and the LG appointed by the central government. The court ruled the Delhi government has the power to legislate and govern in all matters except for three areas: police, land and bureaucracy. It said the LG cannot obstruct or stall the decisions of the council of ministers, and that the LG can refer issues where there is a difference of opinion to the President only in exceptional matters.

Tell me more:Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the verdict a “victory for democracy”. Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy, who is locked in a similar power struggle with LG Kiran Bedi, has demanded for the top court’s ruling for Delhi to be applied to his union territory as well.


What is it? Number of units of the Nano car manufactured by Tata Motors in June 2018, against 275 in June 2017.

Why is it important? That production number has raised the question of whether Tata Motors is close to pulling the plug on its ambitious low-cost car that never became the best-seller it was intended to be. Back in August 2017, Satish B Borwankar, chief operating officer of Tata Motors, had said the company did not want to phase out the Nano car, and that it was working on alternative plans for it, including testing an electric version.

Tell me more:Sales of Nano have fallen nearly 90% to 7,591 units in 2016-17 from 74,521 in 2011-12. The company stopped exports earlier this year.


What is it?The number of large accounts with loans worth Rs 3,80,000 crore that will require resolution by September 1, 2018, according to credit ratings agency ICRA.

Why is it important? Over 90% of these accounts have already been classified as non-performing assets (NPAs) by banks. However, under the Reserve Bank of India’s new stressed asset resolution framework, if a resolution plan is not in place within the 180-day deadline, they have to be referred for insolvency proceedings. Going by the limited recovery in some of the cases that have been resolved so far (except for in the steel sector) and given the high share of power sector in the 70 accounts, there is uncertainty regarding the haircuts banks may need to take upon resolution.

Tell me more:ICRA said though the pace of addition of NPAs would be slower (likely at 3%) for the banking system in 2018-19, compared with 7.3% in 2017-18, public sector banks could continue the trend of reporting losses in the current financial year too.


What is it?The number of balls West Indies took to bowl out Bangladesh in the first test match of their ongoing bilateral series in North Sound, Antigua.

Why is it important? Bangladesh were dismissed for just 43 runs, which was their lowest score ever and the 11thlowest completed innings score over the history of 2,310 test matches. This was also the lowest completed innings score since 1974, when England dismissed India for 42 runs at Lord’s.

Tell me more:Kemar Roach took five wickets, all in the space of 12 balls, which is the fewest for a five-wicket haul, along with Monty Noble in 1902 and Jacques Kallis in 2002.

Read More

Bru tribe will go back to their homeland after 22 years


What is it? The number of companies – IHH Healthcare Berhad and TPG-backed Manipal Health Private Enterprises – that have submitted fresh binding bids to the board of Fortis Healthcare.

Why is it important? The family offices of Munjals and Burmans have reportedly pulled out of the race to acquire Fortis, India’s second-largest hospital chain, after having submitted a partially binding joint bid at the beginning of the fresh round of bidding. The bidders who have not proceeded with the offer have likely been deterred by the deteriorating financials of Fortisin addition to a new law by the Delhi government to cap profit margins of city hospitals on drugs and devices.

Tell me more: In June, Fortis had extended the deadline for the submission of bids due to the delay in the release of audited financial results. It initiated a fresh bidding process after the Fortis board was reconstituted in late May.

What is it? The reported number of people killed (at the lower end) over the last one year in 10 different states by lynch mobs due to rumours of child lifting circulated via Whatsapp.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, the Indian government, in a strong warning to Whatsapp, said that it must take immediate steps to ensure that its platform is not used for “such malafide activities” and that it “cannot evade accountability and responsibility”. India is Whatsapp’s biggest market in the world with over 200 million users and has been increasingly battling with a deluge of misinformation circulated on its platform.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, said mob lynching is a crimeno matter what the reason and said that that is a law and order issue, which is the responsibility of state governments.

What is it? The number of people including 12 boys and a football coach who have been trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand for 10 days and have received food and medical treatment on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Though this comes as a partial relief to the group, which has been surviving on next to no food or fresh water, search teams are unsure of how to bring them back to safety. It is believed that most of the group, which are said to be 2 km inside the cave and 1 km underground, cannot swim. The rescue teams may be forced to act soon as rain has been forecast in the next few days.

Tell me more: There are limited options to rescue the group including providing them four months’ supply of food and teach them to dive and attempting to pump water out of the cave.

Rs6 crore
What is it? The amount of annual subsidy for Haj pilgrims to be provided by the Tamil Nadu government.

Why is it important? The decision comes six months after the central government decided to scrap the Haj subsidy and will use the funds for providing education of minorities. Tamil Nadu government has existing scheme offering subsidy for Hindu and Christian pilgrims to visit Mansarovar and Jerusalem respectively.

Tell me more: BJP, as part of the election campaign, promised free pilgrimage to Jerusalem for senior citizens in Nagaland, a christian-majority state.

What is it? The number of Bru community refugees who would go back to their native place in Mizoram, after a tripartite agreement signed between the two state governments (Mizoram, Tripura) and the union home ministry.

Why is it important? Brus (or Reang tribe) were living as refugees for last 22 years in Tripura. They flew from their native land in Tripura, following ethnic tensions with Mizos- who form majority in Mizoram. Trouble began in 1995 when Mizos demanded stripping away of voting rights of Brus, claiming the Reang tribe is not native to the state. This led to an armed uprising by the Brus who killed a Mizo forest guard in 1997. Retaliation by Mizos led to mass exodus.

Tell me more: Each of the 5,407 families will receive financial assistance of Rs4 lakh, a monthly support of Rs5,000 for two years, and house building assistance of Rs1.5 lakh. The repatriation will be complete by September 30th.

Read More

An Impending ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’


What is it? The estimated number of people that have fled their homes in south-western Syria since the military launched an assault on the rebel-held areas a few weeks ago.

Why is it important? This figure has grown by more than five times from an estimated 50,000 six days ago. Last week, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights had asked all sides to end the escalating conflict in Daraa or it could result in a humanitarian catastrophe. Those fears are now compounded as the refugees have taken shelter near the Israeli and Jordanian borders and both the countries have refused to allow them in.

Tell me more: The Syrian government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has regained control of the country’s biggest cities but large parts are still under control of rebel groups and the Kurdish-led SDF alliance. A peaceful uprising against Assad’s rule seven years ago blew up into a full civil war and has claimed the lives of over 350,000 people.


What is it? The number of people that could lose their jobs due to US President Donald Trump’s plan to ban spouses of high-skill visa holders from working, according to a study.

Why is it important?A recent study says that as a result, this would result in social isolation of spouses, increase domestic tensions and strain the family’s financial resources. This could affect the visa holder’s satisfaction levels, posing risks to them in continuing their posting in the US. In addition to indirect costs, the cost of expatriate assignments range from $250,000 to $1 million.

Tell me more:The Trump administration is planning to reverse the 2015 rule that permits spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US. The US has issued employment authorisation documents to over 71,000 spouses of H-1B visa holders, of which more than 90% are Indians.

Rs 7,900 crore

What is it? The amount Volkswagen said it will invest in India between 2019 and 2021.

Why is it important? The group has set a target of achieving a market share of 5% of the Indian passenger vehicles market by 2025. India leapfrogged Germany recently to become the world’s fourth biggest auto market and is expected to go up to the third position by 2020, according to major automakers.

Tell me more:Under its ‘India 2.0’ project, group firm Skoda Auto is setting up an engineering design and development centre in Pune, in addition to improving capacities at its two plants, which is expected to create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.


What is it?The number of months it took for transactions under the unified payments interface (UPI) to double to 200 million.

Why is it important?UPI is a payments system launched by the National Payments Corporation of India, the umbrella organisation for retail payments in the country. It facilitates instant fund transfer between two bank accounts on a mobile platform without requiring any detail of the beneficiary’s bank account.In June 2018, the number of UPI transactions stood at 246 million, amounting to Rs 40,834 crore. This is a brisk 30% increase in volume terms and 22% in value terms over May 2018.

Tell me more: UPI was launched in August 2016 with 21 participating banks. As of June 2018, this number had increased to 110 banks.


What is it?The goal deficit that Belgium clawed back from to win their round of 16 match against unfancied Japan in the 2018 football world cup on Monday.

Why is it important?With 21 minutes to go for full-time, Belgium trailed Japan by 2 goals in an open match. However, Belgium struck thrice, including Nacer Chadli in the 4thminute of added time in regulation to become the first team since 1970 to come back from two goals down in a world cup knockout match. This is Belgium’s second appearance in the quarter-finals and its best finish was a semi-final appearance in 1986.

Tell me more: In another match played yesterday, Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to enter the quarter-finals.

Read More

The Slow Pace Of FDI


What is it? The number of people lynched to death in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Sunday by some villagers who suspected them to be part of a gang of child lifters.

Why is it important? This is the latest reported case in which victims have been attacked based on Whatsapp posts that have claimed that a group of child kidnappers was active in the area. Two people in Chennai were thrashed by locals on similar suspicions, though they were rescued and rushed to the hospital. Last week, two people were killed in separate incidents in Tripura, and two friends were killed in Assam earlier last month.

Tell me more:In the Maharashtra case, the police has detained 15 villagers.

$44.85 billion

What is it? The foreign direct investment (FDI) received by India in 2017-18.

Why is it important?FDI inflows to India grew by 3% in 2017-18 from a year ago, which is the lowest growth rate in five years. Before this, growth stood at 9% in 2016-17, 29% in 2015-16, 27% in 2014-15 and 8% in 2013-14. The slippage in growth comes even as India has made efforts to improve ease of doing business and moved into the top 100 in 2017, a jump of 30 places. Mauritius, Singapore and Netherlands were the top three FDI sources for India in 2017-18.

Tell me more:For this year’s World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings, India has reportedly targeted 90 measures, including simpler registration of new companies.


What is it?The number of VIPs that have sent requests for the creation of new zones or divisions in their constituencies that are under consideration by the Railway Board.

Why is it important? The cost of infrastructure to create a new zone is Rs 205 crore, while that for a new division would be around Rs 29 crore, excluding other costs such as creation/upgradation of posts, transfer and posting. Several committees have made a case against the creation of new zones, saying they are not financially/operationally feasible. For instance, the Rakesh Mohan Committee in its 2001 report had said that the “scheme for creation of new zones was a patently political one”.

Tell me more: Those who have made demands for such new zones/divisions include Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.


What is it?The percentage of road accidents on the Greater Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway that were caused by speeding, an RTI response has revealed.

Why is it important? Since its inauguration in August 2012, the expressway has seen 4,956 accidents, killing 718 and injuring 7,671. Of these accidents, 1,161 were the result of speeding, 595 tyre bursts and 235 fog. The high numbers underscore how targeted policy and monitoring measures can reduce what are essentially avoidable accidents and fatalities.

Tell me more: In 2015, traffic accident deaths accounted for 177,423 (or 43%) of 413,357 deaths due to un-natural accidents. And road accidents accounted for 84% of total traffic accident deaths.


What is it? Shots on goal by Spain in their Round of 16 match against Russia on Sunday evening.

Why is it important?In spite of utterly dominating the match with 74% possession, Spain could score only once in 120 minutes of regulation and extra time. By comparison, a Russia in lockdown mode directed only one shot towards Spain goal, and it scored. In the penalty shootout that ensued, Russia beat Spain. In another match yesterday, Croatia beat Denmark, also in a nervy penalty battle, firmly announcing the arrival of this unforgiving format.

Tell me more: England play their Round of 16 today against Colombia. England have lost all three penalty shootouts in world cup football: in 1990, 1998 and 2006.

Read More