Freedom Of Press


What is it? The failure rate of iris scan used to authenticate Aadhaar number, according to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Why is it important? The is higher than the failure rate of fingerprint scans (6%). Iris scan is considered as an additional option to fingerprint scan so as to ensure that people are not denied government benefits because of authentication failure. If both iris and fingerprint scans cannot be used, then Aadhaar number can be authenticated via the mobile phone, says UIDAI.

Tell me more: So far, UIDAI has handled 616 million and 10.8 million fingerprint scans, respectively.



What is it? The proposed minimum wages for nurses working in private hospital in Kerala.

Why is it important? The Kerala High Court on Tuesday lifted an earlier order that restrained the Kerala government from issuing a notification that mandates Rs20,000 as minimum wage for nurses. Private hospitals have opposed the move saying the increase of 150% over the existing wages was illegal.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court, in January 2016, asked the centre to form a committee to look into the working conditions of nurses in private hospitals as it felt they ‘are not being treated fairly’ in terms of pay and working conditions.


Rs4,442 crore

What is it? The highest bid received by the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) on day 1 of e-auction to award the media rights for cricket matches played in India between 2018-23.

Why is it important? This is 15% higher than what BCCI received from Star TV (Rs3,851 crore) in 2012. A total of 102 matches will be played over the next five years, and per match bid works out to Rs43.5 crore as of now. The bidding will continue on Wednesday. Start India, Reliance Industries and Sony Pictures are the three bidders.

Tell me more: In comparison, Star India paid Rs 16,347 crore (or Rs54.5 crore per match) to bag media rights for the Indian Premier League.



What is it?  India’s rank in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, out of 180 countries.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, at the prime minister’s direction, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrew the order of suspending the accreditation of journalists who were found to be producing or propagating fake news, which it issued the previous day. The order drew criticism from journalists as they said it was an attempt by the government to curb the freedom of press.

Tell me more: The order drew criticism mainly because any journalist accused of creating/spreading fake news would get their accreditation taken away. The government did not provide any definition for fake news.



What is it? The number of flights delayed due to a system failure at Eurocontrol, which manages air traffic in 41 European countries.

Why is it important? Half a million passengers will be affected because of this system failure that delayed 50% of all flights from the European region on Tuesday. It is not known how this impact flights from India to European destinations.

Tell me more: Eurocontrol says safety was not compromised during this failure, and air traffic management system is back to ‘normal flow management operations’.


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The “Un-hackable” Aadhaar



1.2 billion

What is it? The number of Indians with Aadhaar, a unique 12-digit biometric identification number.

Why is it important? The world’s biggest database has reportedly been hit by another major security lapse, where a data leak on a system by state-run utility Indane could allow the download of private information of Aadhaar holders, including their name, and details about the services they are connected to such as their bank details. In a presentation to the Supreme Court on Thursday, the UIDAI chief had said that it would take over 13 billion years for a supercomputer to hack into Aadhaar data.

Tell me more: The UIDAI, which runs the Aadhaar programme, has refuted the story and is considering legal action against ZDNet, which carried the report.


$10.7 billion

What is it? The amount of money that Uber has spent for $37 billion of gross bookings—amount paid by riders—since it was founded nine years ago.

Why is it important? That volume of capital burn by the ride-hailing company, brought on by bruising battles for market dominance in different parts of the world, has been a concern. It might now be calling truce on one of those battles: by selling its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab for a 25-30% share. This would be Uber’s third major market exit, after China and Russia.

Tell me more: According to CB Insights, Uber was last valued at $68 billion, and Singapore-based GrabTaxi at $6 billion.


What is it? The number of tests for which Australian cricket captain Steven Smith has been banned for ball tampering, along with being docked 100% of his match fee.

Why is it important? He will not play the fourth and final test in the ongoing series against South Africa, which Australia trail 2-1 after capitulating yesterday in the third test. Further, from several indications, Smith could face greater punishment from the cricket administrators in Australia, where even the country’s prime minister has weighed in on a shameful episode of cheating orchestrated by the team’s leadership.

Tell me more: With over 6,000 runs and 23 hundreds, the 28-year-old Smith is one of Australia’s most prolific test batsman. Among those who have played over 50 tests, his career average of 61.87 is the second best, after Sir Donald Bradman.



What is it? The number of Shatabdi trains in which fares could be slashed, with the objective of increasing occupancy.

Why is it important? This follows a pilot conducted by the Indian Railways on two routes last year, where it dropped fares on the low occupancy stretches. In one section, earnings and passenger bookings increased by 17% and 63%, respectively. The Indian Railways has been criticised for its flexi-fare scheme, introduced for its premium trains such as Duronto and Shatabdi, where the general view is that it led to a spike in fares.

Tell me more: The Shatabdi trains, on an average, is the only set to make profits, with the Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi being the most profitable.


10 million

What is it? The number of jobs the Indian telecom sector is expected to create over the next five years.

Why is it important? The debt-laden sector is under tremendous stress and is expected to fire 50,000 people this year, higher than the count of 40,000 last year, mainly due to the price war triggered by Reliance Jio’s entry. Emerging technologies such as machine-to-machine communications, and telecom manufacturing, infrastructure and services firms are expected to up the demand for employment in the next few years.

Tell me more: Currently, there are 4 million people employed in the sector. Between September 2016 and September 2017, market leader Bharti Airtel reduced its headcount in India by 9.3%.


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Don’t Like Aadhaar? Don’t Say it.


Rs 15,935 crore

What is it? The total cost of proposals cleared by India’s Defence Acquisition Council to purchase assault rifles, sniper rifles, carbines and light machine guns on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This brings an end to a 11-year-wait by the armed forces, which had flagged the need for new guns. Indian soldiers have been using AK-47 and indigenous Indian Small Arms Systems rifles since 1988, and there has been an urgent need for arms upgradation, especially in border areas and for counter-insurgency operations. Having rejected a few indigenous weapons recently, India needs an overhaul of its defence planning and procurement system, with due consideration to local requirements and strategic interests.

Tell me more: The approvals include procurement of light machine guns through the fast-track procedure at an estimated cost of Rs 1,819 crore, while 740,000 assault rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorisation of ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ at an estimated cost of Rs 12,280 crore. Over 5,700 sniper rifles will be procured at a cost of Rs 982 crore.



What is it? The number of researchers, activists and journalists that news agency Reuters has interviewed who have complained of being harassed by government agencies or being slapped with criminal cases because of their critique of Aadhaar.

Why is it important? This raises questions about the right to dissent and free speech with respect to Aadhaar, the country’s national identity project that has seen various instances of data and security breach. Recently, the Unique Identification Authority of India filed a criminal case against Tribune newspaper for publishing an article that claimed that the details of the database were up for grabs for just Rs 500.

Tell me more: As of last year, over 1.11 billion Indians had an Aadhaar number, which covered 99% of the Indian adult population.



What is it? Samsung’s market share in India’s smartphone market in 2017, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

Why is it important? Samsung maintained its market leadership position when the entire year is taken into account. However, Samsung slipped to the second position in the last quarter of 2017, overtaken by China’s Xiaomi, which had a share of 26.8% compared to the former’s 24.2%. This report echoes the findings of other research firms such as Canalys and Counterpoint Research that said Xiaomi had ended Samsung’s dominance in the fourth quarter of 2017 to command the highest market share for the first time ever.

Tell me more: In the feature phone segment, Samsung had the highest market share of 20.5% in 2017, whereas in the last quarter of 2017, Reliance Jio pushed ahead of it to gain a share of 24.1% compared to the former’s 14.5%, according to IDC.


15 days

What is it? The number of additional days that Fortis Healthcare has sought to file its financial results for the second quarter and third quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? Yet another delay on this front turns the spotlight on financial dealings of the company with its promoters, Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, who last week resigned from the board. Bloomberg last week also reported that Fortis could not declare its Q2 results within the stipulated 45-day period as its auditor refused to sign off on the results until about Rs 500 crore the promoters took out from the company without board approval was accounted for or returned.

Tell me more: In another filing with stock exchanges, Fortis said that credit rating agency ICRA had downgraded the rating of the company and four Fortis subsidiaries.



What is it? The results count in the ongoing one-day international bilateral series between India and South Africa.

Why is it important? Yesterday, in the fifth of the six-match series at Port Elizabeth, India beat South Africa to win the series—its first in South Africa in five attempts, dating back to 1992-93. Before this, South Africa had only lost two ODI series of five matches or more at home, both to Australia. With this series win and the manner of it, India has conquered another overseas bastion and also bolstered its credentials in the one-day sphere, be it at home or away.

Tell me more: India won yesterday’s match by 73 runs, anchored by a century by Rohit Sharma and six wickets by wristspinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.


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Aadhaar: Not so unique

$23.35 billion

What is it? The estimate, on the higher end, of black money, or money illicitly taken out of the India in 2014.

Why is it important? Curbing black money, both its movement and creation, has been an integral part of the Modi-government’s propaganda. It was the reason initially furnished by the Prime Minister when introducing last year’s demonetisation, before switching to the cause of a cashless economy. In 2014, the year the government came to power, there was also an illicit fund inflow of $101 billion (on the higher side).

Tell me more: Illegal fund flows from developing countries totalled $1 trillion in 2014, according to the watchdog, Global Financial Integrity, which came out with the study.


135 million

What is it? The estimated number of Aadhaar card numbers leaked through four government portals.

Why is it important? While the parent data governing agency, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has maintained the information remains secure, studies such as this expose the gross mishandling by government agencies with access to Aadhaar data, which is set to become sensitive, that fraudsters would be eager to misuse. The debate around Aadhaar’s information security has become more intense as the Union government attempts to link it mandatorilywith other key documents such as passports, Pan cards, flight and train tickets, with implications such as enabling financial transactions with just an Aadhaar proof. The Supreme Court is hearing a PIL against why it should not be linked to Pan cards. The reasons against linking Aadhaar mandatorily are many, some mentioned here and here.

Tell me more: The study by thinktank, Centre for Internet and Society, reveals Aadhaar details linked by the National Social Assistance Programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Chandranna Bima Scheme, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh, Daily Online Payment Reports of NREGA, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh stand exposed. It says the UIDAI is ignoring the swathes of data on public display.



What is it? The number of new warehouses e-commerce giant, Amazon, plans to add in India.

Why is it important? The Flipkart-competitor will be doubling its storage capacity with this move. A few days back, Amazon chief, Jeff Bezos, reiterated he would continue increasing India investments, having committed to spend $5 billion.

Tell me more: The new warehouses would serve tier II and III cities, as the company looks to complete the last mile in the hinterland.



What is it? The average number of suicides by farmers each year since 2013.

Why is it important? The government informed the Supreme Court about the death toll. In 2015, this was 9.4% of all suicide victims as 8,007 farmer-cultivators and 4,595 agricultural labourers took their lives. Two years of drought still continue to haunt farmers, with protests as recent as in April.

Tell me more: The Centre was furnishing the details in a case on minimum support price for agricultural produce and the inefficacy of crop insurance.


What is it? The value of a privately-monitored manufacturing activity index for the month of April.

Why is it important? The Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index by Markit stayed above 50, signifying expansion in the sector. It maintained the same level as in March with 52.5, making December’s contraction a distant memory. Growth in new orders led to the output increase.

Tell me more: It is in line with the government’s estimate of growth in output of eight core manufacturing sectors, released yesterday.

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