Action Against Discrimination

5 million

What is it?The approximate number of people that use Philip Morris’ iQOSsmoking device in over 30 countries. The pen-like device heats but does not burn tobacco and produces a nicotine-containing vapour instead of smoke.

Why is it important? The firm is reportedly looking to launch its device in India, where the use of tobacco kills more than 900,000 people every year and is home to the second-largest adult smoking population in the world. Earlier this year, in the United States, a federal advisory committee had recommended that the Food and Drug Administration reject a bid by Philip Morristo sell its device in the US as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. The FDA’s decision is expected in a few months.

Tell me more:The firm promotes its Marlboro cigarettes in India but has a share of just 1.4% in India’s $10-billion cigarette market.


Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The quantum of short-term loans Air India has sought from banks, who have been requested to submit their financial bids by June 13.

Why is it important?This comes at a time when the national carrier has failed to pay salaries to its over 11,000 employees for the third month in a row and is seeking working capital requirements on an urgent basis. The government’s plan to sell 76% stake in the airline met with zero bidders and as a result, it is reportedly will come out with revised bidding norms soon. The carrier has a total debt of Rs 52,000 crore, of which Rs 22,000 is aircraft loan and the rest, working capital loans and other liabilities.

Tell me more:Air India has asked the government to restore equity infusionin the carrier. It has received over Rs 26,000 crore under a Rs 30,231-crore bailout package announced by the UPA-II government in 2012.



What is it?The size of the committee the Indian government has set up for monitoring and redressal of grievances with respect to the alleged discrimination faced by the north-eastern people living in different parts of the country.

Why is it important? Discrimination against those from the North East came into focus after the death of Nido Tania, a 20-year-old from Arunachal Pradesh, in 2014. He was attacked in a South Delhi market due to his race and died due to severe lung and brain injuries. The panel would be given powers for ensuring strict action in cases of racial discrimination, atrocities and violence and also, for suggesting measures to curb such crimes.

Tell me more:The government recently said it has implemented all the recommendationsof the MP Bezbaruah committee to ensure people from the north-eastern states do not face discrimination. The committee’s report says over 2 lakh peoplemigrated from the North East to Delhi between 2005 and 2013, of which 86% have faced discrimination.



What is it?The cost of capturing one tonne of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) from air by Carbon Engineering, a Canadian firm backed by Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

Why is it important?The cost is significantly lower than the current price of $600 per tonne, and could end up as viable solution to capture carbon in the environment. The Canadian company has an operational plant since 2015 that has converted one tonne of CO2 per day.

Tell me more:Through this technology, which is peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal, Carbon Engineering has produced 1 barrel of liquid fuel by combining the pure CO2 with hydrogen derived from water.



What is it?The number of cops identified to have received monthly bribesfrom businessmen in Telangana, according to a list prepared by the state’s top cop.

Why is it important?The practice of collecting monthly bribes (or mamools) is common, but this is the first known instance of identifying large number of corrupt cops. The identified cops are reassigned to armed reserves without any responsibilities.

Tell me more:Telangana police created a whatsapp number and email IDto receive complaints from the public regarding corrupt cops. Based on complaints, the DGP office investigated and included the corrupt cops in the list.


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Zero Takers


What is it? The number of investors interested in buying a stake in Air India.

Why is it important? The government’s plan to sell 76% in the national carrier did not attract any bidders as on Thursday, the deadline for showing initial interest, in the world’s fastest growing aviation market. This is a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to dispose off the loss-making entity. The government may look to raise Rs 1 lakh crore in 2018-19 by the sale of state assets of which Air India was supposed to be a significant contributor.

Tell me more: The government, which had eased some terms and extended the deadline to receive bids, is now thinking of changing the terms of the sale.


What is it? The GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of the Indian economy in the January-March quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? The growth, which beat analysts’ estimates, has helped India to retain the tag of the fastest growing economy in the world. It has surpassed China’s growth of 6.8% in the three months ended March and is the quickest pace in nearly two years. However, it remains to be seen if India can sustain the momentum of growth given the risks of surging oil prices and the resultant threat of higher inflation, in addition to a slump in currency, bad loans and bank frauds.

Tell me more:In the previous quarter, the Indian GDP growth was a revised 7% and in 2017-18, it expanded at 6.7%, the slowest since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office.


What is it? The number of seats– four Lok Sabha and 11 assembly – for which by-polls were held across 10 states recently, the results of which were declared on Thursday.

Why is it important? BJP managed to win just one of each (Parliamentary and assembly). Among the losses, the Kairana Lok Sabha election seems significant as the opposition parties were able to unite and defeat BJP, a strategy that they are looking to emulate in the 2019 General Elections. Winning in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, is vital for BJP to retain power in the upcoming elections. In 2014, it won 71 of the 80 seats, which is crucial for its majority status in the Lower House.

Tell me more: Tabassum Hasan, who won the Kairana seat, became the first muslim representative to enter Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh since 2014. BJP, which won 70 out of 80 seats in 2014, did not field any muslim candidates, though Muslims account for 18.5% of the state population as per Census 2011 data.

Rs5,91,663 crore

What is it? India’s fiscal deficit for financial year ended March 2018.

Why is it important?The government was able to meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP, as there were fears of further slippage in containing fiscal deficit. Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget last year, had projected a fiscal deficit of 3.2% in 2017-18. Higher deficit would mean extra market borrowings, which in turn, has the potential to increase cost of funds for other borrowers.

Tell me more:Introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) was cited as one of the reasons for slippage of deficit target to 3.5%. Under GST, tax payers can remit the tax by 20th of the following month. So tax collected in March would be collected by April 20th. Government follows cash accounting system, so this receipt in the following month couldn’t be recorded in March 2018.


What is it?The growth of non-food credit in April 2018, as compared to 4.5% in same month last year.

Why is it important?Higher non-food credit is an indicator of economic growth, as firms anticipating higher demand would borrow to increase capacity or individuals feeling confident of their future earnings. Lending to services sector and personal loans grew by 20.7% and 19.1% respectively, while credit flow to industry increased only by 1%.

Tell me more:Higher credit growth is not met by higher deposit growth, which has plateaued after huge inflows during demonetisation. State Bank of India increased deposit rate on tenure between 1 and 2 years by 25 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point) to attract more deposits.

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Cash, Liquor, Gold And Narcotics

Rs 120 crore

What is it?The total amount of cash, liquor and narcotics seized in Karnataka as on April 30, 2018, ahead of the state assembly elections on May 12.

Why is it important?Of the 22 state assembly polls held in India since the 2014 general elections (including the upcoming Karnataka polls), Karnataka is ranked third among states on number of such seizures. Increasingly, political parties look for candidateswith deep pockets, while voters support them despite their questionable history with the expectation that they might be able to deliver when the state doesn’t.

Tell me more:Karnataka might overtake Tamil Nadu (around Rs 130 crore seized in the 2016 elections) on total seizures. Uttar Pradesh tops the list, with a cumulative seizure of over Rs 190 crore.


$40.7 billion

What is it?The fair value of Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway of Apple shares, as of March 2018.

Why is it important?That makes Apple the largest holding in the $172 billion investment portfolio of Berkshire, rising above Wells Fargo. During the January to March quarter, Berkshire added about 75 million shares of Appleto the 170 million it already owned.

Tell me more:Even as Berkshire, known for investing in consumer-oriented businesses, bulked up on one of the rare tech stocks in its portfolio, Buffett admitted he made a wrong decision to not invest in Google and Amazon.


$1.5-2 billion

What is it? The estimated losses of Air Indiain 2018-19 and 2019-20 if its divestment does not take off, according to aviation consultancy Centre for Aviation (CAPA) India.

Why is it important?Making a case to make the terms of sale more attractive to investors, the consultancy predicts that failure to divest could result in Air India’s closure unless the government spends more taxpayers’ money. Major airlines such as Indigo, Jet Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways have opted out of bidding for Air India. The Tata Group is also unlikely to participate.

Tell me more: The government will accept expression of interests from potential bidders until the end of the month. The government hasprovided equity support of Rs 26,545 crore, against a total of Rs 30,231 crore earmarked, under a 10-year, turnaround plan in 2012.



What is it?The number of months within which the system for taxpayers to file only one monthly return (as against three now) will be ready.

Why is it important?The GST (goods and services tax) Council approved a simpler tax return filing system on Friday, which would reduce the burden of compliance on taxpayers. There will be a unidirectional flow of invoicesto be uploaded by sellers, after which the input tax credit will be available to the buyer. The GST Council deferred its decisionson allowing an incentive for digital payments and imposing a cess on sugar.

Tell me more: The GST Council has also decided to convert GST Network into a government-owned entity, with the central government and states owning 50% stake each.



What is it?The scoreline in El Clasico, as the Spanish League match between Barcelona and Real Madrid is known, played on Sunday night.

Why is it important?A 10-man Barcelona side, playing at home, clung to a draw in a fast-paced and heated encounter. The draw meant Barcelona still remain unbeaten in the Spanish League, with three matches to play. Barcelona, already crowned champions for the season, is aiming to become the first side to stay unbeaten in the Spanish League since its expansion to a 20-team format.

Tell me more: Across seasons, this Barcelona side holds the Spanish League record for the longest unbeaten streak, which now stands at 42, four better than Real Sociedad in 1979-80.


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No Takers For Air India?


What is it? The number of airlines—Jet Airways and IndiGo—that have said they will not bid for Air India.

Why is it important? The Tata Group, which was considered to be a potential bidder for the national carrier, is reportedly likely to opt out of the race too. This is mainly because of the tough terms set by the government such as the winner cannot merge the airline with existing businesses till the former holds a stake in it. The winner is also required to list Air India and protect employee interests, which may hamper its ability to reduce workforce.

Tell me more: A forum of 10 Air India unions has alleged that potential bidders are using strong-arm tactics to get the government to sell the airline cheap and that they would take up this matter with the prime minister’s office and the civil aviation ministry.



What is it? The stake the world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, will pick up in the proposed $44 billion refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? This will be one of the biggest foreign investments in India’s hydrocarbon sector and the plant will be one of the largest refining and petrochemical complexes in the world. Aramco wants to tap into the increasing demand in the world’s third-largest oil consumer. For import-dependent India, this would ensure supply security.

Tell me more: The Indian consortium of IOC, HPCL and BPCL will hold 50% in the plant, which will process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day and 18 million tonnes per annum of petrochemical products.



What is it? The proposed year in which the first phase of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly elections could be held, according to a draft report by the Law Commission. The second phase is recommended to be held in 2024.

Why is it important? This is a step forward in the idea first suggested by the Election Commission in 1983 and something which this government has been batting for in recent months. The draft report has proposed amending the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951, to increase or decrease the length of terms of state legislative assemblies. It also suggests a no-confidence motion be followed by a confidence motion so that if the opposition is unable to muster the numbers to form government, the current rule is undisturbed.

Tell me more: That states proposed to come under Phase I are those where the state elections are due in 2021, and include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.



What is it? The drop in investment by Chinese companies in the US in 2017. The total investment by Chinese companies fell from $46.5 billion in 2016 to $29.7 billion in 2017, though this is still the second-best year.

Why is it important? Although this drop comes in the backdrop of aggressive posturing and retaliatory action by both countries on the trade front, it precedes this current standoff. Last year, China tightened outbound investments over concerns that its biggest conglomerates might be stretching themselves.

Tell me more: Chinese investments in 2017 in US companies include Tesla, Airbnb, Grindr, TPG, Snapchat and Invista.



What is it? The minute in which Real Madrid were awarded a penalty—the third and final minute of stoppage time—in their Champions League match against Juventus late last night.

Why is it important? Ronaldo converted the hotly-contested penalty, and Madrid scraped through this quarter-final tie 4-3 on aggregate. It saved Real Madrid the blushes, who had till then conceded three goals to Juventus, levelling the two-leg tie at 3-3. For a while, it looked as if a Spanish footballing giant would blow a three-goal lead for the second day in succession.

Tell me more: Juventus goalkeeper Gigi Buffon was red carded for remonstrating against the penalty decision. It was Buffon’s 117th match in the Champions League, the most by any Italian player.


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