Government is floating interest-free bonds that can be encashed by political parties, in an effort to make transparent the hose of political funding. The move, although, is laudable, but this government has been called out in the past for accepting money from unknown sources. What remains to be seen is, will it walk the talk in the general elections coming up next year.
What is it? The number of days for which electoral bonds, the terms for which were announced by the government on Tuesday, will be open for purchase in January, April, July and October. It will be a 30-day window in the year of general elections.
Why is it important? These bonds, which are interest-free banking instruments such as promissory notes, can be encashed by political parties at select branches of the State Bank of India. The government’s stated objective of introducing these bonds is to make political funding transparent, but they have been critiqued for doing the exact opposite by enabling anonymous donations. According to a report by Association for Democratic Reforms, 30.7% of total income of all Indian political parties for 2015-16 came from unknown sources.
Tell me more: Only those political parties that received at least 1% of votes polled in the last general election or assembly election will be eligible to receive donations through electoral bonds. The bonds would be valid for 15 days, though they will not carry the donor’s name. However, donors would have to comply with the bank’s KYC (know your customer) norms.
What is it? The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a measure of manufacturing activity, in December, an increase from 52.6 in November.
Why is it important? A value above 50 in the index indicates expansion, a value below 50 contraction. The December 2017 index reading shows the country’s factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in five years, driven by an increase in output and new orders, which saw their sharpest increases since December 2012 and October 2016, respectively. The December reading is also slightly higher than the average of 54 recorded since the start of the survey in March 2005. Job creation rose at the fastest pace since August 2012.
Tell me more: Firms increased prices at the quickest pace in 10 months in line with rising input costs, which suggests that inflation could be higher than the central bank’s medium-term target of 4%.
What is it? The number of milk samples that will be taken at random across India with immediate effect, according to directions issued by Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, to chief secretaries and food commissioners of all states and union territories.
Why is it important? This drive is to detect adulteration in milk, particularly that of edible oil, sucrose and detergents. States have been asked to install equipment at the village level to detect milk adulteration, for which the Centre has allocated Rs 100 crore. Last year, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said that samples of unbranded milk taken as part of a national survey revealed that a fifth of them were adulterated.
Tell me more: In May 2017, the government had said that a new scanner had been developed that can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds. The scanner was said to cost Rs 10,000 and have a per test cost of 5-10 paise.
What is it? Apple’s cash reserves (cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities), as of September 2017.
Why is it important? An analyst report released by Citi this week said there was, now, a 40% chance of Apple buying Netflix, the American entertainment company. The news trigger for the report was the Donald Trump administration announcing sharp cuts in corporate tax rates and untaxed profits of American companies that are stored abroad and repatriated. Most of Apple’s cash reserves are parked overseas, and the report reckons the lower tax rates could entice the company to bring some of it back into the US and use it for impactful acquisitions.
Tell me more: While Apple has cracked online music, it has struggled to crack TV and films, and Netflix can help it do that. Netflix’s subscribers have grown from 23 million in 2011 to 109 million in 2017, and it had a market capitalisation of $87 billion.
130 million pounds
What is it? The amount that English club Liverpool are reportedly seeking from Spanish club Barcelona to sell their prized midfielder Philippe Coutinho.
Why is it important? With the January transfer window opening in European club football, the movement around Coutinho is once again a big story. Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona over the summer of 2017, the third worth up to 119 million pounds, saying the Brazilian wasn’t for sale. But since then, Liverpool’s stand has softened. Last weekend, Nike, Barcelona’s kit sponsor, posted online a club shirt with Coutinho’s name on the back, before pulling it down, adding fuel to the transfer fire.
Tell me more: A transfer value of 130 million pounds would be the second-highest ever. The highest-ever is Coutinho’s fellow Brazilian Neymar’s move for 222 million Euros from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017.