The largest drug bust

1,500 kg

What is it? The quantity of narcotics seized by the Indian Coast Guard from a merchant vessel off Gujarat on Saturday.

Why is it important? Valued at Rs 3,500 crore, this is the largest single haul of narcotics till date, according to the Defence department. The total quantity of various drugs seized more than threefold from 102,115 kg in 2015 to 350,836 kg in 2016 while the number of people arrested in such cases increased by around 20% from 32,559 in 2015 to 38,929 last year, according to the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Tell me more: The Indian Coast Guard ‘Samudra Pavak’ intercepted the merchant vessel on Saturday noon, which was brought to Porbandar on Sunday morning. A joint investigation by the Indian Coast Guard, Intelligence Bureau, police, Customs department, Indian Navy and other agencies is underway.

 

2

What is it? The number of supersonic B-1 bombers the US flew over South Korea on Sunday.

Why is it important? This was done as a show of force in response to North Korea, which conducted its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, escalating tensions and threatening regional stability. North Korea’s latest missile launch reportedly appears to have the ability to hit American mainland, which experts say, show that the country has progressed rapidly in its missile programme. It has conducted 12 missile tests since February and its first ICBM test on July 4.

Tell me more: China, which is North Korea’s most important ally, urged North Korea to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions but US President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment in China failing to use its economic clout to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

 

Rs 65,000 crore

What is it? The estimated value of BSNL’s one-third of prime land holdings.

Why is it important? The book value of the 15,000-odd land and building assets held by the company was Rs 975 crore, the estimation that was arrived ‘decades ago’. The recent valuation exercise was initiated in April this year as part of company’s business revival programmes, which could help the company monetise its assets by the commercial utilisation of its holdings. BSNL along with Air India and SAIL accounted for over half of the total losses incurred by the top 10 loss-making public sector companies in the country.

Tell me more: The public sector company has, however, narrowed its losses over the years: from Rs 7,019 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 8,234 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 3,880 crore in 2015-16.

 

755

What is it? The number of American diplomats expelled by Russia on Sunday.

Why is it important? This is the largest expulsion of diplomats from any country. The expulsion follows after the US congress approved sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea and also for allegedly interfering in US Presidential elections held last year.

Tell me more: Moscow had insisted US reduce staff at its embassies and consulates in Russia to 450, mirroring the strength of Russia’s staff in the US.

 

<10%

What is it? The Union power ministry has asked states to reduce electricity losses to below 10% in six months.

Why is it important? Capping electricity loss at 10% has the potential to transform the financial conditions of many state-run utilities. In June this year, the all-India average of power loss (both theft and technical) was 23%. Government data shows some 200 towns face loss in the range of 40-90%. Such circumstances make the target an ambitious one, given the timeline.

Tell me more: The government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) straightening operational and bill collection efficiency have helped state-run power discoms cut their financial losses. But the target of less than 10% of power loss in six months can only be attained by the simultaneous implementation of Uday for pilferage and theft and the Integrated Power Development System (IPDS) for technical upgrades to avoid faults.

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News in Numbers – September 7

rj45-1139366

Rs 249

What is it? The monthly price at which state-owned BSNL is offering unlimited usage broadband connection on a landline.

Why is it important? BSNL’s offer comes in the wake of Reliance Jio shaking up the Internet access segment, offering 4G wireless services free till December and subsequently at an effective cost of Rs 50 per GB. As of April, BSNL was number one in broadband in the landline segment (9.9 million subscribers) and number five in mobile broadband (10.6 million).

Tell me more: BSNL will offer a speed of 2Mbps for 1 GB of data and 1 Mbps subsequently. This offer is for six months, after which subscribers will move to a BSNL plan with less generous terms.

8

What is it? Number of additional teams that Gianni Infantino, president of the world soccer governing body, is pitching for in the 2026 FIFA World Cup—from the current 32 to 40.

Why is it important? More teams means greater viewer interest—and commercial value—in the event around the world. But it can also entail a format rejig, potentially translating into a longer tournament and even fewer matchups between top teams.

Tell me more: After staying constant at 16 for nearly five decades, the number of teams in the World Cup increased to 24 in 1982 and then to 32 in 1998.

15,000 cusecs 

What is it? The amount of water to be released by Karnataka per day for the next 10 days to Tamil Nadu, per Supreme Court order on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Violent protests erupted in Karnataka almost immediately after the Supreme Court delivered its verdict. This adversely impacted the inter-state movement of people as Tamil Nadu registered buses were stopped from crossing the border fearing safety of passengers and buses.

Tell me more: As per the final verdict of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Karnataka has to release 192 thousands million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu. It specified how much should be released each month. The problem arises when monsoon is deficit like this year so far. The tribunal only stated water share should be proportionately reduced, but did not spell out a formula.

6

What is it? The number of Karnataka-based schools that lost their CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) affiliation because they produced fake minority certificates to circumvent Right to Education Act provisions.

Why is it important? RTE Act stipulates that 25% of the seats be reserved for economically backward and disadvantaged sections of the society. While it highlights CBSE’s tough stance, the incident also reflects the extent to which educational institutions flout rules. It comes a day after an UNESCO report warned that India will be late by 50 years in achieving its education goals.

Tell me more: The six schools – five based in Bangalore and one in Mysore – belong to National Public Schools group.

$65 billion

What is it? German pharma and crop chemical giant Bayer’s bid for agro-biotech major Monsanto

Why is it important? If it goes through, it will be the biggest ever corporate takeover in cash. The deal would also reflect the consolidation taking place in farm supplies sector. Bloomberg points out  China National Chemical Corp agreed to buy Swiss seed company Syngenta, and  DuPont and Dow Chemical plan a crop-science unit post merger. Monsanto tried buying Syngenta earlier, and was in talks with BASF, world’s largest chemical producer to buy its agro chemicals unit.

Tell me more: Bayer offered to pay $122 a share in May, increased it to $125/share in July. Now it stands at $127.50/share (i.e $65 billion overall) and some analysts expect it to go even higher.

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News In Numbers – August 6

News In Numbers: August 6

 

$16 billion

An Australian Federal Court rejected environmental clearance to the $16-billion coal mining project by Gujarat-based Adani Group in the country for not having taken into consideration two endangered animal species. The Indian company has invested about $3 billion to acquire the port concerned (Abbot Point port), to buy land, and to secure approvals for the coal mine and connecting rail link. An Australian environment conservation group alleged that Australia’s Federal environment minister had not taken into account the company’s environmental history into account while approving the project. Back in 2013, the Indian government had fined a group company Rs 200 crore for causing damage to mangroves and creeks while developing a port project in Gujarat.

 

Rs 11,180 crore

The amount of private equity funds raised by India’s real estate sector in the first six months of 2015, thrice of what it raised a year ago. Of this, the residential sector received investments worth Rs 6,328 crore, with the commercial sector making up for the rest. Several major real estate companies are cash-strapped, given the current situation of low demand, high unsold inventory and falling property prices. According to a research report by Ambit Capital last month, prices of residential properties have fallen 7-18% across major Indian cities on a year-on-year basis. The country’s top listed real estate companies had unsold inventory worth Rs 70,000 crore in March.

 

2,060

The number of students who have dropped out of 16 Indian Institutes of Technology between 2012 and 2015. As many as 2,352 students have discontinued their studies from 30 National Institutes of Technology, human resources and development minister Smriti Irani told Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Dropouts have been the highest in 2014-15 and of this, IIT-Roorkee has recorded the maximum (about 30%). This institution had expelled 72 students last month for not meeting minimum passing grades; according to a news report, about 90% of them were from reserved categories and that lack of fluency in English was a major challenge for them. It took them back a few days ago. IIT-Bombay, which has been the most preferred among the IITs, saw 72 students drop out in these three years.

 

65.2%

Percentage of active workers on the muster rolls of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) whose bank accounts have been linked with their Aadhaar numbers. Yesterday, the Union Cabinet announced the direct transfer of work compensation to worker bank accounts, bypassing state and local government stops. This scheme, which assures 100 days of employment in a year to rural households, has been seeing flagging demand in the backdrop of payment delays and diversion of money.

 

Rs 3,786 crore

BSNL’s loss between April and September 2014, on revenues of Rs 14,125 crore. In 2013-14, the beleaguered state-run telecom company recorded a loss of Rs 7,020 crore. To reduce mounting losses, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the hiving off BSNL’s tower business into a separate entity. Although the company has been attempting to generate revenues by sharing its assets for the last five years, it has a market share of less than 1%. This plan was mooted a few years ago and in 2012, the company had hoped to generate revenue of Rs 1,600 crore from its tower business in five years.

 

 

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