The power of 3

5.6%

What is it? India’s gross value added (GVA) growth in January – March quarter of 2017.

Why is it important? It’s the lowest in the last eight quarters, down from 6.7% in the previous quarter and 8.7% from the same period last year. GVA, which is calculated after subtracting the taxes and adding subsidies on products, is considered by some economists as superior to GDP in capturing economic realities. Sometimes GDP and GVA growth rates diverge, but in this quarter both declined. India saw its GDP growth rate for the quarter declining 6.1%, yielding the status of fastest growing large economy to China, which grew at 6.9% in the same quarter. GDP growth rate for the year was 7.1%.

Tell me more: GDP growth was largely affected by the construction industry which shrank (-3.7%) and by financial, real estate and professional services which grew by a meagre 2.2%. Some attributed the slowdown to lingering effects of Q3’s demonetisation, but Chief Statistician T C A Anant said it demands more study.

 

Rs 93.5 crore

What is it? The reserve price of the Kingfisher House in Mumbai, the defunct office of Kingfisher Airlines.

Why is it important? A sale failed to fructify at this price at the latest auction. Reserve price, set by the 17-lender consortium led by SBI, had been cut 38% since its first auction held in March, 2016. In every subsequent auction – there have been four since then, the price was cut by 10-15% from the previous. But the bankers’ hopes of recovering part of the Rs 9,000-crore dues, remained unrealised as there were no buyers for the property.

Tell me more: Another Kingfisher Airlines-property, the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which was put on the block at the same time, has had better luck after three failed auctions. It was sold for Rs 73 crore.

 

3

What is it? The number of times that women have topped the Union Public Service Commission exams in a row.

Why is it important? Nandini KR, an Indian Revenue Services officer from Karnataka, has topped the latest (2016) civil services exams, whose results were announced yesterday. Interestingly, this contrasts with the gender gap in the overall success rate. Over three times as many men (846) cleared the exam than women (253). Among the top 25 candidates, 18 were men and 7, women.

Tell me more: For the 2016 exams, 11,35,943 candidates applied; 4,59,659 appeared;  15,452 cleared the preliminary exams. Finally, 1099 candidates have been recommended by the commission for appointment to various public services.

 

13

What is it? The number of airports in India that don’t require tagging / stamping of hand baggage for domestic travellers.

Why is it important? The new procedure aimed at travellers convenience was first introduced in seven airports in April this year, and has now been expanded to six more starting Thursday. This measure, in addition to using Aadhaar and mobile phones for authentication and pre-boarding checks, could help strike a better balance between safety and convenience.

Tell me more: Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of airport security had introduced the system in Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad airports, has now extended it to Patna and Chennai among others.

 

3

What is it? The number of non-participating countries in Paris climate agreement if US decides to pull out of the deal.

Why is it important? The other two countries are Syria and Nicaragua. While the White House hasn’t made an announcement on this yet, US President Donal Trump, as a presidential candidate, had promised to pull out of the Paris deal in his first 100 days to boost US oil and coal sector. The agreement binds participating nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Tell me more: If US decides to pull out, it will impact the country’s relationship with its allies which are more committed to tackling climate change. Within the US, Trump is likely to alienate institutions and people who have been warning about the dangers of climate change. Elon Musk, for example, tweeted that he would leave White House councils if Trump decides to pull out of the deal.

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EVMs’ funding problems 💰

Rs 3,174 crore

What is it? The cost of over 1.6 million voter verifiable paper audit trail machines, funds for which the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has asked the government to urgently release.

Why is it important? Amidst an opposition-parties’ clamour for reverting to paper ballot for transparency and tamper-proofing, the CEC has reiterated the urgency to order the paper trail machines to fortify the voting process. The machines let voters see a slip for seven seconds with the symbol of the party they just voted for on electronic voting machines, ratifying whether the correct vote has been recorded or not. The wait for funds had begun since June, 2014, and over 11 reminders have been given to the government.

Tell me more: Even as the Supreme Court awaits the timeline for deploying such machines, the order for the machines has already delayed for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2019.

 

3

What is it? The number of major airports — Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad — put on high alert after an emailed tip-off on Saturday about imminent hijackings.

Why is it important? The security at these airports was increased overnight on Sunday through to Monday. Passengers have been going through double screenings and checks. Anti-hijacking briefings and an airport security committee meeting were held for stakeholders and staff at these airports. The level of security was raised to that of Independence Day.

Tell me more: Quick action teams, of the Central Industrial Security Force, which was overseeing the security, were also deployed. The email said the sender had overheard a group of men planning to hijack planes at these airports. Cyber police has been deployed to track the sender.

 

> Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The investment by South Korean Kia Motors is expected to make in Andhra Pradesh.

Why is it important? One of the largest FDIs, the investment is expected to be around Rs 10,300 crore in two phases. The company, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motors, will also be a feather in AP-chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu’s cap, competing for India’s FDI pie (one of the largest FDI recipients) with neighbouring Telangana and other states.

Tell me more: An official announcement is yet to come from Kia.

 

12%

What is it? Reservation in educational institutions and government jobs in Telangana for those Muslims who are economically backward, according to a bill passed by the state assembly on Sunday.

Why is it important? Chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao had promised to do so in his poll campaign. By increasing the reservation to 12% from the existing 4%, it has exceeded the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling. 62% of the seats in education and government jobs are reserved for various categories. The only opposition to the bill came from five Bharatiya Janata Party members in the assembly who termed it unconstitutional. They were later suspended for disrupting the proceedings. Rao said it was reservation based on economic backwardness, and not religion.

Tell me more: The bill, the Telangana backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes (reservation of seats in educational institutions and of appointments or posts in services under the state) bill, 2017, also increased reservation to scheduled tribes from 6% to 10% .

 

> 150

What is it? The number of cities in the United States that held protests against president Donald Trump, demanding that he release his tax returns.

Why is it important? Breaking a long tradition, Trump declined to release his tax returns while running for presidency. He hasn’t done that after assuming his office. Besides, his business ties have raised questions about conflicts of interest and it remains a contentious issue.

Tell me more: The protests turned violent at Berkeley, California, leading to arrests of over 20 people, underlining the polarisation taking place in the US.

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