rahul gandhi

Lineage Wins Yet Again

 

Congress gave in to lineage once again. It’s sole candidate has filed his nomination and would soon be elected. The telecom watchdog, TRAI has recommended that a telecom firm should first test its network before going all out in the market. In the world, China may become the biggest importer in next five years. And, Madhya Pradesh has unanimously passed a bill to legalize death sentence for those guilty of raping minor girls.

 

1

What is it? Number of candidates who filed a nomination to contest elections for the post of the president of the Indian National Congress. The sole candidate, Rahul Gandhi, filed his nomination on Monday.

Why is it important? If elected, as is expected, Rahul Gandhi will become the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to become president of the Indian National Congress. It will further the hereditary nature of Indian politics, where political parties speak of party democracy in letter, but submit to supreme leadership in spirit.

Tell me more: From his immediate family, Rahul Gandhi, 47, will be the third member to become party president, following his father (Rajiv Gandhi, 1985-1991) and mother (Sonia Gandhi, current president since 1998). Before them, there were Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Motilal Nehru.

 

90

What is it? The maximum number of days a telecom firm should get to conduct network testing and enroll only a small number of users before commercially launching its services, according to recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sent to the department of telecommunications.

Why is it important? If accepted, this suggestion could help new operators that are planning to launch their services in a telecom circle, given that under the current rules, a telecom service provider has to get its network testing done before launch of operations and also meet certain quality criteria. Incumbents had accused Reliance Jio, which made its entry last September, of running full-fledged services in the guise of trial launch/networking testing, though it has denied any wrongdoing.

Tell me more: TRAI also said that if a telecom operator was unable to carry out networking testing in the above mentioned time frame, it could be extended provided it had valid reasons to do so.

 

5

What is it? The number of years within which China is likely to become the largest importer in the world, leapfrogging the US, according to a research note by CICC.

Why is it important? This would help China in becoming a bigger economic power as it turns from being a major exporter to one that starts importing more consumer-led products. The Asian country recently reduced import tariffs on 187 consumer goods to an average of 7.7% from 17.3% in a bid to move towards a consumption-driven economy. The research note says this would help the global economy that has struggled with lower demand since the 2008 financial crisis.

Tell me more: In 2016, US imported goods and services worth $2.25 trillion while China’s imports were $1.59 trillion.

 

14

What is it? The minimum number of years of rigorous imprisonment for raping girls aged 12 or below, according to a bill passed unanimously by the Madhya Pradesh assembly on Monday. In addition, the bill proposes death sentence or life imprisonment for the same crime.

Why is it important? This is the first time a state in India has legalised death penalty for rape of minor girls. It now requires the assent of the President to become a law. According to the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2016, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases in India. However, some legal experts say this could have an adverse effect by resulting in under-reporting of such cases and may also put the lives of children in danger as they may be killed by their perpetrators.

Tell me more: The bill also proposes jail term and penalty for harassment, stalking, assault with intention to disrobe or use of force among others.

 

39

What is it? Number of years since Prithvi Theatre has had a permanent home in Juhu, Mumbai. It was set up by actor Shashi Kapoor, who died yesterday, and his late wife Jennifer Kendal.

Why is it important? Prithvi is a firmament on the theatre scene in Mumbai and India, promoting the art form in a holistic sense that includes staging performances, conducting workshops and promoting stage artists and others involved in theatre. It’s also a rare instance of a mainstream actor making theatre a bedrock of his or her life’s work.

Tell me more: Shashi Kapoor’s father Prithviraj Kapoor began Prithvi Theatres in 1944 as a moving theatre company, travelling across India and staging plays in Hindustani. He leased 2 plots of land in Juhu to build a permanent space, but could not see it through because of ill-health.

 

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Are Promoters Cashing Out?

 

A larger share of IPOs has gone to promoters and investors than to the companies this year. Several LEDs bulb brands are found to be non-compliant. Job growth is not keeping pace with that GDP’s.

 

76%

What is it? The percentage of LED (light emitting diode) bulb brands, besides 70% of LED downlighter brands, sold across 200 outlets in India that were found to be non-compliant with the government’s consumer safety standards, according to a survey by market research firm Nielsen.

Why is it important? The report says this would impact energy efficiency in India, which is looking to replace over 200 million incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs under the Ujala scheme. This would pose safety hazards for consumers besides causing losses to the government as some of these brands are manufactured illegally and sold. The total LED market is reportedly worth Rs 10,000 crore, with LED bulbs and downlighters accounting for about 50%.

Tell me more: The Nielsen study was conducted in four cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Of these, the capital recorded the highest number of Bureau of Indian Standards violations, with nearly three-fourths of LED manufacturers being non-compliant.

 

5.18 million

What is it? The aggregate employment in 1,473 medium to large companies in 2016-17, against 5.07 million in 2015-16 and 5.01 million in 2014-15, according to a study by ratings agency Care Ratings.

Why is it important? The report makes a case for employment generation not being aligned with GDP (gross domestic product) growth. The annual growth in employment in the companies under review was 1.18% in 2015-16, against GDP growth of 8%. In 2016-17, growth in employment improved to 2.25%, while GDP growth slowed to 7.1%. This is also a worrying trend for the NDA-led government, which had swept to power in 2014 with employment generation as one of its key promises.

Tell me more: The study warns it does not include the small and medium sector, which plays a dominant role in employment generation. However, it claims to be “indicative of the trends witnessed in the last two years”.

 

1,000 km

 What is it? The length of the proposed tunnel that China is planning to build to divert water from Brahmaputra, one of India’s largest rivers.

Why is it important? The tunnel, which would be the world’s longest if built, could become another point of tension between the two Asian countries. Recently, India and China were locked in a 73-day military stand-off over the construction of a road by the latter in Doklam, the border tri-junction with Bhutan. The tunnel project involves draining of water from the river in southern Tibet, which is close to Arunachal Pradesh. India, a riparian state, has previously expressed concern over the number of dams being built by China on Brahmaputra; the Chinese say these are run-of-the-river projects and not used for storage purposes.

Tell me more: The tunnel is expected to drop from the world’s highest plateau in various sections connected by waterfalls and provide water to China’s Xinjiang region, a barren area in northwest China.

 

6

What is it? Number of seasons that House of Cards, the popular Netflix political drama series, will finish with. On Monday, Netflix announced the 2018 season, currently being filmed, would be its last.

Why is it important? The announcement comes a day after Kevin Spacey, one of the lead actors in the series, issued a public statement to allegations that he had made unwanted sexual advances on a 14-year-old boy in 1986. Kevin Spacey is the latest Hollywood figure to face a pushback after allegations of sexual abuse, following producers Harvey Weinstein and director James Toback.

Tell me more: Netflix maintained the decision to terminate the series—whose Season 1, aired in 2013, is ranked 33 in IMDb’s list of most popular TV shows—was made “months earlier”.

 

80%

What is it? The share of initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2017 that has gone to promoters and investors of companies, as compared to the companies themselves.

Why is it important? This is the highest percentage since 2003. Seen another way, only one-fifth of the combined size of IPOs has come to companies as new capital, which they can channel into avenues of growth and business enhancement. This also means that promoters and investors are using the buoyancy in the market to cash in and unlock value.

Tell me more: The current IPO rush has also seen entirely new sectors debut on Indian bourses, notably insurance and mutual funds.

 

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The Infra Play

$124 billion

What is it? The amount pledged by Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s Silk Road plan or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI).

Why is it important? India boycotted China’s forum for the initiative last weekend. The forum where the investment was declared saw India’s neighbours such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka participate. India has an issue with the new Silk Road plan as China is approaching connectivity projects in various parts of South Asia without taking it in confidence.

Tell me more: Recent data, however, shows, China’s investment in the BRI to have gone down by 2% in 2016 and 18% in 2017 so far.

Rs 11,725 crore

What is it? The amount to be spent on roads to connect 44 Naxal-affected districts.

Why is it important? The connectivity of Naxal-stricken areas was again under the scanner following the recent attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, which was one of the deadliest, killing over 24 security personnel in an ambush attack. The battalion under attack was providing cover for road construction. Rs 55 crore or 5% of the expenditure would be for administrative purposes which includes deployment of security forces.

Tell me more: The states besides Chhattisgarh are Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. The project will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

>150

What is it? The number of countries which were hit by a cyber attack that affected 200,000 computers.

Why is it important? Car factories, hospitals, shops, schools were affected among others by the widespread computer worm, ‘WannaCry’ last weekend. A type of ransomware, the virus could cause more damage as offices open on Monday. It locks users out of their computers and demands a ransom to be paid for restoring access to files. Microsoft has squarely laid the blame at governments’ door for the creation of such threats.

Tell me more: The software giant whose operating system the virus exploits, blamed the governments for not sharing software weak spots that they know as part of their intelligence gathering but are kept secret. The virus was the result of one US National Security Agency’s hacking tools getting leaked online earlier this year.

9.15 km

What is it? Length of Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam.

Why is it important? India’s longest bridge. It is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26th. It will improve connectivity in the region, help India strengthen its defence in the border (the bridge is situated close to Indo-China border and can withstand the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank and act as a counter to China’s infrastructure geo-politics.

Tell me more: The construction of the bridge started in 2011, at a project cost of Rs 950 crore. It’s lengthier than Bombay Worli Sea Link by 3.5 kms.

50,000

What is it? The number of candidates who stood for elections in 283 local municipalities in Nepal.

Why is it important? This is the first time in 20 years that Nepal held its local body elections, and its first major step since adopting a democratic constitution in 2015.

Tell me more: The elections saw 71% turnout. There was sporadic violence, and one person lost life in police firing.

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Deadly mountain roads

Rs 7,400 crore

What is it? The worth of 30 properties of the Sahara group, many of which conglomerates have evinced interest in buying.

Why is it important? The auction, reportedly in its early stage, will not appease the Supreme Court, even if the entire money raised is deposited with it. The court turned down the proposal and insisted on the group selling its expansive Aamby Valley project as it had failed to meet the apex court’s timeline for depositing Rs 5,000 crore. Aamby Valley’s value is reportedly between Rs 34,000-39,000 crore, while the Sahara group says it is over Rs 1 lakh-crore. The 30 properties, which includes Lucknow’s Sahara Hospital, would fetch around 50% (Rs 14,779 crore) of the amount still owed to investors as per Sebi’s instructions if not sold in a hurry, and less if they are.

Tell me more: Knight Frank, the realty consultants, in India, has been tasked with carrying out the sale. The interested buyers include Tatas, Godrej, Adani, Patanjali, realty developers Omaxe, Eldeco, Indian Oil and Apollo Hospital.

 

44

What is it? The death toll in the bus crash near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Why is it important? India’s killer roads become deadlier with altitude. The bus veered off a mountain road and plunged into a river, killing those onboard. In 2015, as many as four hilly states figured among 10 states with the highest severity (deaths in every 100 accidents), even though compared to cities and metros in other densely-populated states, traffic is less in such states. Himachal Pradesh had 36.4% severity while neighbouring Uttarakhand 59.9%.

Tell me more: Two people travelling on the bus were able to escape by jumping off before the bus fell.

 

6

What is it? The number of places in Arunachal Pradesh for which China has announced its own names and spellings – in Chinese, Tibetan and English.

Why is it important? This is being seen as China’s retaliation for theDalai Lama’s visit to the Indian state. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson mentioned the move as reflecting and explaining its claims on ‘Southern Tibet’, China’s name for Arunachal Pradesh. While India is yet to respond to the reaffirmation of China’s territorial claim, it had refuted the latter’s objections to Dalai Lama’s, the Tibetan spiritual leader visit, saying there was no political motive to it and was religious.

Tell me more: It was the Dalai Lama’s second visit to the state that stirred up such a storm.

 

1.6 million

What is it? The number of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units to be bought by Election Commission.

Why is it important? The election commission wants to ensure that by 2019 general elections, all polling stations have electronic voting machines with VVPAT units, which will confirm to the voters that their votes were registered accurately. The machines will cost Rs 3,173 crore. The cabinet approved the funding on Wednesday.

Tell me more: These machines will be manufactured by state owned Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India.

 

4,000 kgs

What is it? The weight of payload that can be carried by Indian Space Research Organisation’s new rocket GSLV-Mk III.

Why is it important? It’s almost double the weight of the heaviest payload that Indian rockets launched so far. The first developmental flight of GSLV-Mk III (D1) is scheduled to take place next month. The second developmental flight is likely to happen a year from now. It would reduce India’s dependence on other countries to launch heavier satellite, besides creating more opportunities for revenue generation.

Tell me more:  The first developmental flight will take communication satellite GSAT 19, which will also monitor the effect of radiation on the satellite and electronic equipment.

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