China is Buying Influence

1,095.41 MW
What is it?Total installed capacity of rooftop solar installations in India, according to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Why it’s important? Crossing the 1GB milestone underlines India’s efforts to push solar power as an alternate source of energy. The country’s overall solar energy capacity has grown eightfold in the last four years, to 22GW at present. India’s progress in solar power comes at a time when China is slowing down on this front.

Tell me more: Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu lead the rooftop solar installations in India together accounting for about 40% of the total installed capacity.


$295 million


What is it?China’s new grant to Sri Lanka.

Why is it important?The grant, that China said can be used for any project of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s choice, is yet another example of how China is buying influence in the island nation. Such financial flow – towards ports and hospitals – has been chipping away India’s influence in the region. In fact, Sri Lankan president made the announcement while inaugurating a China-funded kidney hospital Polonnaruwa.

Tell me more: Still, it’s a tug of war. Sri Lanka’s ruling party, UNP (United National Party) has also accused China of funding re-election of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015, and has demanded investigation.




What is it? India’s basic custom duty, applicable for sanitary napkins, which has now been exempted from Goods and Services Tax.

Why is it important? Industry experts believe that the slashing of GST on sanitary napkins from 12% to 0% will not bring down the prices of locally manufactured napkins because the manufacturers will now lose input tax credit. Meanwhile, zero GST also implied zero IGST, which could make imported sanitary napkins cheaper.

Tell me more:  On Saturday, India slashed sales tax across sectors, ahead of 2019 parliamentary elections.




What is it?The number of jawans government is to hire for central armed police forces.

Why is it important? It’s among the central security forces’ largest recruitments, and comes on the back of its decision to raise new battalions, and fill in vacancies. Over 14,500 jawans and officers had quit central security forces in 2017, compared to 3,422 in 2015

Tell me more: Nearly 40% of the new recruitments will join Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).




What is it?The percentage of tech CEOs who expect to increase their companies’ headcount by at least 6% over the next three years, according to a survey by KPMG.

Why is it important? It’s more optimistic than non-tech CEOs’ hiring plans. Only 37% of all CEOs expect to increase headcount by 6% over the same period. The outlook underlines the continued dominance of tech firms, which have been outperforming traditional industries in valuation.

Tell me more: The hiring plans also reflect the general optimism expressed by the tech CEOs about their companies’ and industry’s growth prospects. 88% of tech CEOs expect their companies to grow. Their top worry is growing sentiment against globalisation.

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Is China Slowing Down?


What is it?China’s growth in second quarter of 2018, compared to same period last year.

Why it’s important? This is lower from 6.8% GDP growth that China saw in the first quarter, and comes as it wages a trade war with US, its largest trading partner. The slowdown was likely caused by the efforts Chinese government has taken to keep a check on the growing debt in the corporate segment.

Tell me more: The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, had earlier warned that higher tariffs are likely to hurt emerging economies such as China and India compared to developed countries such as US.




What is it?The number of public sector banks in which India’s largest life insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India holds more than 10% stake.

Why is it important?Corporation Bank, in which LIC has 13.03% stake tops the list now, but that will soon be overtaken by IDBI Bank. On Monday, LIC board approved purchase of 51% stake in IDBI Bank in which it has 10.82% stake.

Tell me more: The move is largely seen as a bailout of the bank struggling with bad loans to the tune of Rs 55,600 crore. The move will also help government bring down its stake in the bank to 50% from 86% at present, seemingly a disinvestment, but for the fact that the government also owns LIC.




What is it? The number of criminal cases filed by the police against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the country’s outgoing ruling party over election violations.

Why is it important? The move is seen as a meddling by the powerful Pakistani military with democratic process to favour former cricketer Imran Khan. Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is competing with PML-N, and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the general election scheduled for July 25th.

Tell me more: Authorities have also opened a criminal investigation on PML-N members under anti-terrorism laws. The move was condemned by PPP leader and former president Asif Ali Zardari. Nawaz Sharif, who was convicted of corruption by Pakistani courts, was arrested last Friday.


5.2 million


What is it? The number of subscribers Netflix added globally in the quarter ending June, taking its total user base to 130.1 million

Why is it important? Its growth was about a million lower than what investors expected, and pushed the stock price down by 14%. As was the case with the last few quarters, the growth was primarily driven by non-US market, where it added 4.5 million subscribers, up 8% year on year.

Tell me more: In India, Netflix hopes to add 5 million subscribers in the coming quarter, on the back of the success of series such as Sacred Games. In India, it also faces stiff competition from other streaming services including Hotstar and  Amazon.




What is it?Number of children’s lives saved in Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African country, thanks to a mass radio campaign between 2012 and 2015 on medical treatment for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, according to a new research.

Why is it important? This highlights the impact of a technology that has been around for close to 100 years; and raises questions on whether it can also be used in solving some of the problems intensified by new technologies such as internet and smartphones. Whatsapp, owned by Facebook, recently released ads in newspapers on its responsible use, after it was criticized for its role in the violence triggered by rumours. India has over 243 FM radio channels, but they are barred from broadcasting news.

Tell me more: The research on radio campaign in Burkina Faso revealed that diagnosis rate for the three diseases went up during the three years and across the areas compared to areas not covered by the campaign.

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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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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”.



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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