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NaMo, RaGa, And Data

60

What is it? The number of Russian diplomats US President Donald Trump has ordered to leave the country. As many as 14 European nations have also expelled some Russian diplomats.

Why is it important? This is in response to the nerve-agent attack on an ex-Russian spy in England on March 4. Russia has said it would reciprocate proportionately. This action is building up into the most serious diplomatic crisis between the West and Russia since the latter’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.

Tell me more: The United Kingdom held Russia responsible for the attack on a former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter earlier this month and expelled 23 Russian diplomats. Russia denied the charge and responded by saying it would send out 23 British diplomats out of its country.

 

5

What is it? The number of months since the Congress’ ‘WithINC’ mobile app has been defunct, according to the political party.

Why is it important? The Congress and BJP are engaged in a war of words, accusing each other of data breach and sending user information to third-party entities. The BJP-led government, which is already facing flak over an alleged recent security lapse in Aadhaar database, is now receiving criticism for reportedly illegally sharing data from the official app of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a US-based company.

Tell me more: The ruling party has accused Congress of sharing personal details of users of its app with a Singapore firm.

 

$149

What is it? The lowest value the Facebook stock touched in trading on Monday, a drop of 20% from where it was 10 days ago, when the story of its user data being harvested illegally broke.

Why is it important? The dip on Monday came after the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed that it was investigating the data practices of the social media giant, which has over 2 billion users.

Tell me more: In a statement, the FTC said that “companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements”. Back in 2011, Facebook has signed a consent decree with the FTC, following a two-year investigation by the agency into Facebook’s privacy practices.

 

$600 million

What is it? The amount earned by cricket board of Australia (in Australian dollars) from the sale of television rights in a five-year deal, which ends later this year.

Why is it important? The ball-tampering issue has already claimed the Australian captaincy and the vice-captaincy, sullied reputations and killed a gripping test series. More action is likely. This wave of bad press could give broadcasters a bargaining chip as they bid and negotiate for the next TV deal.

Tell me more: Cricket Australia officials are currently in discussions with several broadcasters for a new TV deal that was said to be worth at least $150 million (Australian) a year before the ball-tampering issue changed the narrative of Australian cricket.

 

Rs 2,88,000 crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government will raise by selling bonds in the April-September period of 2018-19.

Why is it important? This is about 47.5% of its total budgeted amount for the entire fiscal, against 60-65% in the previous years, making it the lowest first-half borrowing in percentage terms in the last decade. This comes at a time when bond yields are rising and the demand for government securities has shrunk. The lower borrowing is expected to provide relief to bond investors and help the government reduce its borrowing costs.

Tell me more: The government is likely to borrow Rs 50,000 crore lesser than the Rs 6,06,000 crore announced in the budget for 2018-19.

 

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The Jio Effect

 

7.2% 

What is it? The rate at which the Indian economy grew in the third quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? India has regained its status as the world’s fastest-growing economy, indicating that it has likely left behind the effects of the November 2016 demonetisation and the July 2017 shift to the goods and services tax system. By comparison, China’s economy grew 6.8% in the last three months of 2017. This could boost the BJP’s prospects in the 2019 general elections as it steps up investments to prop up economic growth.

Tell me more: However, the government has projected full-year GDP growth at only 6.6%, down from 7.1% in 2016-17 and the slowest since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, according to the second advance estimates by the Central Statistics Office.

 

1

What is it? The number of days for which Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram, has been sent to police custody by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday. He was arrested by a CBI team when he returned to Chennai from London earlier in the day.

Why is it important? Karti’s arrest comes after nine months of the CBI filing an FIR (first information report) against him for his involvement in the INX Media case. He is alleged to have received a payoff of up to Rs 10 lakh in this case, which pertains to alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance given to INX Media for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore. P Chidambaram was the finance minister then.

Tell me more: BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy says all FIPB clearances given under Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister are under scanner and that there are 25 such cases, which will ultimately lead to him. The Congress has termed this as “vendetta and vindictive politics” and a “classic diversionary tactic” to shift the spotlight from the Punjab National Bank-Nirav Modi case.

 

$7 billion

What is it? The amount Malaysian businessman T Ananda Krishnan-backed Aircel stands to reportedly lose after its failed foray in Indian telecom market. The company has filed for bankruptcy.

Why is it important? This is said to be his biggest loss on a soured investment. Krishnan’s net worth is $6.15 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and he is the third richest man in Malaysia. At present, Maxis Communications, the holding company of some of Krishnan’s telecom ventures, is unlikely to recover any amount from the potential sale of Aircel’s assets, though this situation could change at a later point of time.

Tell me more: Airtel, in which Maxis Communications owns 74%, cited intense competition due to the entry of a “new player” (referring to Reliance Jio), legal and regulatory challenges, mounting debts and increased losses for its decision.

 

2

What is it? The number of assembly seats from Madhya Pradesh for which by-polls were held following the death of sitting MLAs and the results for which were declared yesterday, with the Congress retaining both seats.

Why is it important? Even though the Congress has only retained the two seats of Mungaoli and Kolaras, it comes as a shot in the arm for the party in a state that has seen 15 years of BJP rule and which is due to vote later this year. In February, the BJP had faced defeat in three bypolls in Rajasthan, which is also due to vote this year.

Tell me more: The Congress coasted in Kolaras, but Mungaoli was a close fight. Results were also declared yesterday for the Bejipur seat in Odisha, which was won by the ruling Biju Janata Dal, with the BJP and Congress finishing second and third, respectively.

 

199

What is it? The number of goals scored by Argentinian Sergio Aguero for Manchester City in his seven seasons at the English club.

Why is it important? On Thursday, Manchester City visit Arsenal for a high-profile clash in the English Premier League (EPL), which comes just four days after a 3-0 romp in the Carabao Cup final, which included a goal by Aguero. For Arsenal, time is running out to salvage something from this season to match the expectations that follow a club of its stature. For City, which has opened daylight to its rivals, it’s more about cementing its hold at the top, staying in shape for a treble, and records like Aguero’s 200th.

Tell me more: In November 2017, Aguero became the top goal scorer of all-time for Manchester City, passing Eric Brook’s 177 goals. Among all players in the EPL, with 143 goals, he’s ranked 12th among all players and third among foreign players.

 

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Can Rahul Gandhi Revive Congress Party?

 

Another Gandhi scion is at the helm of the Congress party. Will he be able to revive the fortune of the party?

 

89

What is it? The number of nominations received in favour of Rahul Gandhi who was elected as the President of the 132-year-old Congress party on Monday.

Why is it important? The announcement coincides with the Gujarat assembly elections, which are being seen as a test for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom Gandhi would take on in the 2019 general elections as well. The big question before the new Congress president is whether he can revive the Congress party, which put on its worst performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections when it won just 44 (8%) of the 543 seats. Since then, it has lost six assembly elections and is now in power in just two major states (Karnataka and Punjab) and three smaller ones.

Tell me more: Gandhi, who will take charge on December 16, will be the sixth from the Nehru-Gandhi family. His mother Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving president, has been at the helm since 1998.

 

3

What is it? The number of people injured in an explosion at a busy commuter hub in New York.

Why is it important? The city Mayor said it was an attempted terrorist attack. Among developed countries, the US reportedly sees the highest lone-actor attacks, most of which are carried out by citizens inspired by extremist ideologies. The study indicates the country is under threat of less-sophisticated, home-grown attacks, similar to the one allegedly carried out by 27-year-old Bangladeshi national Akayed Ullah on Monday, who reportedly detonated an “improvised low-tech explosive device” attached to his body.

Tell me more: The suspect is also being treated for injuries and it is unclear if he has any affiliations to any terrorist organisation.

 

77.3%

What is it? The percentage of women who reported mistreatment by their healthcare provider during childbirth in government hospitals, according to a study.

Why is it important? This highlights the trauma women face that numbers and data cannot capture effectively and, hence, a call for stricter enforcement of rules that ensure humane childbirth conditions. The mistreatment was reported in areas such as non-consensual care and inadequate dissemination of information with respect to treatment or care for them or their children. Infrastructure inadequacies and gender/caste/class discrimination, higher footfalls in state-run hospitals and stretched resources are likely among the top reasons for such occurrences.

Tell me more: The study was jointly conducted by Sambodhi Research and Communications, University of California, India Health Action Trust, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in association with the National Health Mission of Uttar Pradesh. It is based on direct observation of deliveries and follow-up interviews of 900 women in Uttar Pradesh.

 

10.6%

What is it? The increase in the share price of real estate company Unitech on Monday after the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) authorised the government to appoint its 10 nominees on the company’s board.

Why is it important? This effectively amounts to the government taking over the management of the company, in a rare corporate move. Unitech has opposed the move in Supreme Court; its petition is scheduled to be heard today, but it is unlikely to get relief in this matter. Unitech, once India’s second-largest realty firm, owes over Rs 7,800 crore to 16,300 homebuyers in 61 projects.

Tell me more: On December 21, a special court will also give its judgment on the case involving the issuance of telecom licences, in which Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra is one of the accused.

 

81

What is it? The number of cricket matches across formats that India will host between 2019 and 2023, according to the revised Future Tours Programme (FTP) that was agreed in principle by the Indian board on Monday.

Why is it important? If this FTP is ratified, the number of games India will host will be 30 more than scheduled under the current FTP. However, overall, the number of playing days for India will reduce from 390 days to 350 days in this four-year cycle. Overall, India will play more at home, and fewer tests and more T20s. Significantly, India will play more than half their cricket against Australia, England and South Africa, creating fears of a Big Four hegemony in world cricket.

Tell me more: While the schedule includes a debut test match against minnows Afghanistan, it excludes any bilateral match with Pakistan, which the latter is set to challenge.

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The ‘Criminal’ Quotient of Gujarat Elections

 

When the crime accused stands to administrate the people in his region, it’s probably the biggest irony of all. In Gujarat elections, something like that is unfolding. Both the ruling BJP and Congress have fielded some candidates that are accused of crimes against women, and attempt to murder. Here, take a look.

 

101

What is it? The number of candidates fighting the second phase of Gujarat elections with criminal cases.

Why is it important? This represents 12% of all candidates, and more than 8% of candidates have serious criminal cases like crimes against women, attempt to murder, offence carrying punishment more than 5 years. Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress – the two leading parties – have 13 and 18 candidates with serious criminal cases.

Tell me more: In the first phase, 137 or 15% of candidates have criminal cases against them.

 

155 crore litres

What is it? The amount of ethanol that will be purchased by oil marketing companies (OMCs) in current financial year.

Why is it important? This is more than double the amount purchased by OMCs during last financial year, and this would mean sugar companies or ethanol manufacturers will get additional revenue of Rs 4,500 crore. This will benefit sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which together will provide more than 75% of the 155 crore litres.

Tell me more: India targetted ethanol blending of 10% in fossil fuel to reduce import bill. Ethanol is produced from molasses, the byproduct from sugar production.

 

30,000

What is it? The number of Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in last month. 1,500 arrived last week alone, according to UNCHYR

Why is it important? The flow of refugees continues, though the numbers have come down. More than 625,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. Both  Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on November 23 to start the return of refugees. The continued flow of refugees is an indicator of unsafe conditions still prevailing in Myanmar, said United Nations High Commission for Refugees or UNHCR.

Tell me more: Rohingya are muslim minorities with majority of them living in Rakhine state of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. The latest exodus started after Rohingya Arsa militants attacked more than 25 police posts on August 25 this year.

 

12 million

What is it? The number of people eligible to vote in the second phase of the elections in Nepal.

Why is it important? This is the first time Nepal will elect representatives to seven state assemblies since the land-locked country adopted the republican constitution in 2015. Since the civil war ended in 2006, Nepal has seen political instability with 10 governments in as many years and two years later, the Hindu monarchy ended.

Tell me more: Voter turnout is estimated at 67%, and the elections will be closely watched by India and China. The left alliance is seen as pro-China, and the alliance led by Nepali Congress Party is seen as pro-India.

 

Rs5 crore

What is it? The amount of penalty levied by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living for damaging the Yamuna floodplains in 2016.

Why is it important? NGT held Art of Living responsible for ‘causing damage and environmental degradation’ of the Yamuna floodplains. The tribunal did not impose additional penalty despite its own expert committee estimated the damages at Rs42.02 crore. Art of Living has denied the charges and is now planning to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Tell me more: NGT was established in 2010 to deal fast with environmental cases. So far, it has decided on 20,696 out of 23,720 cases filed.

 

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