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2.18%

What is it? The retail price inflation in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The consumer price inflation growth was the lowest since India started publishing it in 2012. This might increase the pressure on the central bank to cut the key rate of repo, on hold since October, 2016, at 6.25%. Rate cuts, however, depend on how RBI sees inflation moving in the quarters ahead.

Tell me more: Food prices in retail markets decreased by 1.05% in May, leading to the low overall price rise. Another government indicator, the quick estimate of industrial production, showed a positive trend of 3.1% growth in April, higher than in February and March, 2017.

 

28.6%

What is it? The percentage of tobacco users (in all forms) in India in 2016-17, according to World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

Why is it important? The prevalence of tobacco users has gone down by 6 percentage points from 34.6% in the same study in 2009, a positive outcome as tobacco contributes to poverty. It translates to a reduction of 8.1 million less tobacco users in the country, which is the second-largest consumer of tobacco products in the world.

Tell me more: Between 54-62% of smokers of bidis and cigarettes have thought about quitting on seeing the warning labels on the packets, while it was 30-38% in 2009.

 

$25 million

What is it? The investment Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will make in the US ride services company, Lyft, to develop self-driving cars.

Why is it important? The mobility services arm of JLR, InMotion, will make the investment as other automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and tech companies such as Alphabet and Intel are scrambling to help get the first self-driving prototype out in the market. Car-sharing and hiring apps like Lyft and Uber, too, are conducting their own R&D.

Tell me more: JLR will provide its cars to Lyft for the research and development. Self-driving cars, which saw increased focus from 2016 onwards, is expected to change the way customers buy cars and reduce cost of ride services as well.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage by which pharmaceutical companies can increase the price of non-scheduled drugs every year, according to Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013.

Why is it important? The companies want the cap to be increased to counter the increase in taxation with 12% from 9% for 80% (non-essential) of drugs, under the imminent Goods and Services Tax (GST) system.

Tell me more: Life-saving or essential drugs will have a tax rate of 5% under GST.

 

11,761

What is it? The shortage in Delhi police staff in the lower-middle ranks.

Why is it important? Delhi Police has been plagued by a top-heavy structure, with more senior staff than sanctioned strength but with most of the lower positions remaining unfilled. When nearly 26,000 constables and assistant sub-inspectors were promoted last year, it left a lacuna in the lower ranks. The current requirement is for over 14,000 personnel, from around 81,000.

Tell me more: Last November, there were 76,237 policemen and women in Delhi, against the sanctioned 82,378 posts. The working strength came down from 77,117 the year before, an RTI revealed.

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A hardworking House? 😓🏦✒

3.81

What is it? The consumer price inflation (CPI) in March, 2017.

Why is it important? CPI or retail inflation grew fastest in five months, since October. This is in line with RBI’s concern about rising inflation, leading it to hold rates in successive policy reviews. It even raised its rate of borrowing from banks — reverse repo — to constrict liquidity, in the latest review. RBI expects inflation to reach 4.5% in the first half of FY17 and 5% thereafter.

Tell me more: The CPI, often affected by food price inflation, suffered from higher fuel prices, instead in March. Food price inflation (CFPI) was actually less than than in February, at 1.93%.

 

94.9%

What is it? The operating ratio of Indian Railways (IR) in 2016-17.

Why is it important? The ratio is higher than previous years, denoting high expenditure by IR to earn revenue. For every rupee, IR spent 94.9 paise. While the ideal benchmark of 80% or lower is still a distant goal, the ratio was 90.2% in 2012-13.

Tell me more: The increasing operating ratio coupled with low revenue growth in freight, seen in 2015-16, which accounts for the bulk (3/5th) of rail revenue, could strain the highest-ever budgetary allocation. There are certain steps for profitability which IR said it’s taking.

 

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The value of the stock of BS-III vehicles which remain unsold, following the Supreme Court’s ban.

Why is it important? It is the value of around 120,000 vehicles, representing 15% of the original stock of BS-III vehicles when the ban was declared. Two-wheeler manufacturers took a hit of Rs 1,200 crore in order to sell their heavily-discounted stock. The scramble to sell got more frenzied as Supreme Court, on March 30, extended the ban to not just stalling  BS-III vehicle manufacturing but also sales from April 1.

Tell me more: The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers says the uncertainty created in the auto sector, as a result of eight-month ban in Delhi on diesel cars and SUVs last year and the present blanket ban on sale of existing stock of BS-III vehicles could affect investments.

 

114%

What is it? Productivity of Lok Sabha during Budget Session 2017, which started on January 31 and ended on April 12..

Why is it important? It is one of the most productive sessions, and also one of the most contentious. Lok Sabha passed 23 bills, Rajya Sabha 14 and both 18. Some far-reaching legislations — including changes in the political funding by companies, and linking of Aadhaar to PAN cards — were passed as Money Bills, on which Rajya Sabha has only the power to suggest changes, but not stall their passage.

Tell me more: Four bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST) were passed during the session.

 

7 to 10 days

What is it? The likely duration of the Election Commission’s open challenge to hack Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Why is it important? This comes amidst accusations by political parties, especially Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, that EVMs were hacked in favour of the BJP. The Election Commission and its officials, past and present, have vehemently denied it. A widely shared newsitem on tampered EVMs in Madhya Pradesh was found to be false. Now, EC has issued an open challenge to experts, scientists and technologists to try and hack the machines.

Tell me more: In 2010, BBC had a report saying US scientists claimed to have developed a technique to tamper with the machines. “It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine,” the Indian Election Commissioner had told BBC then.

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News in numbers, Apr 13, 2016: Use of children in suicide attacks, Uber’s transparency report…

4.83%

What is it? Consumer price inflation in March 2016.

Why is it important? At a six month-low, it decreased from 5.26% in February 2016 and 5.25% from a year-ago period (March 2015). This, along with an above normal rainfall prediction, is likely to prompt the central bank to cut key interest rates further (it cut policy rates by 25 basis points earlier this month).

Tell me more: The fall in retail inflation was aided by smaller increases in food prices, which slowed down to 5.21% in March from 5.3% the previous month. The difference between the retail inflation rates in urban (3.95% in March 2016) and rural areas (5.7%) is pretty stark.

3.2%

What is it? The estimated global economic growth in 2016, as per the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Why is it important? This is a downward revision from its January prediction of 3.4%, indicating a worsening scenario. The IMF cited Britain’s likely exit from the European Union, political discord, China’s economic slowdown, impact of low oil prices and recession in some countries as the reasons for the gloomy picture. This is likely to affect India in terms of foreign investment and exports.

Tell me more: The global economy is expected to grow at 3.5% in 2017, a 0.1% reduction from IMF’s January estimate. India retained its GDP estimates for 2016-17 and also, the tag of ‘bright spot’. IMF says other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam continue to do well.

12.2 million

What is it? The number of riders and drivers whose information were shared by ride-sharing company Uber Technologies with US law enforcement agencies and regulators.

Why is it important? This is Uber’s first transparency report. Though such information-sharing helps law enforcement agencies in speeding up cases and potentially preventing harm to someone, it also has the risks of misuse, as Uber admits that it doesn’t always know the purpose for which regulators require the information and that they may share it with third parties.

Tell me more: Uber hopes to disclose requests received from outside of the US in the future. The queries included information about trips, trip requests, pickup and dropoff areas, fares, vehicles and drivers. Other technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter publish their transparency reports periodically.

$1 trillion

What is it? The cost of depression and anxiety disorders to global economy every year, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study.

Why is it important? The financial returns are over four times the investment made in treating depression and anxiety disorders. It provides an economic reason for countries to spend more on mental health.

Tell me more: Governments, on an average, spend 3% of their health budgets on mental health, with low-income countries spending less than 1% to high-income ones spending 5%.

44

What is it? The number of children the terror group Boko Haram has used in suicide attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in 2015.

Why is it important? The number has increased from 4 in 2014 and over the last two years, one out of every five suicide bombers was a child. Three-fourths of these children were girls. Terror groups such as ISIS and Pakistani Taliban have increasingly started using children for carrying out their activities, as they are easy to train, can be expected to be more loyal and not suspect their motives.

Tell me more: Cameroon recorded the highest number of suicide attacks involving children, accounting for nearly half of such attacks. Violence by Boko Haram has caused nearly 1.3 million children to be displaced in the four countries, 1,800 schools closed down and over 5,000 children separated from their parents.

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