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A One-Stop Hub For Public Transport

Indians would soon be able to catch several modes of public transport to their destination from one single station, technically called Intermodal stations. These stations hold a promise of decongesting Indian cities, which often get clogged due to overwhelming number of private vehicles on the roads. In US, cities like Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Orlando have experienced benefits of intermodal stations firsthand. Closer home, it may do us some good, too.

 

15

What is it? The number of Indian cities in which intermodal railway stations are being planned. This would mean integration of various modes of transportation, including rail, bus, inland waterways, auto rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles.

Why is it important? This move aims to reduce congestion and vehicular pollution. It counts as benefits higher footfalls in intermodal stations (than disaggregated transport terminals), improved experience of passengers who are likely to spend less time and money to transit between terminals, and shared infrastructure resulting in lower investment and land requirements. The governments of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala are making efforts to set up seamless transportation networks in some key hubs in their states.

Tell me more: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has conducted pre-feasibility studies to set up intermodal stations in Nagpur and Varanasi as part of the pilot projects. The project will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle set up by the ministry of road transport and highways (through the NHAI), the ministry of railways and the respective state governments.

 

 

$38.8 billion

What is it? The market capitalisation on Monday of Delta Airlines, in which Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway owned 7.4% as of December 2017. Of the four airlines in which Berkshire holds a stake, Delta is the most valued.

Why is it important? On Monday, in an interview to CNBC, Buffett said “he wouldn’t rule out owning an entire airline” with the $116 billion Berkshire has in cash. Till 2016, Buffett never invested in an airline, seeing it as a capital-destructive business that often fell victim to competitive zeal. Powered by low oil prices, airlines are currently in the midst of a good profitable run.

Tell me more: Besides Delta, Berkshire holds stakes in Southwest Airlines (market capitalisation of $35 billion on Monday), American Airlines Group ($26.2 billion) and United Continental Holdings ($20.5 billion).

 

Rs 119 crore

What is it? The amount Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) had set aside as liabilities for the months of November and December, and offered to deposit in the Consumer Safeguard Fund, after it could not pass on the November GST (goods and services tax) rate cuts to its customers on its existing stocks.

Why is it important? The Directorate General of Safeguards has asked HUL to explain the math behind this sum, besides asking it to submit documents to show how it arrived at these figures for both the months. Other companies are also being tracked in similar cases. Last month, the government had served notices to Lifestyle India and Hardcastle Restaurants (which operates McDonald’s branded restaurants in west and south India), among others, for not passing on GST tax benefits to customers.

Tell me more: In November, the government had brought 178 items from the 28% tax bracket to 18%. The government said it had received 169 consumer complaints against suppliers or goods and services for not passing on the benefits of the reduced tax rates or input tax credit.

 

2

What is it? The number of days by which there has been a delay in the repatriation of the mortal remains of Indian actor Sridevi from Dubai to Mumbai. She died late on Saturday.

Why is it important? According to a tweet by Dubai Police on Monday evening, the actress died due to “drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness”, which is different from the earlier account of a cardiac arrest being the cause of her death. However, it is unclear what caused her to lose consciousness. The local police further added that it has transferred the case to the Dubai Public Prosecution to carry out regular legal procedures that are followed in such cases.

Tell me more: Various reports have raised questions about the circumstances surrounding the 54-year-old actor’s sudden death and the repatriation of Sridevi’s mortal remains is likely to happen today.

 

7

What is it? The number of days in a year, in a single city, over which a new format for Davis Cup—the pinnacle of men’s team tennis—is proposed to be played, beginning 2019. On Monday, investment group Kosmos signed a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with the International Tennis Federation, effectively signaling the end of this team competition as we know it.

Why is it important? At present, the Davis Cup world group unravels across four weekends in February, July, September and November. This format, which has existed since 1900, has progressively been criticised for scattered spectator attention, and the reluctance of top players to commit whole-heartedly. The new 18-team, starting in 2019, is structured like a world cup and aims to compress the tournament in a week.

Tell me more: Footballer Gerard Pique is the founder of Kosmos, and several top players have come out in support of the new format.

 

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4 Accidents, 12 Hours, 7 Deaths, And One Institution

 

Four accidents in 12 hours, that translates to an accident every 3 hours. That’s Indian Railways for you these days. One year after demonetization, government is cracking down on ‘benami’ transactions significantly. India is seen bolstering its coastal security after the deadly 26/11 attack in Mumbai in 2008. And, in Nepal, after two decades, the war torn country has held elections in its last effort to move towards a federal democracy.

 

Rs 15.9 crore

What is it? The value of cash deposits made at a bank in Delhi after demonetisation was announced last November that has been declared to be ‘benami’ by a special court.

Why is it important? This is among the first five adjudication cases under the amended Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 that came into effect from November 1, 2016. This is one of the measures taken by the government against black money. The income tax department recently said it had attached benami assets worth Rs 1,833 crore, and had made 541 attachments and issued 517 notices. Violations of the Act could lead to up to seven years of jail time and a monetary fine of up to 25% of the fair value of the benami property.

Tell me more: Both the depositor and the beneficial owner in this case remain untraceable.

 

1,000

What is it? The number of transponders to be provided by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) by March 2018 to track suspicious vessels and boats through satellite imagery.

Why is it important? This is to prevent a 26/11 kind of attack, when terrorists entered Mumbai through the Arabian Sea, killing 166 and injuring over 300 in 2008. An automatic identification system would monitor boats above 20 metres while satellite monitoring would handle those under 20 metres. As many as 46 coastal radars and 74 automatic ID systems have been installed to strengthen infrastructure to monitor suspicious sea activities. India is considering setting up a coastal security force.

Tell me more: Officials claim there is improved coordination between various agencies and the police to check preparedness to defend the seas, though there have been a few incidents that have breached India’s coastal security in the last few months.

 

18 years

What is it? The number of years after which Nepal held elections to its Parliament and provincial assemblies. The first phase of elections was held on Sunday, recording a 65% turnout, and the second phase will be on December 7.

Why is it important? These elections are being seen as the last step in Nepal’s transition to a federal democracy after the end of a decade-long civil war in 2006, the abolition of monarchy in 2008 and the scripting of a new Constitution in 2015.

Tell me more: Besides the people of Nepal, there is also interest among external actors in these elections, notably the country’s two neighbours, India and China.

 

4

What is it? The number of train accidents recorded in a 12-hour period between Thursday night and Friday morning.

Why is it important? This again brings to fore the urgent need to stepping up safety measures in Indian Railways. Two of these resulted in the deaths of seven people. In a recent report submitted to the Railway Ministry, the World Bank has found the current system of investigating accidents by the Commission of Railway Safety to be inadequate. It has also recommended that an independent rail safety regulator and investigator be setup to prevent accidents.

Tell me more: In the last five years, 60% of rail accidents have occurred due to mistakes by or negligence of railway staff, according to a study by government think-tank Niti Aayog.

 

10

What is it? The number of times that France has won the Davis Cup, following its 3-2 defeat of Belgium on Sunday for the 2017 title.

Why is it important? This win brings France level with Britain to be joint third in title wins. Only the United States (32) and Australia (28) have more titles in the premier team competition in men’s tennis since 1900.

Tell me more: So far, 22 nations have played the finals of the Davis Cup. US has the maximum number of appearances (61), followed by Australia (47). India has reached the finals thrice, but never won.

 

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Jiogantic investments

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News In Numbers: September 14

Rs 1,35,726 crore

What is it? Total assets of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom subsidiary of Reliance Industries, as of March 31, 2016.

Why is it important? It shows the massive scale of the Reliance Jio telecom launch. And this figure is likely to increase further, with the company yesterday announcing it would raise another Rs 15,000 crorethrough an optionally convertible debt instrument.

Tell me more: This fund-raising announcement comes in the wake of Jio’s commercial launch of 4G services on September 5 and as a prelude to the spectrum auctions in October.

 40

What is it? The number of economic corridors that India planning to develop

Why is it important? It will involve developing 35,000km of roads (21,000km of   economic corridor and 14,000km of feeder routes). It could cost Rs 6 lakh crore of investments. It’s billed as the most ambitious roads project since the golden quadrilateral project under National Democratic Alliance under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and can boost the economy, bring down costs and create jobs.

Tell me more: Consulting firm A.T. Kearney is expected to submit its final report on the project in a month

 4000

What is it? The number of additional army personnel deployed in Kashmir to restore normalcy.

Why is it important? They have been told to use minimum force. Army recently came under heavy criticism for using pellet guns. By using more people and minimum force, the government hopes to “calm down” the valley with broader public support.

Tell me more: The troops are spread out mostly in four districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam which were at the centre of violent protests following the killing of militant Burhan Wani.

 £ 85,000

What is it? The cost of resettling a Syrian refugee in the United Kingdom, as compared to £ 17,000 in US and £ 21,000 in Germany.

Why is it important? Four western countries – UK, US, Germany and Canada – are planning to resettle more than 900,000 Syrian refugees. The wide range in costs show the different ways in which countries are dealing with the influx. In the UK, the government takes care of entire cost including housing. But in US, the government involves churches and charities, who adopt families and take care of accommodation.

Tell me more: India has more than 201,000 refugees, with more than 100,000 from Tibet. But India hasn’t signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.

 323

What is it? The combined difference in world ranking between the singles tennis players of Spain and India who face off in the Davis Cup world group playoff tie in New Delhi later this week.

Why is it important? Despite consistently not having high-ranking singles players, India has punched above its weight in this team tennis competition. Its current ranking is 20, out of 155 nations, is 20.

Tell me more: In the upcoming tie, India will be represented in singles by Saketh Myneni (world ranking of 137) and Ramkumar Ramanathan (203), and Spain by Rafael Nadal (4) and David Ferrer (13).

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