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The Federal Front

 

7

What is it? The number of days within which the committee constituted by the Election Commission is expected to submit a report on the alleged date leak of the Karnataka election schedule.

Why is it important? A few minutes before the official announcement of the Karnataka state election schedule, BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya tweeted the poll dates (though he got the counting day wrong), which raises questions about the credibility of the EC. It is reportedly likely to seek a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Bureau.

Tell me more: In a letter to the Commission, Malviya said he got the information from Times Now and attached screen grabs of the channel and screenshots of his tweets to prove his point. He also said the person in charge of Congress social media in Karnataka had tweeted out the dates at the same time as him.

 

9

What is it? The number of districts Kerala announced as drought-hit on Tuesday.

Why is it important? It is among the first few states to declare drought in 2018 ahead of the summer season that threatens to dry up taps in major Indian cities, which is a topical problem but fast developing into a long-term one. Like Cape Town, the first major city globally to count to ‘Day Zero’, major Indian cities are likely to follow suit, with depleting groundwater that is over-exploited, erratic rainfall and climatic changes, increasing population and no long-term water management measures.

Tell me more: According to a report, groundwater is the most over-exploited in Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi.

 

1

What is it? The number of years ahead of which efforts have gathered pace to build a federal front to take on the BJP in the 17th Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Why is it important? West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee met leaders of a string of political parties, including the NCP, TDP, TRS, SP, RJD and BJD, on Tuesday to unite opposition parties to put up an organised fight next year. Banerjee said the format of Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav combine, which defeated BJP in the recent UP by-polls, could be replicated in other states.

Tell me more: The Trinamool Congress chief reportedly favours a federal front sans Congress, as some of the parties may not join the alliance if the national party is a part of it.

 

10.83

What is it? The number of shares of Manipal Health Enterprises that shareholders of Fortis Healthcare will receive for every 100 shares held by them.

Why is it important? Late last night, the board of Fortis announced that the sale of its hospital assets to Manipal Health Enterprises and TPG Capital, effectively meaning the smaller entity buying the larger one. It also potentially brings to close a turbulent, decade-long chapter for Fortis under a promoter group whose debt and legal issues resulted in their shareholding being pared from above 80% to below 1%, and under whom the hospital chain grew but the stock didn’t.

Tell me more: As of December 2017, Fortis had 34 hospitals and Manipal 11. For the nine-month period to December 2017, Fortis earned revenues of Rs 3,727 crore and Manipal 1,503 crore.

 

3

What is it? The number of Australian players sent back yesterday from South Africa for their role in the ball-tampering fiasco, ahead of the fourth and final test, which starts in Johannesburg on Friday.

Why is it important? The three cricketers are captain for the tour Steven Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, and no immediate action was taken against coach Darren Lehmann. This was the first of the measures by Cricket Australia, and it is expected to announce more punishments in the days to come.

Tell me more: Tim Paine was appointed the 46th captain of Australia in test cricket. The 33-year-old has played just 12 tests.

 

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Repo so low

25

What is it? The number of basis points by which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cut the repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends money to the commercial banks, to 6% on Wednesday. One basis point is equal to one hundredth of one percent.

Why is it important? The repo rate is the lowest since November 2010 and follows a downward trend in food prices that pushed consumer inflation in June to a more than five-year low of 1.54%. This could boost the economy, which clocked a growth of 6.1% in the January-March 2017 quarter, the slowest in two years. The repo rate cut is also likely to result in lower lending rates.

Tell me more: The RBI has also become the first central bank in Asia to cut rates this year. Four members of the monetary policy committee voted for a policy rate reduction of 25 basis points, one for reduction of 50 basis points and one for maintaining the same rates.

 

5.3%

What is it? The percentage of protein Indians may lose from a standard diet by 2050, according to a study.

Why is it important? This would likely put 53 million people at new risk of protein deficiency and would be due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels as projected causing a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat and other staple crops. The study, the first to quantify this risk, estimates that roughly 150 million people in 18 countries are likely to be at risk of protein deficiency due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. According to a survey by market research firm IMRB, 73% of Indian diets are protein deficient. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Tell me more: Under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations, the protein content in crops such as rice, wheat, barley and potatoes decreased by 7.6%, 7.8%, 14.1% and 6.4% respectively.

 

Rs 250 crore

What is it? The estimated collective loss of revenue of 87 tea estates in Darjeeling since mid-June, according to the Darjeeling Tea Association.

Why is it important? Due to the indefinite strike announced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on June 15, around 75,000 tea workers in Darjeeling are likely to lose at least Rs 10,000-15,000 in wages. The auction volume of Darjeeling tea is running thin and there could be just one more auction of the tea variety this year. Due to reduced supplies, the average price shot up by 27.5% in the last auction to Rs 458.38 per kg over the last year and only 20,000 kg were sold compared to 130,000 kg a year ago.

Tell me more: The GJM is on an indefinite strike to demand a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of West Bengal.

 

60

What is it? The number of premises linked to Karnataka energy minister D K Shivakumar searched by the Income Tax department until Wednesday.

Why is it important? The Rajya Sabha (RS) was adjourned four times yesterday over these IT raids, with the Election Commission (EC) seeking a report from the Finance Ministry in two days. The raids spanned New Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, including the resort housing 42 Gujarat Congress MLAs.

Tell me more: The Congress approached the EC alleging the raids were BJP’s vendetta against Shivakumar, as he is overseeing the Gujarat MLAs in Bengaluru. The fiasco is due to the upcoming voting to elect Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat. Tax department claimed it recovered Rs 10 crore in cash.

 

Rs 17,576 crore

What is it? The value of illegally mined iron ore and manganese in Odisha since 2000 the Supreme Court has ordered miners to refund the state.

Why is it important? This would be a windfall revenue for the Odisha state government. Mining companies which continued to mine without or in excess of environment clearance since 2000-2001 will be penalised 100% of the illegally mined extracts. The estimate was made by the SC-appointed Central Empowered Committee which found 215.5 million-tonne ore extracted.

Tell me more: This could increase to Rs 25,000 crore if Forest Conservation violations are taken into account. The court ordered companies such as Tata Steel, Essel Mining, Sail, to pay the penalty.

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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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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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