Higher Fuel Cost, Dearer Flight Fares

Rs 400

What is it? The amount of fuel surcharge that will be levied by Indigo Airlines for all domestic destinations above 1,000 kilometers. For travel less than 1,000 kms, the fuel surcharge will be Rs200.

Why is it important? This will increase the return ticket between Delhi and Mumbai- the most popular route – by Rs800. The move by Indigo Airlines, which has the highest share of 40% in domestic market, is likely to be followed by others. Jet Airways, with 14.7% market share, comes a distant second.

Tell me more:Indigo cited higher fuel prices and rupee depreciation as reasons for levying fuel surcharge. Between April 1 and May 28 this year, crude oil prices (Indian basket)have increased by $12.15 a barrell, or 19%.



What is it? The number of days in advance that the southwest monsoon has set in over Kerala.

Why is it important?This is the earliest start to the monsoon, which delivers around 70% of India’s annual rainfall and irrigates more than the country’s farm lands, since 2011. This is the second consecutive year in which the monsoon has either arrived early or on time. Last year, it set in on May 30 as expected and had recorded delays in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, officials say there is no correlation between the timing of the monsoon’s arrival and the quantity of rainfall received.

Tell me more: The India Meteorological Department, which has predicted a normal monsoon this year, announces its arrival based on the meeting of some parameterssuch as consistency of rainfall over a particular geography, cloudiness, intensity and wind speed.



What is it?The number of people including AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, in addition to a some government officials, against whom the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR (first information report).

Why is it important?The charges by the CBI allege Fernandes and others bribed government officials through middlemen to influence policies that include getting a flying permit and approvals to fly on international routes. This could hinder AirAsia’s expansion plans, which include increasing its fleet size to about 70, aiming to be among the top three airlines in the low-cost carrier segment, connect more tier-II and tier-III cities and begin its international operations by January 2019.

Tell me more: In 2016, India scrapped the 5/20 rule (granting of international licences to airlines that have had domestic operations for five years and have at least 20 aircraft in their fleet) that has benefited carriers such as the Indian affiliates of Air Asia.



What is it?The number of months by which India has postponed the roll out of 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) to March 2019. The original plan was to roll out 500 EVs by November and the rest by June.

Why is it important?This is a setback to India’s targets of having EVs comprise around a third of the total number of vehicles on the road by 2030. Energy Efficiency Services Ltd, a government-owned entity, which is to procure 10,000 EVs to replace the petrol/diesel vehicles owned by government officials, says the delay is due to the need for a higher number of charging points and the states being slow in taking deliveries.

Tell me more:The government had initially targeted all or most of India’s vehicles be powered by electricity by 2030 but scaled down its ambitions a couple of months ago.


105 minutes

What is it?The time taken by Serena Williams, former world number 1, to win her first round match against Kristyna Pliskova in the French Open.

Why is it important?This is Serena’s first grand slam after she won the Australian openin January 2017. In between she gave birth and her daughter is now nine months old. Though she moved sluggish in the crowd in few rallies, Serena’s serve and serve returns helped her to win the match. She served 13 aces, and converted three out of four breakpoints that came her way.

Tell me more:India’s sole entrant in the singles event, Yuki Bhambri, lost his first round singles match in straight sets. He pocketed Euro 40,000 for qualifying for the main draw.

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Trade Gap Is Widening. A Lot.


Rs 11,300 crore

What is it? The amount the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reportedly asked Punjab National Bank (PNB) to pay to counterparty lenders in the alleged fraud involving billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi.

Why is it important? Although India’s second-largest state lender expressed confidence that it has the capability and capacity to recover the money involved in the fraud, it raises questions as to how and when it would be able to do so. It is said to have sought the help of the government to get out of the mess. Modi reportedly fled the country on January 1, along with his family. Shares of PNB slumped for the second day, taking their total loss to 21%.

Tell me more: The Enforcement Directorate registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and conducted searches at the offices and residences of Modi and Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems in connection with a Rs 280-crore fraud case against the former. The two other complaints relating to the Rs 11,300 crore gap would be supplemented in this case at a later stage.



What is it? The number of employees the Indian Railways seeks to hire in the Group C category (Level I and II) in one of its biggest recruitment drives.

Why is it important? Most recruitments would reportedly be for the ‘safety’ category, which had a vacancy of over 1.2 lakh as of April 2016. The focus on this increased after a series of rail accidents last year. According to an analysis, the number of deaths due to train derailments in 2016-17 was the highest in a decade; further, according to Niti Aayog, since 2012, six out of 10 rail accidents are due to mistakes or negligence on the part of the railway staff.

Tell me more: Still, the Indian Railways would have to conduct a few more such huge recruitment drives to be able to bridge the vacancy gap, as about 40,000-45,000 employees retire from the organisation every year. This fiscal, around 56,000 employees are set to retire.



What is it? The number of years in which India aims to have an all-electric fleet of cars.

Why is it important? On Thursday, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said there isn’t any need for an electric vehicles (EV) policy for India. This provides a respite to automakers, who are unprepared to meet a wholesale shift to cleaner technology. This is a U-turn from the government’s earlier stance: in January, Gadkari had said the policy had been drafted by government think tank Niti Aayog and that it was pending approval by the Cabinet.

Tell me more: Amitabh Kant, chief executive of Niti Aayog, said India only needs action plans as “technology is always ahead of rules and regulations”. In 2015-16, only 22,000 units of electric vehicles were sold in India, of which just 2,000 were four-wheelers.



$16.3 billion

What is it? The trade deficit (exports minus imports) in January 2018. This is India’s highest trade deficit since May 2013.

Why is it important? Much of the widening in the trade deficit is on account of a 43% year-on-year surge in oil imports, which make up 29% of India’s total import basket. The increase in the oil import bill is the result of oil prices shooting up since mid-2017, reducing the room available with the Indian government for fiscal management.

Tell me more: Oil prices have cooled off in the past couple of weeks, coinciding with the weakness in share prices, but they are not expected to fall significantly from current levels.



What is it? The number of gold medals won by Germany so far in the ongoing Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Why is it important? It is one more than the number of gold medals that Germany won in the 2014 Sochi games, where it finished sixth. Its 2018 count, which has catapulted Germany to the top of the medal leaderboard, includes an unexpected and captivating victory in figure skating pairs, where it was represented by Aljona Savchenko (who previously represented Ukraine) and Bruno Massot (previously France).

Tell me more: Norway was a big mover on the medal board on Thursday, winning three gold medals to rise from fourth to second.


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Who Will Win The EV Race?



What is it? The drop in the 30-share Dow Jones, the benchmark share index in the US, on Friday—the largest single-day drop for this index in the Donald Trump presidency, which has just entered its second year.

Why is it important? After a period of sustained, euphoric rise, the Dow exhibited a fragility, which some partly attributed to the result of rising too far, too fast. In a CBS interview recorded on Friday but broadcast on Sunday, Janet Yellen, the outgoing chairman of the US central bank, said this about stocks and real estate: “Well, I don’t want to say too high. But I do want to say high.”

Tell me more: The weakness seen in the Dow was also seen in many markets across the world. Closer home, a day after a Budget that reintroduced long-term capital gains tax, the benchmark BSE Sensex fell 2.3%.


Rs 800 crore

What is it? The quantum of investment in electric vehicles for which Mahindra & Mahindra has sought approval from its board of directors, according to managing director Pawan Goenka. This comes on top of the Rs 600 crore that Mahindra has invested in electric vehicles.

Why is it important? Carmakers are putting the pieces for an imminent shift to electric vehicles, with this Central government aiming for all new vehicles being sold in 2030 to be running on electric technology. In India, Mahindra has been the first mover, buying Reva in May 2010 and also being one of the two companies to bag the first sizeable order from the government.

Tell me more: In the same interview, Goenka said the electric milestone will lead to a churn in the Indian industry at the very top, and that leaders won’t remain leaders. In the 10-month period to January, Mahindra sold 200,561 passenger vehicles, of which 94% were utility vehicles. By comparison, in the 9-month period to December, market leader Maruti Suzuki sold 1.06 million passenger vehicles.


$3 billion

What is it? The total net profit reported by Amazon for 2017. This is an increase of 25% over 2016, and comes on the back of revenues surging 31% to $178 billion.

Why is it important? It illustrates just how much financial strength Amazon has in order to absorb losses to win new markets, as it is currently trying to do outside the US, including in India. In 2017, 30% of its revenues came from international markets, where it also lost $3 billion. But with the American market and Amazon Web Services growing fast and making money, it can keep channeling more capital for new market share.

Tell me more: In India, Amazon has been involved in a bruising battle with Flipkart. On Friday, it was reported that Flipkart posted a net loss of Rs 8,771 crore in 2016-17, a year-on-year increase of 68%.



What is it? The number of indices launched on Saturday to track sentiment among micro and small enterprises (MSEs). The indices, the first of their kind for the MSE sector in India, have been jointly developed by Crisil and Sidbi.

Why is it important? The state of MSEs has been a cause of concern, and the new indices will add a data dimension to this set. According to the 2013-14 Economic Census, there were 45 million non-agricultural establishments in India, of which 43 million establishments had one to five employees.

Tell me more: CriSidEx, a composite index, is based on a diffusion index of 8 parameters and will measure MSE business sentiment on a scale of 0 (extremely negative) to 200 (extremely positive). It will have two sub-indices, one for the ‘survey quarter’ and, in time, another for the ‘next quarter’.



What is it? The economy rate registered by Indian bowlers in the U-19 cricket world cup one-day tournament, which India won for the fourth time on Saturday.

 Why is it important? India put in an exceptional bowling performance, which saw them not only choke batsmen from scoring, but they also took all 10 opposition wickets in all their six matches, at an average of 39 overs per game. This is only the second instance of a team picking up 60 wickets in the tournament’s history.

Tell me more: India’s Anukul Roy ended up as the joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament. He was one of the three bowlers to pick up 14 wickets, but at a far superior average, economy rate and strike rate than the other two.


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A Global Push For Electric Cars


Battery powered vehicles may give petrol and diesel car manufacturers a run for their money, but that’s far into the future. Electric and plug in hybrid cars had crossed a 3 million mark in November around the globe, which suggests that every year a million such cars get sold. Thanks to government initiatives and push for clean energy worldwide, the EVs may become ubiquitous in many countries. In India, administration is hoping to have an all-electric fleet by 2030. That and there’s more in news in numbers today. Read on.



What is it? The number of party members that AIADMK has sacked for supporting rebel leader TTV Dhinakaran, according to a joint statement by Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and party coordinator and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam on Monday.

Why is it important? This decision comes after a high-level meeting of the party to analyse the party’s performance in the RK Nagar by-election where Dhinakaran, nephew of former party chief Sasikala Natarajan, won by a wide margin on Sunday. The ruling party has alleged that Dhinakaran had a “tacit understanding”  with opposition DMK to defeat it in the by-poll. This suggests the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, which began after the death of AIADMK supremo and former chief minister J Jayalalithaa last year, is far from over.

Tell me more: The AIADMK urged the Election Commission to check for irregularities by supporters of Dhinakaran, who won by a margin of 40,707 votes in the December 21 by-poll in RK Nagar, left vacant by Jayalalithaa.




What is it? The number of minutes the meeting between former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav and his family (mother and wife) lasted at the Pakistani foreign ministry in Islamabad on Monday.

Why is it important? Pakistan, which has sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and terrorism, says it allowed the meeting with his family on humanitarian grounds and that it does not constitute consular access. Since March 2016, India has put in 22 requests for consular access to Jadhav, all of which have been denied. India and Pakistan have a long history of diplomatic rows, where they have accused each other of sending spies, though execution for spying has been rare.

Tell me more: India has approached the International Court of Justice to stop his execution. The court has ordered Pakistan not to execute him till it hears India’s side.


3 million

What is it? The number of fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the world as of November.

Why is it important? The growth rate of electric car sales suggests a million vehicles are being sold a year, driven by government incentives, new model launches by manufacturers and declining battery costs. China is the global leader in this space. India, though, is at a planning stage, with manufacturers like Maruti Suzuki, Honda and Ford crafting their respective blueprints to tap into India’s potentially lucrative electric vehicle market. The Indian government has ambitious plans to have an all-electric fleet by 2030, the feasibility of which has been questioned by some.

Tell me more: Sweden-based EV-Volumes, which tracks global developments in the electric car market, has forecast that the number of battery-powered cars would touch 5 million by end-2018.


12.4 km

What is it? The length of the latest stretch of the Delhi Metro in the Delhi National Capital Region that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.

Why is it important? This stretch is part of a tricky 160 km linking across Delhi the Delhi Metro is currently working on as part of Phase-III of the project, all of which it expects to complete over 2018. In the first two phases, the Delhi Metro commissioned 190 km of network and 143 stations.

Tell me more: The latest stretch is from Kalkaji Mandir in South Delhi to Botanical Garden in Noida. The guest list for Monday’s inauguration stoked controversy when it included Yogi Adityanath, the BJP chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, but excluded Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party chief minister of Delhi. This is the third time Kejriwal was excluded in the last two years, with all three inaugurations being done by Modi.



Rs 115 crore

What is it? The opening-weekend (Friday to Sunday) theatre collections of Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to the 2012 Indo-Pak spy caper Ek Tha Tiger, starring once again Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.

Why is it important? Tiger Zinda Hai has reportedly smashed many collection records already. Its opening-weekend collections are the highest among Hindi films for 2017 and the second-highest after Bahubaali-The Conclusion, which was released across four languages and collected Rs 128 crore. It further cements Salman Khan’s status as a box-office star.

Tell me more: As many as 11 of Salman Khan’s movies have grossed more than Rs 100 crore—a milestone for Indian films at the box office. Further, there are eight of his films in the top 20 Indian films by box-office collections.


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