Less cashless?

449

What is it? The number of times Pakistan violated ceasefire across the Line of Control in 2016, according to India’s Home Ministry.

Why is it important? It’s up from 405 violations in 2015, indicating that on average Pakistan has been violating ceasefire at least once everyday in the last two years. Last week, Pakistani forces crossed the LoC in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir to kill two Indian soldiers and mutilate their bodies.

Tell me more: 236 security personnel were killed between 2012 and 2016, 23 of them in the last two years, according to a response by Home Ministry to a Right to information query.

 

4%

What is it? The target inflation rate – within a tolerated band of 2-6% – for Reserve Bank of India, according to RBI Act.

Why is it important? RBI governor Urjit Patel is reportedly taking a hawkish stand and keep the inflation below 4%, rather than be flexible with the band. It’s in conflict with the expectations of market players, who believe targeting a rate within the band (closer to 6% rather than 4%) could help push growth.

Tell me more: Retail inflation stood at 3.81% in March, but water shortages in many parts of the country could push inflation rate higher in the coming months.

 

Rs 2259 billion

What is it? The amount of cash withdrawn from ATMs in March.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the cash withdrawn in March last year, and raises questions about one of the stated goals of demonetisation – reduce India’s reliance on cash – announced in November last year. However, some part of cash withdrawals could be because of the pent-up demand (the limits on cash withdrawals were removed only on March 13th), and not be an indicator of a long term trend.

Tell me more: Demonetisation, which sucked out 86% of cash in circulation, has impacted GDP growth adversely, especially informal sector which is more dependent on cash.

 

66%

What is it? The percentage of votes won by Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections

Why is it important? The French elections were keenly watched from across the world because it is seen as a bigger ideological fight between the far right and centrists. Brexit (the referendum that voted for UK to leave European Union) and election of Donald Trump were seen as a victory for the far-right, raising concerns that the world is getting too nationalistic. However, with the electoral loss of the far-right right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the fears appear to be abating.

Tell me more: At 39, Macron is the youngest ever French president. An ex-banker, he is pro-business and pro-European Union, and his victory has strengthened Euro against the dollar.

 

2 hours 25 seconds

What is it? The time Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge took to complete Breaking2 marathon at the Monza Formula One racetrack in Italy on Saturday.

Why is it important? Kipchoge was aiming for a two-hour marathon, which in the running world, occupies the same place that four minute mile did once upon a time. (It was broken by Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954.) While Kipchoge failed to make it by just 26 seconds, he still set a new standard for marathon, running faster than the present record holder Dennis Kimetto who ran 26.2 miles in2:02:57.

Tell me more: However, the attempt, sponsored by shoemaker Nike, will not go down as official world record because of the use of pacers and mopeds to give drinks to runners. Kipchoge and his fellow runners ran in Nike’s new, controversial Vaporfly Elite shoes.

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Buyology

$10 million

What is it? The amount Quikr, the online classifieds company, will pay to acquire Zimmber, a home services startup.

Why is it important? Quikr itself is a startup, competing with international online classified names like Olx, but it has committed to spend Rs 250 crore earlier this year to expand. Zimmber would be its 10th acquisition, with seven made in 2016. Home services will help Quikr to diversify further, adding to its portfolio of online sales of real estate, automobiles etc.

Tell me more: Zimmber, competing with a host of other homegrown services companies, had raised $7.4 million so far. Quikr’s last known valuation was  $979 million, in 2016.

 

25

What is it? The number of IAS officers transferred by the new BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, the third such reshuffle after it came to power.

Why is it important? The transfers follow those of 20 IAS officers the first time, and 84 IAS and 54 IPS officers the second time. The Yogi Adityanath-led government continues the tradition of major reshuffles in bureaucracy seen when a new party takes office, to tailor  the administration according to its liking. It gives rise to the notorious transfer culture of IAS officers, which afflicts well-meaning public servants as well.

Tell me more: The transfers include those of chief development officers in 16 districts.

 

62%

What is it? The proportion of votes French independent centrist, Emmanuel Macron, is polled to win in the second round of the presidential race, on Sunday.

Why is it important? Since the first round in the race, Macron has gained three points over rival and far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen of the National Front. The run for France’s president, featuring none of its major political parties, is being seen as symbol of the fight between radical right activism and a more moderate approach in a key European economy.

Tell me more: Macron benefits in the Elabe poll from public opinion of a win in a televised final debate with Le Pen.

 

> 50

What is it? The number of Saudi and Pakistani channels being broadcast in Kashmir without government clearance.

Why is it important? Many of these channels are said to promote secession and a conservative version of Islam. Indian government has been struggling to get its act right in Kashmir, even as Indian forces face stone pelting on ground, and criticism about some of the extreme measures they have used intending to bring order to the region.

Tell me more: The channels that are being aired include Zakir Naik’s Peace TV, which is banned in the country.

 

217

What is it? The number of votes American Health Care Act got in US House of Representatives.

Why is it important? In effect, the House has annulled Obamacare, the flagship policy of Obama administration, handing a victory to President Donald Trump who had promised he would repeal the act if he were elected. All the democrats in the house, along with 20 republicans, voted against the new act, making it a close shave. It will now go on to the Senate.

Tell me more: The act needed 216 votes to pass in the House, and it got 217.  The repealing of Obamacare is likely to cause millions of Americans lose their health insurance.

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When blood is wasted

600,000 litre

What is it? The volume of blood and its various components, in 2.8 million units, discarded by blood banks across India in the last five years.

Why is it important? In 2015-16, the shortage in blood requirement was 10% at a national level, with some states facing acute shortage and others flush with excess supply through blood camps. The wastage, revealed in an RTI query, 24% of which occurred in 2016-17, points to the severe lack of a safe blood sharing network among banks, hospitals across states. Experts also fault indiscriminate blood donation camps, organised by politicians, which end up collecting blood that has no place to be stored and used fruitfully.

Tell me more: Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh saw high wastage of various components such as plasma (long shelf-life), red blood cells and whole blood.

 

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The estimated advertising revenue the Indian Railways plan to earn from 200,000 giant digital screens.

Why is it important? It will boost advertising income, part of non-fare revenues, for IR. The screens alone could then fetch 67% of the estimated revenue of Rs 15,000 crore in non-fare revenue in the next 10 years as set in January. The screens would also display real-time passenger information. The railway display network would first be installed in 400 A category stations.

Tell me more: Non-fare revenue accounted for 6.17% of IR’s total revenue in FY17, and grew from Rs 5,928 crore in FY16 to Rs 10,181 crore FY17.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of cars in India Volkswagen has been able to correct, after recalling them as they had the defeat device installed along with the EA 189 diesel engine series.

Why is it important? The auto manufacturer admits to a delay in upgrading the recalled vehicles, spanning VW, Audi, and Skoda brands. It had started the recall of 340,000 cars in July 2016 through 2017. This is part of the larger global scandal which beleaguered 11 million of Volkswagen’s cars across the US, Europe and other markets. India’s vehicle testing agency, Arai, found the Indian cars were equipped with a derivative of the defeat device plaguing the EA 189 diesel engines, to pass emission tests.

Tell me more: So far, Volkswagen India has received approval for engine updates for 70% of the recalled vehicles, and says the delay is due to the different makes of cars involved.

 

4.2%

What is it? The boost to real GDP of India, if the aggregate weighted GST (goods and services tax) works out to 16%.

Why is it important? The estimate, by the US Federal Reserve, is based on the assumption that the GST aggregate will work out to be 16%, goods and services are allocated to the four tiers of taxes —  5%, 12%, 18%, and 28% — in a certain way. Lower taxes on manufactured goods would make products cheaper and also help reach the aggregate taxation. An alternate estimate of aggregate weighted GST rate of 20% would provide a boost of 3.1%.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, India’s Niti Aayog estimates GDP to be Rs 469 lakh-crore by 2030.

 

21.4%

What is it? The percentage of vote won by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of French presidential elections, with 97% reporting

Why is it important? In the run-off, to be held on May 7th, Le Pen will be facing the centrist Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!, who outpaced her in the first round with 23.9% vote share. For the first time in France’s history, neither of the two mainstream parties in France — Socialists represented by Benoît Hamon and the Republicans represented by François Fillon — made it to the finals. If Le Pen wins, it could mean France taking a nationalist route, away from European Union and Euro.

Tell me more: Macron, a former banker, served as economy minister in Hollande administration till he resigned in 2016 to fight this election. He is 39, and has never fought an election before. Le Pen has been leading her party, FN since 2011, and has increasingly grown stronger, a rise similar to US President Donald Trump.

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