A Tax Haven Blacklist


European Union has blacklisted certain nations that are considered tax havens and do not comply with its taxation standards. Army has ‘wiped out’ terrorists who had masterminded Amarnath Yatra attack this year. Airlines are expecting a slightly higher profit per passenger next year. Government has provided sops to the small and medium industries to help improve exports. 



What is it? The number of countries that feature on a European Union (EU) blacklist of nations that are non-compliant with EU standards for tax purposes, including Saint Lucia, South Korea and Barbados.

Why is it important? This EU name-and-shame action comes about a month after the publishing of The Paradise Papers, which made public how the world’s rich and famous used tax havens and contentious tax structures to avoid taxes. However, the onus to act against these 17 countries—a list that, tellingly enough, doesn’t include a single EU member—lies on individual member countries, and it remains to be seen if they will follow through.

Tell me more: The EU also placed another 47 jurisdictions on a newly established ‘grey list’—countries that are also deemed to be non-compliant, but have committed to changing their tax rules. This list includes Switzerland and Hong Kong.



What is it? The number of months since a militant group attacked a group of pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police (DGP) tweeted that the gang that carried out the July attack has been “wiped out”. In the attack near Anantnag on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in South Kashmir, seven pilgrims were killed and 15 injured. This year has seen a series of successful encounters by security forces, where top militants such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Dujana, Hizbul Mujahideen’s Sabzar Ahmad Bhat and Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s nephew Tallah Rashid have been killed.

Tell me more: LeT chief Abu Ismail, who was the mastermind behind the Amarnath attack, was killed by the security forces in the outskirts of Srinagar in September.



What is it? The expected average net profit per departing passenger in the global airline sector in 2018, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Why is it important? If the prediction is met, it would be a slight increase from $8.45 in 2017. This is even as overall net profit is expected to increase to $38.4 billion in 2018, from the projected $34.5 billion in 2017. IATA says the key drivers of profitability would be a likely 6% increase in passenger traffic, an expected 4.5% rise in cargo volumes and lower debt levels. However, costs, too, are expected to increase: oil prices are expected to average $60 per barrel, and labour costs, which are a larger expense item than fuel, will continue to rise.

Tell me more: IATA expects seat occupancy to reach 81.4% next year whereas yields, which is a measure of fares, would improve by 3%. For the 10 months of 2017 till October, the seat occupancy of IndiGo ranged from 81.6-91.1%.


Rs 8,450 crore

What is it? The cumulative additional incentives announced by the Indian government for labour-intensive MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sectors under two schemes, as part of its mid-term policy review released on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This is to boost exports, which fell 1.1% to $23 billion in October, the slowest pace of growth since July 2016 and the first decline after 14 months of positive growth, likely due to the roll-out of the goods and services tax. The President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations believes these incentives are likely to have a positive impact on export numbers from January, though he expressed disappointment about a number of sectors having been left out.

Tell me more: Some major sectors that would benefit from the incentives include ready-made garments and made-ups in the textile sector, leather and footwear articles, and agriculture and related products. The earlier incentives under the two schemes totaled Rs 25,000 crore.


704 days

What is it?  The number of days after which South African star batsman AB de Villiers will return to play test cricket, if he is selected for the Boxing Day test against Zimbabwe.

Why is it important? AB de Villiers has been one of the pivots of South African batting, but a combination of wanting to play less cricket and injuries have meant him not playing tests. His possible return comes at a crucial time for South Africa, as its next two test assignments are stern examinations: against India, the only side ranked above it in the ICC test rankings, and Australia.

Tell me more: Among current South African batsmen, who are a relatively inexperienced lot, only Hashim Amla leads de Villiers in runs scored and tests played.


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Surge comes to trains – News in Numbers September 8



What is it? The maximum mark-up allowed under surge pricing, introduced by the Indian Railways yesterday for Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains.

Why is it important? At a 50% mark-up, the price of a Delhi-Mumbai second AC Rajdhani ticket will increase from Rs 2,825 to Rs 4,237—a level where airlines can compete with it on advance bookings. At 10.30 PM on September 7, the cheapest Delhi-Mumbai 6 am flight on September 8 was for Rs 7,422. But, for September 15, it was for Rs 2,550.

Tell me more: For the loss-making, state-owned organisation whose attempts to increase passenger fares meet with stiff resistance, this is its first attempt to raise passenger fares with demand. And it’s bold: only 10% of seats will be available at the base fare.


What is it? The amount of equity stake that ICICI Prudential Life Insurance will offload via the Initial Public Offer (IPO) later this month.

Why is it important? This is the first IPO by an insurance company in India. If successful, the share issuance is likely to be biggest in six years. The likely valuation for the company is between Rs 45,000 crore and Rs 48,000 crore.

Tell me more: ICICI Prudential is India’s largest private life insurance company. But will lose its number 1 status, if its two rivals- HDFC Standard Life and Max Life Insurance Company- agree to combine. State-owned Life Insurance Corporation is still India’s largest life insurance company.


What is it? The increase in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) recorded by airlines on domestic Indian routes in July, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Why is it important? Of the seven countries for which IATA released domestic air traffic data and which account for 82% of global domestic traffic, India was the fastest growing in RPKs by a country mile. The next best was China at 10.2% and US at 1.6%. Globally, the domestic piece grew at 3.8%.

Tell me more: India’s domestic airlines did not just fly more than others. They also expanded more, posting the highest increase in available seat km (ASK), of 20.5%. Riding on such tailwinds, the once-beleaguered SpiceJet yesterday reported its sixth consecutive profitable quarter.

2,211 kg

What is it? The launch mass of Insat 3DR weather satellite to be launched on Thursday at

Why is it important? The satellite will provide better measurements of vertical changes of humidity, temperature and ozone content in Earth’s atmosphere and of night time clouds and sea temperature, improving India’s ability to make better weather forecasts. In the rocket launches space, today’s is a landmark because this is the first operational launch with  Indian built cryogenic engine.

Tell me more: India has had much better success rate with its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle series compared to GSLV. India has launched 9 GSLVs so far, of which four failed.

138 grams

What is it? Weight of the new iPhone 7, which is about 3.5% lighter than iPhone 6S

Why is it important? The lighter weight is thanks to internal changes such as doing away with the audio jack, even though the new model’s design is the same as iPhone 6 launched two years ago. The removal of 3.5mm audio jack has met with mixed reactions, with some calling it an “annoy-ovation” (an improvement that annoys customers). The audio jack is ubiquitous, and can work with any headphone picked up from the market. But then Apple has often led the way in changing trends. It was the first to do away with floppy disks on computers. Apple argued that the sound quality is better on bluetooth headphones or on lightning port.

Tell me more: In some of the other changes in the latest version of the company’s flagship product, Apple has only been keeping up with the competition. For example, Samsung had introduced water resistant body back in 2014. The dual cameras for depth of field (in iPhone 7 plus) were already available in LG and Huawei earlier this year. Apple’s iPhone sales have been sluggish this year, and many analysts believe Apple has to do something disruptive to maintain its lead.



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