Where’s India Post Heading?


What is it? The number of girls below 12 years of age who have been reported to be victims of rape in 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

Why is it important? President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday promulgated an ordinance that would provide death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years. It raises questions if such amendments will act as a deterrent, as the conviction rate under the POSCO Act, 2012, was just 29.6% in 2016; further, in 94.6% of cases, the accused was a person known to the victim.

Tell me more: Besides making punishment for all those convicted of rape more stringent and increasing jail-term, fast-track courts will be set up and investigation of all rape cases must be completed within two months.



What is it? The number of political parties whose representatives met Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday to file an impeachment motion seeking to remove Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

Why is it important? This is the first time that such a motion seeking the removal of the CJI has been filed since the country’s independence. The parties making the contents of the impeachment public is a violation of rules, according to some Parliament officials. If the petition is rejected, Congress would reportedly move the Supreme Court.

Tell me more: A three-member committee would be formed to investigate the charges against CJI Dipak Misra, if the motion is admitted. An impeachment motion against the CJI can be only on the grounds of proved mis-behaviour or incapacity.



What is it? The number of wilful defaulters whose passports have been impounded in the last few months, according to Punjab National Bank (PNB). In addition, the bank has filed 37 FIRs (First Information Reports) against defaulters.

Why is it important? This is the first instance of a bank making such information public after the government asked all lenders to get passport details of those who have borrowed or will borrow Rs 50 crore and above. PNB, which reported India’s biggest banking fraud a few months ago, says it can recover its losses from the alleged Rs 13,000-crore scam within six months.

Tell me more: PNB has recently approached a Hong Kong court to file a recovery writ against the accused Nirav Modi and plans similar legal action in other countries where Modi and his associates have assets and properties.


Rs 212 crore

What is it? The amount reportedly saved by the Income Tax Department on postage in 2017-18 (for the 9-month period till December), following it shifting more forms of filing and communication online.

Why is it important? For all of 2016-17, it saved Rs 177 crore. This snapshot of one government department captures the future of the Indian postal department. In 2016-17, India Post delivered 5.5 billion unregistered latters, a year-on-year drop of 1.6%.

Tell me more: During 2016-17, India Post earned revenues of Rs 11,511 crore, a year-on-year fall of 11%. Of this, 35% came from the sale of stamps and postage realised in cash.



What is it? The difference in points in the top Italian footballing league between first-placed Juventus and second-placed Napoli.

Why is it important? On Sunday, Napoli stunned Juventus 1-0 in their own backyard, taking the title fight in Serie A down to the wire. There are just four games left to play and a maximum 12 points up for grabs, and reigning champions Juventus have a more difficult schedule than Napoli, including two away games at top-five sides Roma and Inter Milan.

Tell me more: Juventus has won the title for the last six years, the last three of which have come under manager Massimiliano Allegri, who is reportedly of interest to both Arsenal and Chelsea.


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Enroute larger tax base

7.95 million

What is it? The number of applicants to register under the goods and services tax (GST) as of mid-Friday.

Why is it important? Registered taxpayers under GST is now 50,000 short of 8 million tax base of value added tax, excise duty and service tax. With registration open until tomorrow, the tax base under GST is expected to exceed the previous regime. Meanwhile, government has extended last date for small businesses (with revenue of Rs 75 lakh) to register under composition scheme where traders will pay lower tax rates.

Tell me more: Widening of tax base will help government to collect more taxes, and could lead to reduction in tax rates. India’s tax revenue to gross domestic product is 17%, as compared to 25.4% in US.


Rs 9,509 crore

What is it? The unspent funds with Health Societies in 27 states (from Rs 7,375 crore in 2011-12) under the National Rural Health Mission, according to a report filed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Friday.

Why is it important? The amount increased while in six states, Rs 36.31 crore has been diverted to other schemes. The CAG observed the shortfall in availability in physical infrastructure such as primary health centres to be between 24-38% in 28 states, instances of non-availability of essential drugs in 24 states, and medicines issued to patients without prescribed quality checks in 14 states. The average shortage of five types of specialists (general surgeon/physician, obstetrician/gynaecologist, paediatrician and anaesthetist) ranged between 77-87% in select community healthcare centres in 27 states.

Tell me more: About 13,000 facilities did not report data on Health Management Information System, a web-based interface, in 2015-16 due to which the overall position on health indicators has not been ascertainable.


Rs 71,941 crore

What is it? The total amount of undisclosed income detected by way of searches, seizures and surveys by the Income Tax department between April 1, 2014 and February 28, 2017, as per information submitted by the government to the Supreme Court.

Why is it important? This is after government’s effort to curb black money generation. Among the steps taken by the government to flush out black money, it recently cancelled the registration of one lakh firms while it is probing 37,000 shell companies for funnelling black money and another 3 lakh for suspicious transactions.

Tell me more: Until a couple of months after the demonetisation move, another attempt against those hoarding money illegally, the total undisclosed amount admitted was over Rs 5,400 crore while the total quantity of gold seized was over 300 kg.


Rs 1.5 lakh

What is it? Amount payable to members of central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for each meeting.

Why is it important? Apart from paying a sitting fee to MPC members, the central bank also codified conduct involving conflict of interest, confidentiality and silent period. For example, members are required to maintain a seven-day silent period seven days before and after the meeting. This will generate greater confidence in decision making of MPC.

Tell me more: MPC’s mandate is to guide monetary policy to achieve a targetted inflation rate of 4% through adjustments in lending rates and provisioning norms by the central bank.



What is it? The number of people arrested by the Rajasthan police for stealing crude oil from India’s biggest onshore oilfield owned by Cairn India

Why is it important? The crime went undetected for six years, and 50 million litres of crude oil worth $ 7.75 million was stolen. Drivers and contractors working in the oilfield were part of the network that stole crude oil.

Tell me more: Trucks carrying water – a byproduct of oil exploration – out of the oilfield were carrying crude oil, and was sold to two factories nearby with storage capacity. These factories then sold to clients across India.

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India’s big military spends

$55 billion

What is it? The estimated expenditure by India on military resources.

Why is it important? The amount made it the world’s fifth-largest spender on defence, ahead of one-time military heavyweights such as UK, Japan and Germany. China’s spends, at the second spot after the US, was nearly four times of India’s, a key force in Asia’s geopolitics and sharing with India both border issues and friendly trade.

Tell me more: India was the seventh highest spender in 2015, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.



What is it? The number of personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force, the main counter-Naxal task-force, killed in the latest Naxal attack, in Chhattisgarh .

Why is it important? The toll, which might rise, makes the attack one of the deadliest by the Naxals. The encounter between 150 security personnel and 300 Naxal fighters started at noon in the notorious Sukma district.

Tell me more: The battalion was providing security cover for road construction.



What is it? The share of the 2,000 notices sent by the Income Tax department which have bounced back.

Why is it important? Following the drive against black money and demonetisation, the IT department had identified nearly 1.8 million people with suspicious cash deposits, or having bought paid for expensive goods with cash. While the goal was to sent notices to all, the large swathe of 1,200 notices, from those already sent, bouncing back reiterates the IT department’s suspicions. It shows people provided fake addresses and email ids to escape detection.

Tell me more: The department has a special team to investigate such cases further.



What is it? The number of children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi on whom a new malaria vaccine, RTS,S, will be tested.

Why is it important? The vaccine, which prepares the immune system to fight malaria parasite, has the potential to save thousands of lives. Malaria claims 400,000 lives every year globally.

Tell me more: In India, over 1 million people contract malaria every year. 80% of malaria cases are reported in sparsely populated areas that account for less than 20% of the population, underlining the difficulty in treating them.


175 kg

What is it? The possible payload weight for India’s proposed Venus mission.

Why is it important? The payload weight is an indicator of the functional ambitions of a space mission. While 175 kg suggests modest goal, the key is the destination. After Mars mission in 2014, this is the second planet ISRO is looking at.

Tell me more: Indian Space Research Organisation has invited proposals for experiments that can be done as a part of the mission.

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News in Numbers, Feb 23, 2017: Earth’s distant cousins 🌏


What is it? Total number of cases the Income Tax (IT) department registered till mid-February, since the Benami Transactions Act was enforced in November, 2016.

Why is it important? The IT department has picked up pace in booking people with unaccounted-for assets since the act’s enforcement. From 42 cases on January 31, cases registered in the following 15 days (193) jumped nearly five times. Section 24 of the acthas been invoked and as many as 124 cases have seen assets worth more than Rs 55 crore attached provisionally.

Tell me more: A total of 140 cases with questionable assets of Rs 200 crore have received show cause notices. The act applicable to both movable and immovable property allows the IT department to initiate criminal proceedings against those found depositing unaccounted old currency in someone else’s account, for example.



What is it? The cut in salary of Snapdeal’s co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, announced by Bahl on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The founders were not only the highest paid among senior executives in all the nine unicorns from India but were also the seventh-highest paid in the country in the 2015 fiscal. But the austerity might have come a bit late for Snapdeal, as 600 layoffs loom large in a simultaneous news.

Tell me more: Valued at $6.5 billion, Bansal admitted to mistakes down the road and said a major rejig will follow to gain profitability. In FY16, it had run up losses worth $14.93 million.



What is it? The estimated percentage of Indians who illegally immigrated to the US and would now be subject to enforcement of stringent deportation guidelines, issued this week.

Why is it important? Indians are among the highest legal as well illegal immigrants (with 500,000 unauthorised immigrants in 2014) in the US. With a new enforcement memo from US’ Department of Homeland Security to find, arrest and deport any illegal immigrant, irrespective of a criminal record, will turn up the heat on 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Tell me more: The memo asks for more jails to be built to detain immigrants. This would be to replace the practice of releasing undocumented immigrants with an order to re-appear for court hearings.



What is it? The number of Earth-sized planets discovered by astronomers near solar system.

Why is it important? One or more of them may be warm enough to have water on its surface, increasing the possibility of finding life outside solar system. The planets revolve around Trappist-1 a dwarf star, 40 light years away.

Tell me more: The planets around Trappist-1 were discovered by NASA and its partners around the world. The star is smaller (it’s as big as a golf ball, if the Sun is as big as a basketball), its planets are closer, and revolve around it faster. Its nearest planet takes 1.5 days to revolve around it, and the farthest, 20 days.



What is it? The projected GDP growth rate of India in 2016-17, according to International Monetary Fund.

Why is it important? It is 1 percentage point lower than 7.6% growth India saw in 2015-16, and higher than some estimates by observers who saw demonetisation impacting the economy more severely. Ambit Capital, for example, expected it to slow down to 5.8%.

Tell me more: The Washington DC-based international body sees GDP growth rate picking up to over 8% in the next few years, post adoption of Goods and Services Tax. In 2017-18, it expects India’s GDP to grow by 7.2% driven by private consumption.

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