US-China Face Off?

$375 billion

What is it? The trade deficit the US had with China in 2017: the US received goods worth $505 billion from China, while sending goods worth $130 billion to China.

Why is it important? On Thursday, US president Donald Trump said he had asked his trade department to impose tariffs on at least $50 billion of goods coming from China. This was Trump’s second move to wrest more favourable trade terms for the US, after the tariff on steel and aluminium.

Tell me more: Like the first move, this one too goes against the established global trade order, and has triggered fears of retaliatory action and trade wars. The Dow Jones fell 3% on Thursday, even as experts iterated that the trade deficit number was actually lower than $385 billion.


What is it? The number of cases related to the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots for which the Uttar Pradesh government has reportedly initiated the process to withdraw them.

Why is it important? These include 13 murder and 11 attempt to murder cases. Some of the cases include charges under Indian Penal Code sections related to “heinous” crimes, which are given a minimum of seven years of jail time. The state will withdraw cases if they are “politically motivated”, according to Uttar Pradesh minister of law and justice Brijesh Pathak.

Tell me more: At least 62 people died in the riots, with thousands losing their homes in September 2013. The then-state government ruled by the Samajwadi Party filed 503 cases against around 1,455 people in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli.

Rs 20 lakh

What is it? The amount up to which gratuity will now be tax-free.

Why is it important? On Thursday, the Indian Parliament passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017, to double this limit for purposes of calculating tax liability. Government employees will be a major beneficiary and is in line with the Seventh Pay Commissiondoubling the gratuity limit for them to Rs 20 lakh.

Tell me more: Gratuity is the monetary benefit received by employees who complete at least five years of continuous service in an establishment that has 10 or more persons are eligible to receive gratuity. It is paid for by the employer and is calculated in the following manner.

$3.5 billion

What is it? The reported investment by the Indian Oil Corporation in the 2018-19 financial year.

Why is it important? This investment, which would be done using internal resources, would be to upgrade and expand refineries, which is important for India’s biggest oil refiner to maintain its lead. Private fuel refiners have increased their market share in diesel and petrol sales to 8.2% (from 0.2% in 2013-14) and 6.8% (2.3%) respectively in 2017-18.

Tell me more: Last year, Indian Oil had said it would invest $4.7 billion over the next 5-7 years.


What is it? The foreign investment cap India plans to have in niche defence technologies under the automatic route, up from the current 49%. As of now, anything above the current limit is decided on a case-to-case basis.

Why is it important? This is to reduce dependence on imports and aim for self-sustenance in development and local manufacturing of indigenous weapon systems. India, which is the world’s fifth largest defence spender, is also the biggest importer of arms, accounting for 12% of global imports between 2013 and 2017.

Tell me more: The government is looking to increase domestic production in this sector by nearly three times to Rs 170,000 crore by 2025.

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News In Numbers – August 17

News In Numbers: August 14



Rs 118 crore

The margin by which Reliance Industries was pipped to the post by state-run Indian Oil Corporation for the tag of the most profitable company in the country. This is the second time the Mukesh Ambani-led firm has lost this tag in recent times: in the December quarter of FY15, IT major TCS beat RIL in profitability by Rs 77 crore, ending RIL’s reign of 23 years as the most profitable company in India. The company recorded a 23% decline in turnover in the June quarter of 2015-16 compared to the same period a year ago, mainly due to a fall in crude oil prices. However, its gross refining margin, or the profit it makes from each barrel of oil refined, was at a six-year high during this quarter. The equivalent figure for IOC was slightly higher in the same quarter.



The increase in the amount budgeted by the Central government towards payment of military pensions if the ‘one rank one pension’ norm was implemented today. Currently, retired military personnel get half the salary they last received, as pension. Due to successive pay revisions in the armed forces, this led to military personnel of the same rank, who retired in later years, getting much higher pensions than those who retired earlier. The ‘OROP’ demand is that these pensions should be equal for the same rank, irrespective of the date of retirement. Currently, the government budgets roughly Rs 54,500 crore for defence pensions; the implementation of OROP would lead to a rise in pensions cost of Rs 18,000-20,000 crore annually.



The number of banks in India whose gross non-performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans, are more than 5% of their gross advances. Of these, 15 are public sector banks. Higher NPAs have dragged down the profits of banks: nearly half of the 39 listed banks have reported a decline in profits in the June-ended quarter of FY16. United Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Dhanlaxmi Bank are the banks with the highest NPAs. The gross NPAs for public sector banks rose to 4.45% at the end of March 2015, from 4.1% in March 2014. RBI Deputy Governor SS Mundra recently said that banks must develop better strategies to deal with bad loans, and that hiding or postponing the problem was not the solution.



The average rainfall in India was 17% below normal in the first half of August, which could lead to a second successive drought year. The most stressed regions, which are displaying signs of possible droughts, are Marathwada, with a rain deficit of 48% between June 1 and August 16, Karnataka (45%) and Rayalaseema (38%). In Marathwada in Maharashtra, about 200 farmers had committed suicide between January 1 and May 10. In Karnataka, 182 farmers ended their lives in July alone.


Rs 9,000

The minimum salary a highly-skilled, full-time domestic worker could be paid, if the draft of ‘National Policy for Domestic Workers’ is approved by the Union Cabinet. This policy recommends 15 days compulsory paid leave in a year, as well as maternity leave benefits. It also includes mandatory contribution from the employer towards social security of domestic workers. The policy has provisions against sexual harassment and bonded labour too. There were 3,564 cases of alleged violence against domestic workers reported in 2012. is a search engine for public data


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