Person Of The Year: The Silence Breakers


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Last month, several women who had experienced sexual harassment came out on Facebook and narrated their bitter experiences with #Metoo. Some of these experiences were fairly recent and some were decades old. But, their memories of the incident/s was just as new. The ripple effect of this movement shook Hollywood the most and has slowly engulfed few senators in the US parliament as well. This year Times Magazine has declared these Silence Breakers as the ‘Person of the year’.  Why is it important, you ask? Read on.



What is it? The number of times since 2007 when Time magazine’s Person of the Year was not one person, but a group or a movement. On Wednesday, Time declared ‘The Silence Breakers’—the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and sexual assault at the workplace—as its 2017 Person of the Year.

Why is it important? As actor after actor came out against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it emboldened more women and men to narrate their incidents of sexual assault by men in positions of power. This had a domino effect, trickling down to the masses through the Twitter hashtag #MeToo, and bringing sexual harassment at the workplace into conversations and actions than ever before. The well-known names accused include actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Tv host Bill O’Reilly and Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar.

Tell me more: Time bestows this title to someone who impacted the world in a significant way, positive or negative. The previous two occasions since 2007 when it was not given to one person was 2014 (The Ebola Fighters) and 2011 (The Protestor).



What is it? The amount by which cryptocurrency Bitcoin has increased in the past month. On Wednesday, it roared past the $13,000 mark.

Why is it important? The latest price rise comes in amid news that Chicago exchanges CBOE Global Markets and CME Group have received regulatory approval to launch Bitcoin futures, and are planning to do so on December 10 and December 18, respectively. It’s a move that has sparked new bouts of concern about regulatory preparedness and systemic risk for this one-of-a-kind asset class.

Tell me more: Two disparate events in the past week highlight the contrast in Bitcoin: on the one hand, South Korean financial regulators banned Bitcoin futures; on the other, the Winklevoss twins, who sued Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over the claim that he stole the idea for the social network from them, have become billionaires on the back of their investment in Bitcoin.



What is it? The maximum number of players a franchise can retain for the upcoming seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Why is it important? It means each franchise has some chance to hold on to their core players, while all other players go into the auction pool again. Details of the announcement come as a shot in the arm for the two franchises that were handed a two-year ban in 2015 for illegal betting and financial irregularities, Chennai and Rajasthan. Their retention pool includes former players who joined the Gujarat and Pune teams in the interim, paving the way for MS Dhoni to rejoin his old team Chennai.

Tell me more: A franchise will retain players via two routes: retention before the auction (maximum three players) and right to match a bid in an auction (maximum three players, with a total of five under the two heads). Further, the salary cap of each IPL team has been increased from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore.



What is it? The rate at which India’s central bank held the benchmark repo rate—the interest rate at which it lends to banks—at its bimonthly policy review on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This the second consecutive review in which the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not touched the benchmark repo rate. This is despite clamor from industry and the government to do so in order to spur economic growth. The RBI noted risks to inflation, but expressed optimism that the slowdown in economic growth had bottomed out.

Tell me more: Five of the six MPC members—Chetan Ghate, Pami Dua, Michael Debabrata Patra, Viral Acharya and Urjit Patel—were in favour of the monetary policy decision. Only one member, Ravindra Dholakia, voted for a policy rate reduction of 0.25 percentage point.


Rs 17.38 crore

What is it? The amount Infosys agreed to pay former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal as severance pay in October 2015.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, Infosys filed a consent plea, without admitting wrongdoing, with capital market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) over governance and disclosure issues related to this payout. Governance experts have expressed unhappiness over the latest move by Infosys—for long cited as the marker in corporate governance in India Inc—to handle the issue, seeing it more as a way of achieving closure rather than coming clean on it.

Tell me more: The severance pay to Bansal was one of the flashpoints in a tussle earlier this year that saw the Infosys board and previous CEO Vishal Sikka on one side and Infosys co-founders, notably NR Narayana Murthy, on the other side. Sikka was eventually ousted and the board had a new chair in Nandan Nilekani.


Read More

Google’s trust issues

2.42 billion Euro

What is it? The fine imposed by European antitrust authorities on Google for having used its dominant search engine to direct traffic to its shopping comparison service.

Why is it important? Order will benefit non-Google price comparison service providers who lost out because of Google’s practice of promoting its own service ahead of generic search results. The fine amount is the largest imposed by any antitrust body.

Tell me more: European Commission found traffic to Google’s own shopping service increased manifold (45% in the United Kingdom), whereas rival websites have witnessed sudden drop in traffic (85% in the United Kingdom).


Rs 2,199 crore

What is it? The title sponsorship fee for five years of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the league T20 cricketing tournament. BBK Electronics-owned Vivo won the bid.

Why is it important? The Chinese phone brand retained its sponsorship rights with the bid, which it won after PepsiCo withdrew in 2015 following corruption charges in IPL. The earlier Vivo contract was for Rs 200 crore for two years. The current one marks a 340% average yearly jump, while BCCI says it is a 554% jump over the previous contract.

Tell me more: Vivo beat sister company, Oppo whose bid was worth Rs 1,432 crore.


2 billion

What is it? The number of monthly active users on Facebook, the largest social networking site, which it reached late on Tuesday night.

Why is it important? The number of users, who have logged onto Facebook or its Messenger app at least once in the last one month, is more than the population of any country and even more than that of six continents, except Asia.

Tell me more: Facebook’s new users are growing at 17%, fast for a 13-year-old Internet company and 66% of its monthly users return daily, up from 55% when it had touched 1 billion users.


What is it? The maximum holding of any non-promoter investor can have in Reliance Industries (RIL), after the company gets shareholders’ approval on July 21.

Why is it important? RIL will have to take this step in order to meet the central bank’s terms and conditions before starting its payments bank. It owns 70% stake in the new venture, with State Bank of India holding 30%. The central bank’s prior permission is needed if non-promoters increase equity stake beyond 5%.

Tell me more: RIL plans to amend its Articles of Association at the annual general meeting. The state insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India holds 8.31% in RIL.



What is it? The number of government departments to be completely computerised in the next few days.

Why is it important? With 100% digitisation, these departments will turn into e-offices with electronic record-keeping, doing away with unwieldy physical records and obsolete papers. The government’s efforts at digitising records have already resulted in 462,000 e-files, compared to last year’s 8,000.

Tell me more: The cumbersome processes of affidavits and attestation have been done away with in 58 central ministries/departments and 33 states and union territories.

Read More

IPL teams are increasingly opting to chase

Never before in the Indian Premier League (IPL) have teams been more inclined to chase a total than set one. Of the 15 matches this year, the side winning the toss has bowled first 12 times (80%), which is comparable to last year’s 82%. It wasn’t always this way. In the IPL’s early years, the traditional pressure tactic of shorter formats of making opponents conscious of a chase held as much sway, if not more (Chart 1).




But in the past four years, when batsmen like A.B. de Villiers have expanded the arc of possibilities, teams prefer to know a target and fashion a chase. In 2016, teams batting second won 65% of matches. Even in 2017, though the median first-innings score in the IPL is the highest ever (171), teams batting second have won 67% of the matches (Chart 2).



The notable exception to this trend is the currently suspended Chennai, where M.S. Dhoni chased only 33% of the time he won the toss (Chart 3).






1. Data for 589 matches till 15 April 2017; it excludes 10 matches that were affected by weather and did not yield a result

2. IPL 2009 was held in South Africa; in IPL 2014, 20 of the 60 matches were played in the UAE (Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah)

3. Chennai and Rajasthan have been suspended from the IPL for 2016 and 2017; Kochi, Hyderabad I and Pune I are defunct

Read More

News in Numbers, Feb 21, 2017: TN Liquor shops 🔒🔒🔒


What is it? Number of state-run liquor (Indian-made foreign liquor) shops to be shut in Tamil Nadu, as announced by Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Why is it important? This is the new chief minister’s first major announcement and one of the first five orders he signed.  It is being seen as taking forward the late party-supremo, J Jayalalithaa’s aim to levy prohibition in a phased manner. There are five states/union territories which already have partially or fully banned alcohol sale and consumption.

Tell me more: It follows its neighbouring state, Kerala, in its partial ban on state-run liquor outlets..


Rs 14.5 crore

What is it? The money Rising Pune Supergiants will be paying English cricketing all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Why is it important? This is the highest bid ($2.17 million) for a player in this year’s Indian Premier League auctions. The relatively new team beat a host of other teams in a bidding frenzy to net the player. This makes Stokes the most expensive overseas player in all of IPL’s editions, notching up a fee seven times his base (Rs 2 crore).

Tell me more: The scramble to land Stokes was despite the all-rounder’s limited availability owing to England hosting South Africa during the later part of this year’s tournament.


Rs 16,000 crore

What is it? The total value of shares Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT services company, will be buying back after receiving approval from its board on Monday.

Why is it important? The value would be 2.85% of TCS’s paid-up equity capital and take out 56.1 million shares from the market. Despite sitting on cash reserves, the Indian software services leaders such as TCS, Infosys, Cognizant have had low return on equity for shareholders, drawing flak. While Cognizant has already decided to increase shareholders’ payouts, Infosys might also buy back some of its shares.


Tell me more: With less number of shares in the market, this could also give a boost to TCS’ earnings per share as seen with Accenture earlier.



What is it? The price of a Spectacle a video-recording sunglass from Snap that runs social messaging app Snapchat

Why is it important? It has just started selling the sunglasses online in the US, ahead of its IPO (initial public offering) valued between $19.5 billion to $22 billion. The camera embedded sunglasses connect to smartphones over bluetooth or wifi. If they sell well, Snap could convince investors that the company could well succeed as a social network plus hardware firm.

Tell me more: Since its launch last year, Snap has been selling spectacles in surprise locations through vending machines and through a pop-up store in New York. The scarcity upped its demand, and on ebay, the video-recording sunglasses were being priced at $5000 a piece.



What is it? The number of banks deploying BharatQR code at present. More banks are expected to join.

Why is it important? Unlike other QR code based systems which are closed, BharatQR code will work across banks, and could change the retail digital payments across the country. QR code system (which masks the details under a machine readable optical label) is comparatively more secure for customers, and cheaper for merchants because they need not invest in point of sale terminals and pay the relatively higher merchant discount rates for such devices.


Tell me more: BharatQR was jointly developed by four major card payment companies—National Payments Corp. of India, MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Interestingly, Paytm said it would invest

Rs 600 crore in its own QR based payments solution.

Read More