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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.

 

3

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).

 

92%

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.

 

5

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.

 

6%

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.

 

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A Big Bang I-T Raid

 

The government is sitting hawk-eyed on black money peddlers. The IT department unraveled a nexus between doctors and medical labs that was worth a 100 crore rupees. In the tech world, Infosys got its sixth CEO. Virat Kohli is unstoppable, scored another double century yesterday. And Serious Fraud Office is probing companies for suspicious transactions after demonetization.

 

6

What is it? Indian IT major Infosys gets its CEO number six in the form of Salil Parekh, with the company making the announcement on Saturday.

Why is it important? In the 37-year history of Infosys, Parekh will only be the second CEO outside the promoter group. He follows Vishal Sikka, who resigned this August after finding himself on the wrong side of some founder-promoters, notably NR Narayana Murthy, over a series of business decisions and approaches. Although these founder-promoters did not have a board presence then, Murthy was particularly vocal in his displeasure, resulting in Sikka quitting.

Tell me more: Parekh, 53, will join Infosys from January 2 on a five-year term. He joins from Capgemini where he was a member of the group executive board, thus ending a three-month search.

 

Rs 100 crore

What is it? The undisclosed amount detected by the Income Tax (IT) officials after they unearthed a nexus between some doctors and medical centres in Bengaluru.

Why is it important? It highlights the unethical measures adopted by some medical professionals at the cost of patients’ health and money. The IT department conducted a three-day search in two in-vitro fertilisation centres and five diagnostic centres, and found that doctors were being paid a commission to refer their patients to these centres for tests. The Health Ministry has asked all states to adopt and implement the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, under which action can be taken against medical institutions indulging in unethical practices.

Tell me more: According to the IT department, the commission varied from lab to lab, but the median rate was 35% for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans and 20% for CT (computed tomography) scans and other tests. These payments to doctors were accounted for under the head of ‘marketing expenses’.

 

6

What is it? The number of double centuries scored by Virat Kohli in his test career so far. In the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, Kohli yesterday scored 243 runs, following a 213 in the previous test.

Why is it important? With his latest double hundred, Kohli created or matched a series of records: most double centuries by captains in tests, beating Brian Lara who had five; sixth batsman to score consecutive double hundreds in tests; and fifth captain to hit multiple double tons in a series.

Tell me more: Kohli’s 243 against Sri Lanka is his career best. This is the 14th time he has bettered his highest score—the maximum number of times any player has done so. He now matches Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag in double hundreds.

 

18

What is it?  The number of companies the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) will probe for alleged suspicious transactions involving large sums of money during demonetisation.

Why is it important?  News of this probe follows a series of government steps aimed at checking black money in the Indian economy. The government had recently removed the names of approximately 2.24 lakh companies for being dormant for a long time and removed 2 lakh directors of such companies.

Tell me more: In its preliminary enquiry, the government was focusing on 35,000 companies involving 58,000 bank accounts where an amount of about Rs 17,000 crore was deposited and withdrawn post-demonetisation.

 

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It’s A Chicken Or Egg Situation

 

Prices of eggs have soared to a level where consumers may have to make a choice between having chicken or an egg. In the list of philanthropists, Infosys’ chairman has etched his name. There could be a poor coal stock situation in our power plants. And in Zimbabwe, 93- year old President has refused to give up, his chair. 

 

Rs 511.06

What is it? The price of 100 eggs in Delhi, as per data from National Egg Coordination Committee, an association of poultry farmers.

Why is it important? Egg prices have increased sharply in the last one month, with Delhi market witnessing 28% spike. Multiple reasons ranging from higher vegetable prices to winter demand increase to demonetisation and increase in input prices (Maize) are cited as reasons. Egg and poultry prices fell post-demonetisation, and this prompted premature culling of birds. Post-demonetisation, price of eggs fell to Rs352 in January, and it increased to Rs382 in October this year (Delhi market).

Tell me more: Eggs account for 0.49% and 0.36% of consumer price index in rural  and urban areas, respectively.

 

50%

What is it? The percentage of wealth that Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani and his wife, Rohini Nilekani pledged to give away to philanthropy or charitable causes by signing ‘The Giving Pledge’.

Why is it important? Nilekani’s wealth is estimated at $1.7 billion, mainly derived from their stake in Infosys, co-founded by Nandan Nilekani. Half that money is a significant pledge towards philanthropy or charitable purposes. India’s income inequality is the worst since 1922 with top 1% holding 22% of income, and India has 100 billionaires out of 2,573 worldwide.

Tell me more: Apart from the Nilekanis, Azim Premji (Wipro), Kiran Mazumdar Shah (Biocon) and PNC Menon (Sobha Developers) have signed the ‘Giving Pledge’, which has obtained 171 pledges from 21 countries.

 

Rs13,000 crore

What is it? The additional amount claimed by the central government from the Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) declared a surplus of Rs30,663 crore for the year ended June 2017, as compared to Rs65,880 crore in previous year. Surplus declined partly due to Rs13,190 crore allocated towards ‘provisions’. The government is claiming this provision as surplus and wants the central bank to transfer.  Under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the central bank has to transfer all the surplus to government.

Tell me more: Central government has budgeted Rs58,000 from the RBI and is hoping to bridge the shortfall by asking for additional transfer of funds.

 

Rs7.5 per unit

What is it? The peak power purchase rate of day ahead market on Friday in the Indian Energy Exchange (IEX), as compared to average price of Rs3.74 per unit.

Why is it important? The difference between average and peak prices is an indicator of demand and supply mis-match, and this could be because of poor coal stock situation in power plants.

Tell me more:  22 power plants are classified as having critical stock (less than seven days) or supercritical stock (less than four days) on November 16, as per data available from Central Electricity Authority.

 

37 years

What is it? The number of years for which 93 year old Robert Mugabe served as the President of Zimbabwe, before being sacked by his own party.

Why is it important? The move by the ruling party could be precursor to Mugabe resigning, but in a 20-minute television address, Mugabe did not offer to quit. Zanu-PF, the ruling party, said it would impeach Mugabe if he does not resign within 24 hours. This comes after Robert Mugabe fired Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice President citing disloyalty, disrespect and unreliability in the execution of duties as the reason.

Tell me more Zimbabwean economy is struggling with large-scale unemployment with jobless rate claimed to be as high as 90%, and high inflation.

 

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Pyongyang’s sanctioned trade

$3 billion

What is it? North Korea’s annual export revenue.

Why is it important? This is likely to be cut by a third due to the new sanctions imposed by the United Nations for its intercontinental ballistic missile testing in July. The resolution against North Korea represents the “strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test”. These sanctions are to cut off Pyongyang’s money supply and prevent it from further developing its outlawed missile expansion program.

Tell me more: It was a unanimous decision of the UN Security Council with 15 votes in favour that targets North Korea’s primary exports including coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

 

10 days

What is it? The number of days spent by Congress MLAs (member of legislative assembly) from Gujarat at a hotel resort near Bengaluru, ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

Why is it important? The forty-four MLAs returned to their home state after being flown away to Bengaluru to prevent them from either quitting or defecting ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat on Tuesday.

Tell me more: At stake is the fifth re-election of Congress head, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. The MLAs were again whisked away to another resort in in Anand, near Ahmedabad on return.

 

2 lakh-tonne

What is it? The quantity at which the Indian government has capped the import of arhar dal (split pigeon pea).

Why is it important? This comes at a time when farmers are demanding a better price for arhar dal following a record production of 22.4 million tonne of pulses in 2016-17 and 4.6 million tonne of arhar dal (record) in the same year. The prices of arhar dal shot up to Rs 200 per kg last year, following which the government imported 30 lakh tonnes of pulses, of which 20 lakh tonne are lying in its warehouses.

Tell me more: India is not only the biggest producer but also, the largest consumer and importer of pulses.

 

116

What is it? The number of sexual harassment complaints reported in IT software and services company, Wipro, in the year 2016.

Why is it important? This was the highest number of such complaints with a listed company in the latest reporting year (FY17, according to Sebi guidelines), of which 102 were resolved. The numbers increased last year compared to previous years, and not just for Wipro. While Wipro’s went up from 111 in 2015 (with 107 solved), Infosys’ went up from 62 in FY16 to 88 in FY17 (77 resolved), and TCS’ cases went up from 34 to 65 (with 61 resolved) in that time.

Tell me more: The Securities and Exchange Board of India had made it mandatory for listed company to disclose the number of complaints and their pendency at the end of the financial year in their annual reports.

 

56

What is it? The number of employees in United Spirits who received above Rs 1 crore in salary in FY17.

Why is it important? This could be an attempt by Diageo, which has majority stake in United Spirits, to professionalise the management by attracting talent in an industry affected by multiple factors — alcohol ban in Bihar, demonetisation and the Supreme Court banning alcohol sale along the national highways. The number of crorepatis is more than even some tier-I IT companies such as Infosys (51).

Tell me more: Diageo completed buying controlling stake of 55% in the company in 2014.

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