‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’

What is it?The percentage of Arabs in Israel, which has a population of about 9 million.

Why is it important? Israel passed a law declaring itself to be ‘Nation-State of the Jewish People’. “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and they have an exclusive right to national self-determination in it,” the law said. The legislation was first proposed seven years ago.

Tell me more: Critics have slammed Israel for violating its 1948 Declaration of Independence, which promises to treat all its inhabitants equally. They also said the law would complicate the two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.




What is it? The price at which Maharashtra government will procure milk (per litre) from farmers starting 21 July.

Why it’s important? This follows four days of agitation by farmers demanding better price for their produce. Such protests are being increasingly seen as an effective way to get things done by the state. Agrarian riots increased eightfold between 2014 and 2016.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, central government is looking to raise export incentives on milk and milk products as a way for farmers to get better returns.


19.8 million


What is it?The number of smartphones sold by the top 2 players in Indian is second quarter of 2018.

Why is it important?Xiaomi and Samsung stand neck to neck, selling 9.9 million phones each, and accounting for 60% of the market. Samsung’s sales were up 47% year on year, this quarter. Overall smartphone shipments grew 22% during the quarter. The South Korean and Chinese companies were followed by two more Chinese firms, Vivo and Oppo.

Tell me more: Samsung recently opened a factory in India that will have a capacity to produce 120 million phones a year. Rising video consumption in rural India is one of the key drivers of both internet and smartphones in the country.


$1,217.95 per ounce


What is it? Spot price of gold.

Why is it important? It’s lowest in the last one year, and the dip comes against the expectation that gold prices would go up in the context of geopolitical uncertainty and escalating trade war between US and and China. However, stronger dollar and expectation of two more interest rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve have proven to be bigger drivers so far.

Tell me more:  The Fed raised interest rates in June. Its chairman  Jerome Powell said in a testimony that he sees two years of stable growth ahead of US. US President Donald Trump however has criticized rate hikes for its potential impact on growth and job creation.


1 hour 43 minutes


What is it?The duration of the total lunar eclipse around midnight on July 27th.

Why is it important? This will be the longest eclipse of the 21st century, according to BM Birla Science Centre. The moon will be passing the middle of earth’s shadow making it longer than an usual lunar eclipse.

Tell me more: The moon will also appear red, as the earth will filter out most of blue light coming from the Sun.

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Minister For Loneliness

Britain now has a minister for loneliness. UK government’s decision reflects the growing concern of loneliness among its citizens, over 9 million of them, according to a survey. The new minister with the help of Office of National Statistics will identify how to measure loneliness and also methods to deal with it. May be its time that we look close to home as well.



What is it? The percentage amount by which the Indian government has cut its additional borrowing requirement, from Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore, for the current fiscal, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

Why is it important? Markets cheered the news that the government may be able to contain fiscal slippage in 2017-18. The government’s December announcement that it plans to borrow an additional Rs 50,000 crore prompted analysts to expect the fiscal deficit to breach its target of 3.2% of GDP (gross domestic product) and reach 3.5%. Fiscal slippage concerns arose after revenue collections from GST (goods and services tax) was lower than expected, one of the main reasons for the government’s additional borrowing.

Tell me more: After the additional borrowing decision last month, the total government borrowings for the current year were pegged at Rs 6.3 lakh crore and yesterday’s announcement brought it down to Rs 6 lakh crore.



What is it? The ratio of people who feel lonely in the United Kingdom.

Why is it important? In an interesting development, Britain has appointed Sports Minister Tracey Crouch to also take on the role of tackling loneliness among its citizens, in a bid to take forward the work started by murdered lawmaker Jo Cox. Loneliness is increasingly becoming a growing concern across the world, so much so that it is also seen having a huge impact on people’s health. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, over half the people in the UK over 75 live alone and two-fifths of all older people say television is their main company.

Tell me more: According to a 2017 study by the Agewell Foundation, 43 out of 100 elderly people in India are victims of psychological problems that arise out of loneliness and other relationship issues.


Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The total cost of a project that aims to interlink the major dams in Marathwada region, as per a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Maharashtra government with Israeli firm Mekorot Development and Enterprise, ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Mumbai today.

Why is it important? Marathwada, one of the regions worst affected by drought in the state, is battling another episode of water scarcity, where 41% of its villages have reported ‘paisewari’ (meaning: the value of the actual yield after harvest in relation to the value of crops grown) below 50 paise. Different factors of agrarian crisis led to 970 farmers ending their lives in 2017.

Tell me more: Mekorot will offer its expertise in development of technologies that plug the loss of water due to evaporation and lopsided distribution of water due to inconsistent rainfall or irregular distribution of rainfall in the catchment areas of dams.



What is it? Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara became only the 23rd batsman in the history of test cricket, and the first Indian, to be run out in both innings of a test match.

Why is it important? Pujara’s dubious distinction was part of a fragile Indian batting performance that yesterday wilted to South African debutant Lungi Ngidi, and lost the second test match to South Africa by 135 runs. With this win, South Africa holds an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match test series against India. And India’s quest for its first series win in South Africa is now at 26 years and seven test series, and counting.

Tell me more: In the list of 23 batsmen who have been run out in both innings, two Australians have suffered this ignominy twice: Mark Taylor and Ian Healy.



What is it? The number of engineers at ride-hailing firm Grab’s research centre in Bengaluru, which opened in March 2017. Most of them were working on GrabPay, the company’s payments platform.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, Grab announced it had acquired iKaaz, a Bengaluru-based digital payments startup, though it did not disclose the deal value. The iKaaz team will join Grab’s research centre. iKaaz, founded in 2012, has several products, including a cloud-based platform for online sellers, point-of-sale hardware for retail merchants and a mobile wallet solution.

Tell me more: While Grab does not offer ride-hailing services in India, it operates in several Southeast Asian markets, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It was last valued at $6 billion.


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Disorder, Disorder!


Last week, Indians saw something that will go down in the pages of judicial history. Four Supreme Court judges addressed a press conference about their rift with the Chief Justice of India, while breaking the judicial protocol. Though, the act undermined the veracity of India’s apex court, it also left several questions unanswered than it answered.


What is it? The size of the delegation from the Bar Council of India, led by its chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, meeting Supreme Court judges.

Why is it important? In an unprecedented move, four senior-most Supreme Court judges alleged that Chief Justice Dipak Misra was not following established rules to allocate cases among judges. They added this was adversely affecting the judicial delivery system. After meeting with one of the four aggrieved judges, Mishra said it was an internal matter and that a solution would be found in 2-3 days.

Tell me more: At an emergency meeting convened on Saturday, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) passed a resolution to “express grave concern” over the differences the four senior-most judges have with the Chief Justice. The SCBA President handed a copy of the resolution to Misra, who said he will look into it. Separately, four retired judges have written an open letter to Misra saying they agree with the issues raised by the four working judges and that the issue needs to be resolved within the judiciary.



What is it? The number of days for which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in India, beginning Sunday.

Why is it important? This is his first visit to the country and also the first trip by an Israeli leader to India in 15 years. Netanyahu is accompanied by the largest-ever business delegation (130) to travel with an Israeli leader where executives from companies in defence, cyber and agriculture sectors seek to pursue deals with India. The visit is also seen as a means to deepen diplomatic ties. Though India has been known to vote against Israel in the United Nations, the former has increasingly abstained in issues relating to the Middle Eastern nation in the last two years.

Tell me more: Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased to $4.16 billion in 2016, from $200 million in 1992 when they established diplomatic ties.



What is it? The minimum number of years for which the World Bank would correct and recalculate national rankings of business competitiveness in the annual report titled ‘Doing Business’, according to its chief economist Paul Romer.

Why is it important? This raises questions about the authenticity of the rankings. Romer made a personal apology to Chile, whose rankings have dipped from 34 to 57 in the last three years. This review could impact India, whose rankings have jumped to 100 in 2018 from 140 in the previous year, the biggest improvement among all countries. After assuming power in 2014, the Narendra Modi-government had set a target of breaking into the top 50 in these rankings.

Tell me more: Romer said the World Bank had changed the methodology of calculating the ranks of countries repeatedly in ways that were unfair and misleading.



What is it? The number of players who have set their base price in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions, to be held on January 27 and 28, at the maximum of Rs 2 crore.

Why is it important? As the eight IPL franchises look to rebuild, with the IPL completing 10 years and all players barring 18 going into the selection pool, the Rs 2 crore set is where the top players and the team mainstays reside. It comprises 13 Indian and 23 overseas players, and franchises are expected to vie for their services, stretching their budgets. After completing their permissible player retentions, the eight teams have anywhere between Rs 47 crore and Rs 67.5 crore to complete their squads from 1,122 players who have registered for the auction.

Tell me more: So far, 18 players have been retained by the eight teams. Royal Challengers Bangalore spent the most on one player: Rs 17 crore to retain Virat Kohli, making him the most expensive player in IPL history.



What is it? The swap ratio set for the merger between Capital First and IDFC Bank, announced on Saturday. Shareholders of Capital First, a non-banking finance company, will receive 139 shares of IDFC Bank for every 10 shares held by them.

Why is it important? IDFC Bank is paying top money—on Friday, the market capitalisation of Capital First stood at Rs 8,266 crore and that of IDFC Bank at Rs 23,019 crore—to buy itself growth and scale, especially on the retail side. It had tried to do the same with the Shriram Group, but that deal fell through in October 2017.

Tell me more: Post merger, V Vaidyanathan, currently chairman and managing director of Capital First, will take over from Rajiv Lall as managing director and CEO of the combined entity. And Lall will step into the role of non-executive chairman of IDFC Bank.


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Bezos, Amazon and Blue Origin


What is it? The new, increased reverse repo rate fixed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday.

Why is it important? This was a surprise move as the RBI was expected to keep rates unchanged at the review. Even though the key rate of repo (the rate at which the central bank lends to banks against government securities) was not changed, the tinkering of the reverse repo by 25 basis points would still affect liquidity. This would incentivise banks to deposit more with the RBI as they would earn higher interest income from such deposits.

Tell me more: This points to the RBI’ concern of an increase in inflation.


$1 billion

What is it? The worth of’s stock that founder Jeff Bezos sells annually to fund his other project — the private space rocket company, Blue Origin.

Why is it important? The funding comes from Bezos’ personal stock-holding in Amazon, which made him the second-richest person in the world late last month. Bezos has a networth of $77.3 billion, largely due to his stock-holding. While in 2015, he held 83.43 million shares of the company, it has reduced through stake sale through the years to 81.91 million in 2016 and at 80.89 million shares in 2017. With the funding, Blue Origin is inching closer to the goal of launching passenger space trips, lasting 11 minutes from 2018.

Tell me more: Blue Origin, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is working on reusable rockets for affordable space flights.



What is it? The growth forecast rate for 2017 of ‘developing Asia’, comprising 45 countries who are members of the Asian Development Bank.

Why is it important? This year and the next would see the slowest growth at 5.7% since 5% growth in 2001. The Asian Development Bank kept its forecast muted as China’s economic indicators  could get revised downwards and uncertainty in global policies take root.

Tell me more: The region had grown at 5.8% in 2016. While China is forecast to clock 6.5% in 2017, less than 6.7% in 2016, India is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2017, higher than 7.1% in 2016.


$2 billion

What is it? The value of defence deals signed between India and Israel on Thursday.

Why is it important? This is for the supply of advanced medium range surface-to-air missile systems. The technology was developed by by Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, along with a few other players, signalling the strengthening relationship between India and Israel..

Tell me more: This comes three months ahead of Modi’s visit to Israel. Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the country, and marks a change in India’s diplomatic relationship with the state.


$8.4 million

What is it? Grants to four Indian non-profits from, Google’s philanthropic arm.

Why is it important? The grants will help these organisations – Learning Equality, Million Sparks Foundation, Pratham Books StoryWeaver and Pratham Education Foundation – develop technology-based learning solutions. As India struggles to raise the standards of its school education, tech-based solutions could help in the process. Annual Status of Education Reports have painted a dismal picture of education outcomes.

Tell me more: The projects include a technology platform for translating books, hybrid learning programmes, digital content platforms and offline digital content for students.

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