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The Brunt Of Nature

2017 was the year when President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the effects of global warming and moved to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord. Nature, probably didn’t like it. In the same year, the number of natural disasters spiked 20% on average versus the last 16 years. Global warming is real. There’s absolutely no denying that.

4

What is it? The number of states in which members of the Multiplex Association of India will not screen Padmaavat, the Sanjay Leela Bhansali period film that releases on Thursday.

Why is it important? The four states are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, all ruled by the BJP, which is also in power at the Centre. Protests against the film—led by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which is unhappy at the depiction of the Rajput community in the film—turned into acts of vandalism in several parts of the country yesterday, putting the spotlight on the inability of administrations to maintain the rule of law and raising fingers on their being complicit.

Tell me more: On Monday, three byelections are scheduled in Rajasthan: for the Lok Sabha seats of Alwar and Ajmer, and the assembly seat of Mandalgarh. The bypolls were necessitated by the death of the sitting MPs and MLA, all of them from the BJP.

 

5

What is it? The number of years for which Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was sentenced to jail in a fodder scam case by a special CBI court in Ranchi on Wednesday. In addition, he has been fined Rs 5 lakh.

Why is it important? Of the total six cases relating to the fodder scam for which he is facing trial, Yadav has been convicted in the third one. This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 33.67 crore from Chaibasa (now, in Jharkhand) district treasury during 1992-93, when Yadav was the chief minister of Bihar. Yadav, who is currently serving time in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda jail after being pronounced guilty in the second fodder scam case, is unlikely to escape legal wrangles soon, as verdicts in the remaining cases are expected over the next few months.

Tell me more: Another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra has also been given the same punishment as Yadav in this case. A total of 50 accused in this case have been convicted and six are off the hook.

 

Rs 88,139 crore

What is it? The total amount the government said it will infuse in 20 public sector banks this fiscal, of which Rs 80,000 crore will be raised by the finance ministry through recapitalisation bonds and the rest provided as budgetary support.

Why is it important? This is the first tranche of the unprecedented two-year recapitalisation plan of Rs 2,11,000 crore the government had announced last October. The capital infusion would prop up public sector banks, which account for 87% of the banking system’s total bad loans as of September 30 (resulting in higher provisioning) and which also require additional capital to move towards the full implementation of Basel III norms. This is likely to spur lending and revive growth at a time when bad loans have reached record levels.

Tell me more: Public sector banks have raised Rs 10,312 crore so far this fiscal from sales of shares to external investors. This means the total recapitalisation will cross Rs 100,000 crore in 2017-18.

 

330

What is it? The total number of natural disaster events in 2017, according to a report by Aon Benfield. An event qualifies as a natural disaster in this study if it meets at least one of the defined set of criteria such as economic losses of at least $50 million, 10 fatalities, 50 injured people, an insured loss of $25 million, and 2,000 homes/structures damaged or claims filed.

Why is it important? This is 20% higher than the average of 275 recorded in the period of 2000-2016 and is the highest in seven years. The total economic losses due to natural disasters was $353 billion, the second-costliest year on record. 2017 also broke other records such as being the second-costliest year on record for natural-disaster insured losses, the costliest year ever for weather disasters and, thereby, also for insurers who provide protection against such catastrophes.

Tell me more: In 2017, nine of the 10 costliest insured loss events (including four that were severe weather-related) impacted the continental United States, which pulled out of the 2015 Paris climate accord last year. The region accounted for 51% and 63% of catastrophe losses and insured catastrophe losses, respectively, last year.

 

Rs 1286 crore

What is it? The loss declared by Idea Cellular, India’s third-largest telecom service provider, in the third quarter (October to December) of 2017-18.

Why is it important? This is Idea’s biggest-ever quarterly loss and its fifth consecutive one. The company, which is set to merge with Vodafone India to become India’s largest telecom company by subscribers, has been deeply affected by the price wars triggered by Reliance Jio, which has done in 16 months what Idea took 17 years to do. In the last quarter, the 57% cut in interconnection usage charge (IUC) by the telecom regulator also eroded Idea’s revenues by Rs 820 crore; overall, Idea’s revenues dropped 24% to Rs 6,551 crore.

Tell me more: Last week, Bharti Airtel, the fourth heavyweight in Indian telecom, declared its Q3 results, where it announced a 39% drop in net profit, showing the lingering effects of the Jio pressure.

 

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Economy: Recovering But Slowly

Indian economy is forecasted to grow at a pace in 2017-2018 which is slowest in four years. Though, in comparison with the first six months of the current fiscal, the predicted growth is higher, and that signals that economy is recovering, but at a slower pace overall. In other news, Lalu Prasad Yadav is sentenced to prison for his role in fodder scam. That and there’s more in news in numbers today.

 

3.5 years

What is it? The number of years for which former Bihar chief minister and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was jailed by a special CBI court in Ranchi on Saturday in the second of the six fodder scam cases against him.

Why is it important? This is the second time Yadav is going to prison, resulting in his disqualification from contesting elections. In 2013, he was sent to jail for five years in a similar case, though he was out on bail after about three months. His legal troubles are far from over, as judgment on two other fodder scam cases is expected in about a month.

Tell me more: In the second case, the court had convicted Yadav for cheating and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Last December, the court found Yadav and others guilty of fraudulently withdrawing Rs 89.23 lakh from the Deogarh Treasury using fake bills for fodder procurement between 1991 and 1993.

 

6.5%

What is it? India’s estimated economic growth rate in 2017-18, according to the first advance estimates released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Friday.

Why is it important? If the prediction holds, this would be the slowest pace in four years and a drop from the 7.1% registered in 2016-17. The estimated GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2017-18, which is lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 7.5%, has been mainly hit by the 2016 demonetisation move and the rollout of the nationwide GST (goods and services tax) last July.

Tell me more: The CSO forecast implies the economy is recovering: it grew at 6% in the first six months of the current fiscal and is likely to grow at 7% in the second half. The farm sector is expected to grow at 2.1% (against 4.9% last year) and the manufacturing sector at 4.6% (against 7.9% last year) in the current fiscal.

 

25.2

What is it? The gross enrolment ratio (GER), which is the number of students enrolled in a specific level of education expressed as a percentage of the total eligible students in the same level, in higher education in 2016-17 in India, according to the 8th All India Survey on Higher Education.

Why is it important? This was 19.4 in 2010-11, which means more students are pursuing higher education. This means there will be a greater number of educated people looking for jobs in India, where the unemployment rate dipped to 5% in 2015-16, the lowest in five years. This could be an issue in the 2019 general elections, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while campaigning for the 2014 elections, had promised to provide a crore jobs.

Tell me more: The GER for women has improved to from 17.9 in 2010-11 to 24.5 in 2016-1 and that for men from 20.8 to 26.

 

30 years

What is it? The number of years that Mark Mobius would have spent at Franklin Templeton Investments. On Friday, the company announced Mobius would be retiring on January 31.

Why is it important? Mobius, 81, joined Franklin Templeton in 1987 as president of the Templeton Emerging Markets Fund. He has been synonymous with emerging markets, lifting its profile as an asset class. He made Singapore his base, and traveled about 250 days a year across the world in search of investment opportunities. His retirement had been coming since 2016, when it was announced that Stephen Dover would take over from Mobius as head of emerging market equity at the firm.

Tell me more: According to City Wire Americas, in the last five years, Mobius gave a total return of 17.9%, to be ranked 174 of 264 fund managers tracked. The best return in this set was 78.2% and the average return was 20.1%.

 

£142 million

What is it? The transfer fee paid by Spanish football club Barcelona to Liverpool to acquire Brazilian playmaker Phillippe Coutinho.

Why is it important? It brings to an end a six-month wrangling between the two clubs for Coutinho. The Catalan giants, smarting from the loss of Neymar, have wanted Coutinho since last summer’s transfer window, and had three bids rejected by Liverpool. His signing bolsters Barcelona, on the field and off the field. It leaves Liverpool with a question, though with added millions to plug it. Liverpool bought Coutinho from Italy’s Inter Milan five years ago for 7.5 million pounds, and he scored 41 goals for Liverpool in 152 appearances in the Premier League.

Tell me more: Coutinho is the world’s second-most expensive football signing, after Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain, and Barcelona’s most expensive signing. Barcelona also have the third-most expensive signing of all-time, in the form of Ousmane Dembele.

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News in numbers, Nov 16, 2015: Discounts on cancer drugs, ISIS’ share in terror attacks…

50-60%

 

What is it? Discounts to be given for 202 cancer drugs, 186 medicines to treat cardiovascular diseases and 148 types of cardiac implants at central government hospitals.

 

Why is it important? Cancer is already the biggest or the second biggest killer in India and affordability of drugs is a major concern. For instance, Imatinib, a generic drug used to treat certain types of blood cancers, retails for Rs 850-1,029 per 100 mg tablet strip.

 

Tell me more: The Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) scheme, launched by the government in partnership with government-owned HLL Lifecare, will set up and run a chain of pharmacies across the country to sell these drugs at lower costs. The first AMRIT outlet was inaugurated at AIIMS in New Delhi on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

7.5%

 

What is it? Share of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in terrorist attacks perpetrated in 2014, according to the Global Terrorism Database.

 

Why is it important? The Jihadist group, which claimed responsibility for the multi-venue attacks in Paris on Friday night, is turning out to be the most significant terrorist threat globally. The attacks, which claimed the lives of 129 people, reflect an increase in the capabilities of the terrorist group (if investigations confirm their claims).

 

Tell me more: The attacks targeted six venues including a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants and bars. Three coordinated teams of eight attackers shot at people and blew themselves up, while one was shot dead by the police.

 

$772 million

 

What is it? Penalty levied by the US on French multinational Alstom for bribing government officials in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Taiwan.

 

Why is it important? In the global context, this is the largest criminal fine ever levied under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the US anti-corruption regulation. In the Indian context, Alstom was recently awarded the letter of award for contracts worth $5.6 billion to supply 800 electric locomotives to the Indian Railways between 2018 and 2028. This could be worrisome for the Indian government, which is trying to improve its rankings in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, where corruption is cited as a major impediment.

 

Tell me more: Alstom had pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying its books and records and not implementing adequate internal control, besides bribing government officials. A Connecticut district court judge on Friday formally sentenced the company to pay the fine.  

 

3

 

What is it? Number of children in political life of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, one of whom is reportedly likely to be anointed deputy chief minister of Bihar.

 

Why is it important? Between Misa Bharati Devi, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, the choice might be a pointer of the second rung of leadership in the RJD. Also, it shows dynastic politics, which is seen as a threat to democracy, continues to thrive. Research by political scientist Kanchan Chandra of the New York University shows that 21% of the current Members of Parliament (MPs) come from political families, which though down from 29% in 2009, is still high.


Tell me more: RJD won 80 seats in the recently concluded Bihar elections, 9 more than JD (U). Nitish Kumar is set to take oath as chief minister, for the third consecutive time, on November 20.

 

50%

 

What is it? Percentage by which the Indian government plans to reduce deaths due to road accidents in the next five years.

 

Why is it important? Deaths due to road accidents (140,000) accounted for 83.7% of all traffic accidents in India in 2014. An average of 51 cases of road accidents were reported per hour last year, resulting in 16 deaths per hour. Accidents involving two-wheelers accounted for over a fourth of the lives lost.

 

Tell me more: The national action plan being drawn by the government includes new two-wheeler safety norms, working on road designs, penalties on companies and engineers for bad road designs, a separate fund for road accident victims, and action against registered public and private hospitals who detain bystanders bringing in the injured or demand payment from them (unless they are family members of the injured).

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