ISRO Offers Battery Tech


What is it? The rate by which the Federal Reserve increased lending rates on Wednesday. The benchmark overnight lending rate was increased to 2%, from 1.75%.

Why is it important? This is the second time the US central bank has increased the rate, and has indicated to increase twice again in 2018. Apart from higher borrowing rates for mortgages and credit cards, the move will also impact Indian markets as more foreign portfolio investors will pull their money out of India because of higher returns in US.

Tell me more: Inflation registered at 2.2% and has passed the level that the Federal Reserve considers healthy. The policy statement did not mention the discussions surrounding the Trump administration’s trade policies on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Wednesday’s increase was the 2nd this year and only the 7th since the end of the Great Recession.


What is it? The number of Apache AH-64E helicopters the United States has approved to sell to India.

Why is it important? Apart from 6 Apaches, the Pentagon has agreed to sell Hellfire and Stinger missiles, control radars, night vision sensors and inertial navigation systems to India for $930 million. The announcement of the deal comes ahead of the first 2+2 dialogue between Indian external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their American counterparts.

Tell me more: Bilateral defence trade between the US and India has now reached $15 billion from near zero in 2008. In 2016, India was accorded the status of a US major defense partner which allowed India to receive license-free access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies regulated by the Department of Commerce. The lead contractors are Lockheed Martin SA, General Electric Ltd and Raytheon.


What is it? The number of employees at mobile payments startup Chillr who will be joining Truecaller post the acquisition.

Why is it important? This is Truecaller’s first ever acquisition in India. Truecaller, which started as mobile directory, is now betting on mobile payments space via the Unified Payments Interface, a real-time payment system for inter-banks transactions in India. The value of the deal between the two companies – which had Sequoia as a common investor – was not announced.

Tell me more: With this deal, Chillr will have access to Truecaller’s 150 million Indian customers in its fight to capture the online payments market.


What is it? The number of days before the FIFA World Cup that Spain sacked its National team coach.

Why is it important? The move by the Spanish Football Federation (SPF) – two days before the first match against Portugal – comes after Julen Lopetegui was selected as manager of Real Madrid club. SPF claims it was a breach of trust, as the coach did not keep the association informed about this move to Real Madrid.

Tell me more: Lopetegui was appointed Spain’s coach in July 2016 and has never tasted defeat since, leading the team through 20 unbeaten games ahead of the World Cup. Also, for the first time since 2006, the Spanish national team has more players in the team in a major tournament from Real Madrid (6) than any other club.

1 crore

What is it? The one-time fee that ISRO will charge to transfer its in-house technology of Lithium-ion cells non-exclusively to a qualified production agency

Why is it important? ISRO, through its rocket sciences node, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre has invited an RFQ (Request for quotation) for a contract that will allow Indian industry to manufacture indigenously made lithium ion batteries on a large scale. This will help realize India’s plan of shifting to electric vehicles and will help automotive companies reduce battery costs.

Tell me more: ISRO uses lithium-ion batteries to power satellites and launch vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries were used last week to power the launch of GSLV-Fo8. This lithium-ion technology can be used to produce cells of varying size, capacity, energy density and power density thereby catering to the entire spectrum of power storage requirements including electric vehicles.

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Repo so low


What is it? The number of basis points by which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cut the repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends money to the commercial banks, to 6% on Wednesday. One basis point is equal to one hundredth of one percent.

Why is it important? The repo rate is the lowest since November 2010 and follows a downward trend in food prices that pushed consumer inflation in June to a more than five-year low of 1.54%. This could boost the economy, which clocked a growth of 6.1% in the January-March 2017 quarter, the slowest in two years. The repo rate cut is also likely to result in lower lending rates.

Tell me more: The RBI has also become the first central bank in Asia to cut rates this year. Four members of the monetary policy committee voted for a policy rate reduction of 25 basis points, one for reduction of 50 basis points and one for maintaining the same rates.



What is it? The percentage of protein Indians may lose from a standard diet by 2050, according to a study.

Why is it important? This would likely put 53 million people at new risk of protein deficiency and would be due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels as projected causing a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat and other staple crops. The study, the first to quantify this risk, estimates that roughly 150 million people in 18 countries are likely to be at risk of protein deficiency due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. According to a survey by market research firm IMRB, 73% of Indian diets are protein deficient. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Tell me more: Under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations, the protein content in crops such as rice, wheat, barley and potatoes decreased by 7.6%, 7.8%, 14.1% and 6.4% respectively.


Rs 250 crore

What is it? The estimated collective loss of revenue of 87 tea estates in Darjeeling since mid-June, according to the Darjeeling Tea Association.

Why is it important? Due to the indefinite strike announced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on June 15, around 75,000 tea workers in Darjeeling are likely to lose at least Rs 10,000-15,000 in wages. The auction volume of Darjeeling tea is running thin and there could be just one more auction of the tea variety this year. Due to reduced supplies, the average price shot up by 27.5% in the last auction to Rs 458.38 per kg over the last year and only 20,000 kg were sold compared to 130,000 kg a year ago.

Tell me more: The GJM is on an indefinite strike to demand a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of West Bengal.



What is it? The number of premises linked to Karnataka energy minister D K Shivakumar searched by the Income Tax department until Wednesday.

Why is it important? The Rajya Sabha (RS) was adjourned four times yesterday over these IT raids, with the Election Commission (EC) seeking a report from the Finance Ministry in two days. The raids spanned New Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, including the resort housing 42 Gujarat Congress MLAs.

Tell me more: The Congress approached the EC alleging the raids were BJP’s vendetta against Shivakumar, as he is overseeing the Gujarat MLAs in Bengaluru. The fiasco is due to the upcoming voting to elect Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat. Tax department claimed it recovered Rs 10 crore in cash.


Rs 17,576 crore

What is it? The value of illegally mined iron ore and manganese in Odisha since 2000 the Supreme Court has ordered miners to refund the state.

Why is it important? This would be a windfall revenue for the Odisha state government. Mining companies which continued to mine without or in excess of environment clearance since 2000-2001 will be penalised 100% of the illegally mined extracts. The estimate was made by the SC-appointed Central Empowered Committee which found 215.5 million-tonne ore extracted.

Tell me more: This could increase to Rs 25,000 crore if Forest Conservation violations are taken into account. The court ordered companies such as Tata Steel, Essel Mining, Sail, to pay the penalty.

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News in Numbers, Aug 30, 2016: Fines for animal cruelty, smartphones and productivity…


What is it? The percentage points by which the weighted average lending rate on outstanding rupee loans fell from December 2014 to June 2016. The repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks) was reduced by 1.5 percentage points in the same period.

Why is it important? Indicates that monetary transmission has not been effective, despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) push to banks to reduce lending rates. On the other hand, the weighted average domestic term deposit rate has been reduced by 1.12 percentage points, a move seen as the banks’ attempt to protect their profit margins even as they struggle with mounting bad loans and higher provisioning for those.

Tell me more: The RBI said that with the new system (marginal cost of funds based lending rate), which has been effective since April 1, 2016, the banks’ benchmark lending rates would be “more sensitive to changes in the policy rate”.


Rs 25-100

What is it? The proposed fines for treating animals with cruelty by beating, kicking and torturing, as per changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, according to a report. The current penalties range between Rs 10-50.

Why is it important? Indicates that the government is getting serious about animal cruelty, after a series of shocking incidents. However, it’s not clear if such small hikes in penalties will deter the violators of animal protection rules. The PCA (amendment) Bill, 2016, is likely to be introduced in the Parliament during the Winter Session.

Tell me more: If someone is found to be using an injection on cows and other milch animal to improve lactation at the cost of the animals’ health, the proposed fine is Rs 5,000, up from the current Rs 1,000. There have been 24,353 animal cruelty cases reported in India between 2012-13 and 2014-15, according to government records.



What is it? The number of years the urine/blood samples of Olympic participants are stored by the International Olympic Committee for re-testing.

Why is it important? Re-testing of silver medal winning wrestler Russia’s Besik Kudukhov in 2012 London Olympics has led to his disqualification, and upgradation of Yogeshwar Dutt’s bronze medal to silver. The event was 60-kg freestyle wrestling. Once the official announcement is made, India would have three silver medals from the London Games, including those won by wrestler Sushil Kumar and shooter Vijay Kumar. Kudukhov died in a car accident in 2013.

Tell me more: The earlier maximum period for re-testing of samples was eight years from collecting them, which was then extended to 10 years in 2015.



What is it? The jail term given to a former primary school principal in Bihar for the death of 23 children after consuming a mid-day meal in 2013.

Why is it important? The court in Chhapra (headquarters of Saran district) treated it as a rarest of rare case and ordered for the sentence to be run consecutively rather than concurrently. The former principal Mina Devi has been given 10 years in prison for culpable homicide and seven years for criminal negligence in addition to a total fine of Rs 3.75 lakh. The mid-day meal scheme is the world’s largest school feeding programme of its kind and has been implemented to ensure children do not skip school due to hunger.

Tell me more: Devi was found negligent of storing mustard oil in a container that had traces of pesticide.



What is it? The increase in productivity levels when people don’t use smartphones while working at their desks, according to a study.

Why is it important? This could help companies devise policies on the usage of smartphones at workplaces. One suggestion is to have dedicated smartphone-free time and one of the ways to implement this is to not allow the use of smartphones in normal work environments, according to the managing director (South Asia) at Kaspersky Lab.

Tell me more: The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 people aged 19-56 years in labs at the Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent where a pattern emerged correlating productivity levels and the distance of the smartphone from the user. The productivity levels were the lowest when the smartphone was on the desk and the highest when taken away from the room.


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News in numbers, Apr 6, 2016: RBI cuts repo rate, global executions highest in 25 years…


What is it? The repo rate, the benchmark rate at which the central bank lends money to the banks for a short term. It was 6.75% earlier.

Why is it important? It is likely to result in banks lowering their lending rates. The repo rate is at a more than five-year low. This is expected to encourage companies to invest to boost economic growth.

Tell me more: The RBI cut repo rate by 125 basis points last year but banks lowered lending rates by only 60 basis points. To help improve liquidity and for better transmission of interest rate cuts, the central bank has also reduced the cash proportion of banks’ requirement of reserves to be kept with the RBI. It has also increased the reverse repo rate (the rate at which the central bank borrows from lenders) by 25 basis points to 6%.


What is it? The number of state cricket associations that have not received any money from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the last five years, as pointed out by Supreme Court.

Why is it important? This could potentially force BCCI to come up with a transparent method to disburse funds to state associations.

Tell me more: The BCCI disburses funds to the state cricketing associations to develop and promote the game. The Supreme Court was hearing an affidavit filed by the BCCI, which has raised objections to some of the recommendations of Lodha committee that was set up in the wake of the IPL 2013 spot-fixing and betting scandal.


What is it? The number of people who were sentenced to death globally in 2015, the highest in 25 years.

Why is it important? This renews the debate on capital punishment and human rights. The number of executions saw an increase of 50% in 2015 over the previous year, even as the number of countries that abolished death penalty in 2015 increased to 102 from 60 in 1996.

Tell me more: Three countries – Iran (977), Pakistan (320) and Saudi Arabia (158) – accounted for nearly 90% of executions last year. The United States, the only country in the Americas to have carried out death sentences in 2015, was ranked fifth with 28 executions. The numbers are from Amnesty International.

Rs 15-20 crore

What is it? The amount Kishore Biyani’s Future Group is reportedly paying to buy Rocket Internet-backed startup

Why is it important? This is Future Group’s first acquisition of an online store and Rocket Internet’s first exit in India. The latter has been trying to sell its Indian investments (including FoodPanda, Jabong, PrintVenue and FabFurnish), which have been struggling to be in business. FabFurnish laid off a fourth of its employees last August.

Tell me more: The Future Group, which owns a home and furnishing business under the brand ‘HomeTown’, is looking to leverage the deal to reach out customers in areas with no offline or minimal presence.

160 km/hour

What is it? The speed of Gatiman Express that connects Delhi and Agra.

Why is it important? India’s fastest train. While there have been incremental improvements in the speed of train over years, this is India’s attempt to leapfrog. India plans to build a high speed train network, be completed by 2023 and costing $14.8 billion.

Tell me more: The second fastest train, Bhopal Habibganj Jan Shatabdi Express takes an extra 17 minutes to cover the distance between Delhi and Agra.

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