The Right To Die With Dignity


What is it? The number of judges on a Supreme Court panel who reaffirmed that passive euthanasia is legal in India, besides allowing the execution of living wills of those suffering from chronic diseases and likely to go into a permanent vegetative state.

Why is it important? In a landmark judgment, the top court upheld the right to die with dignity and said that it is a fundamental right. Although passive euthanasia has been legal in India since 2011, since the judgment was delivered on the Aruna Shanbaug case, the government is yet to pass a law to that effect. The court said it will lay down guidelines on how laws should be drafted and implemented to prevent their abuse.

Tell me more: Passive euthanasia is when you allow the patient to die who is on complete life support or in a vegetative state and cannot live without medical treatment. Active euthanasia is when steps are taken to end the life of a person who is terminally ill.

3 GW

What is it? The cumulative solar capacity of projects whose tendershave been reportedly cancelled in 2017-18.

Why is it important? This is said to be due to new tax increases on solar companies since last July when the GST (goods and services tax) was introduced and India’s proposal to levy a 70% tariff on solar equipment made in China, Malaysia and the West. This raises questions about India achieving its target of 100 GW of installed solar capacity by 2022.

Tell me more: In a related development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted the first meeting of the International Solar Alliance on Sunday. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is on an India visit as well, said an investment of $1 trillion is required to achieve 1 TW (terawatt) of solar capacity by 2030.


What is it? The number of farmers from across Maharashtra who reached Mumbai on Monday after a four-day walk to demand for the complete waiver of their loans and for the acceptance of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations.

Why is it important? This is the latest in a number of farmer protests to occur in the state, mainly due to a delay in the rollout of the loan waiver scheme, the decrease or projected decline in production of some key crops and a government failure/delay in fulfilling other promises made to the agrarian sector. As of March 6, the state government has passed on Rs 13,782 crore as loan waivers to 35.68 lakh farmers out of a total 89 lakh farmers expected to benefit from the scheme.

Tell me more: Last year, 2,144 farmer suicides were reported from six divisional commissionerates across the state between January 1 and October 31.


What is it? The number of years for which Chinese president Xi Jinping has been in power.

Why is it important? The 64-year-old Xi, whose second and last term as the president of China was to end in 2023, can now remain president for longer, even for life. This change came on Sunday after China’s National People’s Congress scrapped presidential term limits, a 36-year-old provision that allowed a president a maximum of two terms. US President Donald Trump recently also joked about being a president for life.

Tell me more: In the voting held on Sunday, 2,957 ballots were cast in favour of the change, while three delegates abstained and two voted against.


What is it? The number of times in three innings that South African batsman AB de Villiers has been dismissed by Australian bowlers in the ongoing test series.

Why is it important? On day two of the second test match, de Villiers ended with an unbeaten 126. This follows his 71 not out in the first innings of the first test match; in the second innings of that match, he was run out. His unbeaten effort yesterday put South Africa in the driver’s seat in the second test and served a reminder of his importance to its batting line-up.

Tell me more: Since his comeback in the test format, AB de Villiers has scored 461 runs in 10 innings, the highest among South African batsmen.

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Indians’ debt quagmire

10.25 lakh

What is it? The number of farmers in Punjab who would benefit from the loan waiver announced by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday.

Why is it important? In the season of farm loan waivers, Punjab is the third state, after Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, to announce one. However, even if over 55% of Punjab’s farmers would benefit from the waiver for small and marginal farmers, the amount the state will have to write off is yet unclear.

Tell me more: Farmers tilling up to 5 acre of land will get waivers of up to Rs 2 lakh, while other marginal farmers will get a flat Rs 2 lakh waiver. Uttar Pradesh’s move has set off demands across states, often turning violent as in Madhya Pradesh for farm loan waivers.


1,000 Earth-days

What is it? The time India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spent in its orbit.

Why is it important? MOM, launched in November, 2013, has remained active beyond its expected life span of six months (180 days). Lauded for its low-cost Rs 450-crore Mars spacecraft, Isro says extra fuel has led to its extended life span after it successfully entered the Mars orbit in September, 2014.

Tell me more: The spacecraft is studying the Martian surface and atmosphere and sending back images. Isro had saved Rs 2.61 crore of the budget and returned to the Union government.


75 million pound

What is it? The money Sahara Group advocate, Kapil Sibal, says will be brought to India towards refunding the Rs 24,000 crore to investors.

Why is it important? It amounts to around Rs 615 crore and Sibal has sought permission to transfer the amount to the Sebi-Sahara refund account. Sahara needs to pay this to Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Its promoter, Subrata Roy, was arrested on a court order for failing to refund the dues earlier. Sahara is scrambling to meet the court order of payment of Rs 2,000 by July. It paid Rs 790.18 crore on Monday.

Tell me more: The current amount is a result of Sahara selling its stake in Grosvenor House Hotel in London and refinancing funds related to The Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown Hotel in New York.


Rs 200 crore

What is it? The amount raised by the Pune Municipal Corporation in its bond issue.

Why is it important? This is the biggest municipal bond issue in India. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation was the first to issue such bonds, worth Rs 100 crore, in 2002. With these funds, Pune aims to fund its Smart City plans.

Tell me more: The bonds were rated AA+, promising returns of 7.59%, higher than bonds of state governments.


Rs 29.8

What is it? The stock price of Bank of Maharashtra on Monday.

Why is it important? The stock fell 3.4% in a day after news broke of the Reserve Bank of India initiating Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) against it over the weekend. A high level of bad loans (non-performing assets or NPAs) and a negative return on assets led to the move. It is the sixth state-owned bank face PCA, following Indian Overseas Bank (2015), IDBI, UCO Bank, Dena Bank and Central Bank of India (all in 2017).

Tell me more: The lender had net NPA ratio of 11.76% and a negative return on assets at -1.09%, end of FY17.

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Banks’ capital crisis

Rs 95,000 crore

What is it? The external equity capital that 11 state-run/public sector unit (PSU) banks would need by March, 2019 to meet Basel III norms, according Moody’s Investor Services.

Why is it important? It is about four times more than the amount India’s government has pledged (Rs 20,000 crore) to support the PSU banks. The rest has to come from the market. However, with high NPAs and low valuations, it might be a stretch for most PSU banks to raise the amount, and they might need further infusion from the government.

Tell me more: The State Bank of India will be trying to raise Rs 15,000 crore equity capital by itself in FY18.


Rs 16,580 crore

What is it? The estimated amount of loan the Uttar Pradesh government is considering to take to fund developmental projects.

Why is it important? Saddled with a farm-loan waiver of Rs 36,359 crore, the UP government will need financing for roads such as the Purvanchal Expressway and bridges, and also development schemes including affordable houses.

Tell me more: The news coincides with farmer protests in other states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu for financial aid from governments, primarily in the form of loan waivers. By the time of the 2019 general elections, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report estimates loan waivers would cost states Rs 2.57 lakh-crore.


$2.8 billion

What is it? The increase in net worth of Alibaba Group Holding’s chief, Jack Ma, overnight.

Why is it important? The richest person in Asia, Ma’s wealth stands at $34 billion in real-time. The surge was triggered by better-than-expected forecast of 45-49% revenue growth of the e-commerce company, China’s largest.

Tell me more: But the growth of the group is not just from online shopping, but also cloud  computing and media streaming.



What is it? The number of underground mines that Coal India reportedly plans to shut by end of this year.

Why is it important? The move is facing resistance from the labour unions, but shutting down the unprofitable mines could help the mining company cut costs. Its profits came down by more than a third to Rs2,716 crore in the quarter ending March 2017.

Tell me more: Coal India is the world’s largest coal miner and operates 413 mines including 207 underground mines. It accounts of 80% of coal produced in India.


22 minutes

What is it? The time taken by an AI machine to finish a two hour Chinese university entrance exam.

Why is it important? While the robot, MATHS AI, finished the exam fast, its score was below average. It got 105 marks out of 150, against the average score of 109. About 9.4 million students took the test this year. The robot, which is about the size of a refrigerator, is aiming for a score of 130+ next year.

Tell me more: The machine was developed by Zhunxingyunxue Technology in 2014 in partnership with Tsinghua University.

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