‘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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Cleaning Up Political Funding or not?

Government is floating interest-free bonds that can be encashed by political parties, in an effort to make transparent the hose of political funding. The move, although, is laudable, but this government has been called out in the past for accepting money from unknown sources. What remains to be seen is, will it walk the talk in the general elections coming up next year.



What is it? The number of days for which electoral bonds, the terms for which were announced by the government on Tuesday, will be open for purchase in January, April, July and October. It will be a 30-day window in the year of general elections.

Why is it important? These bonds, which are interest-free banking instruments such as promissory notes, can be encashed by political parties at select branches of the State Bank of India. The government’s stated objective of introducing these bonds is to make political funding transparent, but they have been critiqued for doing the exact opposite by enabling anonymous donations. According to a report by Association for Democratic Reforms, 30.7% of total income of all Indian political parties for 2015-16 came from unknown sources.

Tell me more: Only those political parties that received at least 1% of votes polled in the last general election or assembly election will be eligible to receive donations through electoral bonds. The bonds would be valid for 15 days, though they will not carry the donor’s name. However, donors would have to comply with the bank’s KYC (know your customer) norms.



What is it? The Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a measure of manufacturing activity, in December, an increase from 52.6 in November.

Why is it important? A value above 50 in the index indicates expansion, a value below 50 contraction. The December 2017 index reading shows the country’s factory activity expanded at the fastest pace in five years, driven by an increase in output and new orders, which saw their sharpest increases since December 2012 and October 2016, respectively. The December reading is also slightly higher than the average of 54 recorded since the start of the survey in March 2005. Job creation rose at the fastest pace since August 2012.

Tell me more: Firms increased prices at the quickest pace in 10 months in line with rising input costs, which suggests that inflation could be higher than the central bank’s medium-term target of 4%.



What is it? The number of milk samples that will be taken at random across India with immediate effect, according to directions issued by Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, to chief secretaries and food commissioners of all states and union territories.

Why is it important? This drive is to detect adulteration in milk, particularly that of edible oil, sucrose and detergents. States have been asked to install equipment at the village level to detect milk adulteration, for which the Centre has allocated Rs 100 crore. Last year, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India said that samples of unbranded milk taken as part of a national survey revealed that a fifth of them were adulterated.

Tell me more: In May 2017, the government had said that a new scanner had been developed that can detect adulteration in milk in 40 seconds. The scanner was said to cost Rs 10,000 and have a per test cost of 5-10 paise.


$268 billion

What is it? Apple’s cash reserves (cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities), as of September 2017.

Why is it important? An analyst report released by Citi this week said there was, now, a 40% chance of Apple buying Netflix, the American entertainment company. The news trigger for the report was the Donald Trump administration announcing sharp cuts in corporate tax rates and untaxed profits of American companies that are stored abroad and repatriated. Most of Apple’s cash reserves are parked overseas, and the report reckons the lower tax rates could entice the company to bring some of it back into the US and use it for impactful acquisitions.

Tell me more: While Apple has cracked online music, it has struggled to crack TV and films, and Netflix can help it do that. Netflix’s subscribers have grown from 23 million in 2011 to 109 million in 2017, and it had a market capitalisation of $87 billion.


130 million pounds

What is it? The amount that English club Liverpool are reportedly seeking from Spanish club Barcelona to sell their prized midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

Why is it important? With the January transfer window opening in European club football, the movement around Coutinho is once again a big story. Liverpool rejected three bids from Barcelona over the summer of 2017, the third worth up to 119 million pounds, saying the Brazilian wasn’t for sale. But since then, Liverpool’s stand has softened. Last weekend, Nike, Barcelona’s kit sponsor, posted online a club shirt with Coutinho’s name on the back, before pulling it down, adding fuel to the transfer fire.

Tell me more: A transfer value of 130 million pounds would be the second-highest ever. The highest-ever is Coutinho’s fellow Brazilian Neymar’s move for 222 million Euros from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017.


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News in Numbers, Jan 5, 2017: What’s in your drink?


What is it? The number of impurities that a nanotechnology-based ‘dip-strip’ developed by a group of Indian researchers can detect in milk.

Why is it important? The test, which can be performed by anybody, is more affordable (mass production cost of each strip would be nearly 25 paise) and less time-consuming, and said to be a better alternative to the other tests such as infrared-based and chromatographic methods. Last year, the Supreme Court pulled up the food regulator for not taking enough action to prevent adulteration in milk and said that the government must revisit the Food Safety and Standards Act to revise the punishment so that it can act as a better deterrent.

Tell me more: A nationwide survey conducted by the food regulator in 2011 revealed that over two-thirds of the samples were found to be nonconforming to the prescribed standards and it was alleged that in some states, up to 100% of the milk samples were adulterated. The technology that has been developed can detect impurities such as urea, detergent, maltodextrin, sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.



What is it? The number of observers the Election Commission (EC) will deploy in five poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa.

Why is it important? These observers, drawn from the Income Tax (IT) department of the Indian Revenue Service or IRS (200), the Central Excise and Customs Department of the IRS (150) and other central services, are to check the use of black money and other illegal inducements during the polls. The tax authorities have also been asked to strengthen their Air Intelligence Units to check the flow of illegal cash and other items. The Financial Intelligence Unit has also been directed to inform the EC and the IT department of any suspicious deposits of cash in these states.

Tell me more: The EC announced the campaign election expenses limit per candidate for the five states on Wednesday – Rs 20 lakh Goa and Manipur and Rs 28 lakh in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, Punjab and Goa will go for polls on February 4, Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and March 8.


Rs 14.97 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the banks have reportedly received in high-value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 as of December 30, the last day for depositing the banned notes.

Why is it important? This is nearly 97% of the total value of money (Rs 15.44 lakh crore) withdrawn from November 9, raising questions about the usefulness of the exercise of demonetisation. One of the major criticisms of the government’s move to withdraw these high-value currency notes has been that it would not help fight the black money battle. This could also mean that people have found ways to channel their money into the banking system though the Income Tax department has been conducting a nationwide drive against black money hoarders. Some have argued that money coming into the system is not a bad thing, because it’s now accounted for.

Tell me more: As of January 1, the department had reportedly detected undisclosed income of Rs 4,663 crore and seized Rs 562 crore (this included Rs 110 crore in new notes). This was a result of 556 surveys, 253 searches and 289 cases of seizures besides issuing 5,062 notices to entities for tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.



What is it? The number of one day international (ODI) matches cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni has captained, of which he won 110 – a win percentage of 59.57%.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, the skipper announced his decision to step down as the ODI and T20 captain of the Indian cricket team, a move that took many by surprise. He has captained India in 72 T20 matches, winning 41 of these. Popularly known as ‘Captain Cool’, he holds the record for most matches (331 across all formats) as captain of an international side and is the only captain to have won International Cricket Council trophies – ODI World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy.

Tell me more: The 35-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper, who hails from Ranchi in Jharkhand, had made a similar shocking announcement to quit Test captaincy in 2014 midway through a tour of Australia. Test captain Virat Kohli is highly likely to be named to lead the Indian cricket team in other formats as well.



What is it? The number of human organs including the most recent discovery – mesentery, which has existed in the digestive system for centuries.

Why is it important? Although its function is not clear yet, with further research, it could help in the understanding and treatment of abdominal and digestive diseases. The findings say that it is also unclear if mesentery should be viewed as part of the intestinal, vascular (circulatory system), endocrine (collection of glands that produce hormones to control certain functions), cardiovascular or immunological systems because it has important roles in all of them.

Tell me more: The new organ, a fold of the peritoneum that connects the intestine to the abdomen, was earlier thought to be made up of separate parts. The discovery that mesentery is a single structure was made by Irish researcher J Calvin Coffey in 2012 and along with his team, he studied the part to prove that it should be classified as an organ.


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