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Mission: Eliminate Tuberculosis

 

9

What is it? The number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel killed after Maoists blew up their mine-protected vehicle at Sukma in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This is reportedly a revenge attack after a joint operation by the police of Telangana and Chhattisgarh resulted in the deaths of 10 suspected Maoists on March 2. Over 1,900 security personnel have been killed in Maoist violence between 2005 and 2018 (up to March 11).

Tell me more: In March and April last year, Maoists had killed 12 and 25 CRPF men in ambush attacks, which are counted among the biggest in the last few years.

 

17

What is it? The number of leaders of opposition parties that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi had invited for dinner at her residence on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This comes at a time when Congress has been losing a string of elections, the latest being in the northeast region (Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland). The meet is likely to be an attempt at stitching an alliance to defeat the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) led by BJP, which now covers 71% of India’s population in 20 states, in the 2019 General Elections.

Tell me more: Those who have not been invited include the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Biju Janata Dal and Telugu Desam Party, which pulled out its ministers in the central government but continues to be part of the NDA alliance.

 

20.4%

What is it? The percent by which the Indian government has cut Monsanto’s royalties on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This could trigger another row similar to the one in 2016 when the government had cut royalties that local firms pay Monsanto for its genetically (Bt) modified seeds by 70% and the latter had threatened to quit India. Monsanto says its royalties currently account for less than 0.5% of the cultivation cost, which would be further reduced due to the latest order.

Tell me more: The government also reduced the prices of GM cotton seeds by 7.5% to Rs 740 for a packet of 450 gms to help farmers whose crops have been affected by pest infestations.

 

Rs5,000 crore

What is it? The amount of pension liabilities under-reported by the Indian Railways during 2016-17.

Why is it important? This artificially boosted the operating ratio – the percentage of working expenses to traffic earnings – to 96.5%, as compared to 99.54%. Had the true amount of pension liabilities were accounted, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India – the national auditor- said the pension fund would show a negative balance, with no surplus available to service debt fund.

Tell me more: Operating ratio is an indicator of operational efficiency. A lower ratio is needed to generate surplus to buy new assets or have adequate funds for safety operations. At 99.5%, the operating ratio is the lowest since 2000-01.

 

2025

What is it? The year by which India is planning to eliminate Tuberculosis (TB), five years ahead of the global target.

Why is it important? India has the highest number of TB infection and TB death rates. 28 million new cases were detected in 2016, with 400,000 deaths arising out of TB infection. The number of TB deaths is 2.6 times the number of people killed from road accidents. Advancing of target would save that many lives each year.

Tell me more: The World Health Organisation’s ‘End TB Strategy’ aims to reduce TB deaths and new cases by 80% and 90% respectively by 2030. TB is one of the top 10 causes of deaths, and 1.7 million people died worldwide in 2016.

 

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News in Numbers, Mar 28, 2017: Aadhaar, again 🔒

0.60 degree-C

What is it? The rise in India’s mean temperature over the last 110 years.

Why is it important? India’s climate is not immune to global warming that has increased land and ocean surface temperatures by 0.85 degree-Celsius. On India’s plate was extreme weather events such as heat waves which rose in the last 30 years.

Tell me more: Pointing to this increase in a Rajya Sabha reply, the ministry of state for environment, forest and climate change, said it would focus on afforestation and renewable energy to combat the ill effects of global warming.

 

6,604 km

What is it? The length of National Highways constructed in FY17, till end of February.

Why is it important? In 11 months of this fiscal, the government has been able to achieve only 44% of its target for FY17 of 15,000 km of National Highways construction.

Tell me more: Unlike previous years, when anywhere between 76% and 99% of funds allocated for National Highways were used, this year, only 62% were utilised, albeit with a higher absolute value than the last three years.

 

1,200

What is it? The number of people Flipkart intends to hire this year.

Why is it important? The largest e-commerce company in India made the announcement on the heels of a $1-billion round of funding. The move could be seen as Flipkart turning a page after last year’s fiasco of delayed joining dates at IIT campuses. The news will also provide a ray of hope in the tech sector which has seen a spate of job cuts in 2017.

Tell me more: Flipkart’s hiring plans are 20-30% higher than last year’s and is a departure from its recent practice of depending on temporary staff to manage peak seasonal demand.

 

4.19 lakh

What is it? The number of prisoners in India’s 1401 jails, according to National Crime Records Bureau data.

Why is it important? India’s home ministry has now directed the state governments and director general of prisons to get all prisoners registered for Aadhaar, India’s biometric identification and authentication programme. Biometric authentication could help manage some prison activities better – including parole, transport and appearance before the court. It could eventually help in post-release rehabilitation of prisoners, a much neglected issue in India.

Tell me more: Home ministry has also directed that visitors be identified by Aadhaar.

 

$130 billion

What is it? The value of merged US chemical giants Dow and DuPont.

Why is it important? European Commission approved their merger on Monday. The companies had to agree to heavy concessions including sale of large parts of DuPont’s pesticide business to address EC’s concerns about competition and innovation. Post merger, it will be split to three firms focussing on agriculture, materials and specialty products.

Tell me more: This is one of the three big mergers in the sector that were awaiting EC’s go ahead. The other two are Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto and ChemChina’s $43 billion bid for Syngenta.

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