Treating The Cause

8 million

What is it? The number of lives that can be saved in low- and lower-middle-income countries by 2030 if investments are increased in non-communicable disease control, according to a report.

Why is it important? Besides saving lives, this could also gain financial benefits up to $350 billion by the next 12 years by scaling up investments in preventing and treating chronic diseases (such as cancer and heart disease), which would cost an additional $1.27 per person per annum. It says that for every dollar invested for the same could return at least $7 by way of increased employment, productivity and longer life.

Tell me more: Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world. In 2015, of the 56 million global deaths, 40 million were due to this group of diseases.


What is it? The number of thermal power plants, of a total of 114, had a coal stocks of less than seven days, as of May 14.

Why is it important? Private producers such as Tata Power Company and Jindal Power can now switch suppliers of coal, which would help in addressing supply shortages and optimise transportation and generation costs. Earlier, power producers could source coal only from the entity they had signed a pact with. The savings generated from this optimisation has to be passed on to distribution companies/consumers.

Tell me more: This exercise will be voluntary on the part of the thermal power plants.


What is it?The number of years in which India has sent a minister to North Korea. The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh is on a two-day visit to the country.

Why is it important? This follows the signs of thaw in the Korean Peninsula. However, on Wednesday morning, North Korea threatened to pull out of a summit with US President Donald Trump if his country insists that it give up its nuclear weapons. The United States is hopeful that the meeting will take place in Singapore as scheduled on June 12.

Tell me more: India and North Korea explored the possibilities of cooperation in areas such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines, besides agreeing to strengthen people to people contact through cultural and educational exchange.


What is it? The number of days before which B S Yeddyurappa, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has to prove his majority in the state assembly.

Why is it important? BJP emerged as the single largest party with 104 seats, eight short of a simple majority. With the other two major parties – Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) or JDS – coming together, Yeddyurappa cannot prove the majority unless he weans away some newly elected legislators from Congress or JDS. If BJP was able to do it, such MLAs will be disqualified under the Anti-Defection Law, which prohibits legislators to disobey the directive of the party.

Tell me more: three-member bench of the Supreme Court heard a petition filed by the Congress party opposing the Governor’s move inviting BJP to form the government. The hearing, which started at 2 AM on Thursday and lasted for four hours, will resume tomorrow at 10.30 AM.


What is it? The proposed pension amount per month for building or construction workers after they reach 60 years.

Why is it important? This is the first time building and construction workers will receive pension, as per the proposal published by the Labour Ministry. Workers will be eligible only if they have paid premium for at least five years.The draft also has provisions for supporting the education of workers’ children and health insurance.

Tell me more: 13 percent of all male workers are engaged in construction industry in 2011-12, as compared to 2 percent in 1977-78, as per Statistics Ministry. States levy one per cent cess on cost of construction under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act. Till December 2017, Rs39,152 crore has been collected but only Rs10,123 crore was utilised.

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Pyongyang’s sanctioned trade

$3 billion

What is it? North Korea’s annual export revenue.

Why is it important? This is likely to be cut by a third due to the new sanctions imposed by the United Nations for its intercontinental ballistic missile testing in July. The resolution against North Korea represents the “strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test”. These sanctions are to cut off Pyongyang’s money supply and prevent it from further developing its outlawed missile expansion program.

Tell me more: It was a unanimous decision of the UN Security Council with 15 votes in favour that targets North Korea’s primary exports including coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.


10 days

What is it? The number of days spent by Congress MLAs (member of legislative assembly) from Gujarat at a hotel resort near Bengaluru, ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections.

Why is it important? The forty-four MLAs returned to their home state after being flown away to Bengaluru to prevent them from either quitting or defecting ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat on Tuesday.

Tell me more: At stake is the fifth re-election of Congress head, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. The MLAs were again whisked away to another resort in in Anand, near Ahmedabad on return.


2 lakh-tonne

What is it? The quantity at which the Indian government has capped the import of arhar dal (split pigeon pea).

Why is it important? This comes at a time when farmers are demanding a better price for arhar dal following a record production of 22.4 million tonne of pulses in 2016-17 and 4.6 million tonne of arhar dal (record) in the same year. The prices of arhar dal shot up to Rs 200 per kg last year, following which the government imported 30 lakh tonnes of pulses, of which 20 lakh tonne are lying in its warehouses.

Tell me more: India is not only the biggest producer but also, the largest consumer and importer of pulses.



What is it? The number of sexual harassment complaints reported in IT software and services company, Wipro, in the year 2016.

Why is it important? This was the highest number of such complaints with a listed company in the latest reporting year (FY17, according to Sebi guidelines), of which 102 were resolved. The numbers increased last year compared to previous years, and not just for Wipro. While Wipro’s went up from 111 in 2015 (with 107 solved), Infosys’ went up from 62 in FY16 to 88 in FY17 (77 resolved), and TCS’ cases went up from 34 to 65 (with 61 resolved) in that time.

Tell me more: The Securities and Exchange Board of India had made it mandatory for listed company to disclose the number of complaints and their pendency at the end of the financial year in their annual reports.



What is it? The number of employees in United Spirits who received above Rs 1 crore in salary in FY17.

Why is it important? This could be an attempt by Diageo, which has majority stake in United Spirits, to professionalise the management by attracting talent in an industry affected by multiple factors — alcohol ban in Bihar, demonetisation and the Supreme Court banning alcohol sale along the national highways. The number of crorepatis is more than even some tier-I IT companies such as Infosys (51).

Tell me more: Diageo completed buying controlling stake of 55% in the company in 2014.

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The largest drug bust

1,500 kg

What is it? The quantity of narcotics seized by the Indian Coast Guard from a merchant vessel off Gujarat on Saturday.

Why is it important? Valued at Rs 3,500 crore, this is the largest single haul of narcotics till date, according to the Defence department. The total quantity of various drugs seized more than threefold from 102,115 kg in 2015 to 350,836 kg in 2016 while the number of people arrested in such cases increased by around 20% from 32,559 in 2015 to 38,929 last year, according to the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Tell me more: The Indian Coast Guard ‘Samudra Pavak’ intercepted the merchant vessel on Saturday noon, which was brought to Porbandar on Sunday morning. A joint investigation by the Indian Coast Guard, Intelligence Bureau, police, Customs department, Indian Navy and other agencies is underway.



What is it? The number of supersonic B-1 bombers the US flew over South Korea on Sunday.

Why is it important? This was done as a show of force in response to North Korea, which conducted its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, escalating tensions and threatening regional stability. North Korea’s latest missile launch reportedly appears to have the ability to hit American mainland, which experts say, show that the country has progressed rapidly in its missile programme. It has conducted 12 missile tests since February and its first ICBM test on July 4.

Tell me more: China, which is North Korea’s most important ally, urged North Korea to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions but US President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment in China failing to use its economic clout to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.


Rs 65,000 crore

What is it? The estimated value of BSNL’s one-third of prime land holdings.

Why is it important? The book value of the 15,000-odd land and building assets held by the company was Rs 975 crore, the estimation that was arrived ‘decades ago’. The recent valuation exercise was initiated in April this year as part of company’s business revival programmes, which could help the company monetise its assets by the commercial utilisation of its holdings. BSNL along with Air India and SAIL accounted for over half of the total losses incurred by the top 10 loss-making public sector companies in the country.

Tell me more: The public sector company has, however, narrowed its losses over the years: from Rs 7,019 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 8,234 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 3,880 crore in 2015-16.



What is it? The number of American diplomats expelled by Russia on Sunday.

Why is it important? This is the largest expulsion of diplomats from any country. The expulsion follows after the US congress approved sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea and also for allegedly interfering in US Presidential elections held last year.

Tell me more: Moscow had insisted US reduce staff at its embassies and consulates in Russia to 450, mirroring the strength of Russia’s staff in the US.



What is it? The Union power ministry has asked states to reduce electricity losses to below 10% in six months.

Why is it important? Capping electricity loss at 10% has the potential to transform the financial conditions of many state-run utilities. In June this year, the all-India average of power loss (both theft and technical) was 23%. Government data shows some 200 towns face loss in the range of 40-90%. Such circumstances make the target an ambitious one, given the timeline.

Tell me more: The government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) straightening operational and bill collection efficiency have helped state-run power discoms cut their financial losses. But the target of less than 10% of power loss in six months can only be attained by the simultaneous implementation of Uday for pilferage and theft and the Integrated Power Development System (IPDS) for technical upgrades to avoid faults.

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Mayday Mayday

Rs 2,313.66 crore

What is it? The consolidated loss before tax of Ola, the Indian cab-hailing app in FY16.

Why is it important? Nearly three times more than FY15’s loss, this is being seen as Ola’s cost to remain a block ahead of Uber, its American rival. Revenue increased seven times to Rs 758 crore, but a four-times rise in advertising (Rs 385.5 crore) and over five-times increase in employee costs (Rs 379 crore), have ensured the losses pile up.

Tell me more: Ola-parent, ANI Technologies’ standalone operating revenue was Rs 383.44 crore, with which Uber India was almost neck and neck at Rs 374.79 crore.



What is it? Number of civilians killed in Iraq and Syria by US strikes against Isis targets since 2014, according to the Pentagon.

Why is it important? The Pentagon number is far less than the estimates of non-profit monitoring groups. Airwars, for example, puts coalition-led civilian deaths in Libya and Syria at 3,164 people atleast. High civilian deaths have remained the coalition fighting Isis’ Achilles heel, as human rights organisations have often criticised them for indiscriminate targeting.

Tell me more: Pentagon further said it was assessing the deaths of 42 people reported recently.



What is it? The number of states that have notified rules for the new Real Estate Act.

Why is it important? The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act , 2016, which promises transparency and protection of consumer rights, comes into effect on 1st May. The act was passed by both houses of parliament last year, and being a model law, it leaves the state governments to pass their own specific rules. The low number indicates the states are not prepared, but might face public pressure to notify rules.

Tell me more: Among other guidelines, the real estate act mandates developers to separately deposit 70% of the funds collected exclusively for construction.



What is it? Import duty on gold at present.

Why is it important? Indian government is reportedly looking at bringing import duty down ahead of Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout. Think tank Niti Aayog had suggested reducing the duty to make more gold available for small and medium firms, which in turn can increase jewelry exports. Lower duties also tend to bring down smuggling.

Tell me more: GST of 12% plus the current import duty is likely to make gold more expensive, according to industry players.


$1 billion

What is it? The cost of the anti-missile system called Thaad (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) , deployed by South Korea.

Why is it important? US President Donald Trump’s recent remarks of South Korea footing the bill for Thaad, which the US military built and deployed to South Korea, had put it in a spot. The US has now reassured it will pay for it. The anti-missile system installed as its neighbour, North Korea, lines up more missile and nuclear tests, has stirred up quite a few problems for the Asian country. They include China’s disapproval and political opposition in the ongoing presidential race in its country. The reassurance will bring some relief to South Korea.

Tell me more: North Korea test-launched another missile on Saturday, which was unsuccessful.

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