Freedom To Drive

$90 billion 

What is it? The likely increase in economic output because of allowing Saudi women to drive. The West Asian country allowed women to drive for the first time on Sunday.

Why is it important? Freedom to drive is likely to increase labour participation of Saudi women, and this could boost the Saudi economy by $90 billion by 2030, according to a report by Bloomberg Economics. The report expects 70,000 Saudi women to join the workforce each year.

Tell me more: Saudi women would be covered the guardianship rules in other areas like opening a bank account or travelling abroad or getting married. India has one of the lowest female labour force participation rate at 27%, and is ranked 121 out of 131 countries according to International Labour Organisation.



What is it? The amount of minimum monthly pension that is likely to be paid to a retired organized sector employee in India. The proposal is under consideration by the government.

Why is it important? If implemented, it would double the current minimum pension of Rs1,000 per month. The recommendation is part of a three-member committee constituted by the labour ministry three months back. The committee felt the existing pension (effectively, Rs33 per day) would not even cover food cost for one person.

Tell me more: Employees’ Provident Fund (or EPF) of India has more 60 million active members (at least one month contribution in the last six months). EPF contribution is mandatory for all organized sector employees earning less than Rs15,000 per month. Employee and employer are required to contribute 12% of basic pay and house rent allowance into the EPF. From the employer’s contribution, 8.33% goes towards pension.



What is it? The percentage votes secured by Recep Erdogan in the first round of Turkey’s presidential polls, according to the state media.

Why is it important? The victory, if confirmed by official electoral results, would result in Erdogan consolidating powers without corresponding checks and balances. The post of prime minister will be removed, president can appoint senior officials directly and can also intervene in the legal system. These changes were approved in a referendum conducted last year with 51% of votes.

Tell me more:Turkey’s is facing high inflation of 11% and its currency lost 17% of the value since January 2018. The country also fights against kurdish rebels and the Islamic State group.



What is it? The surcharge levied on liquor sales in Rajasthan to fund the cow protection programme run by Vasundhara Raje government.

Why is it important? This is in addition to 10% surcharge levied on stamp duty on all non-judicial instruments like rent agreements and mortgage papers. The BJP government has so far collected Rs895 crore for cow protection. The state runs 2,562 cow-shelters with more than 8.58 lakh cows.

Tell me more:Alcohol taxes is yet to be brought under the Goods and Services Tax, and state governments are allowed to levy tax and surcharge as they wish.


4.72 crore

What is it? The number of farmers who have availed farm insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana or PMFBY in 2017-18.

Why is it important? This is 14% lower when compared with number of farmers who availed PMFBY in 2016-17. The area covered has also shrunk by 55 lakh hectares to 496 lakh hectares. Delayed settlement of claims is cited as one of the reasons for decline in enrollment.

Tell me more:There were 9.5 crore farmers in India as per Census 2011. PMFBY is compulsory for all farmers taking crop loans, and is optional for others.

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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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Air India’s debt-laden wings ✈

Rs 30,748 crore

What is it? The annual cost of various allowances paid to central government employees and pensioners as approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The approved sum is nearly 5% more than the estimates of the 7th Pay Commission in 2016, at Rs 29,300 crore for allowances. The total financial impact, including salaries, had been estimated at Rs 102,100 crore then.

Tell me more: It was approved after the Committee on Allowances, headed by Ashok Lavasa, submitted its report in April this year.


Rs 52,000 crore

What is it? The amount of debt in the books of Air India. Indian government decided yesterday to privatise the state-owned national carrier.

Why is it important? The debt ($8 billion) makes its equity valuation zero or negative, and is the biggest hurdle to its sale. Of this, around Rs 22,000 crore is a loan to purchase aircrafts. The committee is likely to hive off its assets and divest the profit-making subsidiaries.

Tell me more: Private carriers had a domestic market share of 87% in May, 2017, with Air India’s share decreasing over time.



What is it? The number of countries, with a Muslim majority, whose resident must have a close family tie to a US resident or formal ties with a US entity to be eligible for a US visa.

Why is it important? The latest guidance from the US State Department comes after the US Supreme Court on Monday said the controversial travel ban cannot be imposed on anyone who has “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”. The apex court allowed parts of the travel ban, earlier blocked by lower courts, while it reviews the rest of the order by the Donald Trump administration.

 Tell me more: The US Supreme Court will review the full order in autumn.


10 years

What is it? The age of the iPhone, Apple Inc’s flagship device, launched on June 29, 2007.

Why is it important? The smartphone, with seven versions so far, has sold more than a billion times since launch. The anniversary brings into focus the future of the gadget as in 2016, Apple saw the volumes of the iPhone take a beating, which slid further in 2017.

Tell me more: In the second quarter of 2017, despite declining volumes, the iPhone brought in more revenue: $53.25 billion from 50.76 million phones compared to the year before sales of 51.19 million phones for $32.86 billion.



What is it? The number of people invited from 57 countries to join the group choosing the annual Oscars, the most popular movie awards.

Why is it important? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which conducts the Oscars says the group of 2017 comprises 39% female and 30% coloured invitees. The Academy had come under fire for leaning heavily on white male membership in its awards panel, reflected in its choice of nominees and awards. The criticism of the lack of racial diversity reached a crescendo in 2016, with the #OscarsSoWhite discussion.

Tell me more: Indian actor, Priyanka Chopra, recognised for her lead turn in ‘Quantico’, a US TV show, is among the invitees.


In India, more births happen in the latter half of the year. Is there a reason for it? Check out our latest story for Mint at http://bit.ly/2sjjMNY

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The heat is on

0.88 degree-Celsius

What is it? The magnitude by which April 2017 was warmer than the global mean temperature from 1951-1980 (base period).

Why is it important? The deviation makes last month the second-warmest April in history, according to Nasa. Last year’s April was 1.06 degree-Celsius warmer than the base temperature and was the hottest. Both 2015 and 2016 clocked high temperatures consistently, with 2016 being the warmest year in history, a result carbon dioxide and other human-led emissions into the atmosphere. This year the mercury has not shot up as much as in 2016 but since February, has clocked second-highest temperatures ever.

Tell me more: Modern record-keeping of temperatures began in 1880 and 2017 would be its 138th year.


Rs 1,168.02 crore

What is it? The consolidated net loss of steel major, Tata Steel, in the fourth quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? The loss was less than the one in the fourth quarter of FY16 (of Rs 3,041.88 crore) but it marks the removal of an obstacle to merging its European operations with the German ThyssenKrupp in a joint venture. The pensions scheme at its UK operations had been the hurdle. This quarter, the loss was primarily due to exceptional items amounting to Rs 4,069 crore, which included resolution of the pension claims of its UK employees.

Tell me more: Consolidated profit before the exceptional items are added, amounted to Rs 3,352 crore in Q4 FY17.


>9.1 million

What is it? The number of new taxpayers brought within the income tax ambit by the authorities after the demonetisation drive.

Why is it important? The new taxpayers amount to almost 25% of the count of taxpayers last season (37 2015-16). The finance minister, Arun Jaitley, says out of the new taxpayers in the net this year, 1.8 million have been identified with cash transactions not in line with their income profiles.

Tell me more: More than 972,000 of those under the scanner have responded to the IT department’s queries, providing answers for 1.3 million bank accounts with cash deposits of Rs 2.89 crore.


$234 million

What is it? The amount Incred, a non banking finance company backed by Anshu Jain, former Co-Chief of Deutsche Bank aims to disburse by March next year, primarily to small and medium sector.

Why is it important? It comes at a time when big banks, saddled by bad loans, are shying away from lending to SMEs. Incred said in April that it has disbursed Rs 100 crore (or a little over $15 million) in its first 100 days of its operations.

Tell me more: Non banking finance sector in general has been getting more active in the SME sector, and have doubled their market share in this segment in the last five years, according to Crisil, a credit rating agency.


~3.8 million

What is it? The number of plastic pieces on the beaches of Henderson Island.

Why is it important? Henderson Island, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is uninhabited, remote, and visited only once in five to 10 years. It has the highest concentration of human-activities generated debris – estimated to weigh over 250,000 tonnes – recorded anywhere in the world, washed ashore by the sea, and serves as an indicator of marine pollution.

Tell me more: The nearest major population centre to this Unesco World Heritage site is 5000 kms away.

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