Kharif Deficit


What is it? The deficit in Kharif plantation this year compared to last year due to rainfall shortage, according to data released by the agriculture ministry.

Why is it important? The government has cited the shortfall of 8% rainfall as the reason for the lower plantation. In Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the rains are deficient by 19% or more.

Tell me more:The Kharif season is mainly rain-led, and the four-month monsoon is critical as more than 50% of the agricultural land in India lacks irrigation and is rainfall-dependent. Among Kharif crops, only the area under sugarcane (a crop requiring extremely high amount of water) is higher than last year.


What is it? The number of political parties opposed to simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

Why is it important?At a consultation meeting held by the Law Commission, as many as 9 parties objected to the proposed move to hold simultaneous elections, while 4 parties supported the move. The two national parties, BJP and Congress, stayed away from the consultations.

Tell me more:This is the Law Commission’s second set of deliberations on the subject to get political opinions from across the spectrum. It gains significance in view of the speculation on whether the four assembly elections slated to be held in the next 6-8 months in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram could be delayed or advanced to kick-start the first step towards synchronizing them with 2019 elections.


What is it? The percentage amount by which dues of big wilful defaulters of Punjab National Bank (PNB) fell.

Why is it important? Bank data has shown that dues from big wilful defaulters has fallen to Rs 15,354 crore on June 30, against Rs 15,490 crore last month. According to PNB, big wilful defaulters are those who have borrowed more than Rs 25 lakh and haven’t paid back, even though they have the ability to do so.

Tell me more:The public sector bank has been grappling with mounting non-performing assets, scams and frauds. PNB also witnessed a sharp decline in asset quality, with gross non-performing assets amounting to 18.4% of gross advances at March end.

What is it? The number of students enrolled in the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CIE), a provider of international qualifications, from India.

Why is it important?This represents a 50% increase in student enrollment from India since 2013, as parents are looking at international qualifications for their children. Higher enrollment in CIE is increasing the number of schools (420 in 2017) that offer this international qualification. These schools, in general, charge much higher fees than other private schools.

Tell me more:Assuming that each of the 67,000 students spend an average of Rs 10,000 per month, the 420 schools would earn Rs 804 crore in one year.


What is it? The number of South Korean women who protested against pervasive use of spycam pornography.

Why is it important? South Korea has the world’s highest penetration of smartphone at 95% of population, and this wide access coupled with high-speed internet has created a wave of online porn videos using spycams. The protestors were demanding stricter punishment for offences.

Tell me more:The number of spycam crimes in South Korea increased to 6,500 in 2017, as compared to 1,100 in 2010. Creating sexual images via spycam can attract a jail term of 5 years or a fine of $8,970. In reality, protestors at the female-only protests say, convicted people receive lighter punishments.

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Supply Hit, Prices Soar


What is it? The number of farmer outfits that are participating in a 10-day agitation led by Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh, which entered the third day on Sunday.

Why is it important? The nationwide stir has resulted in an increase in the prices of perishables such as milk and vegetables in some cities of Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, the All India Kisan Sabha has threatened to stop the supply of vegetables and milk from June 7 if their demands such as a complete farm loan waiver, minimum support price for their produce and the implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, are not met.

Tell me more:The agrarian crisis is also snowballing into a bigger challenge for the ruling BJP, which is seeking a second term at the Centre. Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said he will participate in a protest at Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, where six farmers were allegedly killed in police firing last year, on Wednesday.


What is it? The number of firms that have resigned as auditors of companies mid-term so far this year.

Why is it important? This is already over four times such resignations in the whole of 2017, indicating that auditors are reacting to the stricter regulatory environment that involves a modified Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017. One of the main changes to this law includes the proposed setting up of National Financial Reporting Authority as an independent regulator for the auditing profession. The entity has powers to investigate matters of professional misconduct by chartered accountants or CA firms, prohibit them for a period of up to 10 years and impose penalty.

Tell me more: Recently, Deloitte and Price Waterhouse Chartered Accountants resigned as the auditors of Manpasand Beverages and infrastructure firm Atlanta saying they refused to divulge some key information.


What is it? The number of parties– Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Gondwana Ganatantra Party – that have reportedly formed an alliance ahead of the upcoming polls in Madhya Pradesh.

Why is it important? Congress is looking to replicate its Karnataka success where it recently formed the government with JD(S). Mayawati’s BSP has been steadily polling 7% of votes in the last two decades in Madhya Pradesh and with Congress’ nearly 37% vote share in the last state elections, it can be a formidable force against the BJP where it polled 45% and faces an anti-incumbency wave after being in power for three terms.

Tell me more: Congress is also looking to stitch a wider alliance with BSP in Rajasthan and Haryana where the latter has been getting 5% and 4% in vote share respectively.


What is it? The percentage of women, who are detected with early stage breast cancer, that need not undergo chemotherapy.

Why is it important?An existing genetic testing, which measures activity levels of 21 genes to understand how aggressive cancer is, is enough to determine whether chemotherapy is needed or not. At present, women receiving low score (less than 10) are not given chemotherapy and those with high scores (above 26) are told to undergo chemotherapy. Those with intermediate scores were also given the aggressive treatment. The research study found survival rates for those intermediate score were same for those who had chemotherapy and those who didn’t.

Tell me more:Early stage cancers are the ones which haven’t spread to the lymph nodes and does not have the HER2 mutation, an indicator of whether the cancer will grow aggressive or not.

Rs24,000 crore 

What is it? Cash deposited by 73,000 deregistered companies, after demonetisation was announced in November 2017.

Why is it important? The cash deposit is being investigated for potential black money link by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Registrars of Companies. If proven that these companies have helped to convert illegal money or acted as conduit to avoid taxes, it will bolster government’s effort to curb black money in Asia’s third largest economy.

Tell me more:Two months prior to demonetisation announcement, the government deregistered more than 200,000 companies for failing to file regular returns with Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

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Political parties are sitting on a pile of cash they don’t want to talk about

This piece originally appeared on

Political parties demand financial probity and accountability from everyone else, but not so much from themselves. Funding patterns of political parties, both national and regional, show large chunks of donations whose source is not disclosed and in cash.

In spite of receiving tax waivers and subsidized land from the state, political parties don’t come under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, some information on their finances can be gleaned from their income-tax returns and disclosures to the Election Commission (EC).

The six national parties, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have registered an eight-fold increase in income in nine years, with almost all of it coming by way of donations by several names, shows data from the Association for Democratic Reforms.



In 2014-15, 61% of their combined income of Rs 1,869 crore came from unknown sources, with every party showing a high presence of such donations.




Political parties have to disclose the identity of only those donors who contribute above Rs20,000. But parties are showing nearly half their donations as being below Rs20,000, thus avoiding this disclosure.




Of the six national parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a prime contender in next year’s Uttar Pradesh polls, relies the most on such unaccounted for cash contributions.




Cash occupies a prime place in state elections as well. Parties have to disclose to EC the money raised and spent, and in what form (cash, cheque, draft or in kind), between the announcement of an election and its completion. For 71 state elections held in the last 12 years, partial disclosures made by political parties, both national and regional, show that 60% of the combined Rs3,368 crore collected was in cash.




The share of cash in total collections, though falling, was still a high 42% in 2014. Meanwhile, spending in cash has all but disappeared.




In another portent for the upcoming UP elections, the Samajwadi Party, another frontrunner, led all regional parties in cash collections for assembly elections in the last 12 years: Rs187 crore, of which 48% was in cash. That’s the currency whose rules have changed in one stroke. But will the rules of political funding ever change to allow tracing every rupee that political parties receive?


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