Press Freedom in Jeopardy



What is it? The number of years since religious preacher Asaram Bapu has been held in a jail in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

Why is it important? A special Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe court in Rajasthan held him guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl and has awarded him life imprisonment till death. This is the second case of a powerful religious leader being convicted of a sexual offence in a year. Bapu is also facing a rape case in Surat in Gujarat where a woman has accused the preacher of raping her when she was living in his ashram between 1997 and 2006.

Tell me more: Two of his aides have also been convicted and given 20 years of jail term each.



What is it? India’s ranking, according to the 2018 World’s Press Freedom Index, out of 180 countries.

Why is it important? Its ranking dropped two places from 2017, which is attributed to the “deadly threat from Modi’s nationalism”, a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The report said Hindu nationalists are trying to purge all kinds of ‘anti-national’ thought from the national debate, which is resulting in an increase of self-censorship by media and that journalists are targeted by online smear campaigns.

Tell me more: The report added that at least three journalists were killed in 2017 were targeted in connection with their work. This includes the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead outside her residence in Bengaluru in September 2017.


3.11 million

What is it? The number of people who have joined India’s state-run social security fund between September 2017 and February 2018.

Why is it important? This indicates that new jobs are being created in the non-farm sector. This could boost his prospects in the 2019 General Elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced criticism for ‘jobless growth’, especially as creating employment was one of his key poll promises (10 crore jobs if voted to power). Unemployment rates have been on the rise in the recent months.

Tell me more: A report says one cannot say if Modi has been successful in creating jobs or not as data on employment creation is outdated. A recent study has claimed that 15 million people are being added to the labour force every year.



What is it? The cost of bulletproof jackets developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre for the Indian armed forces (BARC).

Why is it important? The indigenously developed weighs 6.6 kg, around 10 kgs less than what is being used currently. Few incidents of current bulletproof jackets failing against hard core steel bullets used in AK-47 rifles have been reported. The BARC developed jackets, made of boron carbide ceramics and nano-composite tubes, will provide effective protection against hard core steel bullets.

Tell me more: Indian Army signed a Rs639 crore deal with SMPP Private Ltd to procure 186,138 bulletproof jackets. Per unit cost works out to Rs34,330.


3.035 per cent

What is it? The yield on the benchmark 10-year US treasury bond on Wednesday. Higher yield reflects declining prices of bonds.

Why is it important? The bond yield is close to the 3.041 per cent seen more than four years back in January 2014. Higher yield in US bonds could push money out of emerging markets like India, and this could put pressure on domestic bond markets and also on local currencies against the US dollar.

Tell me more: Indian rupee is the second worst performing major currency in Asia, falling by 4.52% in calendar 2018.


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Freedom Of Press


What is it? The failure rate of iris scan used to authenticate Aadhaar number, according to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

Why is it important? The is higher than the failure rate of fingerprint scans (6%). Iris scan is considered as an additional option to fingerprint scan so as to ensure that people are not denied government benefits because of authentication failure. If both iris and fingerprint scans cannot be used, then Aadhaar number can be authenticated via the mobile phone, says UIDAI.

Tell me more: So far, UIDAI has handled 616 million and 10.8 million fingerprint scans, respectively.



What is it? The proposed minimum wages for nurses working in private hospital in Kerala.

Why is it important? The Kerala High Court on Tuesday lifted an earlier order that restrained the Kerala government from issuing a notification that mandates Rs20,000 as minimum wage for nurses. Private hospitals have opposed the move saying the increase of 150% over the existing wages was illegal.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court, in January 2016, asked the centre to form a committee to look into the working conditions of nurses in private hospitals as it felt they ‘are not being treated fairly’ in terms of pay and working conditions.


Rs4,442 crore

What is it? The highest bid received by the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) on day 1 of e-auction to award the media rights for cricket matches played in India between 2018-23.

Why is it important? This is 15% higher than what BCCI received from Star TV (Rs3,851 crore) in 2012. A total of 102 matches will be played over the next five years, and per match bid works out to Rs43.5 crore as of now. The bidding will continue on Wednesday. Start India, Reliance Industries and Sony Pictures are the three bidders.

Tell me more: In comparison, Star India paid Rs 16,347 crore (or Rs54.5 crore per match) to bag media rights for the Indian Premier League.



What is it?  India’s rank in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, out of 180 countries.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, at the prime minister’s direction, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting withdrew the order of suspending the accreditation of journalists who were found to be producing or propagating fake news, which it issued the previous day. The order drew criticism from journalists as they said it was an attempt by the government to curb the freedom of press.

Tell me more: The order drew criticism mainly because any journalist accused of creating/spreading fake news would get their accreditation taken away. The government did not provide any definition for fake news.



What is it? The number of flights delayed due to a system failure at Eurocontrol, which manages air traffic in 41 European countries.

Why is it important? Half a million passengers will be affected because of this system failure that delayed 50% of all flights from the European region on Tuesday. It is not known how this impact flights from India to European destinations.

Tell me more: Eurocontrol says safety was not compromised during this failure, and air traffic management system is back to ‘normal flow management operations’.


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