Agronomics

98%

What is it? This year’s southwest monsoon rainfall estimate as a percentage of the Long Period Average (LPA), India Meteorological Department’s long-term rainfall-tracking benchmark.

Why is it important? It’s up from the earlier estimates of 96% of the LPA (which is 89 cm for 1951-2000). In India, monsoons have a direct impact on agricultural GDP. Since 2014, the actual monsoon has been a lower percentage of LPA than forecast, though. In 2013, it was 106% of LPA compared to a forecast of 98%, while in 2016, it was 97% when it was predicted to be 106% of LPA.

Tell me more: The monsoon this year arrived early, hitting the Kerala coast in May itself, rather than in the first week of June.

 

86,119 tonne

What is it? The amount of buffalo meat (carabeef) exports in April.

Why is it important? It’s down 11.4% from April last year, according to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. A strike by abattoirs is taking a toll on exports, in which India has had a lead (over Brazil) since 2014 worldwide. According to the United States Department of Agriculture which considers carabeef as beef in its statistics, India exported 17,64,000 tonne of the meat in 2016.

Tell me more: The appreciation in the value of the rupee has also affected exports. Abattoirs have been on a strike since March in the leading exporting state, Uttar Pradesh, after the government went after illegal slaughterhouses.

 

500 million

What is it? The number of people the government wanted to train in new skills by 2022.

Why is it important? The Union government delinked the target, set by the UPA II government, on Tuesday from its efforts at skill development. Around 150 million were expected to be trained by the private sector under the National Skill Development Corporation and 350 million by the ministries of the central government. But now training would be demand-driven rather than to meet a target.

Tell me more: 19.2 million people have been trained under the scheme since 2014-15.

 

5

What is it? The number of people killed in farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh.

Why is it important? A firing during the protests also left more than a dozen injured. The state government insists that the shots were not fired by police or the central reserve police force, but some other accounts have pointed to police firing. The agitation underlines the growing discontent among farmers in the state, and in fact across the country. Their demands include loan waiver and higher minimum support price for agri products

Tell me more: Earlier this year, farmers from Tamil Nadu had staged protests in Delhi for more than 40 days making similar demands on the back of water shortage in the state.

103

What is it? The number of consecutive quarters of economic growth in Australia.

Why is it important? Australia now matches Netherlands’ record in sustaining a recession-free quarterly growth, the longest among developed countries. This translates to 26 years without a recession, even as its peers faced a number of financial hits including dotcom crash and financial crisis in the last two decades. Australia hasn’t had a recession since 1991.

Tell me more: Australia’s GDP grew by 0.3% in January-March quarter, slower than United States and United Kingdom, both of which grew at about 2% in the quarter.

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Development challenges: The alarming deficit in stormwater drainage in urban India

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

Development in urban India is swallowing soft landscape, nature’s absorbent for rainwater. And the man-made alternative, stormwater drains along roads, faces major deficits in urban locations. The last time the ministry of urban development surveyed for stormwater drains in 13 states, the coverage was below 50%—a level the ministry terms as “immediate action for improvement”—in 56 of 104 cities and in 745 of 1,383 urban areas that responded.

104 large cities surveyed

The ministry, for 2010-11, surveyed 13 states for various indicators in urban water and sanitation. One of these was stormwater drainage. Here, coverage was defined in terms of the percentage of road length covered by the stormwater drainage network; further, only those drains made of pucca (permanent) construction were considered. A total of 1,383 urban local bodies (ULBs) responded, of which 104 were municipal corporations/nagar nigams in large cities. As many as 56 of these 104 large cities had coverage below 50% (a level termed by the ministry as needing “immediate action for improvement”) and 93 had coverage below 75% (“caution for improvement”).

 

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All 1,383 respondent cities/towns from 13 states

Stormwater drains, which are designed to address high rainfall concentrated in a short period of time, face clogging with garbage and sewage. That is, when they exist in the first place; often they don’t. So, the city gets deluged even if it receives less-than-normal rainfall. In half the 1,383 cities/towns that responded to the survey, stormwater drainage coverage was below 50%; in 1,142, it was below 75%. Odisha, Kerala and Chhattisgarh were the worst among the states. Among the better ones, relatively speaking, were Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

 

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Cities and rainfall

The importance of stormwater drainage to a city increases in the context of changing weather patterns such as erratic and uneven rains (see charts) and more rainfall in a single day. According to data from knowyourclimate.org, the number of days in Mumbai with rainfall above 40 mm has increased by 2.78% over a decade. As has the number of days above 60 mm and 80 mm, by 3.21% and 3.56%, respectively.

 

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Source: Ministry of urban development report titled ‘Service levels in urban water and sanitation sector’ for 2010-11

 

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News in Numbers, June 9, 2016: The cost of peace, better weather forecasting system soon…

$679.8 billion (Rs 45.3 trillion)

What is it? Estimated spend by India to contain violence in 2015. It’s 9% of India’s GDP (gross domestic product) on a purchasing power parity basis, according to a study.

Why is it important? In 2014, it was 4.7% of India’s GDP, resulting in the decrease in its overall peace score. Though its ranking improved by two spots to 141 of 163 countries, the report suggests India has a long way to go to be as peaceful as Iceland, Denmark and Austria (the top three ranking nations on the peace index).

Tell me more: The index is calculated based on three broad metrics: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, and the degree of militarisation. Global peace declined in 2015 and the economic impact of violence was $13.6 trillion in terms of purchasing power parity basis – approximately, 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.

 

$60 million

What is it? The amount India’s meteorology office is spending on a new supercomputer to improve India’s forecasting of the monsoon.

Why is it important? The system would be 10 times faster than the current one – and make better weather predictions. This in turn would help farmers in choosing when to sow, irrigate and apply fertilisers and ultimately improve farm output by around 15%. Improved weather monitoring would also help the central and state governments in taking action during delayed or less rains.

Tell me more: Around two-thirds of India’s population depend on agriculture as their main source of income, which in turn, is heavily reliant on the rains. Annual monsoon rains hit the Kerala coast on Wednesday, easing concerns after two years of successive droughts in the country.

 

5

What is it? The number of locations (of a total of six) at which dummy terrorists reportedly managed to ‘infiltrate’ Mumbai during ‘Operation Sagar Kavach’, a mock exercise to test Indian forces’ preparedness against terror attacks from the sea.

Why is it important? Highlights the difficulties of keeping India secure, and might send the message that people in general should be more alert to the danger. The biannual exercise was started after the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks where terrorists entered the city through the sea and killed 164 people and wounded 308.

Tell me more: The Indian Coastal Guard personnel reportedly posed as terrorists and they were to transport boxes containing ‘explosives’ and ‘arms’ into Mumbai without being noticed by the coastal wing of the Mumbai police. However, five of the six Coast Guard officials managed to dodge the coastal police.

 

5,000

What is it? The number of people in India who manage to get a kidney transplant, of the 1-2 lakh people who need it every year.

Why is it important? India is one of top kidney exporters in South Asia, the leading transplant tourism hub globally, according to the World Health Organization. About 2,000 Indians are estimated to be selling their kidneys every year, many of them exported.

Tell me more:  The recent arrest of the suspected leader of an illegal kidney trading gang in one of India’s leading private hospitals (Apollo Hospitals) in Delhi brought to the fore the practices of the lucrative black market trade in the country. The hospital has claimed it was cheated by fake identification papers that passed off the victims as the relatives of the organ recipients. Eight people, including five of the hospital employees, have been arrested in this case.

Rs 10 crore

What is it? The penalty that the telecom regulator wants to impose on mobile operators besides a jail term of up to two years for their executives for any violation of regulations.

Why is it important? This comes after the Supreme Court quashed an order by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that had asked operators to compensate subscribers for call drops (Re 1 for every call dropped with a cap of Rs 3 per day). The regulator says this would give it greater powers in protecting consumers’ interests, grievance redressal and better enforcement of its rules.

Tell me more: In case the violation continues, TRAI has asked for the provision to impose an additional fine of up to Rs 15 lakh per day till the default continues. Currently, the regulator can impose a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh for a violation.

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News in Numbers, May 16, 2016: Google’s likely antitrust fine, polling across three states…

€3 billion

What is it? The antitrust fine amount Google is reportedly to be served with, by the European Commission in the near future.

Why is it important? If true, this would be the highest antitrust fine imposed on any company, surpassing a €1.1 billion fine on chip-maker Intel in 2009. The world’s largest search engine has been accused of promoting its shopping service in Internet searches, harming its rival services. This is likely to force Google to stop manipulating its search results, a case which has gone on since 2010 in the European Union.

Tell me more: The fine is expected to be announced in June and could go up to €6.6 billion, one-tenth of Google’s annual sales.

5,000

What is it? The number of jobs affected in the automobile sector due to the ban on diesel cars and SUVs with engine capacity of 2,000 cc and above in the Delhi-NCR area, according to an industry body.

Why is it important? The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers has contended that there is no link between engine capacity and emission levels and automakers such as Mercedes Benz have argued that their vehicles are BS VI-compliant and that diesel does not pollute the air anymore than petrol. Some have called for phased reduction, which might also give more time for transition for workers. However, Supreme Court appears to be entertaining no further debate on the issue.

Tell me more: Due to this ban between December 16, 2015 and April 30, 2016, production of 11,000 vehicles has been affected and a countrywide ban during the same period would have impacted 47,000 jobs and resulted in a loss of production of 1 lakh vehicles.

402

What is it? The total number of constituencies where polling is happening across Tamil Nadu (232 of 234), Kerala (140) and Puducherry (30).

Why is it important? In Tamil Nadu, which has always elected a clear winner for nearly 50 years, the fight is between J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK and M Karunanidhi’s DMK, it remains to be seen if the combine of a few regional parties including Vijayakanth’s DMDK is able to make a mark to result in vote-splitting. In Kerala, the ruling UDF and the LDF are battling it out. In both these states, BJP’s vote share would be keenly watched as a measure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, who campaigned in both the states.

Tell me more: In the southern union territory of Puducherry, two Congress parties are up in arms against each other – one, led by Sonia Gandhi and the other, a breakaway faction led by chief minister N Rangasamy.

6 days

What is it? The delay in the onset of Indian monsoons this year, which is now expected to hit the Kerala coast on June 7.

Why is it important? After two consecutive years of drought and with a quarter of India’s population reeling under its effects, India’s monsoon this year is highly anticipated. The monsoon accounts for over 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is the primary source of irrigation for half of the country’s cropland and refills over 80 nationally-monitored water reservoirs (important for drinking purposes, power and irrigation). The delay is unlikely to affect the sowing of the Kharif crops.

Tell me more: Monsoon usually arrives on June 1 and the India Meteorological Department’s forecast has a margin of error of four days.

0.616

What is it? The number of seconds by which Dutch teenager Max Verstappen beat Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Why is it important? With this win, 18-year-old Verstappen became the youngest winner of a Formula One race, beating four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel’s victory in 2008 at the age of 21. He is also the first Dutch race winner since the championship began in 1950.

Tell me more: Dominant players Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collided and crashed out in the opening lap. Verstappen made his F1 debut when he was 17 for Toro Rosso, one of the two F1 teams owned by Austrian beverage company Red Bull, after which the minimum entry age was changed to 18 years.

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