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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Enroute larger tax base

7.95 million

What is it? The number of applicants to register under the goods and services tax (GST) as of mid-Friday.

Why is it important? Registered taxpayers under GST is now 50,000 short of 8 million tax base of value added tax, excise duty and service tax. With registration open until tomorrow, the tax base under GST is expected to exceed the previous regime. Meanwhile, government has extended last date for small businesses (with revenue of Rs 75 lakh) to register under composition scheme where traders will pay lower tax rates.

Tell me more: Widening of tax base will help government to collect more taxes, and could lead to reduction in tax rates. India’s tax revenue to gross domestic product is 17%, as compared to 25.4% in US.


Rs 9,509 crore

What is it? The unspent funds with Health Societies in 27 states (from Rs 7,375 crore in 2011-12) under the National Rural Health Mission, according to a report filed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Friday.

Why is it important? The amount increased while in six states, Rs 36.31 crore has been diverted to other schemes. The CAG observed the shortfall in availability in physical infrastructure such as primary health centres to be between 24-38% in 28 states, instances of non-availability of essential drugs in 24 states, and medicines issued to patients without prescribed quality checks in 14 states. The average shortage of five types of specialists (general surgeon/physician, obstetrician/gynaecologist, paediatrician and anaesthetist) ranged between 77-87% in select community healthcare centres in 27 states.

Tell me more: About 13,000 facilities did not report data on Health Management Information System, a web-based interface, in 2015-16 due to which the overall position on health indicators has not been ascertainable.


Rs 71,941 crore

What is it? The total amount of undisclosed income detected by way of searches, seizures and surveys by the Income Tax department between April 1, 2014 and February 28, 2017, as per information submitted by the government to the Supreme Court.

Why is it important? This is after government’s effort to curb black money generation. Among the steps taken by the government to flush out black money, it recently cancelled the registration of one lakh firms while it is probing 37,000 shell companies for funnelling black money and another 3 lakh for suspicious transactions.

Tell me more: Until a couple of months after the demonetisation move, another attempt against those hoarding money illegally, the total undisclosed amount admitted was over Rs 5,400 crore while the total quantity of gold seized was over 300 kg.


Rs 1.5 lakh

What is it? Amount payable to members of central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for each meeting.

Why is it important? Apart from paying a sitting fee to MPC members, the central bank also codified conduct involving conflict of interest, confidentiality and silent period. For example, members are required to maintain a seven-day silent period seven days before and after the meeting. This will generate greater confidence in decision making of MPC.

Tell me more: MPC’s mandate is to guide monetary policy to achieve a targetted inflation rate of 4% through adjustments in lending rates and provisioning norms by the central bank.



What is it? The number of people arrested by the Rajasthan police for stealing crude oil from India’s biggest onshore oilfield owned by Cairn India

Why is it important? The crime went undetected for six years, and 50 million litres of crude oil worth $ 7.75 million was stolen. Drivers and contractors working in the oilfield were part of the network that stole crude oil.

Tell me more: Trucks carrying water – a byproduct of oil exploration – out of the oilfield were carrying crude oil, and was sold to two factories nearby with storage capacity. These factories then sold to clients across India.

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News in Numbers, Oct 5, 2016: Children in extreme poverty…

25 basis points

What is it? The reduction in repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends to the banks, by Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee. It is 6.25% now from 6.5% earlier.

Why is it important? This is the lowest since November 2010 and has been done based on the scenario that inflation would ease in the coming months. The daily prices of pulses and vegetables reported by various markets in the country are indicative of this trend. This signals a shift in the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) stance, which looks to support growth as inflation promises to be moderate due to a normal monsoon and government measures. It remains to be seen if this results in meaningful transmission by the banks to the borrowers.

Tell me more: This is the first policy review presided by governor Urjit Patel, who was appointed a month ago. This was also the first time the newly constituted, six-member monetary policy committee decided on interest rates – all six members voted in favour of a rate cut.



What is it? The number of flights domestic carriers will operate per week in the winter schedule effective October 30.

Why is it important? This is an increase of 20.8% over those operated in the winter schedule of 2015 (13,744), which is likely due to domestic air traffic’s double-digit growth. It has been growing at 10% annually for the last two years while in August, it grew at 24% compared to a year ago. However, despite the government’s push for regional connectivity, airlines plan to operate flights to 75 destinations this winter compared to 81 in the same period last year.

Tell me more: Indigo (InterGlobe Aviation) would see the highest jump in domestic flights (42%) this winter while the comparative figures for Air India and Jet Airways are 7.48% and 1.76% respectively.


385 million

What is it? The estimated number of children living in extreme poverty globally in 2013, according to a report. Extreme poverty is defined as welfare less than $1.9 per day per person.

Why is it important? This report indicates that children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty. Children in the two age groups – 0-4 years and 5-9 years – each accounted for 15.9% and 15.4% (respectively) of those living in extreme poverty (adults included). Though children made up for a third of the sample population, over half of them were affected by extreme poverty.

Tell me more: Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest share of children living in extreme poverty (over 50%) followed by South Asia (36%), with over 30% extremely poor children living in India alone. The report by the World Bank Group and Unicef has arrived at these estimates based on data from 89 countries, which represent over 84% of the developing world’s population.


Rs 60,969 crore

What is it? The total value of bids for telecom spectrum at the end of the third day of auctions.

Why is it important? This is only a third of the amount the government hoped to raise in this auction, and indicates that telecom players consider the reserve price to be too high. No one has bid for the premium 700-MHz band – worth Rs 4 lakh crore at base price –  so far. The auctions are expected to end this week.

Tell me more: The government was hoping to raise at least Rs 5.6 trillion through this auction, but at the current rate, might end up with even less than Rs 1.1 trillion it raised in 2015.



What is it? The percentage of men in Rajasthan who got married before they reached 21 years of age, according to a survey for the year 2012-13. Among women in the state, the under age marriage percentage is lower at 14.3%

Why is it important? This higher percentage of under-age marriages among men could be an indicator that the age difference between husband and wife is coming down. (The legal marriageable age for women is 18). The survey covered nine states, among which Rajasthan emerged as the one with highest percentage of early marriages. Uttarakhand, the lowest.

Tell me more: In 2008, a panel recommended making the lower age limit for marriage (18) the same for both men and women.


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