Center’s Thrust To Education

$50 billion
What is it? The targeted size of bilateral trade between India and Indonesia by 2025. It was $18.13 billion in 2017.

Why is it important? In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Indonesia, the two countries have signed 15 agreements in sectors including defence, science, health, railways and technology. They also pledged to step up defence and maritime cooperation and have planned to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean. India is in a bind as Indonesia is seeking its support to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council though the former has consistently supported Maldives for this so far. The voting is scheduled for next week.

Tell me more: India also announced a 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens to visit India.

Rs 550 crore

What is it? The amount the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has ordered Reliance Communications (RCom) to pay Ericsson by the end of September.

Why is it important? This is a part of NCLAT’s Wednesday order after the debt-laden firm reached a settlement with the Swedish telecom gearmaker. The order has halted RCom’s 270-day insolvency process and also, allowed RCom’s lenders to complete the sale of the telcom firm’s wireless assets including airwaves and mobile masts to Reliance Jio Infocomm in a deal that is reportedly worth $3.8 billion.

Tell me more:Ericsson, which had signed a seven-year agreement in 2014 to manage and operate RCom’s nationwide telecom network, had filed an insolvency petition against the latter to claim around Rs 1,600 crore in dues.


What is it? The percentage of total funding the central government is looking to provide to states for key school schemes in the form of incentives and on the basis of performance.

Why is it important? This step is aimed at helping states improve their school education system and will depend on the measures taken by them including teaching-learning outcome and rationalisation in teacher deployment. Surveys by NGO Pratham and that by a state government point to low reading/understanding skills and the inability to solve math problems at the basic level by many children in both government and private schools.

Tell me more: The overall student-teacher ratio is 1:27 compared to the required 1:30 under the Right to Education Act. The Indian government will spend Rs 34,000 crore under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which clubs key schemes.


What is it? The projected growth rate of the Indian economy in 2018, according to Moody’s FInancial Services, a ratings firm.

Why is it important? The current growth projection is lower than Moody’s earlier projection of 7.5% growth in 2018. Higher crude oil prices and tighter financial conditions are cited as reasons for downgrade in the growth rate. Between 1 April and 28 May this year, crude oil prices (Indian basket) have increased by $12.15 a barrel, or 19%.

Tell me more: For every $10/ barrel increase in crude oil price, India’s GDP growth is reduced by 0.15%, according to an earlier estimate by the Reserve Bank of India.

25 basis points 

What is it? The increase in retail fixed deposit rates for tenure between 1 and 2 years by India’s largest commercial bank, the State Bank of India (SBI).

Why is it important?The increase shows fading of demonetisation benefits, which brought in record deposits into the banking system from November 2016. Now with credit growing at a faster rate than increase in deposits, the state-run SBI has felt the need to increase the retail deposit rates for select tenures.

Tell me more: Increase in retail deposit rate is likely to increase the benchmark Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR), which the SBI will release on Friday. SBI had increased MCLR in March by 10-20 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point).

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India’s History May Be Rewritten



What is it? The number of months since the Indian government set up a committee of scholars for the “holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture since 12,000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world”.

Why is it important? The 14-member committee aims to use evidence, including archaeological finds and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), to prove that current day’s Hindus are descendants of the first inhabitants of this land and that ancient Hindu scriptures are factual accounts. This panel is said to be a part of bigger plans to rewrite India’s history and its findings could be included in school textbooks and academic research.

Tell me more: There have been instances of school textbooks being rewritten, most of it with respect to the Indian history, in the last few years. The underlying idea seems to be to change the idea of India and define the contours of national identity in consonance with it.



What is it? The number of banks, both state-run and private, that were in the consortium that extended working capital loans worth Rs 5,280 crore to Mehul Choksi-controlled Gitanjali Gems, beginning 2009.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, in an apparent widening of the probe into the alleged bank fraud by companies linked to Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) summoned senior executives of ICICI Bank, which led the consortium, and Axis Bank.

Tell me more: Since April 2007, banks reportedly entered into 151 loan transactions with Gitanjali Gems, with the most recent being Rs 40 crore by Syndicate Bank in December 2016 and Rs 60 crore by ICICI Bank in August 2016. Today, the SFIO is expected to question the MD and CEO of Punjab National Bank, which is the worst hit by this fraud.


11 years

What is it? The number of years since the last inter-Korean summit, in 2007. The last time North Korea was on the talks table was 2008-09, in a six-party dialogue comprising Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, US and North Korea, which eventually collapsed.

Why is it important? In what are being seen as signs of rapprochement, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is slated to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the end of April, a senior South Korean diplomat said on his return from the North on Tuesday. The diplomat added that North Korea was willing to hold talks with the US on de-nuclearisation if the safety of Kim Jong-un’s regime was guaranteed.

Tell me more: The US and North Korea have been locked in a war of words. North Korea ranks ninth in terms of its nuclear arsenal.


Rs 45,000 crore

What is it? The amount Reliance Communications (RCom) owes to banks, as of March 2017.

Why is it important? An arbitration court has restrained RCom from selling or transferring assets without its permission. This deals a blow to its efforts to pare its debt by selling its wireless assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm for over Rs 20,000 crore, which was set to be completed by the end of this month. Anil Ambani-backed RCom has moved the Bombay High Court against this order.

Tell me more: The Indian subsidiary of Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson, which had signed a seven-year agreement in 2014 to operate and manage RCom’s network, had filed insolvency petitions last September to claim unpaid dues of Rs 1,150 crore.



What is it? The number of days for which Sri Lanka has declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots.

Why is it important? This is the first such emergency imposed since the civil war that was the result of ethnic tension between the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils. At least two people have been killed, and dozens of mosques and homes damaged. The special measures give the government sweeping powers to arrest suspects and detain them for longer periods and deploy forces where required.

Tell me more: Muslims account for 7.6% of Sri Lankan population, as per Census 2001. The latest violence is said to have erupted after a group of Muslim men in Digana town were accused of killing a man from the Sinhalese Buddhist community, which constitute three-fourths of the country’s population.


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Jail Time For Those Seeking Instant Triple Talaq

For several years, Muslim women in India have lived in a fear of being instantly divorced by their husbands, as one rule in Muslim law bestows the muslim males with the privilege of doing so. No more. The Lok Sabha passed a bill criminalizing the instant Triple Talaq, and has claused for a 3-year jail term for anybody who seeks instant divorce. It was a historical moment for the muslim women, who saw it is a breather for their future generations.

Elsewhere, in the corporate world, there’s a younger brother seeking help of his elder brother to lighten his debt burden. And some more in news in numbers today. Take a look.


12 years

What is it? The number of years after Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) transferred control of Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) to Anil Ambani as part of the settlement between feuding brothers. On Friday, Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of RIL, said it would acquire telecom assets of RCom.

Why is it important? This purchase will help Reliance Jio acquire 4G spectrum, 43,000 towers and 178,000 km of fibre optic network. For Anil Ambani group, the deal will help them reduce debt and pay off debtors who were threatening to invoke bankruptcy code.

Tell me more: RCom has total debt of Rs45,000 crore as on October. Both Reliance Jio and RCom did not reveal the deal size.


3 years

What is it? The maximum number of years of jail sentence for offenders under The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017.

Why is it important? The bill will make anyone using instant triple talaq, an instant divorce, a criminal offence. Lok Sabha passed the bill with the support of the Congress party. Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan doesn’t permit instant talaq. Offences are punishable with a prison term of upto one year and fine.

Tell me more: Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that triple talaq was unconstitutional by a 3-2 majority ruling.



What is it? The yield of the 10-year bond at the end of trading on Thursday, a 17-month high.

Why is it important? The yield increased by 17.7 basis point (one basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point) on Wednesday, the highest increase in more than 11 months. Yield is inverse of price of bonds, and will increase borrowing cost for government.

Tell me more: Central government’s decision to borrow Rs 50,000 crore extra, and decline in GST collections in November contributed to increase in bond yield, as market feared the fiscal deficit target will be breached.



What is it? The amount of subsidy per Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder sold to domestic customers.

Why is it important? The subsidy amount has increased by Rs41 in the last three months, as government put on hold a plan to increase the prices by Rs4 every month and also due to higher global price. This would mean higher subsidy bill for the central government.

Tell me more: Fuel subsidy on diesel and petrol were eliminated by increasing the price by small amount every month, and falling crude oil prices also helped to bridge the gap. Now the spurt in international prices has increased the LPG subsidy amount, even as government began to increase the prices by Rs4 every month from June this year.



What is it? The maximum percentage of stake one credit rating agency (CRA) or asset management company (AMC) can have in another CRA or AMC, India’s market regulator said on Thursday.

Why is it important? The move will affect UTI Mutual Fund, as its shareholders – State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Bank of Baroda and Punjab National bank – own 18.5% in UTI MF, and also have their mutual fund subsidiaries. They will have bring down their stake to comply with this new regulation.

Tell me more: The market regulator also allowed creation of universal exchanges, where both equity and commodity can be traded, from October 2018. This will create more competition.

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