The 28-Hour Working Week

28 hours

What is it? The number of weekly working hours that 900,000 worker-members of IG Metall, a German labour union, can opt for up to two years, for a lower salary, before returning to the standard 35-hour week.

Why is it important? The pact covers 900,000 workers in the metals and electrical industries in a region where several top industrial groups of Germany are based, including Daimler and Bosch. More importantly, IG Metall agreements are seen as industry benchmarks in Germany, and similar pacts could be seen in other sectors also, giving a major victory to German workers for a better work-life balance.

Tell me more: According to the International Labour Organisation, in 2016, the mean working hours per week per employed person varied from 32 hours (Netherlands) to 50 hours (Qatar).


12 days

What is it? The number of days between Wall Street Journal publishing a story accusing Steve Wynn of a pattern of sexual misconduct over the years and him resigning as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts, late Tuesday.

Why is it important? The #MeToo movement has seen many women in the US come out about the sexual harassment they faced, but those complaints and experiences centred around Hollywood and famous women actors. While 76-year-old Wynn is a public figure, and founder and CEO of a listed company whose 2017 revenues were $6.1 billion, his accusers are not famous. Hence, his resignation is being seen as significant for gender relations in the existing power constructs.

Tell me more: Trading in the Wynn Macau stock on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange was halted yesterday. Since the WSJ story broke, shares of flagship Wynn Resorts are down 12%.


Rs 300 crore

What is it? The combined income declared by five of the seven national political parties (BJP and Congress are excluded here) for 2016-17.

Why is it important? According to a report released yesterday by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had the highest income, of Rs 173.58 crore in 2016-17, a year in which Uttar Pradesh, the party’s main state of influence, went for elections. This illustrates how income of political parties tends to spike in the lead up to elections. However, BSP spent only 30% of this amount during the year. Grants/donations/contributions formed 40% of the income of these five parties.

Tell me more: The two highest income declarers of the previous year, BJP and Congress, are yet to declare their incomes for 2016-17, and were overdue more than three months.


6 months

What is it? The current duration for which India’s central bank has now held the repo rate—the key interest rate in the banking system—at 6%.

Why is it important? At the meeting of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) yesterday, it expectedly chose to maintain status quo on interest rates. In its last few meetings, the government and industry were, at times, holding out for a cut. Such optimism was missing this time, with inflation on the rise, share markets in turmoil and the US signaling higher rates. The Reserve Bank of India yesterday warned about inflation, projecting a band of 5.1-5.6% for the Consumer Price Index in the first half of 2018-19.

Tell me more: Of the six members in the MPC, five voted in favour of holding rates, while one member, Michael Patra, wanted a 0.25 percentage point increase.



What is it? The number of dismissals effected by MS Dhoni in one-day internationals. He crossed the 400 mark yesterday when he stumped South Africa’s Aiden Markram off Kuldeep Yadav, in a match that India convincingly won.

Why is it important? Dhoni is only the fourth wicket-keeper, and the first Indian, to cross 400 dismissals in one-day internationals. Kumar Sangakkara leads with 482 dismissals, followed by Adam Gilchrist (472) and Mark Boucher (424). Among the four, Dhoni has the lowest average dismissals per innings, of 1.293.

Tell me more: It was telling that Dhoni’s 400th dismissal was a stumping. He leads all keepers in stumpings (106 dismissals), a testimony to the greater reliance on spin bowlers by India compared to some other sides.


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Person Of The Year: The Silence Breakers


Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Last month, several women who had experienced sexual harassment came out on Facebook and narrated their bitter experiences with #Metoo. Some of these experiences were fairly recent and some were decades old. But, their memories of the incident/s was just as new. The ripple effect of this movement shook Hollywood the most and has slowly engulfed few senators in the US parliament as well. This year Times Magazine has declared these Silence Breakers as the ‘Person of the year’.  Why is it important, you ask? Read on.



What is it? The number of times since 2007 when Time magazine’s Person of the Year was not one person, but a group or a movement. On Wednesday, Time declared ‘The Silence Breakers’—the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and sexual assault at the workplace—as its 2017 Person of the Year.

Why is it important? As actor after actor came out against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it emboldened more women and men to narrate their incidents of sexual assault by men in positions of power. This had a domino effect, trickling down to the masses through the Twitter hashtag #MeToo, and bringing sexual harassment at the workplace into conversations and actions than ever before. The well-known names accused include actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Tv host Bill O’Reilly and Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar.

Tell me more: Time bestows this title to someone who impacted the world in a significant way, positive or negative. The previous two occasions since 2007 when it was not given to one person was 2014 (The Ebola Fighters) and 2011 (The Protestor).



What is it? The amount by which cryptocurrency Bitcoin has increased in the past month. On Wednesday, it roared past the $13,000 mark.

Why is it important? The latest price rise comes in amid news that Chicago exchanges CBOE Global Markets and CME Group have received regulatory approval to launch Bitcoin futures, and are planning to do so on December 10 and December 18, respectively. It’s a move that has sparked new bouts of concern about regulatory preparedness and systemic risk for this one-of-a-kind asset class.

Tell me more: Two disparate events in the past week highlight the contrast in Bitcoin: on the one hand, South Korean financial regulators banned Bitcoin futures; on the other, the Winklevoss twins, who sued Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over the claim that he stole the idea for the social network from them, have become billionaires on the back of their investment in Bitcoin.



What is it? The maximum number of players a franchise can retain for the upcoming seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Why is it important? It means each franchise has some chance to hold on to their core players, while all other players go into the auction pool again. Details of the announcement come as a shot in the arm for the two franchises that were handed a two-year ban in 2015 for illegal betting and financial irregularities, Chennai and Rajasthan. Their retention pool includes former players who joined the Gujarat and Pune teams in the interim, paving the way for MS Dhoni to rejoin his old team Chennai.

Tell me more: A franchise will retain players via two routes: retention before the auction (maximum three players) and right to match a bid in an auction (maximum three players, with a total of five under the two heads). Further, the salary cap of each IPL team has been increased from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore.



What is it? The rate at which India’s central bank held the benchmark repo rate—the interest rate at which it lends to banks—at its bimonthly policy review on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This the second consecutive review in which the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not touched the benchmark repo rate. This is despite clamor from industry and the government to do so in order to spur economic growth. The RBI noted risks to inflation, but expressed optimism that the slowdown in economic growth had bottomed out.

Tell me more: Five of the six MPC members—Chetan Ghate, Pami Dua, Michael Debabrata Patra, Viral Acharya and Urjit Patel—were in favour of the monetary policy decision. Only one member, Ravindra Dholakia, voted for a policy rate reduction of 0.25 percentage point.


Rs 17.38 crore

What is it? The amount Infosys agreed to pay former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal as severance pay in October 2015.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, Infosys filed a consent plea, without admitting wrongdoing, with capital market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) over governance and disclosure issues related to this payout. Governance experts have expressed unhappiness over the latest move by Infosys—for long cited as the marker in corporate governance in India Inc—to handle the issue, seeing it more as a way of achieving closure rather than coming clean on it.

Tell me more: The severance pay to Bansal was one of the flashpoints in a tussle earlier this year that saw the Infosys board and previous CEO Vishal Sikka on one side and Infosys co-founders, notably NR Narayana Murthy, on the other side. Sikka was eventually ousted and the board had a new chair in Nandan Nilekani.


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Repo so low


What is it? The number of basis points by which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cut the repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends money to the commercial banks, to 6% on Wednesday. One basis point is equal to one hundredth of one percent.

Why is it important? The repo rate is the lowest since November 2010 and follows a downward trend in food prices that pushed consumer inflation in June to a more than five-year low of 1.54%. This could boost the economy, which clocked a growth of 6.1% in the January-March 2017 quarter, the slowest in two years. The repo rate cut is also likely to result in lower lending rates.

Tell me more: The RBI has also become the first central bank in Asia to cut rates this year. Four members of the monetary policy committee voted for a policy rate reduction of 25 basis points, one for reduction of 50 basis points and one for maintaining the same rates.



What is it? The percentage of protein Indians may lose from a standard diet by 2050, according to a study.

Why is it important? This would likely put 53 million people at new risk of protein deficiency and would be due to the increase in carbon dioxide levels as projected causing a decline in the nutritional value of rice, wheat and other staple crops. The study, the first to quantify this risk, estimates that roughly 150 million people in 18 countries are likely to be at risk of protein deficiency due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. According to a survey by market research firm IMRB, 73% of Indian diets are protein deficient. The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Tell me more: Under elevated carbon dioxide concentrations, the protein content in crops such as rice, wheat, barley and potatoes decreased by 7.6%, 7.8%, 14.1% and 6.4% respectively.


Rs 250 crore

What is it? The estimated collective loss of revenue of 87 tea estates in Darjeeling since mid-June, according to the Darjeeling Tea Association.

Why is it important? Due to the indefinite strike announced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on June 15, around 75,000 tea workers in Darjeeling are likely to lose at least Rs 10,000-15,000 in wages. The auction volume of Darjeeling tea is running thin and there could be just one more auction of the tea variety this year. Due to reduced supplies, the average price shot up by 27.5% in the last auction to Rs 458.38 per kg over the last year and only 20,000 kg were sold compared to 130,000 kg a year ago.

Tell me more: The GJM is on an indefinite strike to demand a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of West Bengal.



What is it? The number of premises linked to Karnataka energy minister D K Shivakumar searched by the Income Tax department until Wednesday.

Why is it important? The Rajya Sabha (RS) was adjourned four times yesterday over these IT raids, with the Election Commission (EC) seeking a report from the Finance Ministry in two days. The raids spanned New Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru, including the resort housing 42 Gujarat Congress MLAs.

Tell me more: The Congress approached the EC alleging the raids were BJP’s vendetta against Shivakumar, as he is overseeing the Gujarat MLAs in Bengaluru. The fiasco is due to the upcoming voting to elect Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat. Tax department claimed it recovered Rs 10 crore in cash.


Rs 17,576 crore

What is it? The value of illegally mined iron ore and manganese in Odisha since 2000 the Supreme Court has ordered miners to refund the state.

Why is it important? This would be a windfall revenue for the Odisha state government. Mining companies which continued to mine without or in excess of environment clearance since 2000-2001 will be penalised 100% of the illegally mined extracts. The estimate was made by the SC-appointed Central Empowered Committee which found 215.5 million-tonne ore extracted.

Tell me more: This could increase to Rs 25,000 crore if Forest Conservation violations are taken into account. The court ordered companies such as Tata Steel, Essel Mining, Sail, to pay the penalty.

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Karnataka joins waiver club

Rs 4,000 crore

What is it? Amount raised by the Special Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India (SUUTI) after selling 2.5% equity stake in engineering firm Larsen & Toubro.

Why is it important? The money will be accounted under disinvestment receipts of the central government, which owns SUUTI. So far, disinvestment receipts has touched Rs 6,400 crore out of the target of Rs 72,500 crore for the full year ending March 2018.

Tell me more: SUUTI was created when government took over assets and liabilities of erstwhile Unit Trust of India’s assured schemes like US 64 – which had promised returns as high as 18% – in 2001.


170 times

What is it? The number of times the initial public offering of Central Depository Services (CDSL) was oversubscribed on the last day of the offer period.

Why is it important? This demand shows buoyant primary market for companies. So far, companies have raised more than Rs 10,000 crore via IPO in 2017 – only the third time ever to cross this mark.

Tell me more: At the upper end of price band of Rs 145 – 149, CDSL will fetch Rs 524 crore from the IPO.


Rs 8,165

What is it? The amount of farm loans waived by the Karnataka government.

Why is it important? This will benefit 2.2 million farmers who have taken loans upto Rs 50,000 from state cooperative banks. Karnataka is the fourth state after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab to waive off crop loans.

Tell me more: Only 20% of crop loans are taken from state cooperative banks in Karnataka, and the rest are from scheduled banks.


50 basis points

What is it? The amount of repo rate cut sought by Ravindra Dholakia, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in the last meeting held on June 6 and 7 this year.

Why is it important? This is the first time in the last 10 months that a decision by MPC, which sets interest rates for the central bank, was not consensual. Dholakia argued to cut rates to boost growth as inflation was less than central bank’s target of 4%. Other five members were not convinced that record low inflation will sustain. 2

Tell me more: Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank lends to banks. Lower repo rates could mean lower interest rates for retail and corporate borrowers.



What is it? The mortality rates of heart patients in India, one year after diagnosis.

Why is it important? Indian heart patients had the highest mortality rates, except for patients from Africa. This is because patients reached hospitals at a much later stage, and have other complications like diabetes and hypertension

Tell me more: Heart failure patients in India from India, South Asia and Africa were 10 years younger than patients in US and Europe.

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