Marathas Rally For Reservation 

$524 million 
What is it?Non-bank loans and deposits in Swiss banks by Indians, according to Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Why it’s important? This is down 34.5% from $800 million in 2016, and was cited by finance minister Piyush Goyal in the parliament to say the efforts to curb black money by NDA government have been successful. This comes a month after the government faced flak on data released by Swiss National Bank, saying money parked by Indians in Swiss Banks went up by 50% to over Rs 7000 crore in 2017. Goyal said locational banking statistics by BIS is a better indicator of money held by Indians in Swiss Banks.

Tell me more: According to BIS, the non-bank and deposits in Swiss banks by Indians have been coming down year after year – from $2.6 billion in 2013, to $2.3 billion in 2014 and $1.4 billion in 2015.




What is it?The number of protest rallies held by Maratha community since July 2016, starting at Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Why is it important?The protests seeking 16% reservation in government jobs and education have been mostly peaceful, but took a violent turn, leading to the death of a constable. On 23rd, a 28 year old protestor Kakasaheb Shinde-Patil committed suicide by jumping into the Godavari river during protests at Aurangabad District, and that was followed by suicide attempts by two more protesters. Maratha Kranti Morcha, which is organising these protests, has called for a bandh in Mumbai-its 60th – on Wednesday.

Tell me more: Marathas are the dominant caste group in Maharashtra, and data shows they are better off than other groups. However, there is a rising sense of insecurity among the community members who believe that the future is in jobs and education rather than farm incomePatidars in Gujarat and Jats in Haryana have earlier protested for reservations.


$12 billion 

What is it? Aid promised by the Trump administration to United States farmers hit by the ongoing trade wars.

Why is it important? Republican party has traditionally opposed such government assistance. US president will not need approval from Congress for the giveaway, and will use US Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation. Some observers believe it is a temporary measure that will give President Trump enough time to reset the trade policies. Critics said the move might violate World Trade Organisation rules and could distort the market.

Tell me more:  US is fighting a bitter trade war with China, a country that imported $12.3 billion worth of soybeans from United State’s, more than half the country’s soybean exports. US agri exports were $138 billion in 2017. Earlier this year, India signed deals with 8 countries, including US, for farm exports.




What is it?Growth in sales expected by paints industry in 2018-19 as result of reduction in Goods and Services Tax by ten percentage points.

Why is it important? Last year, the industry grew by about 9%. The recent cut in GST rates for 50 products, including refrigerators and other electronic goods, is expected to bring down prices and drive sales.

Tell me more: Some industry players have raised concern over the impact of input tax credit under the revised rates. Domestic sanitary napkins makers, for examples, fear that loss of input tax credit will cancel the benefits of zero GST on the product. The government in planning 46 amendments to GST law to address some of the concerns.




What is it?The number of people killed by wildfire in the resort town on Mati, near Athens in Greece.

Why is it important? This is the worst wildfire to hit the country since 2007, when similar fires led to death of 46 people. The drying out of undergrowth and foliage thanks to heat waves (it’s the fourth hottest year on record) and wind blowing at the speed of 50 miles per hour are two of the key causes of wildfires.

Tell me more: Greek government has deployed 500 firefighters and approved $23 million in relief.

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The Case For Maratha Reservation

Rs 3,200 crore

What is it? Tata Motors’ net profit in the three months ended June quarter, a 41.5% increase from Rs 2,260 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

Why is it important? This was possible mainly because of a one-time gain from changes made to its pension plan at its UK unit Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) with the company saying that the first quarter results have not met its expectations. Its revenues fell by nearly 10% year-on-year to Rs 58,651 crore in the April-June quarter due to lower wholesale volume sales of JLR, a slowdown in its heavy vehicles business among other factors.

Tell me more: The one-time gain due to the changes made to the JLR pension plans was Rs 3,609 crore.

4,765 MW

 What is it? The installed solar capacity in the first six months of 2017, according to a report by Mercom Capital Group.

Why is it important? This has surpassed the total capacity addition in all of 2016, which was at 4,313 MW. The report forecasts nearly 10.5 GW of solar installations by December this year. The country had installed 12.2 GW of utility scale solar as of March 2017. While the pace of capacity addition has increased, it remains to be seen if the government can achieve its solar power target of 100 GW by 2022, given the confusion around the recently-introduced goods and services tax.

Tell me more: India is likely to leapfrog Japan to become the third biggest solar market in 2017, according to another consulting firm in the clean technology space, Bridge to India.


What is it? The number of MLAs (members of legislative assembly) the Congress party has expelled in Gujarat.

Why is it important? They have been expelled for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections in favour of the BJP. The Congress says that it would take action to ensure they will not be able to participate in the elections for the  next six years. The party, which has not been in power in Gujarat for the last 20 years or so, has faced infighting and defections recently and it remains to be seen if these expulsions would further weaken it ahead of the assembly elections later this year.

Tell me more: Ahmed Patel, political advisor to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, secured a dramatic win in the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat, which is likely to boost the morale of the party, whose relevance has been considered to be diminishing in the recent past.


What is it? The number of protests by the Maratha community in the last 12 months across Maharashtra seeking concessions from the state.

Why is it important? The 58th protest took place in Mumbai on Wednesday, with lakhs of people flooding the streets of Mumbai in a show of strength. Following this, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced reservations in education (currently given to OBCs or other backward castes) to the Marathas as well. He also announced land and Rs 5 crore grant for hostels for the community.

Tell me more: India has seen similar protests from other communities, including Jats in Rajasthan and Haryana and Patidars in Gujarat.


What is it? The number of countries whose nationals can enter Qatar without a visa.

Why is it important? Qatar announced the visa waiver programme even as it faces blockade from four of its neighbours – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – which have accused the oil-dependent country of supporting terrorism. 25% of all Qatar Airways flights served these four states. The blockade has been on since June. Earlier this month, Qatar passed a law that will grant permanent residency to some of the foreigners.

Tell me more: Qatar’s visa waiver – which are given on arrival at no cost – allows citizens of 33 countries to stay in Qatar for up to 90 days, and citizens of 47 other countries (which includes India, China and United States) to stay for up to 30 days.

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News in Numbers, Aug 31, 2016: Trade unions to go on strike, decline in crimes against women…

Rs 350

What is it? The minimum wage for semi-skilled non-agricultural workers, up from Rs 246 per government announcement on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This, along with the announcement that bonuses for 2014-15 and 2015-16 would be paid to central government employees, was an attempt by the government to prevent trade unions from going on a nationwide strike on September 2. The trade unions have rejected the new minimum wage hike proposal. This means that banks, government offices and factories would remain closed this Friday.

Tell me more: The demands of the unions include a minimum wage of Rs 18,000 per month (as against the government’s offer of Rs 9,100), social security for workers, increased pension of not less than Rs 3,000 per month for all sectors (for unorganised workers, too) and removal of foreign direct investment from railways, defence and other strategic sectors.


Rs 329.93 crore

What is it? The value of unaccounted cash, jewellery, movable and immovable assets reportedly seized by the Income Tax (IT) department in raids between January-July 2016.

Why is it important? This is over thrice the amount seized (Rs 102.5 crore) in such raids by the department in the corresponding period last year, indicating that the government is stepping up measures to crackdown on the black money problem in the country. The number of IT raids and searches, seizures made and the untaxed income surrendered to the government – are reportedly the highest in nearly five years. The amount surrendered in the first seven months of this year (Rs 3,360 crore) is 56.5% higher than that received in the same period a year ago.

Tell me more: The government has asked people to declare their undisclosed wealth under a one-time compliance window before September 30, after which they would face stringent action including imprisonment.



What is it? The multiple by which patients are more likely to die when operated on at night compared to those operated on during the day, according to a research. This is based on 30-day survival rates for patients at a Canadian hospital and the results are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Why is it important? The reasons for this could possibly include staffing shortages during the night, fatigue among medical staff and delay in treatments, according to the researchers. This could prompt further research into understanding postoperative mortality and its link with the time of the day/night and find out ways to reduce it for surgeries done in the night or late in the day (when patients are 1.43 times more likely to die than those operated on during regular working hours).

Tell me more: The research included study of 41,176 emergency and routine operations done on 33,942 patients between April 2010 and March 2015. The operations were divided into three time blocks: between 7.30 am to 3.29 pm, 3.29 pm to 11.29 pm, and 11.30 pm to 7.29 am.



What is it? The number of crimes against women in 2015, a 3.1% decrease from that recorded in 2014 (337,922), according to the National Crime Records Bureau data released on Tuesday.

Why is it important? Despite the small dip in the number of cases, the instances of attempts to rape (4.8%), kidnappings (3.4%), sexual harassment (9.6%) and assaults (0.2%) have increased in 2015 over the previous year. The number of rapes (7.4%), gangrapes (9.9%) and dowry deaths (9.7%) have seen a decline in the same period.

Tell me more: Uttar Pradesh (10.9% of the total), West Bengal (10.1%) and Maharashtra (9.5%) top the list in terms of number of crimes against women. In terms of crime rate (incidence of sexual offences per 100,000 women), Delhi recorded the highest (43.6) followed by Odisha (22.2) and Assam (20.6).



What is it? The reservation proposed by Social Justice Minister Ramdas Athawale for the economically backward (whose annual income is less than Rs 6 lakh) among the upper castes.

Why is it important? This means the maximum reservation limit has to be increased from the current 49.5% to 75% to include the economically backward communities including Gujjars, Patels, Rajputs, Brahmins, Marathas and Jats. This could be a result of agitations for reservations in education and government jobs by some communities such as the Patidars (or Patel), Jats and Marathas. A constitutional amendment would be required to bring about this increase.

Tell me more: The scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward castes have 15%, 7.5% and 27% reservation respectively.

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News in Numbers, Aug 5, 2016: Gujarat’s ordinance quashed, April 2017 target for GST…


What is it? The maximum reservation a state can set aside for economically and socially backward groups, per Supreme Court order in 1963.

Why is it important? This has come in the way of Gujarat government’s ordinance to provide 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs for the economically backward among the unreserved category – a move which was seen as a way to pacify the Patidar community that organised a statewide agitation demanding the Other Backward Class (OBC) status. The High Court quashed the ordinance and held that it to be inappropriate and unconstitutional as the Constitution allows reservations to be given only for the socially backward and the Scheduled Castes/Tribes and not on the basis of economic criteria.

Tell me more: The BJP government has said it would challenge the High Court decision. On the other hand, Hardik Patel, the leader of the Patidar agitation welcomed the order and said that they would continue their demands to be included under the OBC category.



What is it? The number of revenue officials to be trained on rules related to Goods and Services Tax and IT infrastructure framework by April 2017.

Why is it important? This will help meet the Indian government’s target of rolling out GST, which would replace the existing indirect taxes and be implemented as a single tax rate, by April 1, 2017. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said they would work quickly and try and meet the deadline. A total of 16 states (BJP is in power in 13) need to ratify the bill and they have been asked to do so within 30 days of the President’s assent of the legislation.

Tell me more: The government hopes that all the necessary bills related to the GST would be passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament and that the back-end and front-end IT systems required for the rollout would be ready by the end of the year.


Rs 15 crore

What is it? The pay package of Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries in 2015-16.

Why is it important? The richest man in India has not taken a pay hike for the last eight years – a voluntary move by the elder Ambani brother. The other senior management personnel, however, got remuneration hikes. In the same period, Reliance Industries’ net profit nearly doubled from Rs 15,296 crore in 2008-09 to Rs 27,630 crore in 2015-16. In 2014-15, Ambani’s salary was 205 times that of the median employee remuneration.

Tell me more: The Reliance Industries chairman was ranked as the 36th richest man in the world with a total net worth of $19.3 billion by Forbes annual ranking for 2016. Until 2007-08, Ambani was the highest paid executive in the country with a pay package of Rs 44 crore per annum.


Rs 384 crore

What is it? The amount taxi-hailing app Ola, run by ANI Technologies, had raised in December from Vanguard Group, a US-based investment management firm, as per the company’s recent disclosure.

Why is it important? The investment by the Pennsylvania firm will draw further attention to Ola’s valuation (was around $5 billion last November) as it has to disclose the status of its portfolio to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Vanguard has also invested in some of the bigger technology firms such as Facebook, Alphabet, and Flipkart. It was in news in India after Flipkart’s valuation was marked down by Vanguard and its peers from around $15 billion last July to about $10 billion now.

Tell me more: India’s third most valuable startup is reportedly in talks existing and new investors to raise more funds as it looks to compete with cash-rich Uber in India’s cab-hailing market.



What is it? The number of flights Air Costa, a regional airline, had suspended on Thursday due to problems with its aircraft lessors. It said it would resume operations as scheduled from today.

Why is it important? This comes a few days after another regional airline Air Pegasus suspended its operations (on July 27) after its lessors repossessed its aircraft due to non-payment of dues. This raises questions about the viability of the business models of regional carriers at a time when the government has unveiled the new civil aviation policy, which aims to boost regional connectivity and attract first-time flyers from small towns.

Tell me more: The government says it would help both the airlines, if feasible and if they approach them for help. The flight route of Air Costa includes cities such as Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Chennai, Tirupati, Coimbatore and Jaipur.

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