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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.

 

3

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).

 

92%

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.

 

5

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.

 

6%

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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The King Of Indian Auto Market Feels Threatened

 

Britain’s central bank raised interest rates after a decade, Delhi’s international airport gets more immigration counters, Maruti Suzuki grabs over half of the Indian auto market share.

 

11 years

What is it? The number of years it had been since the central Bank of England increased interest rates. On Thursday, it increased the bank rate from 0.25% to 0.50%.

Why is it important? The bank is looking to cool off inflation, which has been fuelled by Britain’s decision to exit the European Union. The British pound lost 1.2% against the US dollar.

Tell me more: The bank’s monetary policy committee voted 7-2 in favour of increasing the bank rate, which market commentators have interpreted to mean that more hikes are likely.

 

55

What is it? The number of additional immigration counters that will come up in the Delhi international airport by January 2018.

Why is it important? Passengers flying in or out of Delhi international airport have been facing a lengthy turnaround in immigration, and the additional counters may help. Of the 55 new counters, 20 will come up by November 30 and another 35 by January 2018.

Tell me more: In 2016, Delhi had a 29.7% share of foreign tourists flying into India and 20.5% share of departures of Indian nationals flying abroad.

 

52%

What is it? Market share of Maruti Suzuki in India in the first two months of 2017-18.

Why is it important? On Thursday, Toshihiro Suzuki, CEO of parent Suzuki Motor, expressed concerns that a policy-induced move by India to shift to electric vehicles could catch the carmaker “flatfooted” and dent its hegemony in the Indian market.

Tell me more: Earlier this year, transport minister Nitin Gadkari said the government plans to push for a regime where all new vehicles after 2030 are electric. And the government has placed an order for 10,000 electric cars with Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra.

 

3 years

What is it? The number of years ago that Sports Illustrated magazine predicted that Houston Astros—the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2013—would win their first World Series title in 2017.

Why is it important? On Wednesday night, the Astros did exactly that, for their first title in the 55-year history of the franchise. In the process, they became a poster side for rebuilding, of new data-analytics meets old-fashioned scouting.

Tell me more: Titled ‘baseball’s new experiment’ the June 30, 2014, cover story of Sports Illustrated predicted how it would come together in 2017 for the Astros in rebuilding mode.

 

2

What is it? The number of sexual harassment claims against Dustin Hoffman, American actor and two-time Oscar winner. On Thursday, a day after Hoffman apologised for his past behaviour following the first allegation, a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

Why is it important? In what is becoming a ripple effect, Hoffman is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual abuse, following producer Harvey Weinstein, director James Toback, actor Kevin Spacey and film-maker Brett Ratner.

Tell me more: The second woman is writer and producer Wendy Riss Gatsiounis, who claims that Hoffman propositioned her during a pitch meeting in 1991 and left her “close to tears”.

 

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News in Numbers, Sep 29, 2016: The Mart-Kart story…

$1 billion

What is it? The amount Wal-Mart Stores Inc is reportedly looking to invest in India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart for a minority stake.

Why is it important? This would help Wal-Mart, which now only operates wholesale outlets in the country, to get exposure to India’s e-commerce market. This would most likely get Flipkart a long-term investor and enable it get access to funds, which it has been trying to raise for sometime now to fend off competition from cash-rich Amazon India as it threatens to dislodge it from the top position.

Tell me more: Flipkart was recently valued at $16 billion, according to research firm CB Insights.

 

100

What is it? The number of people who have been identified to have links with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July 2014, according to an international criminal investigation.

Why is it important? The international prosecutors have said that the flight had been shot down by a missile from a launcher brought into Ukraine from Russia and fired from a village under the control of pro-Russian rebels. Investigations are on to determine who gave the orders to smuggle the rocket and shoot down the MH17 and if it was done intentionally. Russia has rejected the prosecution’s conclusions and described them as “biased” and “politically motivated”.

Tell me more: There were 298 people on board and all of them were killed.

 

Rs 50,000 per share

What is it? The high that the share price of tyre maker MRF hit on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Wednesday.

Why is it important? It became the first publicly-held private company to hit the Rs 50,000-mark on the bourses and the most expensive stock in India in terms of share price. Two government-run companies had crossed this level: MMTC and Orissa Mineral in 2007 and 2010 respectively. Its price to earnings ratio, however, is just about 10.

Tell me more: Eicher Motors (Rs 25,741.8), Bosch (Rs 23,209.6), Shree Cement (Rs 16,843.1) and Page Industries (Rs 15,333.7) round up the top five most expensive stocks in terms of share price.

 

525

What is it? The number of sexual harassment complaints filed in the Nifty 50 companies in year ended March 31, 2016.

Why is it important? This is up by 26% from last year, and underlines the extent of the issue in India’s top companies, and possibly increased awareness about process of redressal. Companies have been trying to make workplaces safer for women, thanks to regulations and also the need to attract and retain talent. Interestingly, women participation in India’s workforce dropped from 35% in 2004 to 25% in 2011, even as economy grew at a rate of 7% during these years.

Tell me more: 80% of the complaints were in IT and banking companies, with Wipro, ICICI Bank and Infosys leading the list.

 

$3.7 billion

What is it? Estimated net worth of U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, according to Forbes magazine.

Why is it important? Trump hasn’t disclosed his tax returns, breaking a long tradition among US presidential contenders, and hence the exact details of his wealth are not known. This came into question during the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump earlier this week, and demand to disclose is likely to intensify in the coming weeks.

Tell me more: Trump is reported to have $650 million in debt, which could create conflicts of interest if he wins the election.

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News In Numbers – July 23

News In Numbers: July 23

 

20%

A Rajya Sabha panel has recommended capping the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 20%. If accepted, this is good news for consumers because an earlier panel of state finance ministers had recommended a higher rate of 27%. However, the Rajya Sabha panel kept intact the inter-state levy of 1% on goods. A product from Tamil Nadu to Assam will attract 5% extra tax, as each of the five states will levy a tax of 1% on goods being moved. GST was supposed to merge all state and central taxes into one-single tax rate, so as to create a single all-India market. Inter-state levy would go against this concept.

 

53%

The proportion of 333 women-student respondents in a 2013 gender relations survey conducted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, who reported they had experienced sexual harassment “once in a while”; another 26% of respondents answered “often (weekly)”. However, only 34 complaints were filed by them, underscoring the societal and systemic difficulties faced by women in India in speaking out or following through. On Wednesday, the government stated that 75 cases of sexual harassment against women educators and research scholars were reported by 84 Indian universities in 2014-15.

 

Rs 41,000 crore

India’s oil import dues to Iran. Amidst concerns that India might have to clear this due immediately after Iran signed a deal with six world powers about a week ago to curb its nuclear programme in return for lifting of international sanctions, the middle-eastern country has proposed it can invest a part of the corpus in Indian projects. India was unable to pay fully for its oil imports in the past two years, as US and Europe have banned financial institutions from doing business with Iran. Imports from Iran accounted for 7.3% of India’s total oil purchases in 2014, making it the seventh-biggest oil supplier to India; India’s total oil import bill for 2014-15 was Rs 7.9 lakh crore.

 

369.9

The suicide rate of women in Indian paramilitary forces per lakh population. This rate for men in central armed police forces, which include the BSF, CISF and CRPF, is 11.2 per lakh population. Women constitute a little less than 2% of all paramilitary force personnel but account for over 40% of suicides. Just four states account for all female suicides in these forces: Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir. In March this year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced that 33% in central paramilitary forces would be reserved for women. The overall incidence of suicides per one lakh population in India for 2014 was 10.6.

 

41

As many as 41 BSE-listed companies have pledged 100% of their stake to raise money, an indication of stressed corporate finances, even as India makes an attempt to recover from an economic slowdown. On the other hand, promoters of 3,240 companies have not pledged any of their shares. Lenders demand extra collateral when value of shares held as pledge go down or when borrowers ask for extra credit. The outstanding corporate debt of Indian companies is over a third of India’s GDP: 34% in 2013-14.

 

 

 

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