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The Fake-User Purge

25
What is it?Number of people arrested in Karnataka lynching incident, in which a man suspected to be a child kidnapper was killed based on Whatsapp rumors.

Why it’s important? Whatsapp, a popular messaging app owned by Facebook, has been in the news in India for being used to spread misinformation, sometimes spilling over into the real world as violence. The crime took place in Karnataka on Friday, and is one of a series of such attacks on people suspect of kidnapping children. Between 2012 and 2014, over 2,37,000 children have gone missing according to a database maintained by Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Tell me more: Whatsapp released full page ads warning people against misinformation. Some have pointed out that it’s more a state capacity problem than a Whatsapp problem.

 

129,280

 

What is it?The number of followers prime minister Narendra Modi’s official account @PMOIndia lost on Twitter after the social media platform purged fake accounts in large numbers.

Why is it important?It represents about 0.48% of his followers. Indian president’s Twitter list came out in a better shape compared to several of his peers, including US president Donald Trump, who lost 307,606 followers or 0.58%, and former US president Barack Obama, who lost  2,344,375 or 2.26% of his followers.

Tell me more: Twitter, faced with criticism about a large number of fake accounts, has been removing tens of millions of accounts it has identified as fake. It might turn out to be ineffective. Twitter’s official twitter account has lost 12.33% of its followers or 7,748,704 accounts.

 

62.3 million units

 

What is it? PC shipments in second quarter of 2018, according to research by International Data Corporation.

Why is it important? It’s up 2.7% from same period last year, the strongest growth the segment has seen in over 6 years. Reasons range from users upgrading their old PCs to growing demand for gaming.

Tell me more: Gartner, another firm that also tracks PC shipments (but unlike IDC, counts Windows tablets as PCs but not Chromebooks), also said PC shipments grew for the first time in six years, but only by 1.4%.

 

22

 

What is it?The number of languages covered by parliament’s simultaneous interpretation services.

Why is it important? The upcoming monsoon session of the Parliament, starting 18 July, would be the first time that the lawmakers will be able to speak in any of the 22 scheduled languages.

Tell me more: With the next elections less than a year away,  session is key for NDA, as it seeks to push a number of legislations including  Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017; Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017; Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016. NDA does not enjoy majority in Rajya Sabha.

 

5

 

What is it? The number of Sharia courts approved by All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

Why is it important? The news of the Muslim Personal Law Board setting up sharia courts has led debates, with some arguing that it is a parallel judicial system, and subverts rule of law. Former president Hamid Ansari recently said it was social practice and not a legal system. Muslim Personal Law board said, it was more like an arbitration council.

Tell me more: The board received ten proposals and the first five will be set up between now and November, including in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The other five are under consideration. Local communities send their proposals, the board appoints a Qazi (or judge).

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News in Numbers, Mar 23, 2017: Doctors 🚑 down tools

Rs 2 crore

What is it? The annual retainer fee of grade A cricketers, which the BCCI doubled from last year.

Why is it important? Following the performance in the last few test matches against Australia, players such as Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara will also be eligible for this remuneration as they have been upgraded to grade A.

Tell me more: Grade B cricketers will receive Rs 1 crore and grade C Rs 50 lakh, annually. The pay-hike follows October’s doubling of match fees to Rs 15 lakh a match.

 

1,470

What is it? Number of vacant Indian Administrative Services posts.

Why is it important? These posts, crucial for the bureaucracy and administrative machinery of the country, remain vacant despite being authorised to be filled. Indian Forest Services and Indian Police Services also have 560 and 908 posts vacant, which are otherwise sanctioned to be filled up. The numbers have come down from 2012, when IAS had over 1,700 vacancies and IPS over 1,200.

Tell me more: The government says recruiting has been stepped up for IAS in the last four years, while for IFS recruiting was increased in the 2015 examinations and for IPS in the 2009 examination.

 

636,248

What is it? The number of terror-related accounts on Twitter, which the micro-blogging site suspended since August, 2015.

Why is it important? This is the result of the social media platform’s increased efforts to curtail terror propaganda and terror recruitment handles. It is working with organisations such as People against Violent Extremism and the Lumen database to sieve accounts promoting violent terrorism.

Tell me more: In 2016, Twitter had blocked accounts related to Islamic State, the extremist group, for example. No less than 376,890 accounts were suspended in July-December, 2016, for promoting terrorism.

 

Rs 7,719.65 crores

What is it? The amount India gave as aid to foreign countries in 2015-16.

Why is it important? It is more than what the country received as aid from multi-lateral organisations/foreign countries, making India a net donor. It is a key element of foreign policy — especially with respect to its neighbours. Most of the aid went to neighbouring countries — primarily Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, in that order.

Tell me more: Global Fund and European Union are the top two providers of aid to India. Global Fund aims to fight diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis, and had earlier tied up with Tata Trusts to launch an India Health Fund.

 

40

What is it? The number of government hospitals in Delhi, whose resident doctors plan to go on strike today.

Why is it important? It is a sign that the protests by resident doctors in Maharashtra — in its fourth day — is spreading outside the state, and could garner more support from doctors in other states. The doctors are demanding a safer workplace. A doctor was assaulted by a patient’s relatives recently at Dhule. Fifty-three doctors were attacked in last last two years, according to a report.

Tell me more: Bombay High Court had directed the protesting doctors to return to duty. It has had no impact yet. Meanwhile at AIIMS, Delhi, resident doctors said they will work with helmets on as a sign of protest and to highlight the issue.

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News in Numbers, Mar 13, 2017: Overruns ⚠

287

What is it? Number of infrastructure projects worth Rs 150 crore and above which saw a cost overrun of Rs 1.66 lakh-crore, out of a total 1,186 projects.

Why is it important? Over 24% of December, 2016’s high-value infrastructure projects suffered from cost overruns. Delays and cost overruns in infrastructure projects are often a source of budget crises for state and Union governments. They also erode the benefits initially expected from such projects. The projects with cost overrun will now be 11.39% costlier than originally estimated at Rs 14.6 lakh-crore.

Tell me more: Around 326 projects got delayed for various reasons, including land acquisition, funds constraints.

 

4:1

What is it? The tally of state election wins of BJP vs Congress.

Why is it important? After decisive victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, BJP since Sunday has staked claims to two other states —Manipur and Goa — which had no clear victors. The party rallied regional parties to support it and gathered the required numbers to form governments in these two states.

Tell me more: In Manipur, BJP presented a list of 32 MLAs (BJP won just 21), a lead of two, and in Goa, it has shown support of eight more MLAs besides the 13 seats it won.

 

15%

What is it? The share of social bots of active Twitter accounts.

Why is it important? While Twitter comes under regular fire for being happy hunting grounds for trolls, research estimates at least 48 million accounts on the social network platform are bots. These automatic programmes/robots interacting with others on Twitter can have malicious applications too. It beats Twitter’s own estimates of 8.5% bot accounts.

Tell me more: Two US universities who conducted the research say 15% is a conservative estimate of Twitter’s total 319 million active monthly users. These can fake support for political/terrorist propaganda and even help in terrorist recruitment.

 

350

What is it? The number of archeological remains unearthed by researchers in Madhya Pradesh

Why is it important? They are claimed be 50,000 years old, and could potentially offer clues about the ancient history of human beings and other members of animal kingdom. In 2009, pieces of 42,000 year old ostrich eggs were discovered in the same site.

Tell me more: A team of researchers have been working on the excavation since the second week of February in Narmada valley at Mehtakhedi village of Khargone district.

 

57%

What is it? The percentage of respondents of a survey who thought service charge was levied by the government.

Why is it important? It’s in fact levied by commercial establishments, and earlier this  year the government said that customers can opt not to pay for service charges in hotels and restaurants. Responses to other questions asked in the survey also indicated a lack of awareness about charges in bill, and underlined the low standards of consumer rights in India.

Tell me more: The survey was a part of a research paper, ‘Critique of service charges in hotels and restaurants’, by students of the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore.

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News in Numbers, Feb 17, 2017: TN gets a new CM, 🇪🇰🇵

124

What is it? The number of legislators claimed to be backing Edappadi K Palanisamy, the newly sworn in chief minister of Tamil Nadu

Why is it important? Palanisamy is expected to seek vote of confidence in the assembly on Saturday. Palanisamy’s elevation as chief minister comes after the Supreme Court upheld VK Sasikala’s conviction, which will keep her behind the bars for more than three and a half years and prevent her from contesting elections for another six. Palanisamy has mostly kept the ministerial positions unchanged.

Tell me more: Palanisamy, 63, is the 13th chief minister of the state, and the third in the last six months. He has been representing Salem district’s Edapadi constituency and was the  minister for highways & minor ports under J Jayalalithaa and O Panneerselvam.

14

What is it? The number of seats on Saras, the indigenous aircraft made by National Aerospace Laboratories.

Why is it important? This would be India’s first indigenous passenger aircraft. The twin-turboprop plane, 30 years in the making, could ease efforts to activate remote air-routes in the country. However, India’s home-made aircrafts have not gotten off to a flying start. The combat aircraft, Tejas, produced by Hindustan Aeronautics, proved too heavy for the Navy’s requirements, though the Indian Air Force (IAF) has adopted it. Saras would have to overcome its own grim past that includes the crash of the second prototype’s test flight in 2009, killing all three on-board. It is currently being tested.

Tell me more: The IAF has committed to buying Saras as well, and will have to test it before sale to commercial airlines.

15

What is it? The new entrants in the oil and gas sector that won bids in the government auction after the last one in 2010.

Why is it important? The small debutants won around 16 contract areas, or 52% of total number of blocks (31) that were awarded. Their entry will boost local oil and gas production as these blocks were lying untapped earlier. Larger players, some of whom stayed away from the auctions, concentrated elsewhere from these blocks for reasons such as these being isolated, small in size, having high development costs etc. But their development is needed if Narendra Modi’s plan to reduce oil imports by 10% by 2022 is to be realised, as these blocks would increase oil output by 15,000 barrels a day and gas production by 2 million standard cubic metre a day. A total reserve of 62 million tonne of oil and oil equivalent gas is expected to be monetised from the auctioned areas.

Tell me more: The gross revenue is estimated at Rs 46,400 crore including Rs 5,000 crore in royalty and Rs 9,300 crore in central government revenue.

$19.5-22.3 billion

What is it? Snap Inc., owner of photo-messaging app, Snapchat’s reported valuation.

Why is it important? The parent of one of the fastest-growing and widely-popular mobile applications was expected to value its IPO (initial public offering) at $20-25 billion. But it is being said the unprofitable company revised it downwards on initial investor feedback as its daily average user (DAU) growth slowed to 46% in Q4, 2016. The world of listed social media companies is already seeing two outcomes playing out: Facebook which has managed to make profits on its social media platform and Twitter which is still trying to. With Snapchat’s growth in new users, mainly comprising short-on-attention millennials, slowing, its business model could be under a cloud.

Tell me more: By valuing its shares at $14-16, Snap Inc. wants to ensure enough demand for its stock to trade up on its debut. Snapchat has a learning curve which could deter new users and keep non-users from turning to it.

0.4%

What is it? The ceiling on merchant discount rate (MDR) for small merchants using a physical point of sale terminal for card transactions, as proposed by Reserve Bank of India. MDR is the rate charged to a merchant by a bank for card / digital transactions. For digital transactions the proposed ceiling is 0.3%.

Why is it important? MDR has been a point of contention in India ever since the government announced demonetisation and sought to push digital transactions by cutting MDR to zero for transactions up to Rs 2000 till 31 March 2017.  MDR’s slabs are usually based on ticket size. RBI has proposed to the banks to consider the turnover of merchants too, and charge the small merchants (with turnover of less than Rs 20 lakh, for example) lower rate.

Tell me more: Reserve Bank has also proposed that banks charge lower rate for transactions that don’t involve physical point of sale terminals that are usually supplied by the banks.

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