The largest drug bust

1,500 kg

What is it? The quantity of narcotics seized by the Indian Coast Guard from a merchant vessel off Gujarat on Saturday.

Why is it important? Valued at Rs 3,500 crore, this is the largest single haul of narcotics till date, according to the Defence department. The total quantity of various drugs seized more than threefold from 102,115 kg in 2015 to 350,836 kg in 2016 while the number of people arrested in such cases increased by around 20% from 32,559 in 2015 to 38,929 last year, according to the Narcotics Control Bureau.

Tell me more: The Indian Coast Guard ‘Samudra Pavak’ intercepted the merchant vessel on Saturday noon, which was brought to Porbandar on Sunday morning. A joint investigation by the Indian Coast Guard, Intelligence Bureau, police, Customs department, Indian Navy and other agencies is underway.



What is it? The number of supersonic B-1 bombers the US flew over South Korea on Sunday.

Why is it important? This was done as a show of force in response to North Korea, which conducted its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, escalating tensions and threatening regional stability. North Korea’s latest missile launch reportedly appears to have the ability to hit American mainland, which experts say, show that the country has progressed rapidly in its missile programme. It has conducted 12 missile tests since February and its first ICBM test on July 4.

Tell me more: China, which is North Korea’s most important ally, urged North Korea to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions but US President Donald Trump expressed his disappointment in China failing to use its economic clout to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.


Rs 65,000 crore

What is it? The estimated value of BSNL’s one-third of prime land holdings.

Why is it important? The book value of the 15,000-odd land and building assets held by the company was Rs 975 crore, the estimation that was arrived ‘decades ago’. The recent valuation exercise was initiated in April this year as part of company’s business revival programmes, which could help the company monetise its assets by the commercial utilisation of its holdings. BSNL along with Air India and SAIL accounted for over half of the total losses incurred by the top 10 loss-making public sector companies in the country.

Tell me more: The public sector company has, however, narrowed its losses over the years: from Rs 7,019 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 8,234 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 3,880 crore in 2015-16.



What is it? The number of American diplomats expelled by Russia on Sunday.

Why is it important? This is the largest expulsion of diplomats from any country. The expulsion follows after the US congress approved sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea and also for allegedly interfering in US Presidential elections held last year.

Tell me more: Moscow had insisted US reduce staff at its embassies and consulates in Russia to 450, mirroring the strength of Russia’s staff in the US.



What is it? The Union power ministry has asked states to reduce electricity losses to below 10% in six months.

Why is it important? Capping electricity loss at 10% has the potential to transform the financial conditions of many state-run utilities. In June this year, the all-India average of power loss (both theft and technical) was 23%. Government data shows some 200 towns face loss in the range of 40-90%. Such circumstances make the target an ambitious one, given the timeline.

Tell me more: The government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) straightening operational and bill collection efficiency have helped state-run power discoms cut their financial losses. But the target of less than 10% of power loss in six months can only be attained by the simultaneous implementation of Uday for pilferage and theft and the Integrated Power Development System (IPDS) for technical upgrades to avoid faults.

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News in Numbers, May 4, 2016: Inequality in India, share of diesel vehicles drops…


What is it? India’s net Gini coefficient in 2013. Net Gini coefficient measures income inequality. Zero would mean everyone earns same income, and 100 would mean one person earns all the income.

Why is it important? India’s net Gini coefficient has increased from 45 in 1990, when the economic reforms kickstarted. This indicates the reforms helped some people more than the others, with unequal distribution of wealth, mainly driven by ‘inequality within urban areas, as well as by the urban-rural gap”

Tell me more: Till 1990, Korea, China and Singapore were called ‘miracle economies’ as rapid growth led to equitable income distribution. This pulled people out of poverty in large numbers.


What is it? The number of educational loans sanctioned for students registered with Vidya Lakshmi Portal in the nine months since it was launched in August 2015. Number of students registered are 862.

Why is it important? The numbers represent a tiny fraction of educational loan disbursed by banks. Indicates lack of awareness among students to avail this facility and reluctance among banks to disburse educational loans. Of Rs 66,858 crore of educational loans, 5.88% had turned bad as of December 2015,.

Tell me more: Students can apply to multiple banks by filing up a single form in Vidya Lakshmi Portal, an initiative by the Finance Ministry. 37 banks are registered as of now.


What is it? The share of diesel vehicles in total car sales in twelve months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? This is the third consecutive year where diesel vehicles have conceded shares to petrol vehicles. Elimination of diesel subsidy has dented the cost advantage.

Tell me more: The price difference between petrol and diesel used to be Rs 22.07 per litre in March 2013, but now it has narrowed down to Rs 13.12 per litre now.


What is it? The negative impact of water shortage on the GDPs (gross domestic product) of some regions by 2050 if there is no change in water policies, according to World Bank.

Why is it important? The reduction in GDP would be a reflection of social costs – decline in household income, spike in food prices, bad health, migration and even conflicts. Without better policies (that boost efficiencies and allocation of water to better uses), the report warns that the regions with abundant water supply, such as Central Africa and East Asia, will face scarcity and the regions where it’s already in short supply, such as Middle East and the Sahel in Africa, situation will worsen.

Tell me more: Water shortages would dent Middle East’s GDP by 14%, Sahel’s by nearly 12% of GDP, Central Asia’s by 11% and east Asia about 7%, according to the report High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy.


What is it? Percentage of votes Donald Trump got in Indiana primary on Tuesday in the run up to US presidential elections.

Why is it important? Following this Ted Cruz, Trump’s most serious competitor, suspended his campaign for the White House. This makes Trump the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. Many expected there would be a contested convention in July.

Tell me more: On Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won Indiana primaries, but not by big enough margin to close the lead Hillary Clinton has in terms of number of delegates.


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News in numbers, Jan 26, 2016: India and France sign deals worth $15 bn, new voters added…

$ 15 billion

What is it? Deal value of 30 agreements signed between India and France in the last two days

Why is it important? Two major deals – $9 billion to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts and a shareholding agreement between Indian Railways and Alstom to produce 800 locomotives worth $ 3 billion locally – were taken forward and will help meet India’s priorities now. One to replace the ageing MiG fighter jets, and another to give boost to ‘Make in India’ program.

Tell me more: Financial details are yet to be agreed for the Rafale deal, where an Inter-governmental agreement has been signed. In Alstom deal, a shareholder agreement was inked.  French President François Hollande is on a three day visit to India, and will be the chief guest at India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations.


18 million

What is it? That’s the number of new voters added in the one year. With this, India now has 850 million electors.

Why is it important? Shows the success of the Election Commission to enthuse teenagers who become eligible to vote to enroll. Half of new voters enrolled are in the age bracket of 18-19 years, as compared to 10-15% in previous enrolment drive.

Tell me more: Census data shows 4.8 million people in age bracket of 18 to 19 years, but the enrollment numbers are double of that. The data doesn’t match, though Census is 2011 figures. Voter turnout in 2014 parliamentary elections was 66.4%, the highest ever.

+ 0.67 ° Celsius

What is it? Increase in annual mean temperature in 2015 in India, the third warmest year since 1901.

Why is it important? Twelve out of fifteen warmest years were recorded in last fifteen years, indicating a secular trend of increase in temperature. In particular, October – December last year, was the warmest since 1901.

Tell me more: World Meteorological Organization too declared 2015 as the hottest year on record, with temperature 1 degree celsius above pre-industrial era.


3.09 crore

What is it? The number of income tax returns filed electronically between April and December 2015.

Why is it important? That’s a jump of 27.3% from 2.43 crore during the same period last year, and close to 3.41 crore filed during the full financial year. (There are about 5.16 crore crore tax payers in India according to income tax department, based on returns filed and tax deducted at source). The jump underlines the advantages of digitising citizen to government interactions, and also the inefficiencies in physical movements of documents. There were complaints about the delays in receiving filings earlier.

Tell me more: Data provided by income tax department hit headlines recently after economist Thomas Piketty, best known for his study on inequality published in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, complained that there was “an extreme lack of transparency in information about income-tax data.”

1500 plus

What is it? The number of candidates vying for US presidency.

Why is it important? The final contest for White House often ends up between the Republican and Democratic nominees. (This time there could be a third, with Michael Bloomberg considering a presidential bid.) However, a large number of presidential hopefulsrepresenting a range of parties (American Independent Party, American Freedom Party, Constitution Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, Objectivist Party and so on) or as independents throw in their hats too. In 2012, the number of presidential hopefuls was

Tell me more: While most of these candidates can be ignored, third party performances have had impact on elections – in 1996, businessman Ross Perot, competing as an independent won 18.6% of the popular vote.

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