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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A Drive Against Tobacco


What is it? The number of children in North Korea that face potential starvation this year, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Why is it important? This is as a result of international sanctions on the country for its defiant advancements in nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Although humanitarian supplies and operations are exempt from these sanctions, companies, banks and other organisations are cautious in these dealings as they do not want risk being associated with breaking the sanctions, according to Unicef deputy executive director Omar Abdi. Other aid groups have also expressed frustration at being unable to carry out humanitarian aid in North Korea.

Tell me more: The United Nations Security Council tightened economic restrictions on North Korea, cutting fuel supplies and banning trade in goods that accounted for 90% of its export revenue in 2016.


$11 billion

What is it? The size of the Indian tobacco industry.

Why is it important? The government has asked the Supreme Court to classify tobacco as ‘res extra commercium’, which means ‘outside commerce’ in Latin. As a result, the Indian tobacco industry could lose its legal right to trade, giving the authorities more room to impose restrictions and dissuade the industry from challenging those tough new regulations. Tobacco use reportedly causes 1 death every six seconds, despite which India is the second leading consumer of the substance in the world.

Tell me more: According to a report, India is among the top four countries in terms of death due to tobacco use.



What is it? The number of Indian airlines that could express interest in buying Air India, which the government is priming for a sale, aviation consultancy Capa said in a report released yesterday.

Why is it important? More airlines in the fray is better for Air India and the government. Capa named the four airlines as IndiGo, Vistara, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. IndiGo has already expressed interest, while the Tata Group, which runs Vistara, has said it would like to see the terms of sale. Capa expects Air India’s domestic and international airline operations to be sold as a single entity, ancillary units hived off, real estate transferred to an SPV and working capital debt restructured.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, Ajay Singh of SpiceJet yesterday said his airline was too small to buy Air India. Elsewhere yesterday, IndiGo appointed Wolfgang Prock-Schauer—an industry veteran who has previously worked in Austrian Airlines and Jet Airways, among other airlines—as its chief operating officer.



What is it? The number of times that India has beaten arch rivals Pakistan in the under-19 cricket world cup. Yesterday, an unbeaten century by Shubhman Gill and four wickets from Ishan Porel helped India win their semi-final in the ongoing world cup.

Why is it important? In under-19 one-day internationals, among teams that have played at least 100 matches, India has the best winning percentage (78%), followed by Pakistan (64%), Bangladesh (63%) and Australia (61%). With the latest win and their entry into the finals of a tournament it has won twice in the last five editions, India kept up with their favourites tag.

Tell me more: In the finals, India will play Australia, who beat Afghanistan by 6 wickets in the first semi-final.



What is it? The drop in the Wynn Resorts stock since Friday, when a Wall Street Journal story accused Steve Wynn, the company’s founder and CEO, of a pattern of sexual misconduct over the years.

Why is it important? While the past few months have seen several male business executives in the US being accused of sexual harassment, Wynn is the first founder and CEO of a listed company with some profile to face such allegations. Wynn, 76, has denied the charges. Initially, the company issued a statement criticising the WSJ report, but subsequently set up a panel to investigate the allegations.

Tell me more: Founded in 2002, Wynn Reports is based in Las Vegas, and owns and operates destination casino resorts. In 2017, it recorded revenues of $6.3 billion and a net profit of $747 billion. As CEO, Wynn drew a salary of $15.66 million from the company.


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