News in Numbers: 31 banks gave working capital loans of Rs5,280 crore to Mehul Choksi
What is it? The number of months since the Indian government set up a committee of scholars for the “holistic study of origin and evolution of Indian culture since 12,000 years before present and its interface with other cultures of the world”.
Why is it important? The 14-member committee aims to use evidence, including archaeological finds and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), to prove that current day’s Hindus are descendants of the first inhabitants of this land and that ancient Hindu scriptures are factual accounts. This panel is said to be a part of bigger plans to rewrite India’s history and its findings could be included in school textbooks and academic research.
Tell me more: There have been instances of school textbooks being rewritten, most of it with respect to Indian history, in the last few years. The underlying idea seems to be to change the idea of India and define the contours of national identity in consonance with it.
What is it? The number of banks, both state-run and private, that were in the consortium that extended working capital loans worth Rs5,280 crore to Mehul Choksi-controlled Gitanjali Gems, beginning 2009.
Why is it important? On Tuesday, in an apparent widening of the probe into the alleged bank fraud by companies linked to Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) summoned senior executives of ICICI Bank, which led the consortium, and Axis Bank.
Tell me more: Since April 2007, banks reportedly entered into 151 loan transactions with Gitanjali Gems, with the most recent being Rs40 crore by Syndicate Bank in December 2016 and Rs60 crore by ICICI Bank in August 2016. Today, the SFIO is expected to question the MD and CEO of Punjab National Bank, which is the worst hit by this fraud.
What is it? The number of years since the last inter-Korean summit, in 2007. The last time North Korea was on the talks table was 2008-09, in a six-party dialogue comprising Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, US and North Korea, which eventually collapsed.
Why is it important? In what are being seen as signs of rapprochement, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is slated to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the end of April, a senior South Korean diplomat said on his return from the North on Tuesday. The diplomat added that North Korea was willing to hold talks with the US on de-nuclearisation if the safety of Kim Jong-un’s regime was guaranteed.
Tell me more: The US and North Korea have been locked in a war of words. North Korea ranks ninth in terms of its nuclear arsenal.
What is it? The number of days for which Sri Lanka has declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots.
Why is it important? This is the first such emergency imposed since the civil war that was the result of ethnic tension between the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils. At least two people have been killed, and dozens of mosques and homes damaged. The special measures give the government sweeping powers to arrest suspects and detain them for longer periods and deploy forces where required.
Tell me more: Muslims account for 7.6% of Sri Lankan population, as per Census 2001. The latest violence is said to have erupted after a group of Muslim men in Digana town were accused of killing a man from the Sinhalese Buddhist community, which constitute three-fourths of the country’s population.
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