News in Numbers: 176 bureaucrats asked to retire for non-performance since July 2014
What is it? The number of government officers who were asked to retire for non-performance between 1 July 2014, and 31 October, according to the government’s written reply presented in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Why is it important? Such measures could increase discipline and accountability among bureaucrats in India. The government has taken other action earlier, such as premature retirement and cut in remuneration/pension, to punish non-performers and corrupt/indulging in illegal activities. Those who have retired in the three-year period include 53 Group A officers and 123 Group B officers of central civil services.
Tell me more: A study on the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) cadre suggests urgent reforms such as reshaping recruitment and promotion processes, improving performance-based assessment of officers and adopting measures to promote accountability and protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.
What is it? The amount of money that HDFC Bank is planning to raise through a combination of preferential allotment to its promoter and the balance via qualified institutional placement/American Depository Receipt (ADR)/Global Depository Receipts (GDR) issue.
Why is it important? If the bank successfully raises the entire amount, it would significantly increase its capital adequacy ratio, which stood at 15.1%, as of 30 September. A higher ratio gives a bank the cover to lend more, as well as protection from loans turning bad. In recent months, the asset quality of HDFC Bank, long held as a marker for the sector, has deteriorated, and there’s also been a case of the bank reporting a difference of opinion with the central bank on how to treat a loan asset.
Tell me more: Of the Rs24,000 crore, the bank plans to raise up to Rs8,500 crore from its promoter, HDFC.
What is it? The approximate cost of an anti-smog cannon that was tested in Anand Vihar, one of the most polluted areas in Delhi, as a measure to tackle air pollution in the city, which once again registered as “very poor” on Wednesday.
Why is it important? The cannon, which ejects fine droplets of water, could soon be seen on the streets of the national capital if it is able to make a significant difference in pollution levels, according to Delhi’s environment minister Imran Hussain. China has used such cannons to combat air pollution in the recent past, but experts say these only have limited effect. Environmental activist organisation Greenpeace has said this is just a band-aid solution and does nothing to tackle the root causes of the problem.
Tell me more: Delhi experiences alarming pollution levels during winters. This November, it was particularly bad, with the Indian Medical Association declaring it a public health emergency.
What is it? The number of days in which the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement body (DSB) will hold its next meeting (12 January).
Why is it important? The United States plans to tell the DSB that India has failed to comply with the WTO ruling on solar energy. India had launched its National Solar Mission under the previous UPA government, after which the US complained to the WTO in 2013 that India’s programme was discriminatory and that its solar exports to India had fallen 90% since 2011. The DSB had ruled in favour of the US and India had agreed to comply with the ruling, though the US is not convinced, which is likely to prolong the litigation further.
What is it? The reported value of a two-book deal that Kristen Roupenian, author of Cat Person, has signed with a Simon & Schuster imprint in the US.
Why is it important? Cat Person, released by New Yorker earlier this month, is the fictional story of a 20-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man who get to know each other through texting, and the fear and disillusionment she feels after a sexual experience between the two. The story went viral, and sparked many conversations about, among other things, gender, sex, privilege and millennial love. According to Roupenian, the story was inspired by a “a small but nasty encounter” she had with someone she met online.
Tell me more: Roupenian’s debut story collection, You Know You Want, is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2019. Publisher Jonathan Cape obtained the UK rights last week.
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