What is it? The difference in vote share between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections, where the former won 99 seats and the latter 77.
Why is it important? This is narrower than the difference in vote share of the parties recorded in the 2012 state elections and the 2014 national elections. This assumes significance as a spate of state elections and the next national elections are due in 2018 and 2019, and these polls are being seen as some barometer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the ability of newly-appointed Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to emerge as Modi’s challenger.
Tell me more: BJP’s vote share has increased marginally from the 48% it secured in the 2012 assembly elections, but is well below the 60% it secured in the 2014 national elections. Congress’s vote share has risen from 33% in the 2014 national elections and 39% in the 2012 assembly elections to 41.4% in the latest polls.
What is it? The number of states in which the BJP is now in power (either on its own or in an alliance) after winning Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh on Monday.
Why is it important? The last time a political party or grouping was in control of 18 states was the Congress in 1991. Since coming to power at the Centre in May 2014, the BJP has turned the tables on the Congress in the tally of states. The BJP’s count has increased from eight states to 19, while the Congress’s has declined from 15 to six. At the state level, the BJP now governs 68% of India’s population. And though the Congress is in power in six states, these account for just 9% of the population.
Tell me more: Looking ahead, there are eight states whose legislative assembly’s term is scheduled to end before the 2019 general elections. Of these, the BJP controls four and the Congress three.
What is it? The value by which farm loan waivers announced by five states—Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka—are likely to widen their combined fiscal deficit, or 0.65% of India’s GDP (gross domestic product).
Why is it important? It raises questions if governments need to go beyond the quick-fix solution of farm loan waivers and the associated costs of such schemes. While Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have announced these waivers as part of their 2017-18 budgets, debt waivers by the other three states are outside their current year’s budget and, thus, they have to generate additional resources or prune capital and social expenditure.
Tell me more: Recently, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel warned against waiving off debts of distressed farmers as it led to higher government spending and had an adverse effect on lenders.
What is it? The amount of equity sold by Skymet Weather Services, the weather monitoring and agri-risk solutions provider, to German government’s InsuResilience Investment Fund to raise Series C funding, the company announced on Monday without disclosing the amount raised.
Why is it important? In recent years, Skymet has emerged as an additional supplier of weather-related data to the government-owned Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), raising the stakes in the weather forecasting space for both. The company plans to use the new funding to expand its network of automatic weather stations, and secure new business in weather data, crop measurement, climate analytics and disaster management—all areas of national import.
Tell me more: Formed in 2003, Skymet had raised $5.2 million before this latest round: $700,000 in 2011 and $4.5 million in 2014.
What is it? The series score in the ongoing five-match Ashes cricket series between Australia and England, after the former won the third test in Perth on Monday.
Why is it important? The unbeatable lead means Australia are once again the holders of the Ashes urn, which they had lost to England in 2015. In the 81 test series played between the two nations, cricket’s longest rivalry and one of its keenest, Australia have now won 39 and England 34, with the remaining being drawn.
Tell me more: However, since 2005, England still hold the upper hand in the Ashes head-to-head. Of the eight series played, they have won five, including an away win, and lost three.