5,028 crore

What is it? The amount Indian government hopes to raise by selling 5% of its stake in NTPC, the country’s largest power utility.

Why is it important? The government has been able to raise less than a fifth of its disinvestment target of 68,500 crore so far. This may make it difficult for it to increase public spending to revive economic growth and achieve its fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP (gross domestic product) next fiscal from 3.9% of GDP this year. If successful, this would be the biggest disinvestment in six months after India raised Rs 9,370 crore by selling its stake in Indian Oil Corp. in August.

Tell me more: The stake sale is expected to reduce the government’s shareholding from 74.96% to 69.95%.

9,000 crore

What is it? The projected economic benefit to Bihar over the next three years after it opted to participate in the central government’s Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme, where states would take over debts of power utilities and implement reforms.

Why is it important? Bihar is the sixth state to sign up for this scheme and the second non-NDA (National Democratic Alliance) state after Uttar Pradesh. This indicates that rival parties are willing to cooperate with the central government on its plans to revive power utilities, which is important in fulfilling its promise of providing electricity to all by 2020.

Tell me more: The total outstanding debt of power utilities add up to 4.3 trillion and with Bihar joining in, around a third of the debt would be restructured under the UDAY scheme. In Bihar, two-thirds of the benefits will come through reducing aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C), transmission costs and increasing efficiency through steps such as metering and upgradation of transformers.


What is it? The amount 40 state-run media outlets in Iran have raised to add to the “fatwa" issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989 after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. A fatwa is a legal ruling or opinion issued by an Islamic authority.

Why is it important? This takes the total prize money for the murder of British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie to $3.6 million, according to Amir Taheri, an Iranian-born author based in Europe. Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had called for the death of Rushdie and others who were involved in the publication of the novel, on blasphemy charges. The fatwa has officially not been lifted and this is the largest organised effort to kill Rushdie after it was issued 17 years ago.

Tell me more: Rushdie lived in the UK under police protection and went into hiding for a few years, capturing the experience in his memoir Joseph Anton. As a result of the fatwa, the Japanese translator of his novel was stabbed to death in 1991, and its Italian translator was wounded.

Around 0.5

What is it? The aerosol optical depth (a measure of how much light is blocked by particles such as dust in the atmosphere) or a proxy for air quality an average Indian was exposed to, in 2015, according to a Greenpeace analysis of NASA data.

Why is it important? By this measure, Indians are breathing more toxic air than the Chinese for the first time in this century. The aerosol optical depth recorded in China was marginally lower than India’s last year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a value of 0.4 corresponds to “a very hazy condition", while 0.1 to “an extremely clean atmosphere". Americans breathe much cleaner air with its average aerosol optical depth being 0.1 to 0.15.

Tell me more: Levels of fine particulate matter or PM 2.5, an air pollutant, decreased by 17% in China between 2010 and 2015, while it increased by 13% in India in the same period.


What is it? The share of job application-related frauds in 2015, according to a report by background screening firm First Advantage. The company screened around 2.8 million candidates last year.

Why is it important? It’s the highest in the last five years. Such frauds include forgery related to employment, education, address and other personal details. For three years (2011-2013), this value was constant at 10%, which rose to 10.5% in 2014. The banking, financial services and insurance sector along with IT and telecom were the top industries in which job seekers tampered with their applications the most.

Tell me more: Maharashtra reported maximum discrepancies in the last quarter of 2015 (20%) among states, while among cities, Bengaluru was at the top of the list in the same period.

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