What is it? The percentage points by which the weighted average lending rate on outstanding rupee loans fell from December 2014 to June 2016. The repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks) was reduced by 1.5 percentage points in the same period.
Why is it important? This indicates that monetary transmission has not been effective, despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) push to banks to reduce lending rates. On the other hand, the weighted average domestic term deposit rate has been reduced by 1.12 percentage points, a move seen as the banks’ attempt to protect their profit margins even as they struggle with mounting bad loans and higher provisioning for those.
Tell me more: The RBI said that with the new system (marginal cost of funds-based lending rate), which has been effective since 1 April, the banks’ benchmark lending rates would be “more sensitive to changes in the policy rate".
What is it? The proposed fines for treating animals with cruelty by beating, kicking and torturing, as per changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, according to a report. The current penalties are in the range of ₹ 10-50.
Why is it important? This indicates that the government is getting serious about cruelty against animals, after a series of shocking incidents. However, it’s not clear if such small hikes in penalties will deter the violators of animal protection rules. The PCA (amendment) Bill, 2016, is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.
Tell me more: If someone is found to be using an injection on cows and other milch animals to improve lactation at the cost of their health, the proposed fine is ₹ 5,000, up from the current ₹ 1,000. There were 24,353 cases of cruelty against animals reported in India between 2012-13 and 2014-15, according to government records.
What is it? The number of years the urine/blood samples of Olympic participants are stored by the International Olympic Committee for re-testing.
Why is it important? Re-testing of silver medal winning wrestler Russia’s Besik Kudukhov in 2012 London Olympics has led to his disqualification, and upgrade of Yogeshwar Dutt’s bronze medal to silver. The event was 60kg freestyle wrestling. Once the official announcement is made, India will have three silver medals from the London Games, including those won by wrestler Sushil Kumar and shooter Vijay Kumar. Kudukhov died in a car accident in 2013.
Tell me more: The earlier maximum period for re-testing of samples was eight years from collecting them, which was then extended to 10 years in 2015.
What is it? The jail term given to a former primary school principal in Bihar for the death of 23 children after they consumed a mid-day meal in 2013.
Why is it important? The court in Chhapra (headquarters of Saran district) treated it as a rarest of rare case and ordered for the sentence to be run consecutively rather than concurrently. The former principal Mina Devi has been given 10 years in prison for culpable homicide and seven years for criminal negligence in addition to a total fine of ₹ 3.75 lakh. The mid-day meal scheme is the world’s largest school feeding programme of its kind and has been implemented to ensure children do not skip school due to hunger.
Tell me more: Devi was found negligent of storing mustard oil in a container that had traces of pesticide.
What is it? The increase in productivity levels when people don’t use smartphones while working at their desks, according to a study.
Why is it important? This could help companies devise policies on the usage of smartphones at workplaces. One suggestion is to have dedicated smartphone-free time and one of the ways to implement this is to not allow the use of smartphones in normal work environments, according to the managing director (South Asia) at Kaspersky Lab.
Tell me more: The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 people aged 19-56 years in labs at the Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent where a pattern emerged correlating productivity levels and the distance of the smartphone from the user. The productivity levels were the lowest when the smartphone was on the desk and the highest when taken away from the room.
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