Times Top10: Today’s Top News Headlines and Latest News from India & across the World

5


5 THINGS FIRST

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on a 3-day visit to India; Raisina Dialogue 2020; Balance of trade data for December to be published; FAStags for electronic toll collection mandatory for all vehicles from today; Army Day

1. Is India sending its kids to school too soon?
1. Is India sending its kids to school too soon?
  • Playing with fire? The report points out that older children perform substantially better than younger kids in basic cognitive skills in Class 1, such as the ability to recognise and read letters as well as numbers. The report adds that “enrolling children into formal schooling when they are too young may be an important reason why these children remain academically behind others through their school life.”
    Letters & numbers (govt. schools)
    Letters & numbers (pvt. schools)
  • Faulty policy? Globally, children do not start formal schooling before they are at least 5 years old, such as in the UK, or 6 years old, as in the US. In fact, formal schooling also includes the years spent in kindergarten — which means a child necessarily has to be 5 or 6 years old in the UK and US respectively before he/she is enrolled in kindergarten. A Stanford University study found that enrolling children in school at a later age not only enhances their academic achievements but also reduces their propensity to commit crimes. It also revealed that the school starting age had no effect on long-run earnings of a person. ASER too, highlights the disadvantages of the current age criteria — currently, 41.1% of students in Class 1 can recognise numbers up to 9. However, according to NCERT, children in Class 1 should be able to recognise numbers up to 99. Now that isn’t just a numbers game!
2. What courts are saying about arrests for anti-CAA protests
2. What courts are saying about arrests for anti-CAA protests

Meanwhile, Kerala became the first state to move the Supreme Court challenging the new citizenship law “as violative of the principles of equality, freedom and secularism enshrined in the Constitution.” The SC, in the Nirbhaya case, dismissed the curative petition filed by two of the four convicts for a stay on their execution, scheduled for January 22.

3. Why low wholesale inflation isn’t good news for you
3. Why low wholesale inflation isn’t good news for you
  • Lower vs higher: The retail inflation (as measured by consumer price inflation) for December, meanwhile, is the highest in over five years at 7.35%. The divergence is because of the difference in weight of various items in the two indices. For instance, food articles have a higher weight in retail inflation than in wholesale inflation and so movement in food prices has a bigger impact on CPI. Similarly, manufactured products category has a much higher weight in WPI. Plus, there are certain items which are part of CPI but not WPI (like medical and education inflation) which also has an impact.
    Who's your employer_ (1)
  • WPI & your salary: While retail inflation is about your expenses, borrowings and investments (affected by interest rate changes), wholesale inflation, which captures prices at the factory, could be an indirect indicator of your salary increments and job opportunities in the manufacturing sector. A big reason for the low wholesale inflation is the collapse in the manufactured products inflation component within WPI. In December, manufactured products inflation was a minus 0.25%. This means that manufacturers (who are big employers) are unable to raise prices of the goods they make — a key determinant of the fate of any industry. Given the slowdown in consumer demand, manufacturers cannot increase prices of their products at a time when the cost of inputs for some may be rising. A slight increase (from -0.84% in November to -0.25% in December) in manufacturing inflation could be a sign of a drop in excess capacity in factories and marginal increase in demand at the factory door. However, the continued decline demonstrates the extent of weakness in demand in the sector. The forced discounts to shore up demand isn’t good news for employees of such companies as their salaries depend on which way the WPI heads.
4. India’s worst-ever ODI defeat against Australia
4. India's worst-ever ODI defeat against Australia

Check the series page here

6. Avalanches hit Kashmir, on either side of LoC
6. Avalanches hit Kashmir, on either side of LoC
  • Three soldiers and five civilians were killed in two separate incidents of avalanches in Kashmir. The three soldiers died in an avalanche in Kupwara district, while the civilians were hit by another avalanche in Sonmarg in Ganderbal district. Last week another avalanche along the Line of Control (LoC) had killed an Army porter in the Poonch district. High-altitude areas of Kashmir and Ladakh have been receiving moderate to heavy snowfall over the past few days, prompting authorities to issue avalanche warnings. Avalanches are not uncommon though, killing over 50 Indian soldiers in the last three years.
    Snow & soldiers
  • On the other side of the LoC, in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, at least 57 were killed and several missing after avalanches hit Neelam Valley over Monday and Tuesday, reports Reuters. The avalanche destroyed several houses and heavy rains and snowfall are making rescue operations difficult, local authorities said in a statement.
  • Weather experts say the western disturbance prevailing over Afghanistan and Pakistan is the cause of heavy rainfall and snowfall in the region; Himachal Pradesh, too, has been receiving heavy rainfall over the two days. Since the start of the new year, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir have registered ‘large excess’ and ‘excess’ rainfall respectively. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the fresh disturbance will reach its peak intensity on Thursday (January 16).
7. A US warning to UK that India should take note of
7. A US warning to UK that India should take note of
8. Sad Barca, happy Barca
8. Sad Barca, happy Barca
Deloitte

9. And the oldest material on Earth is…
9. And the oldest material on Earth is...
A magnified view of a presolar grain, or stardust

  • … as much as 7.5 billion years old. We’re talking of the oldest of 40 tiny dust grains trapped inside the fragments of a meteorite that crashed around the town of Murchison in the Australian state of Victoria in a fireball in 1969. A team of researchers has described the result in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Now, our Sun is around 4.6 billion years old, meaning the stardust from the meteorite existed long before our Sun or Solar System were even a reality. The stardust found on the meteorite are called presolar grains because they formed before our Sun.
  • Measuring from 2 to 30 micrometres (a micrometre is 1/1,000th of a millimetre or about 0.000039 of an inch) in size, the researchers isolated the presolar grains by crushing fragments of the meteorite and then segregating the component parts in a paste they described as smelling like rotten peanut butter. Dissolving the paste in acid then revealed the grains, allowing the researchers to determine their age and the type of star they once belonged to.
  • Stardust forms in the material ejected from stars and carried by stellar winds, getting blown into interstellar space. During the Solar System’s birth, this dust was incorporated into everything that formed including the planets and the sun but survived intact until now only in asteroids and comets.
BEFORE YOU GO
10. World’s ‘worst air’ weighs heavy on Aussie Open
10. World’s ‘worst air’ weighs heavy on Aussie Open
  • The blanket of smoke that has engulfed Melbourne following the bushfires disrupted qualifying matches and troubled players at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Dalila Jakupovic, the world No 180 from Slovenia, was leading her match 6-4, 5-6 when she fell to her knees coughing, before deciding to stop play. Other players, including Eugenie Bouchard, Bernard Tomic and Liam Broady, spoke of the difficulty the poor air caused.
  • Smoke, dust and air-borne ash caused by the apocalyptic-like bushfires raging in Australia’s southeastern states have severely affected air quality in cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. Tuesday midnight, Melbourne’s air quality index crossed 300, making it “hazardous”, worse than that recorded in Delhi and Beijing on the day.
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Compiled by: Judhajit Basu, Rakesh Rai, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl

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