airIndia

A Suitable Buyer

     

    Air India has been bleeding money for quite some time. At the end of March’17, it has piled up debt of nearly Rs. 48,000 crore. Nontheless, it has found suiters in Tata Group and parent company of Indigo. But, that’s not enough for the government. It wants to raise the stakes, so it may do away with the ‘foreign airlines can own 49% stake in an Indian airline but not Air India’ rule. More bidders, better pricing. Why would a buyer be interested in owning a debt laden company? You ask? Government is hiving off a part of Air India’s loan not linked to the aircraft, a 64% of its debt.

    For more news in numbers, read on.

     

    84

    What is it? The number of seats the Left Alliance in Nepal had won as of Sunday evening in parliamentary elections, as per preliminary results.

    Why is it important? With this, the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist alliance is heading towards a majority, with Khadga Prasad Oli likely to be the country’s Prime Minister. This brings an end to the decade-old civil war in Nepal and completes its move to becoming a federal democracy. It remains to be seen if the Left Alliance’s landslide victory results in the waning of India’s influence on Nepal and China playing a dominant role in the landlocked nation.

    Tell me more: The Left Alliance was leading in another 31 seats, while the incumbent Nepali Congress had won just 13 seats. The house of representatives consists of 275 members, of which 165 are to be elected directly under the first-past-the-post system and the rest through the proportional representation system.

     

    49%

    What is it? The maximum stake that foreign airlines can own in an Indian airline, with the exception of Air India, in which investment from foreign airlines is banned.

    Why is it important? The Indian government may reportedly do away with this exception for the disinvestment of state-run Air India, provided the foreign airlines has a joint venture with a local player. This could intensify competition among bidders interested in buying Air India and, perhaps, fetch the government a better price. The parent company of IndiGo is the only airline to have made a formal expression of interest, while the Tata Group has indicated its interest in doing the same.

    Tell me more: Jayant Sinha, union minister of state for civil aviation, said on Friday that the process of privatisation of Air India has begun and that it would be finalised in 6-8 months.

     

    39%

    What is it? Percentage of assets under management (AUMs) of Indian mutual funds in equity funds and balanced funds in November 2017.

    Why is it important? This figure was 30% in November 2014. This increase in share of equity-oriented funds comes in the backdrop of consistently rising net inflows into Indian mutual funds, whose total AUMs have increased to an all-time high of Rs 21.8 trillion in November 2017, as against 16.9 trillion in October 2016. More encouragingly, it is individual investors who are driving growth, rather than institutional investors.

    Tell me more: The two fund classes that have lost share during this period are both debt funds: income funds (down from 46% to 38%) and liquid funds (down from 21% to 19%).

     

    67%

    What is it? The rate at which Amazon India’s gross sales volume increased in the July-September quarter from a year ago. Its gross sales by value grew 67% in the same period.

    Why is it important? This is more than twice the estimated broader growth rate of the online retail market. It is another indication that Amazon India continues to keep pace with India’s homegrown e-commerce firm and marked leader, Flipkart. In a recent report on customer response and perception by RedSeer Consulting, both e-tailers were tied with a score of 92, similar to the corresponding quarter in the previous year, when they had both scored 95.

    Tell me more: Amazon has committed $5 billion in India, of which it has spent over $2 billion, while Flipkart raised $2.4 billion from Japan’s SoftBank Group recently, giving it enough ammunition to battle against its cash-rich rival.

     

    14

    What is it? Number of consecutive wins recorded by Manchester City in the English Premier League. This is joint best with Arsenal’s run over two seasons in 2002.

    Why is it important? On Sunday, leaders Manchester City visited cross-town rivals and second-placed Manchester United in a game with many sub-texts and dominated them in a 2-1 victory. In a weekend when four of the top six teams in the league dropped points, City extended their lead to 11 points. They next travel to Swansea, which is languishing second from the bottom.

    Tell me more: The Manchester Derby ended with a fracas in the corridor outside City’s dressing room involving players and staff from the two teams.

     

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      modi-supporter

      The ‘Criminal’ Quotient of Gujarat Elections

         

        When the crime accused stands to administrate the people in his region, it’s probably the biggest irony of all. In Gujarat elections, something like that is unfolding. Both the ruling BJP and Congress have fielded some candidates that are accused of crimes against women, and attempt to murder. Here, take a look.

         

        101

        What is it? The number of candidates fighting the second phase of Gujarat elections with criminal cases.

        Why is it important? This represents 12% of all candidates, and more than 8% of candidates have serious criminal cases like crimes against women, attempt to murder, offence carrying punishment more than 5 years. Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress – the two leading parties – have 13 and 18 candidates with serious criminal cases.

        Tell me more: In the first phase, 137 or 15% of candidates have criminal cases against them.

         

        155 crore litres

        What is it? The amount of ethanol that will be purchased by oil marketing companies (OMCs) in current financial year.

        Why is it important? This is more than double the amount purchased by OMCs during last financial year, and this would mean sugar companies or ethanol manufacturers will get additional revenue of Rs 4,500 crore. This will benefit sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which together will provide more than 75% of the 155 crore litres.

        Tell me more: India targetted ethanol blending of 10% in fossil fuel to reduce import bill. Ethanol is produced from molasses, the byproduct from sugar production.

         

        30,000

        What is it? The number of Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in last month. 1,500 arrived last week alone, according to UNCHYR

        Why is it important? The flow of refugees continues, though the numbers have come down. More than 625,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since August 25. Both  Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on November 23 to start the return of refugees. The continued flow of refugees is an indicator of unsafe conditions still prevailing in Myanmar, said United Nations High Commission for Refugees or UNHCR.

        Tell me more: Rohingya are muslim minorities with majority of them living in Rakhine state of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. The latest exodus started after Rohingya Arsa militants attacked more than 25 police posts on August 25 this year.

         

        12 million

        What is it? The number of people eligible to vote in the second phase of the elections in Nepal.

        Why is it important? This is the first time Nepal will elect representatives to seven state assemblies since the land-locked country adopted the republican constitution in 2015. Since the civil war ended in 2006, Nepal has seen political instability with 10 governments in as many years and two years later, the Hindu monarchy ended.

        Tell me more: Voter turnout is estimated at 67%, and the elections will be closely watched by India and China. The left alliance is seen as pro-China, and the alliance led by Nepali Congress Party is seen as pro-India.

         

        Rs5 crore

        What is it? The amount of penalty levied by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living for damaging the Yamuna floodplains in 2016.

        Why is it important? NGT held Art of Living responsible for ‘causing damage and environmental degradation’ of the Yamuna floodplains. The tribunal did not impose additional penalty despite its own expert committee estimated the damages at Rs42.02 crore. Art of Living has denied the charges and is now planning to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

        Tell me more: NGT was established in 2010 to deal fast with environmental cases. So far, it has decided on 20,696 out of 23,720 cases filed.

         

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          Person Of The Year: The Silence Breakers

             

            Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

            Last month, several women who had experienced sexual harassment came out on Facebook and narrated their bitter experiences with #Metoo. Some of these experiences were fairly recent and some were decades old. But, their memories of the incident/s was just as new. The ripple effect of this movement shook Hollywood the most and has slowly engulfed few senators in the US parliament as well. This year Times Magazine has declared these Silence Breakers as the ‘Person of the year’.  Why is it important, you ask? Read on.

             

            3

            What is it? The number of times since 2007 when Time magazine’s Person of the Year was not one person, but a group or a movement. On Wednesday, Time declared ‘The Silence Breakers’—the women who have spoken out against sexual harassment and sexual assault at the workplace—as its 2017 Person of the Year.

            Why is it important? As actor after actor came out against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, it emboldened more women and men to narrate their incidents of sexual assault by men in positions of power. This had a domino effect, trickling down to the masses through the Twitter hashtag #MeToo, and bringing sexual harassment at the workplace into conversations and actions than ever before. The well-known names accused include actors Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman, Tv host Bill O’Reilly and Silicon Valley investor Shervin Pishevar.

            Tell me more: Time bestows this title to someone who impacted the world in a significant way, positive or negative. The previous two occasions since 2007 when it was not given to one person was 2014 (The Ebola Fighters) and 2011 (The Protestor).

             

            92%

            What is it? The amount by which cryptocurrency Bitcoin has increased in the past month. On Wednesday, it roared past the $13,000 mark.

            Why is it important? The latest price rise comes in amid news that Chicago exchanges CBOE Global Markets and CME Group have received regulatory approval to launch Bitcoin futures, and are planning to do so on December 10 and December 18, respectively. It’s a move that has sparked new bouts of concern about regulatory preparedness and systemic risk for this one-of-a-kind asset class.

            Tell me more: Two disparate events in the past week highlight the contrast in Bitcoin: on the one hand, South Korean financial regulators banned Bitcoin futures; on the other, the Winklevoss twins, who sued Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over the claim that he stole the idea for the social network from them, have become billionaires on the back of their investment in Bitcoin.

             

            5

            What is it? The maximum number of players a franchise can retain for the upcoming seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

            Why is it important? It means each franchise has some chance to hold on to their core players, while all other players go into the auction pool again. Details of the announcement come as a shot in the arm for the two franchises that were handed a two-year ban in 2015 for illegal betting and financial irregularities, Chennai and Rajasthan. Their retention pool includes former players who joined the Gujarat and Pune teams in the interim, paving the way for MS Dhoni to rejoin his old team Chennai.

            Tell me more: A franchise will retain players via two routes: retention before the auction (maximum three players) and right to match a bid in an auction (maximum three players, with a total of five under the two heads). Further, the salary cap of each IPL team has been increased from Rs 66 crore to Rs 80 crore.

             

            6%

            What is it? The rate at which India’s central bank held the benchmark repo rate—the interest rate at which it lends to banks—at its bimonthly policy review on Wednesday.

            Why is it important? This the second consecutive review in which the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has not touched the benchmark repo rate. This is despite clamor from industry and the government to do so in order to spur economic growth. The RBI noted risks to inflation, but expressed optimism that the slowdown in economic growth had bottomed out.

            Tell me more: Five of the six MPC members—Chetan Ghate, Pami Dua, Michael Debabrata Patra, Viral Acharya and Urjit Patel—were in favour of the monetary policy decision. Only one member, Ravindra Dholakia, voted for a policy rate reduction of 0.25 percentage point.

             

            Rs 17.38 crore

            What is it? The amount Infosys agreed to pay former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal as severance pay in October 2015.

            Why is it important? On Wednesday, Infosys filed a consent plea, without admitting wrongdoing, with capital market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) over governance and disclosure issues related to this payout. Governance experts have expressed unhappiness over the latest move by Infosys—for long cited as the marker in corporate governance in India Inc—to handle the issue, seeing it more as a way of achieving closure rather than coming clean on it.

            Tell me more: The severance pay to Bansal was one of the flashpoints in a tussle earlier this year that saw the Infosys board and previous CEO Vishal Sikka on one side and Infosys co-founders, notably NR Narayana Murthy, on the other side. Sikka was eventually ousted and the board had a new chair in Nandan Nilekani.

             

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              rahul gandhi

              Lineage Wins Yet Again

                 

                Congress gave in to lineage once again. It’s sole candidate has filed his nomination and would soon be elected. The telecom watchdog, TRAI has recommended that a telecom firm should first test its network before going all out in the market. In the world, China may become the biggest importer in next five years. And, Madhya Pradesh has unanimously passed a bill to legalize death sentence for those guilty of raping minor girls.

                 

                1

                What is it? Number of candidates who filed a nomination to contest elections for the post of the president of the Indian National Congress. The sole candidate, Rahul Gandhi, filed his nomination on Monday.

                Why is it important? If elected, as is expected, Rahul Gandhi will become the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to become president of the Indian National Congress. It will further the hereditary nature of Indian politics, where political parties speak of party democracy in letter, but submit to supreme leadership in spirit.

                Tell me more: From his immediate family, Rahul Gandhi, 47, will be the third member to become party president, following his father (Rajiv Gandhi, 1985-1991) and mother (Sonia Gandhi, current president since 1998). Before them, there were Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Motilal Nehru.

                 

                90

                What is it? The maximum number of days a telecom firm should get to conduct network testing and enroll only a small number of users before commercially launching its services, according to recommendations by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) sent to the department of telecommunications.

                Why is it important? If accepted, this suggestion could help new operators that are planning to launch their services in a telecom circle, given that under the current rules, a telecom service provider has to get its network testing done before launch of operations and also meet certain quality criteria. Incumbents had accused Reliance Jio, which made its entry last September, of running full-fledged services in the guise of trial launch/networking testing, though it has denied any wrongdoing.

                Tell me more: TRAI also said that if a telecom operator was unable to carry out networking testing in the above mentioned time frame, it could be extended provided it had valid reasons to do so.

                 

                5

                What is it? The number of years within which China is likely to become the largest importer in the world, leapfrogging the US, according to a research note by CICC.

                Why is it important? This would help China in becoming a bigger economic power as it turns from being a major exporter to one that starts importing more consumer-led products. The Asian country recently reduced import tariffs on 187 consumer goods to an average of 7.7% from 17.3% in a bid to move towards a consumption-driven economy. The research note says this would help the global economy that has struggled with lower demand since the 2008 financial crisis.

                Tell me more: In 2016, US imported goods and services worth $2.25 trillion while China’s imports were $1.59 trillion.

                 

                14

                What is it? The minimum number of years of rigorous imprisonment for raping girls aged 12 or below, according to a bill passed unanimously by the Madhya Pradesh assembly on Monday. In addition, the bill proposes death sentence or life imprisonment for the same crime.

                Why is it important? This is the first time a state in India has legalised death penalty for rape of minor girls. It now requires the assent of the President to become a law. According to the National Crime Records Bureau report for 2016, Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of rape cases in India. However, some legal experts say this could have an adverse effect by resulting in under-reporting of such cases and may also put the lives of children in danger as they may be killed by their perpetrators.

                Tell me more: The bill also proposes jail term and penalty for harassment, stalking, assault with intention to disrobe or use of force among others.

                 

                39

                What is it? Number of years since Prithvi Theatre has had a permanent home in Juhu, Mumbai. It was set up by actor Shashi Kapoor, who died yesterday, and his late wife Jennifer Kendal.

                Why is it important? Prithvi is a firmament on the theatre scene in Mumbai and India, promoting the art form in a holistic sense that includes staging performances, conducting workshops and promoting stage artists and others involved in theatre. It’s also a rare instance of a mainstream actor making theatre a bedrock of his or her life’s work.

                Tell me more: Shashi Kapoor’s father Prithviraj Kapoor began Prithvi Theatres in 1944 as a moving theatre company, travelling across India and staging plays in Hindustani. He leased 2 plots of land in Juhu to build a permanent space, but could not see it through because of ill-health.

                 

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