Overstaying our welcome

Rs 43,000 crore

What is it? The value of the Sahara Group’s flagship project, Aamby Valley, in Lonavala, Maharashtra, estimated by the official liquidator appointed by the Bombay High Court for an imminent auction.

Why is it important? The updated value, in recent reports, is a little higher than the range of Rs 37,00039,000 crore previously stipulated. However, it is still much less than the value claimed by the group of late: Rs 1 lakh-crore. The market value is expected to be higher than the estimate.

Tell me more: The group has said there would be no auctions, as it had paid the Rs 1,500-crore cheque it scheduled for June. However, its failure to deposit Rs 5,092.64 crore with the market regulator, Sebi, had led the Supreme Court to order its auction in April. The apex court had attached the property in February to recover the dues, whose main claimant Sebi is now joined by the Income Tax department as well.

 

19

What is it? The number of people killed in an explosion in a concert arena, being suspected as a terror attack, in Manchester, UK.

Why is it important? If it is confirmed as an attack by terrorists, this would be the second deadliest in the UK after London’s July-2005train and bus bombings. The 2005 attack had claimed the lives of over 50 people.

Tell me more: The explosion occurred at the end of a concert, as the audience was exiting the building, injuring over 50 people as well.

 

18,000

What is it? Estimated stock of General Motors (GM) vehicles with various dealers in India.

Why is it important? Dealers are unlikely to get any buyers for these vehicles, as the American automaker decided to exit India by December this year. GM’s dealers also warn of 15,000 job losses.

Tell me more: Suzuki Motor Corp, which sells every second car in India, had quit US market in 2012 because of low sales volume.

 

100%

What is it? The percentage of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that government is planning to allow in multi brand retail in India.

Why is it important? If permitted, this represents a change in the thinking of Bharatiya Janata Party, which has opposed such moves when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power. Domestic retail market is estimated at $ 630 billion market and employs around 5% of labour force.

Tell me more: At present, 51% FDI is allowed in multi brand retail in cities with population of more than a million, and with approval of state governments. Current proposal bans selling of imported products.

 

30,399

What is it? The number of Indians who have overstayed in US, beyond what was permitted under different visa categories.

Why is it important? Indians account for 4.8% of total number of people who have overstayed, estimated at 628,799 at the end of September 2016. Around 1.4 million Indians holding various visas (business, tourism, student, and others) were expected to leave US by September 2016.

Tell me more: 50.43 million people who entered US were expected to depart in 2016, and out of which, 1.47% overstayed. Overstay rate for Indians is 2.1%.

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Press gagged?

Rs 2,052 crore

What is it? The value of the two post-dated cheques accepted by the Supreme Court from Sahara group, as an assurance of payment.

Why is it important? The amount is 18% of the Rs 11,169 crore sum still due to Sebi towards paying Sahara’s investors. The court has allowed both the auction of Sahara’s star property, Aamby Valley, and repayment through cheques. It fixed Aamby Valley’s reserve price at Rs 37,392 crore.

Tell me more: The court warned Sahara chief, Subrata Roy, present in the court, about being sent back to jail if the cheques bounced.

 

 

23

What is it? The number of oil and gas discoveries by the state-owned refiner Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) in FY17.

Why is it important? This is a jump of 35% from FY16 (17 discoveries). ONGC has struck liquid gold at a time when global oil discoveries fell to a record low (in 2016), according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Tell me more: The discoveries were a mix of both inland and offshore wells.

 

 

136

What is it? India’s rank  in the World Press Freedom Index, brought out by Reporters without Borders, this year.

Why is it important? India has slipped in the rankings, from the 133rd position last year. The organisation recognises the reasons as Hindu nationalists trying to root out so-called ‘anti-national’ thoughts from any public debate, driving more self-censorship among the media. According to the report, threats of dire violence have also manifested in local journalists being targets of armed forces at the behest of the Union government.

Tell me more: Norway, Sweden and Finland ranked the highest in press freedom, with the first two moving up in rank.

 

 

Re 1

What is it? Potential ticket size of gold purchase on Paytm.

Why is it important? Gold price per gram is Rs 2730 as on Wednesday. Paytm has announced that customers can buy gold for as less as Re 1, which is made possible because of unbundling and aggregation that can happen with digital products. Called Digital Gold, the product is launched by Paytm with a  tie up with MMTC-PAMP India.

Tell me more: One97, which owns Paytm, is also reportedly talking to Softbank to raise $1.9 billion, which would make it the largest fund raise in a single round in India in venture capital space.

 

 

< $10,000

What is it? The compensation United Airlines would give to passengers who are asked to give up their seats in overbooked flights.

Why is it important? The policy comes on the back of United facing a public relations disaster after it violently removed a passenger from one of its planes to accommodate crew members. While the degree of violence made that case exceptional, bumping passengers from overbooked flights are more common in airlines, and the compensation could set a new standard for such situations.

Tell me more: United also reached a settlement with Dr. David Dao who was dragged out of the plane.

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Deadly mountain roads

Rs 7,400 crore

What is it? The worth of 30 properties of the Sahara group, many of which conglomerates have evinced interest in buying.

Why is it important? The auction, reportedly in its early stage, will not appease the Supreme Court, even if the entire money raised is deposited with it. The court turned down the proposal and insisted on the group selling its expansive Aamby Valley project as it had failed to meet the apex court’s timeline for depositing Rs 5,000 crore. Aamby Valley’s value is reportedly between Rs 34,000-39,000 crore, while the Sahara group says it is over Rs 1 lakh-crore. The 30 properties, which includes Lucknow’s Sahara Hospital, would fetch around 50% (Rs 14,779 crore) of the amount still owed to investors as per Sebi’s instructions if not sold in a hurry, and less if they are.

Tell me more: Knight Frank, the realty consultants, in India, has been tasked with carrying out the sale. The interested buyers include Tatas, Godrej, Adani, Patanjali, realty developers Omaxe, Eldeco, Indian Oil and Apollo Hospital.

 

44

What is it? The death toll in the bus crash near Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

Why is it important? India’s killer roads become deadlier with altitude. The bus veered off a mountain road and plunged into a river, killing those onboard. In 2015, as many as four hilly states figured among 10 states with the highest severity (deaths in every 100 accidents), even though compared to cities and metros in other densely-populated states, traffic is less in such states. Himachal Pradesh had 36.4% severity while neighbouring Uttarakhand 59.9%.

Tell me more: Two people travelling on the bus were able to escape by jumping off before the bus fell.

 

6

What is it? The number of places in Arunachal Pradesh for which China has announced its own names and spellings – in Chinese, Tibetan and English.

Why is it important? This is being seen as China’s retaliation for theDalai Lama’s visit to the Indian state. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson mentioned the move as reflecting and explaining its claims on ‘Southern Tibet’, China’s name for Arunachal Pradesh. While India is yet to respond to the reaffirmation of China’s territorial claim, it had refuted the latter’s objections to Dalai Lama’s, the Tibetan spiritual leader visit, saying there was no political motive to it and was religious.

Tell me more: It was the Dalai Lama’s second visit to the state that stirred up such a storm.

 

1.6 million

What is it? The number of voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units to be bought by Election Commission.

Why is it important? The election commission wants to ensure that by 2019 general elections, all polling stations have electronic voting machines with VVPAT units, which will confirm to the voters that their votes were registered accurately. The machines will cost Rs 3,173 crore. The cabinet approved the funding on Wednesday.

Tell me more: These machines will be manufactured by state owned Bharat Electronics and Electronics Corporation of India.

 

4,000 kgs

What is it? The weight of payload that can be carried by Indian Space Research Organisation’s new rocket GSLV-Mk III.

Why is it important? It’s almost double the weight of the heaviest payload that Indian rockets launched so far. The first developmental flight of GSLV-Mk III (D1) is scheduled to take place next month. The second developmental flight is likely to happen a year from now. It would reduce India’s dependence on other countries to launch heavier satellite, besides creating more opportunities for revenue generation.

Tell me more:  The first developmental flight will take communication satellite GSAT 19, which will also monitor the effect of radiation on the satellite and electronic equipment.

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ReVISAble process? 🗽

$5.4 billion

What is it? The value of the stake in seven publicly-held companies that government plans to sell this fiscal.

Why is it important? The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has sought bids to manage the sales, as part of the disinvestment programme of the central government. Through strategic stake sale in publicly-held companies and minority stake sale in private companies, the government plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore ($11.26 billion) this year. It would help plug the 3.2% fiscal deficit of GDP for the year.

Tell me more: The companies include large entities such as Indian Oil, NTPC and Steel Authority of India. The initial disinvestment target is seldom met, with the central government often revising it lower through a fiscal. Last year, it managed to earn Rs 46,247 crore through disinvestment.

 

Rs 15 lakh

What is it? The penalty Air India proposes to levy on unruly passengers delaying flights for over two hours.

Why is it important? The national carrier, tasked with transporting government employees and ministers, has had a spate of such incidents, the latest ones involving parliamentarians. Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad and Trinamool Congress’ Dola Sen held up flights and misbehaved with the staff. Depending on the delay caused by unruly passengers, the fine would get levied: Delays upto an hour would attract Rs 5 lakh, between one and two hours Rs 10 lakh and beyond two hours Rs 15 lakh.

Tell me more: The proposal also has advice on tackling such situations which include an immediate filing of police complaint.

 

199,000

What is it? The number of H1B visa applications filed by employers for 2018 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Why is it important? This is the first time the total number of applications fell. Even though it is over two times the available visa quota of 85,000, the number of applications dwindled compared to last year and earlier. Last year, there were 236,000 applications filed by employers. It shows their apprehensions about the H1B visa programme, meant for hiring highly-skilled workers from out of US, after the Trump administration proposed restrictions.

Tell me more: The Indian IT majors have spoken of looking at more local hiring than sending Indian employees to client sites.

 

Rs 39,000 crore

What is it? The declared value of Sahara’s Aamby Valley property

Why is it important? The Supreme Court has now ordered to sell the property, spread over 10,000 acres, because Sahara failed to deposit Rs 5000 crore as required by the court’s earlier order. Sahara Group, through two firms, had raised Rs 24,029 crore from investors in 2009-10, flouting public issue norms. Market regulator Sebi asked Sahara to return the money to investors in 2010. It has paid about Rs 11,000 crore so far. Pending amount is Rs 14,779 crore.

Tell me more:  In February, the court had attached Aamby Valley, on concerns that Sahara is dragging its feet to return the money. Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who was arrested in 2014 over the case, is at present out on a bail.

 

$7.8 million

What is it? The fine amount Google will pay to settle an antitrust case related to Android operating system in Russia

Why is it important? The case indicates the dominance of the search engine giant, which in some ways mirrors the dominance of Microsoft’s operating system in the computer market and the antitrust case it triggered over 15 years ago. Google has also agreed to remove restrictions on pre-installed applications on Android platform. It could potentially become the norm in other markets too.

Tell me more: This is the culmination of a two year old legal battlethat started with a complaint by Yandex, Russia based search engine that said Google is using its dominant position in the market to stifle competition through restrictions on pre-installed apps that come with the phone.

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