BJP May Have AP Problem



What is it? The number of dollar billionaires who made it to the 32nd edition of the annual ranking of the world’s billionaires by Forbes magazine, released Tuesday night.

Why is it important? The combined net worth of these 2,208 people is $9.1 trillion, up 18% from a year ago. This comes at a time when inequality is increasing in the world: between 1980 and 2016, the top 1% of income earners—a set in which these billionaires will feature—captured 27% of growth, while only 12% went to the bottom 50%.

Tell me more: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world ($128 billion) and Mukesh Ambani is the richest in India ($39 billion).


$84.4 billion

What is it?  The value of bilateral trade between India and China in 2017.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever figure in a year for Indo-China trade, and is a growth of 18.7% over the $71.1 billion recorded in 2016. This comes in the backdrop of the two countries clashing over the Doklam issue and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which shows how economic relations can be a equaliser. India’s exports to China increased 39% to $16.3 billion, while India’s imports from China grew 14.6% to $68.1 billion.

Tell me more: However, the bilateral trade figure is short of the $100 billion target set by the two countries in 2012 for 2015.


404 days

What is it? The number of days after which Serena Williams, one of the most decorated tennis players of all-time, is returning to the women’s tour.

Why is it important? Williams is returning to top-flight tennis at the age of 36 years and about six months after giving birth. She is challenging templates of how sportswomen tend to be viewed on choices revolving around gender and age.

Tell me more: She was scheduled to play her first match at 8.30 am IST on March 8, International Women’s Day. Williams last played at the 2017 Australian Open, which she won and later discovered she did so while being eight weeks pregnant.



What is it? The number of MPs that Andhra Pradesh (AP) sends to the Lok Sabha.

Why is it important? Late on Wednesday night, the Telugu Desam Party, which currently rules AP and is also a partner to the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), said it was pulling out its two Central ministers. Its action came in the backdrop of finance minister Arun Jaitley ruling out awarding ‘special status’ to AP. At present, of the 25 MPs, 17 are from TDP and BJP, and this break-up poses an issue for BJP for the 2019 elections.

Tell me more: For centrally sponsored schemes, the Centre pays 90% of the funds required for ‘special status category states’, against the 60% norm.


Rs 34,800 crore

What is it? The upfront payment that Tata Steel has reportedly offered to make to banks, among other things, to buy a controlling stake in Bhushan Steel, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, in a filing with stock exchanges, Tata Steel said it had been “identified as the highest evaluated compliant resolution applicant”, or the frontrunner, to acquire Bhushan Steel. On Wednesday, in a broad market that was down 0.9%, the Tata Steel stock fell 2%.

Tell me more: If Tata Steel does bag Bhushan Steel, it would be Tata Steel’s first large acquisition since its challenging experience with Corus in 2007.

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EVMs’ funding problems 💰

Rs 3,174 crore

What is it? The cost of over 1.6 million voter verifiable paper audit trail machines, funds for which the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has asked the government to urgently release.

Why is it important? Amidst an opposition-parties’ clamour for reverting to paper ballot for transparency and tamper-proofing, the CEC has reiterated the urgency to order the paper trail machines to fortify the voting process. The machines let voters see a slip for seven seconds with the symbol of the party they just voted for on electronic voting machines, ratifying whether the correct vote has been recorded or not. The wait for funds had begun since June, 2014, and over 11 reminders have been given to the government.

Tell me more: Even as the Supreme Court awaits the timeline for deploying such machines, the order for the machines has already delayed for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2019.



What is it? The number of major airports — Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad — put on high alert after an emailed tip-off on Saturday about imminent hijackings.

Why is it important? The security at these airports was increased overnight on Sunday through to Monday. Passengers have been going through double screenings and checks. Anti-hijacking briefings and an airport security committee meeting were held for stakeholders and staff at these airports. The level of security was raised to that of Independence Day.

Tell me more: Quick action teams, of the Central Industrial Security Force, which was overseeing the security, were also deployed. The email said the sender had overheard a group of men planning to hijack planes at these airports. Cyber police has been deployed to track the sender.


> Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The investment by South Korean Kia Motors is expected to make in Andhra Pradesh.

Why is it important? One of the largest FDIs, the investment is expected to be around Rs 10,300 crore in two phases. The company, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motors, will also be a feather in AP-chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu’s cap, competing for India’s FDI pie (one of the largest FDI recipients) with neighbouring Telangana and other states.

Tell me more: An official announcement is yet to come from Kia.



What is it? Reservation in educational institutions and government jobs in Telangana for those Muslims who are economically backward, according to a bill passed by the state assembly on Sunday.

Why is it important? Chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao had promised to do so in his poll campaign. By increasing the reservation to 12% from the existing 4%, it has exceeded the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling. 62% of the seats in education and government jobs are reserved for various categories. The only opposition to the bill came from five Bharatiya Janata Party members in the assembly who termed it unconstitutional. They were later suspended for disrupting the proceedings. Rao said it was reservation based on economic backwardness, and not religion.

Tell me more: The bill, the Telangana backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes (reservation of seats in educational institutions and of appointments or posts in services under the state) bill, 2017, also increased reservation to scheduled tribes from 6% to 10% .


> 150

What is it? The number of cities in the United States that held protests against president Donald Trump, demanding that he release his tax returns.

Why is it important? Breaking a long tradition, Trump declined to release his tax returns while running for presidency. He hasn’t done that after assuming his office. Besides, his business ties have raised questions about conflicts of interest and it remains a contentious issue.

Tell me more: The protests turned violent at Berkeley, California, leading to arrests of over 20 people, underlining the polarisation taking place in the US.

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News in Numbers, June 28, 2016: E-commerce in India, committee to maintain inflation targets…

$10.2 billion

What is it? The total gross merchandise value (GMV) of the top e-commerce firms in India at the end of May 2016. GMV is the total value of goods sold excluding discounts.

Why is it important? This is just a 13.3% growth from the GMV the top e-commerce firms recorded last May – and that primarily came from Amazon India, which grew from $1 billion to $2.7 billion in a year. Flipkart’s GMV has remained almost constant at $4 billion for the last one year and Snapdeal’s dropped 50% to $1.2 billion as of June, according to numbers collected by the Economic Times.

Tell me more: Due to the festive season and the discounts e-tailers offered, the total GMV clocked was $10.5 billion in December 2015. Of the total GMV of $10.2 billion recorded in May 2016, others such as ShopClues and Paytm accounted for 22.54% ($2.3 billion).



What is it? The number of Andhra Pradesh state government departments that have shifted from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, Guntur and Mangalagiri on Monday.

Why is it important? Signals Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s anxiety to move out of Hyderabad (which went to Telangana following the bifurcation two years back) as early as possible. Technically, AP government can function out of Hyderabad for the next eight years, and Amaravati, the new capital is not ready yet.

Tell me more: Government departments would relocate between June 29 and July 21 to the new capital region of Amaravati. However, the Andhra Pradesh government would have to make do with a scattered set-up until the administrative city in the core capital area is developed. The state government has pooled 33,000 acres of land for the development of Amaravati.



What is it? The number of members on the panel that would be responsible for maintaining inflation targets under the new monetary policy framework.

Why is it important? The RBI has initiated the process to set this panel up, marking it as one of the major changes monetary policy saw under Raghuram Rajan.

Tell me more: The panel will have three members from RBI and three recommended by the government. The panel’s main objective is to make sure the inflation remains within the range agreed by them. Now, retail inflation is 5.76% (May). The committee may be formed before August 9.



What is it? The number of educational institutions for which the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought greater autonomy from the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Why is it important? A sign that the PMO believes that educational institutions need more freedom to set their own course structure, fee, admission procedures, etc. is needed to become world class. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced during Budget 2016 that easier rules would be provided for 10 public and private institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions.

Tell me more: HRD had proposed lighter rules earlier for the “world-class” institutions earlier, but PMO has now suggested they relax it even further.



What is it? The number of Income Tax Department appeals dismissed by the Delhi High Court in a recent order.

Why is it important? The reason for the dismissal was because the department failed to do something simple: correct the defects in the appeals and re-file them without much delay. The errors included: missing pages, illegible script, wrong font, lack of stamps and proper handing over of case records. The court has directed its registry to ensure that these appeals are not filed again, most of which have tax liability exceeding Rs 20 lakh, leading to a likely revenue loss for the government.

Tell me more: The court was waiting since 2012 for the department to correct the errors in the 272 appeals.

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News in numbers, Apr 15, 2016: VC & PE investments in startups, India’s remittances…

$1.15 billion

What is it? Venture capital and private equity investments in Indian startups in the January-March quarter of 2016.

Why is it important? This is the second consecutive fall in startup investments, indicating continued investor caution. The number of startup deals fell by 4% to 116 possibly on concerns over startups’ business models, valuation and economic slowdown.

Tell me more: The data by KPMG and CB Insights show that startups received investments worth $2.9 billion in the July-September quarter of 2015, which declined by 48% to $1.5 billion in the three months to December last year.

$68.9 billion

What is it? The remittances to India in 2015, according to World Bank.

Why is it important? They declined by nearly $1 billion (2.1%) from 2014, the first drop since 2009 during global financial crisis. Last year’s decline came on the back of low oil prices in the Middle Eastern countries, a major remittance-generating source for India. However, India retained its top spot in inward remittances.

Tell me more: After India, China and Philippines topped the list of remittance-receiving countries with $64 billion and $28 billion respectively. Mexico with $25 billion and Nigeria with $21 billion in remittances came in at the fourth and fifth positions respectively.


What is it? The number of people who died due to heatwaves this year.

Why is it important? It might get worse, with the weather department warning eight states of facing heatwave conditions in the next two days. Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, which had reported over 2,000 deaths due to heatwave conditions last year, are likely to see maximum temperatures increasing by 1-2 degree celsius in the next 2-3 days.

Tell me more: As many as 100 people have died due to heatwave conditions in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana and 30 in Odisha. Maximum temperatures are expected to increase by 2-4 degree Celsius over the north-western plains, 2-3 degree Celsius over central India and 1-2 degree Celsius over west India.


What is it? The share of companies in which investors got better returns (on the shares allotted to them during the IPO) on the day of the listing rather compared to a year later. This corresponds to 198 companies of 292 analysed.

Why is it important? As many as 71 stocks closed lower on the listing day and declined further in one year from listing. Indicates that promoters tend to price their public issues with little or no room for growth, and might reduce appetite for IPOs.

Tell me more: Over 30% of the companies analysed eroded more than 50% of their offer price within one year of listing. The study included IPOs launched in the last 10 years and have completed at least a year since listing.

3 lakh

What is it? The number of rural habitations, nearly a fifth of the total, that have less than the prescribed norm of 40 litres per capita per day of safe drinking water.

Why is it important? The primary reason for lack of adequate supply of safe water is reportedly due to delay in over 3,000 drinking water schemes, some of them which are over 5-10 years old.

Tell me more: There are 66,093 rural habitations where drinking water is contaminated. According to World Bank estimates, 21% of communicable diseases are related to unsafe water and diarrhoea alone causes over 1,600 deaths everyday.

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