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$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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News in Numbers, Dec 1, 2016: Can we replace the king?

Cash transactions rule in India. Over two-thirds of the transactions in India are done by cash, as per a report by CLSA. The government’s recent moves seem to be nudging people towards non-cash transactions. And, not all Indians are under the formal financial net yet. On Wednesday, the government appointed a panel to steer the country towards digitalisation. Will Indians be ready to embrace cashless transactions? How quickly can we do that? What about the security concerns? 


13

What is it? The number of members in a panel set up by government think-tank Niti Aayog to promote the use of digital payments.

Why is it important? It’s a part of the government’s efforts to make use of the cash crunch to turn people towards cashless payment options. Digital payments system comes with the advantages of transparency, traceability and accountability besides being faster, less inexpensive and more convenient. However, this also means battling security issues and easing concerns of consumers who may not be comfortable with the new medium. The panel consists of members from different parties, indicating that the government seeks to generate a political consensus in its push for digitalisation of the economy.

Tell me more: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naiduis the convenor of the panel, which includes Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik (Biju Janata Dal), Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy (Congress), Sikkim CM Pawan Kumar Chamling (Sikkim Democratic Front), Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (both from the ruling BJP). Other panel members include NITI Aayog vice-chairman (Arvind Panagariya) and CEO (Amitabh Kant) and five special invitees including Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India.

40

What is it? The number of locations at which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches on Wednesday to check black money held with currency exchanges, hawala dealers and others.

Why is it important? Indicates the government is pushing for a well-rounded attack on tracking down illegal hoarders of cash and suggests that there are ways in which some circumvent the laws, highlighting the need for their stricter enforcement. The authorities seized Rs 1.2 crore cash. The ED, which is responsible for enforcing the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, attached assets worth over Rs 9,000 crore for hawala and money laundering crimes in 2014-15, which is likely to go up this fiscal. However, the high pendency – 4,776 cases pending in terms of number of investigations initiated as on March 31, 2015 – is a cause of concern.

Tell me more: As many as 100 investigators along with police personnel have undertaken the searches across the country.

7.3%

What is it? India’s economic growth rate in the July-September quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the rate recorded in the June ended quarter (7.1%) though slower than the 7.6% growth in the second quarter of 2015-16. It also fell short of 7.5% forecast by a Reuters poll of economists. The increase in acceleration in the second quarter this fiscal over the first was led by agriculture (compared to 1.8% in the first quarter) while manufacturing grew by 7.1% (compared to 9.1% in the previous quarter). Consumer spending, which accounts for 56% of India’s $2 trillion economy, is likely to be hit due to the recent demonetisation announcement and it remains to be seen how this affects India’s economic growth rates in the next few quarters.

Tell me more: India retains the tag of the fastest growing major economy as per the second quarter data. China recorded a growth rate of 6.7% in the quarter ended September.

32.5 million

What is it? The number of barrels of oil the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would produce per day from January 1. OPEC is a group of 14 major oil-exporting nations that account for a third of global production.

Why is it important? This is a cut by 1.2 million barrels per day, representing about 1% of global production and the first joint decision to reduce production since 2008. The agreement to cut production is to prop up oil prices. Due to an oversupply of oil, prices plunged from about $100 per barrel in 2014 to less than $40 per barrel this year, affecting oil-dependent economies such as Saudi Arabia. OPEC members have said they are looking at levels of $55-60 per barrel; a failure to clinch the deal may have sent oil prices down to $30 per barrel, according to analysts.

Tell me more: After the announcement, Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, increased by 10%.

1 million

What is it? The number of Google accounts whose security has been breached since August by a new variant of Android malware, according to a report by security firm Check Point Software Services.

Why is it important? This is likely the biggest single theft of Google accounts. The malicious software called Gooligan is disguised as legitimate apps to steal authentication tokens that can be used to access data from Google Play, Gmail, Google photos, Google docs, Google Drive among others. The malware attacks 13,000 devices every day, potentially affecting those on Android 4 (Jelly Bean and KitKat) and Android 5 (Lollipop) – this represents nearly three-fourths of the Android devices in use today. About 57% of such devices are located in Asia, 19% in the Americas, 15% in Africa and 9% in Europe.

Tell me more: A device is infected when the user downloads and installs a Gooligan-infected app (from third-party app stores or malicious links), after which data about the device is sent to the campaign’s Command and Control server. This is followed by the malicious software rooting the device (unlocking the operating system) after which it downloads a module that allows Gooligan to steal information, install apps from Google Play and rate them and install adware to generate revenue.

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News in Numbers, August 8, 2016: Apple India sales decline, floods have killed over 300…

800,000

What is it? The number of smartphones Apple shipped in India in the April-June quarter of this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? This is a third lower than the 1.2 million smartphones the company shipped in the same period last year. These numbers do not look good at a time when Apple is betting big on India, even as its sales in China (its second largest market after the US) has slowed down recently. The Indian government relaxed some foreign direct investment norms a couple of months ago, where Apple was seen as one of the beneficiaries.

Tell me more: Apple’s loss seems to have been Android phones’ gain, whose shipments increased by over 28% to 29.8 million in the second quarter of 2016.

 

Rs 19 crore

What is it? The average overall pay package of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of 20 of the 24 private sector companies listed on BSE Sensex in 2015-16. The other four are yet to disclose this information.

Why is it important? This is almost double from the average CEO salary of Rs 9.9 crore in 2013-14 and a 35% hike from 2014-15’s average. This came during a year when the combined net loss of 11 BSE Sensex companies was Rs 33,905 crore, which far exceeded the cumulative net profit of 16 firms (Rs 23,525 crore) on this index. The three other firms posted a dramatic turnaround last financial year.

Tell me more: Of the six public sector companies on the BSE Sensex, details of only one firm was available, that of the chairperson of the State Bank of India, which was just Rs 31.1 lakh.

 

Rs 13,500 crore

What is it? The amount the government hopes to raise from public sector units (PSUs) buying back their shares in the next couple of months.

Why is it important? With the government having already garnered Rs 3,183 crore from stake sale in hydropower generation firm NHPC, employee subscription in Indian Oil Corporation and disinvestment in power utility firm NTPC in 2016-17, this is likely to take the total amount raised through this route to over Rs 16,000 crore – around 44% of the target the government has set from minority stake sale in PSUs this financial year. After missing its disinvestment targets for the sixth year in a row last year, these buy-backs could help the government achieve its target of Rs 56,500 crore in 2016-17 (with Rs 36,000 crore expected from minority stake sales and Rs 20,500 crore from strategic stake sales).

Tell me more: In June, the government had asked PSUs with a net worth of at least Rs 2,000 crore and cash balance of over Rs 1,000 crore to buy back their shares from the stock markets. A central public sector enterprise can seek to be an exception based on its financials and mentioning its capital expenditure plans.

 

> 300

What is it? The number of people who have died in different states such as Bihar, Assam and Uttarakhand due to floods in the recent weeks. Lakhs of them have been displaced.

Why is it important? Floods are an almost annual affair in the country during monsoon, which account for around 70% of India’s yearly rainfall. These occurrences are mainly as a result of poor drainage systems in urban areas with haphazard construction activities without due consideration to the hydrology of an area while in rural areas, it is due to bad policy decisions, climate change and man-made problems such as deforestation.

Tell me more: According to a 2015 United Nations report, India’s annual economic losses due to disasters is $9.8 billion, of which floods account for over $7 billion.

 

Rs 1,200

What is it? The proposed upper limit fee for issue of driving licences, up from Rs 320.

Why is it important? This is part of the proposed amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, which is likely to make driving (any vehicle) more expensive. The charges for conducting a driving test is likely to increase to Rs 300 from Rs 50 while that for a twin-test (two-wheeler and four-wheeler) could be hiked to Rs 600 from Rs 50.

Tell me more: The other increases include hikes in cost of issuing smart-card driving licence, learner’s driving licence, international driving permit and introduction of fees for applying for changing details (such as residential address) in the licences. The states are allowed to levy additional fees for automation, technology and value-add services.

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