Less cashless?


What is it? The number of times Pakistan violated ceasefire across the Line of Control in 2016, according to India’s Home Ministry.

Why is it important? It’s up from 405 violations in 2015, indicating that on average Pakistan has been violating ceasefire at least once everyday in the last two years. Last week, Pakistani forces crossed the LoC in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir to kill two Indian soldiers and mutilate their bodies.

Tell me more: 236 security personnel were killed between 2012 and 2016, 23 of them in the last two years, according to a response by Home Ministry to a Right to information query.



What is it? The target inflation rate – within a tolerated band of 2-6% – for Reserve Bank of India, according to RBI Act.

Why is it important? RBI governor Urjit Patel is reportedly taking a hawkish stand and keep the inflation below 4%, rather than be flexible with the band. It’s in conflict with the expectations of market players, who believe targeting a rate within the band (closer to 6% rather than 4%) could help push growth.

Tell me more: Retail inflation stood at 3.81% in March, but water shortages in many parts of the country could push inflation rate higher in the coming months.


Rs 2259 billion

What is it? The amount of cash withdrawn from ATMs in March.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the cash withdrawn in March last year, and raises questions about one of the stated goals of demonetisation – reduce India’s reliance on cash – announced in November last year. However, some part of cash withdrawals could be because of the pent-up demand (the limits on cash withdrawals were removed only on March 13th), and not be an indicator of a long term trend.

Tell me more: Demonetisation, which sucked out 86% of cash in circulation, has impacted GDP growth adversely, especially informal sector which is more dependent on cash.



What is it? The percentage of votes won by Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections

Why is it important? The French elections were keenly watched from across the world because it is seen as a bigger ideological fight between the far right and centrists. Brexit (the referendum that voted for UK to leave European Union) and election of Donald Trump were seen as a victory for the far-right, raising concerns that the world is getting too nationalistic. However, with the electoral loss of the far-right right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the fears appear to be abating.

Tell me more: At 39, Macron is the youngest ever French president. An ex-banker, he is pro-business and pro-European Union, and his victory has strengthened Euro against the dollar.


2 hours 25 seconds

What is it? The time Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge took to complete Breaking2 marathon at the Monza Formula One racetrack in Italy on Saturday.

Why is it important? Kipchoge was aiming for a two-hour marathon, which in the running world, occupies the same place that four minute mile did once upon a time. (It was broken by Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954.) While Kipchoge failed to make it by just 26 seconds, he still set a new standard for marathon, running faster than the present record holder Dennis Kimetto who ran 26.2 miles in2:02:57.

Tell me more: However, the attempt, sponsored by shoemaker Nike, will not go down as official world record because of the use of pacers and mopeds to give drinks to runners. Kipchoge and his fellow runners ran in Nike’s new, controversial Vaporfly Elite shoes.

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News in Numbers, Jan 17, 2017:

Rs 10,000

What is it? The daily limit of cash withdrawal at ATMs, raised from Rs 4,500 by the Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? Higher ATM withdrawal limit could be a signal from the central bank that it can now handle cash better since the withdrawal of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Though the overall withdrawal limit a week remains unchanged at Rs 24,000, the decision will reduce the number of trips one has to make to the ATM.

Tell me more: Cash withdrawal limit at ATMs has been raised from the initial Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 two days into demonetisation, to Rs 4,500 on December 31, to the current value. Limits on current accounts have been revised from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000.

8 million

What is it? Estimated tax-payers under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, slated to be unveiled from July 1 of this year.

Why is it important? A crucial milestone was reached on Monday as the centre and the states agreed on the ratio of control over small taxpayers and when to roll out the GST. Small taxpayers with turnover below Rs 1.5-crore will be shared between centre and the states in the ratio of 10:90 for audit and scrutiny. This will be randomly generated.

Tell me more: The draft laws for GST and various tax slabs are yet to be constituted. But in the ninth GST council meeting, there was consensus to meet the new deadline.

Rs 1,243 crore

What is it? The amount of money the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) may raise in its initial public offering (IPO) next week.

Why is it important? BSE, Asia’s oldest stock exchange, will be the first IPO in 2017. Last year, 26 firms raised Rs 26,000 crore through IPOs – the third biggest in the last 25 years. Seventeen out of the 26 firms are trading above their listing price.

Tell me more: Singapore Exchange Ltd, Atticus Mauritius and billionaire George Soros’ Quantum will be selling 15.4 million shares for Rs 805-806 a share. The other Indian stock exchange, National Stock Exchange, too, is looking to dilute 22.5% stake for Rs 10,000 crore

$30-50 billion

What is it? Saudi Arabia’s investment in its renewables energy programme to produce 10 gigawatts of power.

Why is it important? The producer of 13.6% of the world’s crude oil production is betting on non-fossil fuels to generate energy for itself. The project’s first stage would be generating nuclear energy. With crude oil bringing in 85% of its forex and accounting for 50% of its GDP, Saudi Arabia is taking steps to ensure its continuity by resorting to other fuels at home and cutting back crude production to prop up global prices.

Tell me more: The first two nuclear reactors would be for 2.8 gigawatts of energy. It will also look to connect to other countries such as Jordan and Egypt for the renewables energy projects


What is it? US President-elect Donald Trump threatened to levy the import tax on German-made cars if they are not locally made.

Why is it important? Trump has legal powers to impose 15% import tariff for 150 days without US Congress approval, and if companies file litigation, it will take 18 months to decide, says Simon Evenett, an international trade expert. Earlier, Trump asked GM and Toyota to shift operations from Mexico to service local demand.

Tell me more: The German automakers’ shares were hit, following the outburst. BMW shares fell by 1.5% in Frankfurt, VW by 1.8% and Daimler (Mercedes Benz-owner) by 1.6%

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News in Numbers, Sep 27, 2016: “Hello!”- From the seas…


What is it? The percentage share of women on the boards of Indian companies in 2015, according to a report.

Why is it important? While this is double their representation (5.5%) in 2010, it’s still lower than global average of 14.7%. India scored the second lowest in Asia in terms of female representation at a senior management level, and recorded a decline in management diversity from 7.8% in 2014 to 7.2% in 2015.

Tell me more: The Credit Suisse Gender 3000 is a bi-annual report covers 27,000 senior managers at over 3,000 companies. The report also contradicts the “Queen Bee” idea, which says that women in higher positions prevent other women from getting promotions to top management positions.


60 km

What is it? The distance up to which Indian fishermen can have internet connectivity at sea, up from 45 km that mobile towers currently provide.

Why is it important? The project called OceanNet, a low-cost Internet connectivity solution, is claimed to be unique in the world and could help save the lives of fishermen and also, strengthen national security by enabling them to inform the authorities about any suspicious activity at sea.

Tell me more: OceanNet is co-funded by Amrita University, Information Technology Research Academy and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. This project includes an onshore base station that boost Internet signals, which are captured by fishing vessels fitted with a low-cost Amrita OceanNet receiver-broadcaster system. In turn, these vessels turn into broadcasters and through multiple boat-to-boat hops, Internet signals can extend beyond 60 km.



What is it? The number of ATM (automated teller machine) sites the Indian Railways is reportedly planning to auction for a period of 10 years.

Why is it important? With this, the railways hopes to earn Rs 500 crore, in line with its target of increasing its revenues from non-tariff sources to 20% from 10% for which it had set up Non-Fare Revenue Directorate a few months ago. The other initiatives to boost non-tariff revenues include a new ad policy with a target to earn Rs 11,770 crore in five years, a plan to monetise railways data and proposals to sell garbage generated at railway stations.

Tell me more: The directorate would also work on other areas such as commercial exploitation of vacant land, commercial farming alongside railway tracks, monetisation of soft assets (such as generating revenue through ads on websites), parking of vehicles on railway land other than the stations and sponsorship of activities and events at the stations.


> 80

What is it? The number of Bollywood film titles Amazon has access to for its Prime offering in India, through its deals with Dharma Productions and Vishesh Films.

Why is it important? An indicator that Amazon is bringing into India its other advantages to fight Flipkart and Snapdeal in the ecommerce market. A large video streaming library will help Amazon increase its Prime membership in the country, and Prime members spend about 2.5 times more than the non-members. Neither Flipkart nor Snapdeal has a video streaming service.

Tell me more: Amazon has entered into a long-term licensing deal with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, which has released over 30 movies. Earlier, it struck a similar deal with Vishesh films which has about 50 films in its catalogue. Amazon is reportedly in talks with Balaji Telefilms and Yash Raj Productions as well.



What is it? The number of foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals cleared by the government on Monday.

Why is it important? The proposals amount to Rs 2,325 crore. However, nearly 90% of that is from a single proposal, BNP Paribas’ acquisition of Sharekhan. The BNP Paribas – Sharekhan approval comes after a rejection by Foreign Investment Promotion Board in June this year. Investment proposals by Pepe Jeans, IBM and Morgan Stanley have also been approved.

Tell me more: The NDA government is betting on FDI to boost growth and employment, and has in 2016 from $36 billion in 2014.54% to $55.4 billion since it came to power. FDI grew by relaxed the norms.

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Curbs on free ATM use are a lever to push plastic money

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com


Banks want account holders to visit automated teller machines (ATMs) less, and the central bank concurs. But their primary reason to press for this change appears to be different from what they have stated.

With effect from 1 November, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reduced the number of free transactions a consumer can make in a month in ATMs located in metros: five in ATMs of own bank (previously unlimited) and three in those of other banks (previously five). Announcing this change, an RBI circular dated 14 August cited representation by banks about the rising cost of ATM deployment and maintenance and inter-bank payments.




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