A Mastermind Is Caught


Ten years after the deadly Ahmedabad blasts that killed and injured several Indians, Delhi police has caught the man that masterminded those attacks – the co-founder of Indian Mujahideen, Abdul Subhan Qureshi.

Here’s more news in numbers today.



What is it? The increase in the net profit of Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector lender, to Rs 726.4 crore in the October-December quarter, from Rs 579.6 crore in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Why is it important? This is due to a decrease in provisions against bad loans, a sharp slowdown in bad loan additions and an increase in fee income. Axis Bank’s provisions and contingencies decreased by 26% to Rs 2,811 crore, while it added Rs 4,428 crore of bad loans, less than half the levels in the September quarter. Its fee income grew 24% to Rs 2,246 crore from a year earlier, of which retail contributed almost 50%.

Tell me more: Shares of Axis Bank rose 3.5% yesterday to close at Rs 612, their highest levels since September 2016.



What is it? The world’s projected GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2018 and 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Why is it important? The projections for both years have been revised upwards by 0.2 percentage points. If these hold true, the world economy would grow at its fastest pace since 2011. The IMF says the world economy is gathering speed, though the present economic upturn is the “reflection of confluence of factors that is unlikely to last long”. The US tax policy changes passed in December and enacted this year would account for about half the increase in global growth projections.

Tell me more: The primary reasons the upturn will taper off is that advanced economies are reaching the limits of their growth potential and the growth in the world’s two biggest economies, US and China, may slow down. The IMF retained India’s GDP projections for 2018 and 2019 at 7.4% and 7.8%, respectively.



What is it? The number of years since the 2008 Ahmedabad bombings, where 21 bomb blasts occurred in 70 minutes.

Why is it important? The Delhi police arrested Abdul Subhan Qureshi, the alleged mastermind of the blasts that hit Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008, which killed 56 people and injured over 200. He is the co-founder of Indian Mujahideen, which has been behind some of the most deadly bombings in India. Qureshi is wanted by the National Investigation Agency in connection with terror attacks in Delhi, Bengaluru and the 2006 local train bombings in Mumbai.

Tell me more: Qureshi was reportedly planning a revival of the Indian Mujahideen in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, where it had a stronghold earlier.


25 million

What is it? The number of items that Amazon will make available for delivery within two days under its priority programme Amazon Prime, as against 11 million earlier.

Why is it important? It signals a greater use of Prime as a lever by the e-commerce major, which is locked in a tough fight against Flipkart in India, to build customer stickiness while growing at a fast clip. Other forthcoming enhancements in Prime—which costs Rs 999 a year—include a wider video selection and a music service. Flipkart, too, is reportedly looking to revive its customer loyalty programme.

Tell me more: In India, Prime members reportedly account for 30% of Amazon revenues. In the US, Amazon had 90 million Prime subscribers, as of September 2017—a 100% growth in 27 months.



What is it? The singles ranking of Hyeon Chung of South Korea, who yesterday upset 12-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Why is it important? Chung is the first South Korean to reach the quarter-finals in the singles of a grand slam. He thus completed an eight-player lineup whose average ranking is a high 29 and which has three rank outsiders in the form of Chung, Kyle Edmund of UK (world ranking 49) and Tennys Sandgren of US (world ranking 97).

Tell me more: Even as the younger brigade makes a charge, the draw is set up nicely for the two old guards, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have been the two best men’s singles players in the past 12 months and who played an epic final last year.

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When is criminal charge < corruption?

Rs 350-400 crore

What is it? The amount for which Axis Bank is reportedly set to buy digital payments platform Freecharge from Snapdeal.

Why is it important? With this deal, the private lender would get a digital payments brand under its umbrella as well as access to superior technology that traditional companies find difficult to build when compared to startups. For Snapdeal, this would help provide it with some much-needed cash and also, free up space to better negotiate its sale to its larger rival, Flipkart.

Tell me more: Others such as Paytm (One97 Communications) and Amazon had also reportedly bid to buy Freecharge.



What is it? The number of MLAs facing serious criminal charges in the proposed alliance between Janata Dal United (JDU) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar.

Why is it important? Ruling alliance can change but the underlying nature of people forming part of the government doesn’t change much. Nearly one in four MLAs in the Bihar assembly have a serious criminal charge against them. All the four major parties – JDU, BJP, Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal – have between 36% and 43% of their MLAs facing serious criminal charges.

Tell me more: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar submitted his resignation last evening, citing differences with RJD over corruption charges against Tejashwi Yadav, deputy chief minister. Hours later, BJP announced support to Nitish to form the next government.



What is it? The number of security personnel deaths due to Left-wing extremist violence in the first half of 2017, according to information submitted by the government to the Parliament on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This is the highest in the last three years and has also surpassed the number of security personnel killed (65) in the entire 2016. This number also exceeds the number of security personnel killed in Jammu and Kashmir in up to June this year (38) and also, those killed by insurgents in the north eastern parts of the country (9) and in the hinterland (0).

Tell me more: As many as 70 Maoists were killed in the first half of 2017 compared to 222 in 2016 and 89 in 2015. The number of left-wing extremism incidents until June this year was 478 compared to 1,048 in 2016.



What is it? The number of Army personnel whose life sentence was suspended by the Armed Forces Tribunal.

Why is it important? This order overturns the first punishment for Army personnel for human rights abuse in the Kashmir valley. The earlier conviction, by an Army court martial came in 2015, following the fake encounter of three Kashmiri youth in 2010 in Macchil.

Tell me more: The Jammu & Kashmir police had cracked the case, leading to the initial convictions. The five were acquitted based on a broken chain of evidence argument.



What is it? The number of farmer suicides in 2016, according to agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha.

Why is it important? The official database with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on farmer suicides is yet to be updated with 2016 information. But the minister’s numbers indicate a fall in such suicides, and the lowest in 21 years. In 2015, there were 12,602 suicidal deaths among agriculturists, both farmers and labourers, hence, a 9% drop in 2016.

Tell me more: The year 2016 and the ongoing 2017 have been rife with farmer protests and suicides, dictating the national discourse. Farm loan waivers and debates around it have increased in 2017. The long speech on Wednesday saw the Opposition in RS walk out on the minister, miffed at the mention of farmer suicides.

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News in Numbers, Jan 20, 2017: Tesla’s triumph on Autopilot


What is it? The drop in automobile crash rate after installation of Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot, according to an investigation by U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Why is it important? This is big boost for Elon Musk-led Tesla as the finding indicates that driving its cars is a safer option. The study found there was a drop in crash rates from 1.3 per million miles in 2014 to 0.8 in 2016, post installation of the autopilot feature. US average crash rate is about 1.85 crashes per million miles.

Tell me more: The investigation followed a fatal crash involving a Tesla autopilot feature last year. A negative ruling – such as demanding Tesla to recall the vehicles – would have hurt the company considerably.


What is it? The estimated death toll of a head-on collision between a truck and school bus, including 18 children, in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.

Why is it important? It is a grim reminder of India’s unsafe roads which claimed 5% more lives in 2015 in accidents with 148,707 deaths than in 2014. UP’s deadly roads accounted for 12% of the fatalities. School buses are no exceptions to rash driving, with school children bearing the brunt. In this accident, most of the kids were less than 10 years of age.

Tell me more: The school running the bus was open despite the district magistrate’s order of shutting schools for three days due to severe fog.


What is it? The interest the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Bengaluru directed the group of lenders led by State Bank of India to levy on Vijay Mallya and his companies.

Why is it important? The directive for the consortium of 17 banks, which had moved the DRT in 2013, may signal an end to the legal battle with the absconding businessman, but actual recovery might prove tricky. Attempts to recover dues by selling Mallya’s or his businesses’ properties have not found buyers so far. Recovery of his $40 million severance-pay from Diageo, too, remains elusive.

Tell me more: The DRT included assets of all of Mallya’s companies like UBHL, Kingfisher Airlines and Kingfisher Finvest and is likely to attach his private properties for recovery as well. DRT said the 11.5% interest rate is to be charged from July 26, 2013, and be recovered along with Rs 6,203 crore.


What is it? Number of coal-fired power projects China’s National Energy Administration suspended across 11 of its provinces

Why is it important? These constitute over 66% of the coal-fired power projects capacity (150 GW) China was targeting to stop or delay between 2016 and 2020. Severe air pollution given its voracious appetite for coal has led China to try and limit use of fossil fuels.

Tell me more: Such measures will be accompanied by a focus on renewables such as the 130 GW of solar and wind power slated for installment by 2020.


What is it? The change in Axis Bank’s share price in early trade on Friday, as it reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Why is it important? The third-largest private bank in India has come under fire for its monitoring of its asset quality which has dragged earnings down 73% to Rs 579.57 crore. As much as 43.4% of its slippages or Rs 1,980 crore in the third quarter was from outside its watchlist. It has been unable to effectively identify defaulting accounts leading to larger-than-expected slippage and impact on earnings.

Tell me more: Seventy per cent of the slippages were in sectors like iron and steel, infra-construction and textiles, both on its watchlist and outside it.

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News in Numbers, May 26, 2016: Capital goods policy, SEBI’s push to delist 4,200 firms…

Rs 7.5 lakh crore

What is it? The expected value of capital goods made in India in 2025 from Rs 2.3 lakh crore in 2014-15.

Why is it important? The government, which on Wednesday approved a policy on capital goods, hopes to generate more jobs in this sector: 30 million by 2025 from 8.4 million now. It’s in line with the government’s  ‘Make in India’ programme, which aims to increase the share of manufacturing sector as a percentage of GDP from around the current 17% to 25% by 2020.

Tell me more: The policy seeks to increase exports from 27% to 40% of production and to up the share of domestic production in India’s capital goods demand from 60% to 80% by 2025, which would make India a net exporter of capital goods. Capital goods production, which is 8.8% of the Index of Industrial Production and is a proxy for industrial and investment demand, contracted for the fifth straight month (as of March) year-on-year.



What is it? The number of companies the markets regulator is pushing for delisting from the stock exchanges.

Why is it important? This is to prevent price manipulation through firms that are not actively traded, which would improve governance of public markets and the listed companies. It would also help in reducing regulatory burden. However, firms could misuse this to become non-compliant in order to delist themselves instead of following the proper delisting norms.

Tell me more: Of the 4,200, there are 1,200 companies that have been suspended from trading for seven years (typically, for non-compliance of rules) and 3,000 that are only listed on regional exchanges, some of which cease to exist. The Securities and Exchange Board of India has also warned strict action against auditors if they are found to play a role in market manipulation.



What is it? The percentage of ICICI Bank’s bad loans on the account of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) asset quality review in the last six months of 2015-16.

Why is it important? Shows the extent to which banks have been under-reporting their bad loans. ICICI Bank is not the only one. For Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Axis Bank and Yes Bank, the equivalent numbers are: 45%, 41%, 30% and 24%. Of the large banks that have declared their results so far, about 44% of their bad loans is due to the central bank’s asset quality review.

Tell me more: The gross bad loans of 39 listed banks was Rs 4.3 lakh crore at the end of December 2015. In April, it was reported that over Rs 3 lakh crore were classified under a category where repayments were overdue by 30-60 days while another Rs 3.17 lakh crore had repayments overdue by 60-90 days, and a portion of this may turn into bad loans during the year.


Rs 184.96 crore

What is it? Online restaurant discovery/food ordering service firm Zomato Media’s revenue in 2015-16 from Rs 96.73 crore the previous year.

Why is it important? Despite almost doubling its revenue from last year, it recorded loss before tax of Rs 492.27 crore in the year ended March 2016. Food startups have been facing problems including slowdown in funding, with many of the firms either closing down, getting acquired or reducing their operations.

Tell me more: Last month, HSBC Securities and Capital Markets reduced Zomato’s valuation by $500 million, about half the valuation at which it had raised its last round of funding in September 2015.



What is it? Price of Brent crude oil per barrel, an increase of 79% from a 12-year-low of $27.88 a barrel in January.

Why is it important? This is the first time oil has breached the $50-mark. This means higher fuel prices for motorists and reduction in savings for the Indian government due to a likely increase in oil subsidies. In Delhi, fuel prices have increased by over 7% this year. India’s crude oil import bill has almost halved to $64 billion in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The basket of crude oil India imports averaged $105.5 per barrel in 2013-14, $84.2 a barrel in 2014-15 and $46.2 per barrel in 2015-16.

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