News in Numbers, June 22, 2016: India’s FDI inflows, ISRO’s biggest-ever single launch…

$44 billion

What is it? India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in 2015, up from $35 billion in 2014, according to a report by United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Why is it important? This puts India in the 10th position, though this is still less than 2% of its GDP (for Vietnam, it is 5% of its GDP). In terms FDI stock (outstanding value of all FDIs happened so far), India lags behind smaller countries such as Singapore and Mexico, which shows that it has a lot of potential to position itself as an attractive destination for foreign investment.

Tell me more: The government liberalised FDI norms in nine sectors on Monday, the second such policy overhaul in seven months. In November 2015, the government eased the rules in 15 sectors.

 

Rs 11.8 trillion

What is it? The share of 240 of the top 500 corporate borrowers in total outstanding debt of Rs 28.1 trillion, constituting about 42%.

Why is it important? Most of these loans are stressed, adding to the burden of Indian banks, which are reeling under record bad loans of Rs 5.6 trillion as of March 2016. It may hit their profitability and capital requirement plans further, if these companies fail to service their debt repayments. Of the Rs 11.8 trillion, Rs 5.1 trillion is already stressed (in default) while the remaining Rs 6.7 trillion faces the risk of default because these borrowers may be unable to refinance their loans that mature in 2016-17.

Tell me more: The report by India Ratings and Research warns that of the Rs 6.7 trillion that faces the risk of default, Rs 4.6 trillion could already be delinquent. The top 500 borrowers accounted for nearly a third of the total outstanding loans in 2014-15 and are estimated to account for 25-30% of the total assets in 2016-17.

 

20

What is it? The number of satellites the Indian Space Research and Organisation (ISRO) launched on a single rocket at 9.26 am today.

Why is it important? This would be the space agency’s biggest-ever single launch, double of the number of satellites placed in 2008. This would demonstrate ISRO’s capability of sending satellites to the lower earth orbit in a single launch even as state agencies face competition from spaceflight companies run by billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. It would also help ISRO tap into the global opportunity of small satellite launches.

Tell me more: The primary satellite carried by launch vehicle PSLV-32 would be India’s Cartosat-2 (images sent by the satellite would be used for cartographic applications, coastal land use and regulation and water distribution, etc.), besides co-passenger satellites from countries including the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia.

 

28

What is it? The number of people killed due to lightning in Bihar in the last 24 hours.

Why is it important? This is the highest death toll in lightning strikes within a day, according to the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. A less-known or less-focussed cause of death in India, lightning kills more people than any other natural calamity. Lightning, which has accounted for a tenth of deaths caused by nature in most years, has caused 2,000 deaths every year since 2005.

Tell me more: The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has set up lightning location network in Maharashtra and it is planning to extend it across India. The Bihar government has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the victims’ families.

 

93

What is it? The number of years for which the Railway Budget has been presented separately, ahead of the General Budget.

Why is it important? This year’s Rail Budget presented by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu may well be the last, if NITI Aayog’s recommendation not to do this as a separate exercise is accepted by the government. The think-tank has argued that the separate Budget has been of no use to the sector and instead, has turned into an event to announce populist measures. The Rail Budget constituted 85% of the country’s Budget during the British rule but now, it is less than 10%.

Tell me more: The 20-page note titled ‘Dispensing with the Rail Budget’, jointly authored by NITI Aayog and economist Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai, Officer on Special Duty, has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. The government has asked the Railway Ministry for its comments on the same.

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