Less smoke in the kitchen

9.10%

What is it? The new base rate of the State Bank of India (SBI) .

Why is it important? The largest Indian bank cut its base rate from the previous 9.25%. This would let earlier borrowers benefit from an easing of bank rates seen over the last few months. Borrowers who had taken out loans before April 1, 2016, were unable to benefit from cuts in the marginal cost-based lending rate (MCLR) (the new system of lending rate for customers) levied since then.

Tell me more: On January 1, 2017, SBI had cut its MCLR but it was not changed in yesterday’s cut.

 

52.5

What is it? The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in March.

Why is it important? The factory activity index rose for the third month, after contracting in December (as it had in December, 2015, as well). But the rate of expansion was the fastest in five months since October, 2016, with production and new orders growing.

Tell me more: It has helped that inflation rates eased since February. The private index, by Markit, recorded a rise in additional employment generated to cope with increasing orders in the pivotal sector.

 

$300 million

What is it? The deal value of the Ruias-led Essar Group’s sale of its BPO unit, Aegis, to Singapore-based private equity firm Capital Square Partners.

Why is it important? The move would help the group retire 2.2% of its debt. The group is in the middle of paring the large debt on its books, worth Rs 88,000 crore. Before Aegis was sold, the Essar Group had lined up two more businesses — its oil refinery arm (Essar Oil) and its steel business (Essar Steel) — but both missed their March targets of a stake sale.

Tell me more: The Aegis sale marks the group’s exit from business process outsourcing. The slated Essar Oil sale, of $12.9 billion, would be India’s largest FDI.

 

Rs 3.42 crore

What is it? Legal bill raised by lawyer Ram Jethmalani for his services to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal so far.

Why is it important? These costs will have to be borne by the Delhi government, and not by Arvind Kejriwal, according to a report. This has led to a furore. Arun Jaitley had sued Arvind Kejriwal defamation last year. Delhi government reasoned that Kejriwal made the statements that led to the suit in his capacity as a chief minister. However, some analysts point out he didn’t invoke Section 80 of civil procedure code, and therefore, it should be considered that he is fighting it in his personal capacity.

Tell me more: Ram Jethmalani, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country, had earlier said that he is charging just Re 1 from Kejriwal, because ‘his government itself is so poor.’

 

3.25 crore

What is it? The number of LPG connections released by oil marketing companies during FY 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is highest ever in a financial year. It includes over 2 crore connections given under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide LPG connections in rural areas, as a replacement for the unhealthy wood-based fire in the kitchens.

Tell me more: The numbers indicate the broader strategy of the government. Look for efficiency and cost savings in one section using Aadhaar and other policy initiatives (in this case LPG subsidies, which mostly went to well-to-do middle class households) and, at the same time, expand government services to more deserving sections.

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