Adhar_DSCN4539

Don’t Like Aadhaar? Don’t Say it.

 

Rs 15,935 crore

What is it? The total cost of proposals cleared by India’s Defence Acquisition Council to purchase assault rifles, sniper rifles, carbines and light machine guns on Tuesday.

Why is it important? This brings an end to a 11-year-wait by the armed forces, which had flagged the need for new guns. Indian soldiers have been using AK-47 and indigenous Indian Small Arms Systems rifles since 1988, and there has been an urgent need for arms upgradation, especially in border areas and for counter-insurgency operations. Having rejected a few indigenous weapons recently, India needs an overhaul of its defence planning and procurement system, with due consideration to local requirements and strategic interests.

Tell me more: The approvals include procurement of light machine guns through the fast-track procedure at an estimated cost of Rs 1,819 crore, while 740,000 assault rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorisation of ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ at an estimated cost of Rs 12,280 crore. Over 5,700 sniper rifles will be procured at a cost of Rs 982 crore.

 

8

What is it? The number of researchers, activists and journalists that news agency Reuters has interviewed who have complained of being harassed by government agencies or being slapped with criminal cases because of their critique of Aadhaar.

Why is it important? This raises questions about the right to dissent and free speech with respect to Aadhaar, the country’s national identity project that has seen various instances of data and security breach. Recently, the Unique Identification Authority of India filed a criminal case against Tribune newspaper for publishing an article that claimed that the details of the database were up for grabs for just Rs 500.

Tell me more: As of last year, over 1.11 billion Indians had an Aadhaar number, which covered 99% of the Indian adult population.

 

24.7%

What is it? Samsung’s market share in India’s smartphone market in 2017, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

Why is it important? Samsung maintained its market leadership position when the entire year is taken into account. However, Samsung slipped to the second position in the last quarter of 2017, overtaken by China’s Xiaomi, which had a share of 26.8% compared to the former’s 24.2%. This report echoes the findings of other research firms such as Canalys and Counterpoint Research that said Xiaomi had ended Samsung’s dominance in the fourth quarter of 2017 to command the highest market share for the first time ever.

Tell me more: In the feature phone segment, Samsung had the highest market share of 20.5% in 2017, whereas in the last quarter of 2017, Reliance Jio pushed ahead of it to gain a share of 24.1% compared to the former’s 14.5%, according to IDC.

 

15 days

What is it? The number of additional days that Fortis Healthcare has sought to file its financial results for the second quarter and third quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? Yet another delay on this front turns the spotlight on financial dealings of the company with its promoters, Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, who last week resigned from the board. Bloomberg last week also reported that Fortis could not declare its Q2 results within the stipulated 45-day period as its auditor refused to sign off on the results until about Rs 500 crore the promoters took out from the company without board approval was accounted for or returned.

Tell me more: In another filing with stock exchanges, Fortis said that credit rating agency ICRA had downgraded the rating of the company and four Fortis subsidiaries.

 

4-1

What is it? The results count in the ongoing one-day international bilateral series between India and South Africa.

Why is it important? Yesterday, in the fifth of the six-match series at Port Elizabeth, India beat South Africa to win the series—its first in South Africa in five attempts, dating back to 1992-93. Before this, South Africa had only lost two ODI series of five matches or more at home, both to Australia. With this series win and the manner of it, India has conquered another overseas bastion and also bolstered its credentials in the one-day sphere, be it at home or away.

Tell me more: India won yesterday’s match by 73 runs, anchored by a century by Rohit Sharma and six wickets by wristspinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

 

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Real Madrid vs Juventus: Who has the edge?

This weekend, Real Madrid and Juventus face off for the biggest prize in club football in Europe, the UEFA Champions League. Whether one looks over the history of the competition or just this year, the two sides are studies in contrast. While Real have been writers of history, Juventus shoulder its weight. While Real are an offence machine, Juventus are a defence fortress. A look at the contrasting performances and approaches of the Spanish and the Italian side.

 

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News in numbers, Mar 7, 2016: A dozen bills likely to be passed, terror alert in Gujarat…

~ $3 billion

What is it? The amount belonging to India, which was lying unused in an account managed by the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defense.

Why is it important? Despite this, India has been paying the United States for new military purchases due to “ill-management” or “lack of attention”. This money was not earning interest. The amount was discovered last year and about 40% has been used to pay for committed purchases, saving the country around $700-800 million in foreign exchange.

Tell me more: According to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the government also saved up to Rs 3,000 crore by tightening payment norms to Indian vendors, which include public sector units.

 

12

What is it? Number of pending bills likely to be passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the ongoing Budget Session.

Why is it important? The outcome of a compromise between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party, according to unnamed leaders from these parties. It is a surprising move given the disruptions in the working of the Parliament due to issues such as the suicide of a student at the Hyderabad University, the Jat agitations and the JNU row. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have spent just 9% and 8% of the Budget Session on legislative issues respectively so far.

Tell me more: The bills to be taken up, seven in Lok Sabha, and five in Rajya Sabha, does not include the important Goods and Services Tax Bill.

 

200

What is it? Number of National Security Guard (NSG) personnel sent from Delhi to Gujarat after the issuance of a terror alert in the state.

Why is it important? Indian officials say Pakistan’s National Security Advisor had provided intelligence inputs to his Indian counterpart regarding a possible terror strike by a group of 8-10 Lashkar-e-Toiba members in the state, particularly at “some coastal pilgrimage centres in Saurashtra or Kutch”. Ahead of ‘Mahasivarathri’, an important Hindu festival, the state government has stepped up security at all the main temples.

Tell me more: Delhi has also been put on high alert after inputs suggested the terrorists could have moved from Gujarat to Delhi.

 

75

What is it? Number of Rajya Sabha members who are to retire from the House between March and July this year.

Why is it important? This will let the ruling NDA muster enough numbers to pass the GST Bill by July 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. For the Bill to be passed, not more than 82 members must oppose it (assuming all 245 vote). Due to retirees this season, BJP would gain nine seats including seven by way of new appointees, while Congress would lose seven. This would result in those favouring the bill to increase from 97 to 110 and those opposing to 81 members.

Tell me more: The GST Bill is supposed to merge all central and state taxes into a single tax rate and if implemented well, it could boost economic growth by 2-2.5% and increase exports by 10-14%, according to a study.

 

Rs 2,494 crore

What is it? The aggregate cash recovery or security available with Kingfisher Airlines’ lenders, according to its chairman Vijay Mallya.

Why is it important? This is about a third of the total amount (Rs 7800 crore) the grounded airline and Mallya owe to a consortium of 17 lenders led by the State Bank of India. Mallya, in a media statement, said that despite pledging blue chip securities and depositing “significant amounts” in the court, he is being painted as the “poster boy of all bank NPAs (non-performing assets)”.

Tell me more: Of the total, Mallya said banks and their assignees have recovered Rs 1,244 crore from sale of pledged shares in cash, an aggregate of Rs 600 crore has been lying with the Karnataka High Court since July 2013 and another Rs 650 crore belonging to the United Breweries Holdings has been deposited with the court since early 2014.

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News in numbers, Jan 28, 2016: Apple turns to India for growth, global corruption index…

 

800,000

What is it? The number of iPhones sold by Apple in India in the last three months of 2015, according to Counterpoint Technology Research.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever sales recorded in the country, a 76% growth from a year ago. However, this is less than 3% of total smartphones sold in India during the period. Globally, Apple reported flat sales of its flagship smartphone, which accounts forover two-thirds of its revenue, in this period, a reason it’s turning its attention on India. The company said it is “increasingly putting more energy” into the country’s youth and their rising disposable income. Recently, it had sought the government’s approval to open its own retail stores in India.

Tell me more: Analysts are worried that China’s economic slowdown (it reported the lowest numbers in 25 years) might impact Apple’s growth. Greater China accounted for nearly a fourth of Apple’s fourth quarter revenue.

 

76

What is it? India’s ranking in 2015’s global corruption index (out of 168 countries) by Transparency International.

Why is it important? It has moved up nine positions from the previous year’s 85th ranking. Its grade index score of 38 out of 100 (100 is the least corrupt) compares poorly with the Denmark’s 91, the top country in the index. Shows India has a long way to go in weeding out corruption. One of the key promises by the NDA government has been to improve India’s ranking in the ease of doing business index and position it among the top 50 countries. To do so, India would have to tackle corruption quickly, which has been cited as the main obstacle in doing business in the country by a 2014 KPMG report.

Tell me more: Brazil reported the worst decline in rankings, down seven positions to the 76th position, as a massive scandal erupted at state-run companies.

 

Rs 6 lakh crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government could earn based on the telecom regulator’s recommendations on the reserve price for spectrum in the  700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.

Why is it important? This would be the highest ever earned by the government from spectrum auction, if it accepts the regulator’s recommendations. The 700 MHz band, which is known to be the best for offering mobile broadband and 4G services and is being offered under the auction for the first time, could alone contribute to around Rs 4 lakh crore. The telecom companies are reeling under massive debts (Rs 3.5 lakh crore as of April 2015) and it remains to be seen how far they are willing to stretch their balance sheets to participate in the next round of auction.

Tell me more: Telecom operators including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have opposed the sale of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, saying it should be done only when the operators are ready with the devices and equipment to operate the airwaves.

 

$3 billion

What is it? India’s arms export target by 2025.

Why is it important? The Indian government is seeking to not only become self-sufficient in the defence sector but also, one of the world’s biggest arms exporters. If India achieves the $3-billion target, then it would then transform the country from an arms importer to a major seller. In 2014-15, it sold defence equipment worth around $150 million to other countries, a mere 0.25% of the $64-billion global defence trade. In contrast, India’s arms imports totalled to $5.57 billion in 2014.

Tell me more: According to Anurag Garg, a director of defense at Strategy&, a consulting group of PwC, state companies account for 80% of defence production and that there is heavy reliance on the private sector to design military hardware, which is “no easy task”.

 

10.23 million tonnes

What is it? India’s rice exports in 2015, according to a Thai rice exporters organisation.

Why is it important? This makes India the world’s largest rice exporter, beating Thailand. India’s top position comes not from its scaling up, but by Thailand’s decline. Thailand’s rice exports were down by 10.8% to 9.8 million tonnes on a year-on-year basis. The Southeast Asian country attributed this to global economic slowdown, particularly in countries with high rice demand and decrease in purchasing power of nations due to falling oil prices. India’s total rice shipments have seen a 7.3% decline in volumes and an 18% fall in value in the April-November period of the current fiscal. It is likely to post lower export figures in 2015-16 than the 11.92 million tonnes shipped in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Fall in shipments of the basmati rice variety to Iran, one of the largest buyers from India and tepid demand from African countries (mainly Nigeria) are the main reasons for the fall in India’s rice exports.

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