Air India: Welcome Aboard, MNCs


The new tweak in India’s FDI policy would allow foreign airlines to have a stake in India’s bleeding domestic airline- Air India. Though government would keep the controlling stake, rest of it, 49%, is up for sale. Under the new changes, government has opened up all doors for foreign direct investment in single-brand retail trade.

That and there’s more in news in numbers today. Take a look



What is it? The day-on-day increase in the share price of Eastman Kodak Company on Wednesday, which comes on the back of a 119% increase on Tuesday.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, the company—that was once synonymous with photos and whose fortunes fell with the rise of digital cameras and smartphones—announced plans to develop a new blockchain-based digital rights management platform for photographers. The platform, KodakOne, would let photographers publicly register their rights in digital photographs on an immutable blockchain. KodakCoin will be the currency used on that platform.

Tell me more: Even as analysts tried to place Kodak’s latest plans in context, the price of cryptocurrency Ripple fell 37% in two days and famed investor Warren Buffett said he was near-certain that cryptocurrencies will “come to a bad ending”.



What is it? The foreign direct investment (FDI) in single-brand retail that can now be made under the automatic route, against 49% previously.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, the government tweaked the FDI policy to do away with prior government approval for a 100% investment. It also liberalized local sourcing norms, in a move that is seen to benefit the likes of Ikea and H&M. The relaxation in FDI norms days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month—the first by an Indian PM after 1997.

Tell me more: The government yesterday also allowed foreign airlines to buy up to 49% in Air India, which is proposed to be privatized, with prior government approval. Existing rules allow foreign airlines to own up to 49% in private Indian airlines, but not in Air India.


$1 billion

What is it? The amount the world’s biggest automotive alliance of Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi plans to invest in automotive start-ups over the next five years.

Why is it important? There are several big shifts underway in the transportation sector, and traditional automobile powerhouses are not at the helm of many of these. But they are increasingly looking to participate in, and shape, these changes through ventures like these. The trio’s venture capital fund, Alliance Ventures, is looking to invest in new developments in electrification, autonomy, connectivity and artificial intelligence.

Tell me more: Renault and Nissan are funding Alliance Ventures to the tune of 40% each and Mitsubishi 20%. Alliance has already made its first investment: Ionic Materials, a US-based company that is developing cobalt-free battery materials.



What is it? The number of additions to the board of directors of Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway, taking its board size to 14. The two new appointees are Gregory E Abel and Ajit Jain.

Why is it important? Both have also been promoted in executive operations. Both Abel and Jain are long-standing Berkshire executives who have been seen as potential successors to Buffett and the latest move adds credence to that thought by handing them greater responsibility in the Berkshire empire.

Tell me more: In the aftermath of the announcement, Buffett said that this is “part of a movement to succession over time”. Buffett is 87 and his trusted lieutenant Charlie Munger 94.



What is it? The government stake in National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) sold to investors in the company’s two-day offer for sale, which concluded on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The government had initially planned to sell 1.5%, with an option to sell 1.5% more, depending on demand. The NMDC offer for sale was oversubscribed three times, indicating an investor appetite for better-run state businesses, and the government decided to divest 2.52%. It raised about Rs 1,200 crore, which will add to its disinvestment kitty and provide a much-needed boost to revenues.

Tell me more: Against the issue price of Rs 153.50, shares of NMDC closed the day at Rs 155. With this transaction, the government shareholding in NMDC has come down from 74.9% to 72.4%.


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Overstaying our welcome

Rs 43,000 crore

What is it? The value of the Sahara Group’s flagship project, Aamby Valley, in Lonavala, Maharashtra, estimated by the official liquidator appointed by the Bombay High Court for an imminent auction.

Why is it important? The updated value, in recent reports, is a little higher than the range of Rs 37,00039,000 crore previously stipulated. However, it is still much less than the value claimed by the group of late: Rs 1 lakh-crore. The market value is expected to be higher than the estimate.

Tell me more: The group has said there would be no auctions, as it had paid the Rs 1,500-crore cheque it scheduled for June. However, its failure to deposit Rs 5,092.64 crore with the market regulator, Sebi, had led the Supreme Court to order its auction in April. The apex court had attached the property in February to recover the dues, whose main claimant Sebi is now joined by the Income Tax department as well.



What is it? The number of people killed in an explosion in a concert arena, being suspected as a terror attack, in Manchester, UK.

Why is it important? If it is confirmed as an attack by terrorists, this would be the second deadliest in the UK after London’s July-2005train and bus bombings. The 2005 attack had claimed the lives of over 50 people.

Tell me more: The explosion occurred at the end of a concert, as the audience was exiting the building, injuring over 50 people as well.



What is it? Estimated stock of General Motors (GM) vehicles with various dealers in India.

Why is it important? Dealers are unlikely to get any buyers for these vehicles, as the American automaker decided to exit India by December this year. GM’s dealers also warn of 15,000 job losses.

Tell me more: Suzuki Motor Corp, which sells every second car in India, had quit US market in 2012 because of low sales volume.



What is it? The percentage of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that government is planning to allow in multi brand retail in India.

Why is it important? If permitted, this represents a change in the thinking of Bharatiya Janata Party, which has opposed such moves when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power. Domestic retail market is estimated at $ 630 billion market and employs around 5% of labour force.

Tell me more: At present, 51% FDI is allowed in multi brand retail in cities with population of more than a million, and with approval of state governments. Current proposal bans selling of imported products.



What is it? The number of Indians who have overstayed in US, beyond what was permitted under different visa categories.

Why is it important? Indians account for 4.8% of total number of people who have overstayed, estimated at 628,799 at the end of September 2016. Around 1.4 million Indians holding various visas (business, tourism, student, and others) were expected to leave US by September 2016.

Tell me more: 50.43 million people who entered US were expected to depart in 2016, and out of which, 1.47% overstayed. Overstay rate for Indians is 2.1%.

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EVMs’ funding problems 💰

Rs 3,174 crore

What is it? The cost of over 1.6 million voter verifiable paper audit trail machines, funds for which the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has asked the government to urgently release.

Why is it important? Amidst an opposition-parties’ clamour for reverting to paper ballot for transparency and tamper-proofing, the CEC has reiterated the urgency to order the paper trail machines to fortify the voting process. The machines let voters see a slip for seven seconds with the symbol of the party they just voted for on electronic voting machines, ratifying whether the correct vote has been recorded or not. The wait for funds had begun since June, 2014, and over 11 reminders have been given to the government.

Tell me more: Even as the Supreme Court awaits the timeline for deploying such machines, the order for the machines has already delayed for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2019.



What is it? The number of major airports — Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad — put on high alert after an emailed tip-off on Saturday about imminent hijackings.

Why is it important? The security at these airports was increased overnight on Sunday through to Monday. Passengers have been going through double screenings and checks. Anti-hijacking briefings and an airport security committee meeting were held for stakeholders and staff at these airports. The level of security was raised to that of Independence Day.

Tell me more: Quick action teams, of the Central Industrial Security Force, which was overseeing the security, were also deployed. The email said the sender had overheard a group of men planning to hijack planes at these airports. Cyber police has been deployed to track the sender.


> Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The investment by South Korean Kia Motors is expected to make in Andhra Pradesh.

Why is it important? One of the largest FDIs, the investment is expected to be around Rs 10,300 crore in two phases. The company, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motors, will also be a feather in AP-chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu’s cap, competing for India’s FDI pie (one of the largest FDI recipients) with neighbouring Telangana and other states.

Tell me more: An official announcement is yet to come from Kia.



What is it? Reservation in educational institutions and government jobs in Telangana for those Muslims who are economically backward, according to a bill passed by the state assembly on Sunday.

Why is it important? Chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao had promised to do so in his poll campaign. By increasing the reservation to 12% from the existing 4%, it has exceeded the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling. 62% of the seats in education and government jobs are reserved for various categories. The only opposition to the bill came from five Bharatiya Janata Party members in the assembly who termed it unconstitutional. They were later suspended for disrupting the proceedings. Rao said it was reservation based on economic backwardness, and not religion.

Tell me more: The bill, the Telangana backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes (reservation of seats in educational institutions and of appointments or posts in services under the state) bill, 2017, also increased reservation to scheduled tribes from 6% to 10% .


> 150

What is it? The number of cities in the United States that held protests against president Donald Trump, demanding that he release his tax returns.

Why is it important? Breaking a long tradition, Trump declined to release his tax returns while running for presidency. He hasn’t done that after assuming his office. Besides, his business ties have raised questions about conflicts of interest and it remains a contentious issue.

Tell me more: The protests turned violent at Berkeley, California, leading to arrests of over 20 people, underlining the polarisation taking place in the US.

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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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