Zero Takers


What is it? The number of investors interested in buying a stake in Air India.

Why is it important? The government’s plan to sell 76% in the national carrier did not attract any bidders as on Thursday, the deadline for showing initial interest, in the world’s fastest growing aviation market. This is a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to dispose off the loss-making entity. The government may look to raise Rs 1 lakh crore in 2018-19 by the sale of state assets of which Air India was supposed to be a significant contributor.

Tell me more: The government, which had eased some terms and extended the deadline to receive bids, is now thinking of changing the terms of the sale.


What is it? The GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of the Indian economy in the January-March quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? The growth, which beat analysts’ estimates, has helped India to retain the tag of the fastest growing economy in the world. It has surpassed China’s growth of 6.8% in the three months ended March and is the quickest pace in nearly two years. However, it remains to be seen if India can sustain the momentum of growth given the risks of surging oil prices and the resultant threat of higher inflation, in addition to a slump in currency, bad loans and bank frauds.

Tell me more:In the previous quarter, the Indian GDP growth was a revised 7% and in 2017-18, it expanded at 6.7%, the slowest since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office.


What is it? The number of seats– four Lok Sabha and 11 assembly – for which by-polls were held across 10 states recently, the results of which were declared on Thursday.

Why is it important? BJP managed to win just one of each (Parliamentary and assembly). Among the losses, the Kairana Lok Sabha election seems significant as the opposition parties were able to unite and defeat BJP, a strategy that they are looking to emulate in the 2019 General Elections. Winning in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, is vital for BJP to retain power in the upcoming elections. In 2014, it won 71 of the 80 seats, which is crucial for its majority status in the Lower House.

Tell me more: Tabassum Hasan, who won the Kairana seat, became the first muslim representative to enter Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh since 2014. BJP, which won 70 out of 80 seats in 2014, did not field any muslim candidates, though Muslims account for 18.5% of the state population as per Census 2011 data.

Rs5,91,663 crore

What is it? India’s fiscal deficit for financial year ended March 2018.

Why is it important?The government was able to meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP, as there were fears of further slippage in containing fiscal deficit. Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget last year, had projected a fiscal deficit of 3.2% in 2017-18. Higher deficit would mean extra market borrowings, which in turn, has the potential to increase cost of funds for other borrowers.

Tell me more:Introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) was cited as one of the reasons for slippage of deficit target to 3.5%. Under GST, tax payers can remit the tax by 20th of the following month. So tax collected in March would be collected by April 20th. Government follows cash accounting system, so this receipt in the following month couldn’t be recorded in March 2018.


What is it?The growth of non-food credit in April 2018, as compared to 4.5% in same month last year.

Why is it important?Higher non-food credit is an indicator of economic growth, as firms anticipating higher demand would borrow to increase capacity or individuals feeling confident of their future earnings. Lending to services sector and personal loans grew by 20.7% and 19.1% respectively, while credit flow to industry increased only by 1%.

Tell me more:Higher credit growth is not met by higher deposit growth, which has plateaued after huge inflows during demonetisation. State Bank of India increased deposit rate on tenure between 1 and 2 years by 25 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point) to attract more deposits.

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The Tariff War Is On




What is it? The number of people who died in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan as protests against the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, turned violent on Monday.

Why is it important? Dalit organisations called for a Bharat Bandh on Monday after the Supreme Court on March 20 expressed concern over the misuse of this law, which aims to protect marginalised communities against discrimination and atrocities, and diluted some of its provisions. The Central government yesterday moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of the March 20 order.

Tell me more: The Central government has sent 800 anti-riot policemen to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to quell the violence. In 2016, 40,801 cases were recorded of crimes/atrocities by non-SC/STs against SC/STs.


$3 billion

What is it? The value of American exports to China, across 128 products, on which the latter placed additional tariffs beginning Monday. China is imposing a 15% tariff on 120 products and 25% on eight other products.

Why is it important? This is ostensibly a retaliatory response by China to the twin US trade moves in March: new duties on steel and aluminum imports, and initiating the process to target $50 billion of Chinese imports with tariffs. China had announced this hours after the $50 billion move by the Donald Trump administration, and it followed through yesterday, escalating the trade standoff that is brewing between the US and the rest of the world.

Tell me more: In 2017, the US received goods worth $505 billion from China, while sending goods worth $130 billion to China.



What is it? The revised fiscal deficit target as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) in 2017-18.

Why is it important? The government has expressed confidence that India’s fiscal deficit will be within target, mainly due to buoyant direct tax collections and a record disinvestment year that has seen the government raise over Rs 1,00,000 crore. It added the fiscal deficit target has been met without any major expenditure cuts and that there were natural savings as some departments could not spend all the money allocated to them by March 31.

Tell me more: In the Budget for 2018-19, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had revised the fiscal deficit target for 2017-18 to 3.5% of GDP, from 3.2%.


Rs 2.11 trillion

What is it? The recapitalisation plan announced by the Central government for public sector banks announced last October.

Why is it important? The government would reportedly not announce such a massive plan for state-run lenders again. This means banks need to find alternative sources of funding such as selling of non-core assets and merging with each other, in a move that signals a major consolidation in the public banking sector. The government is reportedly working on a plan to create 3-4 global-sized banks and reduce the number of state lenders to 12.

Tell me more: Stressed loans, which include non-performing assets and restructured loans, increased to Rs 9,50,000 crore at the end of the December quarter, from Rs 9,46,000 crore at the end of September.



What is it? The number of points by which German club Bayern Munich lead the Bundesliga, the top-flight German football league, with six games to play.

Why is it important? On Saturday, in spite of this seemingly insurmountable lead, Bayern put out their best side in a 6-0 drubbing of arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. On Wednesday early morning India time, Bayern will meet Spain’s Sevilla in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and the German side will be looking to stamp their presence in a tournament where they have gone under the radar despite their imperious domestic form.

Tell me more: Although Bayern has won the Champions League twice since 1993, when the format was changed, the last time it won was in 2013.


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After Modinomics, Modicare

FM Arun Jaitley announced what could be termed as Modi’s version of Obamacare, Modicare. A wide-reaching government-funded health insurance that will cover the most disenfranchised part of the Indian population. If implemented right, the move will help several such families in reaching out the healthcare facilities, the cost of which has sunk them into poverty over and over again.  


Rs 48,318 crore

What is it? The amount of slippage in fiscal deficit target for current financial year ending March 2018.

Why is it important? This pushed fiscal deficit to 3.5% of GDP as compared to budgeted level of 3.2%. Low Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue and deferment of telecom spectrum auction are cited as reasons for shortfall in revenue, leading to higher fiscal deficit. Market borrowings, to fund the deficit, will increase by Rs 129,636 crore (or 37%) in current fiscal.

Tell me more: A worrying trend is government resorting to drawing down of cash balance to the tune of Rs 39,379 crore to fund the deficit. Had this not been resorted, the deficit would have been higher than 3.5%.


Rs 5 lakh

What is it? The amount of health coverage a poor family would receive under the proposed National Health Protection Plan. Government aims to cover 10 crore families under this.

Why is it important? If implemented, this would effectively bypass the state-run health facilities to meet the healthcare needs of the public, especially in tertiary and secondary care. Arun Jaitley did not provide any money for this scheme, touted as largest government funded health care programme, in the budget. Further details will be announced in six months’ time.

Tell me more: A similar scheme (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana) covers upto Rs 30,000 per family, and it has 3.58 crore families enrolled till September last year. Non-life insurance coverage is very low in India at 0.7% of population.



What is it? The long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax imposed on transfer of listed shares, after holding it for a year or more.

Why is it important? This measure will help the government mobilise additional tax revenue of Rs 20,000 crore, the highest among new tax measures. Capital gain upto Rs 1 lakh will continue to be exempt, and any gains made till January 31st will not be calculated under LTCG. BSE Sensex initially shed close to 500 points after this announcement, but recovered most of the losses.

Tell me more: Total amount of exempted capital gains from listed shares were Rs 3,76,000 crore as per Income Tax returns filed last year, claimed Arun Jaitley. Additional cess on direct tax payers will net Rs 11,000 crore – the second highest revenue increase measure.



What is it? The number of assembly constituencies under Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats, which was won by Congress candidates on Thursday.

Why is it important? BJP, the ruling party in Rajasthan, did not lead in any of the 17 constituencies, as Congress vote share increased by 25 and 11 percentage points in Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha bypolls. If the same trend repeats in the assembly elections to be held later this year, Congress will sweep Rajasthan. Congress also won the Mandalgarh assembly seat by a margin of 13,000 votes.

Tell me more: Congress won only 21 out of 200 assembly seats in Rajasthan state elections, and in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it lost all the seats.


34 years

What is it? The number of years since IG Metall, an European trade union with 3.9 million members, went on strike.

Why is it important? Workers belonging to IG Metall walked out of factories as part of one-day ‘warning strikes’. They are demanding a 8% pay hike over 27 months, and reduced work hours combined with full pay for workers who have to take care of kids or sick relations or elders for two years. In addition, they want an assurance that workers returning after two years will be assured of full-time role.

Tell me more: Germany reported fastest economic growth (2%) in six years and very low unemployment. Employers are offering 6.8% wage hike, and rejected the idea of full pay for part-time work for two years.


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The ‘Tower’ing Burden Of Telecom


Vodafone and Idea are trying to save costs by shedding their tower businesses. Retail inflation has hit a 7-month-high, dimming hopes of a rate cut. The government may be scrambling to meet the fiscal deficit target. Italy, the football nation, failed to qualify for the FIFA world cup, the second time since 1958 edition. And, in tech world, chipmaker Qualcomm rejected Broadcom’s takeover bid.



What is it? The rate at which retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose in October from the same period a year ago.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in seven months, dimming hopes of an interest rate cut on December 6, when the central bank’s next monetary policy review is scheduled. This was driven by an increase in food prices—combined food inflation was 1.9% in October, against 1.25% in September, while vegetable prices increased from 3.92% to 7.47%–and fuel inflation of 6.36% last month as against 5.56% in September.

Tell me more: Retail inflation in June was the lowest (at 1.46%) since India started publishing these datasets in January 2012 and has been steadily climbing since then. Last month, it was higher in the urban areas (3.81%) than the rural ones (3.36%).



What is it? The number of state-run companies from which the government is reportedly seeking dividend amounts of 30% to 100% of their 2016-17 and 2017-18 net profit.

Why is it important? This indicates the government is scrambling to make up for the shortfall in tax revenue to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP (gross domestic product) for 2017-18. It raises questions on how these public-sector firms would be able to shoulder the twin responsibility of handing out dividend payouts to the government as well as stepping up investments in an economic environment where the private sector remains hesitant.

Tell me more: India’s fiscal deficit stood at Rs 499,000 crore at the end of September, which translates to 91% of its full-year target.


Rs 7,850 crore

What is it? The total amount for which Vodafone India (Rs 3,850 crore) and Idea Cellular (Rs 4,000 crore) are looking to sell their standalone towers businesses to ATC Telecom Infrastructure.

Why is it important? This would help these telecom firms reduce their debt levels, which are currently straining under a five-year borrowing spree to acquire spectrum and a fierce price war introduced by Reliance Jio in a highly competitive market since 2016. Idea and Vodafone have a cumulative debt of Rs 108,000 crore. This sale is likely to generate property revenue of Rs 2,100 crore and around Rs 800 crore in gross margin for ATC in the first year.

Tell me more: Idea and Vodafone had announced a $23 billion-merger (excluding the latter’s 42% stake in Indus Towers) in March to create the world’s second largest and India’s largest telecom firm by subscribers, which the competition regulator approved about four months ago.



What is it?  The number of goals scored by Italy in the two legs of its elimination tie against Sweden to decide who will go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Why is it important? Italy’s 1-0 loss on aggregate to Sweden means this high-profile footballing nation failed to qualify for the football World Cup for the first time since it missed the 1958 edition. Italy, along with Germany has the second-highest number of World Cup tournament participations (18), after Brazil (20).

Tell me more: Italy also has won four World Cup titles, the last one coming in 2006. Here, too, it is at par with Germany and ranked second only to Brazil, which has five titles.



What is it?  The percentage of shares of chipmaker Qualcomm that are held by institutions, as of June 2017, according to Nasdaq.

Why is it important? Yesterday, Qualcomm formally rejected an unsolicited $103 billion acquisition bid from Broadcom, in what would have been the largest merger in the technology space. This shifts the attention to institutional shareholders as Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, while announcing the bid last week, said he was open to exploring more aggressive options to acquire Qualcomm.

Tell me more: The 78% institutional shareholding in Qualcomm is fragmented and spread across 1,512 shareholders. Blackrock and Vanguard have the largest holdings, of 7.2% and 7%, respectively.

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