The Cost Of Violence

Rs 8,000 crore

What is it?The approximate amount Punjab National Bank(PNB) expects to recover from bad loans in the April-June quarter.

Why is it important?The state-run lender, which posted the biggest-ever quarterly loss by any bank in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, says it has already recovered Rs 6,000 crore by the end of the first week of June, compared with Rs 5,617 crore in all of 2016-17. In addition, it expects to raise some money from stake sales in its subsidiaries and other entities as part of the reforms agenda of public sector banks that are battling high ratios of bad loans and frauds.

Tell me more:PNB’s total liability due to the Nirav Modi scam is around Rs 14,357 crore, of which it said it has provided 50% and the rest will be covered in the remaining three quarters of 2018-19.

 

2

What is it?The number of memoranda of understanding that China and India signed last week.

Why is it important?One MoU pertains to China sharing with India hydrological data about the Brahmaputra river. This data contains the distribution, movement and quality of water, which is an indicator of the water levels of the river and is useful in creating flood alerts for India’s northeastern states. Last year, China stopped sharing this data soon after the 73-day Doklam standoff between its troops and the Indian Army. It will share the data twice every day until October.

Tell me more:Beijing provides the information from three hydrological stations, for which India pays Rs 1 crore per year.

 

17

What is it?The number of grand slam titles won by Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Why is it important? On Sunday, Nadal won the French Open, beating Dominic Thiem of Belgium in straight sets. Nadal is closing in on the all-time record of archrival Roger Federer, who found new ways to win in 2017 to nudge his grand slam tally to 20. After his win, Nadal said while he would like to overhaul Federer, he wasn’t obsessive about such records.

Tell me more:Of Nadal’s 17 grand slam titles, 11 are on the clay of Paris. He’s played the French Open 14 times, and accumulated a staggering win-loss record of 86-3 there.

 

75%

What is it?The percentage of voters in Switzerland who rejected via a referandum a radical proposal to overhaul the Swiss banking system. All the 26 Swiss cantons also voted against it.

Why is it important?The proposal entailed prohibiting commercial banks from lending more money than they had in deposits, leaving the country’s central bank as the only source of new money. Those supporting the proposal said they were seeking to strengthen the banking system and protect people’s savings from bank runs.

Tell me more:As of December 2016, there were 261 banks in Switzerlandand their total balance sheet size was $3.1 trillion.

 

3.7%

What is it?The percentage of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) that was lost due to violence in 2017.

Why is it important?In a recent report, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has calculated the economic costs of violence globally, defining it as the expenditure and economic effect related to containing, preventing and dealing with the consequences of violence.

Tell me more:With a spending of $186 billion, the report ranked India fourth on spending to contain global violence, with most of the spending going towards military spending.

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airIndia

Zero Takers

0

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.

7.7%

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.

15

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.

10.7%

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 power of 3

5.6%

What is it? India’s gross value added (GVA) growth in January – March quarter of 2017.

Why is it important? It’s the lowest in the last eight quarters, down from 6.7% in the previous quarter and 8.7% from the same period last year. GVA, which is calculated after subtracting the taxes and adding subsidies on products, is considered by some economists as superior to GDP in capturing economic realities. Sometimes GDP and GVA growth rates diverge, but in this quarter both declined. India saw its GDP growth rate for the quarter declining 6.1%, yielding the status of fastest growing large economy to China, which grew at 6.9% in the same quarter. GDP growth rate for the year was 7.1%.

Tell me more: GDP growth was largely affected by the construction industry which shrank (-3.7%) and by financial, real estate and professional services which grew by a meagre 2.2%. Some attributed the slowdown to lingering effects of Q3’s demonetisation, but Chief Statistician T C A Anant said it demands more study.

 

Rs 93.5 crore

What is it? The reserve price of the Kingfisher House in Mumbai, the defunct office of Kingfisher Airlines.

Why is it important? A sale failed to fructify at this price at the latest auction. Reserve price, set by the 17-lender consortium led by SBI, had been cut 38% since its first auction held in March, 2016. In every subsequent auction – there have been four since then, the price was cut by 10-15% from the previous. But the bankers’ hopes of recovering part of the Rs 9,000-crore dues, remained unrealised as there were no buyers for the property.

Tell me more: Another Kingfisher Airlines-property, the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which was put on the block at the same time, has had better luck after three failed auctions. It was sold for Rs 73 crore.

 

3

What is it? The number of times that women have topped the Union Public Service Commission exams in a row.

Why is it important? Nandini KR, an Indian Revenue Services officer from Karnataka, has topped the latest (2016) civil services exams, whose results were announced yesterday. Interestingly, this contrasts with the gender gap in the overall success rate. Over three times as many men (846) cleared the exam than women (253). Among the top 25 candidates, 18 were men and 7, women.

Tell me more: For the 2016 exams, 11,35,943 candidates applied; 4,59,659 appeared;  15,452 cleared the preliminary exams. Finally, 1099 candidates have been recommended by the commission for appointment to various public services.

 

13

What is it? The number of airports in India that don’t require tagging / stamping of hand baggage for domestic travellers.

Why is it important? The new procedure aimed at travellers convenience was first introduced in seven airports in April this year, and has now been expanded to six more starting Thursday. This measure, in addition to using Aadhaar and mobile phones for authentication and pre-boarding checks, could help strike a better balance between safety and convenience.

Tell me more: Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of airport security had introduced the system in Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad airports, has now extended it to Patna and Chennai among others.

 

3

What is it? The number of non-participating countries in Paris climate agreement if US decides to pull out of the deal.

Why is it important? The other two countries are Syria and Nicaragua. While the White House hasn’t made an announcement on this yet, US President Donal Trump, as a presidential candidate, had promised to pull out of the Paris deal in his first 100 days to boost US oil and coal sector. The agreement binds participating nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Tell me more: If US decides to pull out, it will impact the country’s relationship with its allies which are more committed to tackling climate change. Within the US, Trump is likely to alienate institutions and people who have been warning about the dangers of climate change. Elon Musk, for example, tweeted that he would leave White House councils if Trump decides to pull out of the deal.

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When blood is wasted

600,000 litre

What is it? The volume of blood and its various components, in 2.8 million units, discarded by blood banks across India in the last five years.

Why is it important? In 2015-16, the shortage in blood requirement was 10% at a national level, with some states facing acute shortage and others flush with excess supply through blood camps. The wastage, revealed in an RTI query, 24% of which occurred in 2016-17, points to the severe lack of a safe blood sharing network among banks, hospitals across states. Experts also fault indiscriminate blood donation camps, organised by politicians, which end up collecting blood that has no place to be stored and used fruitfully.

Tell me more: Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh saw high wastage of various components such as plasma (long shelf-life), red blood cells and whole blood.

 

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The estimated advertising revenue the Indian Railways plan to earn from 200,000 giant digital screens.

Why is it important? It will boost advertising income, part of non-fare revenues, for IR. The screens alone could then fetch 67% of the estimated revenue of Rs 15,000 crore in non-fare revenue in the next 10 years as set in January. The screens would also display real-time passenger information. The railway display network would first be installed in 400 A category stations.

Tell me more: Non-fare revenue accounted for 6.17% of IR’s total revenue in FY17, and grew from Rs 5,928 crore in FY16 to Rs 10,181 crore FY17.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of cars in India Volkswagen has been able to correct, after recalling them as they had the defeat device installed along with the EA 189 diesel engine series.

Why is it important? The auto manufacturer admits to a delay in upgrading the recalled vehicles, spanning VW, Audi, and Skoda brands. It had started the recall of 340,000 cars in July 2016 through 2017. This is part of the larger global scandal which beleaguered 11 million of Volkswagen’s cars across the US, Europe and other markets. India’s vehicle testing agency, Arai, found the Indian cars were equipped with a derivative of the defeat device plaguing the EA 189 diesel engines, to pass emission tests.

Tell me more: So far, Volkswagen India has received approval for engine updates for 70% of the recalled vehicles, and says the delay is due to the different makes of cars involved.

 

4.2%

What is it? The boost to real GDP of India, if the aggregate weighted GST (goods and services tax) works out to 16%.

Why is it important? The estimate, by the US Federal Reserve, is based on the assumption that the GST aggregate will work out to be 16%, goods and services are allocated to the four tiers of taxes —  5%, 12%, 18%, and 28% — in a certain way. Lower taxes on manufactured goods would make products cheaper and also help reach the aggregate taxation. An alternate estimate of aggregate weighted GST rate of 20% would provide a boost of 3.1%.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, India’s Niti Aayog estimates GDP to be Rs 469 lakh-crore by 2030.

 

21.4%

What is it? The percentage of vote won by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of French presidential elections, with 97% reporting

Why is it important? In the run-off, to be held on May 7th, Le Pen will be facing the centrist Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!, who outpaced her in the first round with 23.9% vote share. For the first time in France’s history, neither of the two mainstream parties in France — Socialists represented by Benoît Hamon and the Republicans represented by François Fillon — made it to the finals. If Le Pen wins, it could mean France taking a nationalist route, away from European Union and Euro.

Tell me more: Macron, a former banker, served as economy minister in Hollande administration till he resigned in 2016 to fight this election. He is 39, and has never fought an election before. Le Pen has been leading her party, FN since 2011, and has increasingly grown stronger, a rise similar to US President Donald Trump.

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