Locking in home-loan borrowers

3 years

What is it? The numbers of years of lock-in before home loan borrowers can transfer their outstanding amount to another lender. A demand made by mortgage loan lenders to the regulator, National Housing Board.

Why is it important? If accepted, borrowers won’t be able to transfer their loan balance to take advantage of falling interest rates. In the last six months, lending rates has dropped by 120 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point). Lenders say a lock-in will reduce churn in their portfolio, and better manage their borrowing and lending costs.

Tell me more: Housing loans is estimated at Rs 1,063,225 crore as on March 2015, much higher than total credit outstanding of scheduled commercial banks.



Rs 1.42 trillion

What is it? The direct taxes collected in April-June of 2017-18 financial year.

Why is it important? It is 14.8% more than the net collection last year in the same quarter and is 14.5% of the Rs 9.8 lakh-crore target for direct taxes in 2017-18.

Tell me more: The advance tax collection stood at Rs 58,783 crore in the quarter. It comprised a jump of 40.3% in personal advance tax and a corporate advance tax of 8.1%.




What is it? The Fifa rank of the Indian men’s football team.

Why is it important? The national football team ranked its second-best in the Fifa (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) listing, after 1996’s 94th spot. The team has 341 points and has won 13 of their last 15 matches, remaining unbeaten in the last eight.

Tell me more: The football team had to climb 77 spots from 173rd in March, 2015 to reach here.



1,155 cubic km

What is it? The volume of ice that is set to break away from the Antarctic ice shelf.

Why is it important? This is going to produce one of the largest icebergs in the South Pole. It is one of the alarming fallouts of global warming, ie. rising temperature. The rift in the Larsen C ice shelf is now within 5 km of breaking all the way, and is already 200 km-long.

Tell me more: The iceberg, thus adrift, could pose a hazard for sea traffic. The free-floating ice shelves also prevent ice from land to flow into the sea. But if these break apart then land-based ice could result in raised water levels of the oceans and seas.



Rs 6,000 – Rs 7,000 crore

What is it? The likely amount SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd is expected to rise from selling 12% equity stake through an initial public offering (IPO). The private insurer got the approval from the insurance regulator recently.

Why is it important? If successful, SBI Life will be the second life insurance company to list the shares in the stock markets. At Rs 7,000 crore for 12% stake, SBI Life’s market capitalization will be around Rs 58,000 crore.

Tell me more: ICICI Prudential, the number one private life insurer, sold Rs 6,057 crore of shares through an IPO, and is currently valued Rs 70,239 crore.

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News in Numbers, Mar 28, 2017: Aadhaar, again 🔒

0.60 degree-C

What is it? The rise in India’s mean temperature over the last 110 years.

Why is it important? India’s climate is not immune to global warming that has increased land and ocean surface temperatures by 0.85 degree-Celsius. On India’s plate was extreme weather events such as heat waves which rose in the last 30 years.

Tell me more: Pointing to this increase in a Rajya Sabha reply, the ministry of state for environment, forest and climate change, said it would focus on afforestation and renewable energy to combat the ill effects of global warming.


6,604 km

What is it? The length of National Highways constructed in FY17, till end of February.

Why is it important? In 11 months of this fiscal, the government has been able to achieve only 44% of its target for FY17 of 15,000 km of National Highways construction.

Tell me more: Unlike previous years, when anywhere between 76% and 99% of funds allocated for National Highways were used, this year, only 62% were utilised, albeit with a higher absolute value than the last three years.



What is it? The number of people Flipkart intends to hire this year.

Why is it important? The largest e-commerce company in India made the announcement on the heels of a $1-billion round of funding. The move could be seen as Flipkart turning a page after last year’s fiasco of delayed joining dates at IIT campuses. The news will also provide a ray of hope in the tech sector which has seen a spate of job cuts in 2017.

Tell me more: Flipkart’s hiring plans are 20-30% higher than last year’s and is a departure from its recent practice of depending on temporary staff to manage peak seasonal demand.


4.19 lakh

What is it? The number of prisoners in India’s 1401 jails, according to National Crime Records Bureau data.

Why is it important? India’s home ministry has now directed the state governments and director general of prisons to get all prisoners registered for Aadhaar, India’s biometric identification and authentication programme. Biometric authentication could help manage some prison activities better – including parole, transport and appearance before the court. It could eventually help in post-release rehabilitation of prisoners, a much neglected issue in India.

Tell me more: Home ministry has also directed that visitors be identified by Aadhaar.


$130 billion

What is it? The value of merged US chemical giants Dow and DuPont.

Why is it important? European Commission approved their merger on Monday. The companies had to agree to heavy concessions including sale of large parts of DuPont’s pesticide business to address EC’s concerns about competition and innovation. Post merger, it will be split to three firms focussing on agriculture, materials and specialty products.

Tell me more: This is one of the three big mergers in the sector that were awaiting EC’s go ahead. The other two are Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto and ChemChina’s $43 billion bid for Syngenta.

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News in Numbers, Mar 24, 2017: Be afraid. Do something. 🏥

$6.5 billion

What is it? Snapdeal’s last known valuation, done in 2016.

Why is it important? The valuation, at which the e-commerce company raised $200 million funding in February, 2016, is likely to take a hit. Since then, it has been dogged by failed funding search and sale, as its sales trail its main competitors in India. A report two days back, later refuted by the company, put tentative sale price at $1.5-1.8 billion, almost at a third. Another report yesterday said Snapdeal was unable to rope in investors such as Alibaba Group and existing investor Softbank for fresh funding.

Tell me more: Snapdeal’s made a loss of Rs 29.6 billion rupees in FY16.


~Rs 1,600 crore

What is it? The estimated price Bharti Airtel will pay for Tikona Digital Networks Pvt. Ltd’s 4G network.

Why is it important? The deal, giving Bharti Airtel access to Tikona’s broadband wireless spectrum and 350 cellular sites in five circles, will expand the former’s reach, particularly in cities where it lacks strong presence in 4G services. It has already lined up high-speed 4G services for these circles, even as it locks horns with Reliance Jio.

Tell me more: The overall deal value might be a little more at Rs 1,700 crore s Bharti Airtel as to take on debt on Tikona’s books. Recently, Airtel also announced acquisition of Norway’s Telenor’s India operations, with 44 million subscribers.


13 degrees

What is it? The rise in the Celsius scale in Delhi in the span of 10 days.

Why is it important? In line with warnings of extreme climate and unpredictable weather changes due to global warming, spring bid adieu to the capital city quicker than usual. Thursday’s temperature of 37.4 degree-C was seven degrees above normal and the highest in March since 2010.

Tell me more: The heat onset is despite the recent spate of rain and snow in the hills. The capital is now buffeted by hot summer’s wind patterns, says Ravinder Vishen, head of IMD’s Regional Weather Forecasting Centre.


$70 million

What is it? The amount raised by Soundcloud, a music streaming firm based in Berlin.

Why is it important? It came in form of debt, while most tech startups tend to go for equity. There is an intense debate on which form of capital is better for a high growth company (Soundcloud said it wants to grow 2.5 times in 2017). Debt could be useful for a company if it believes it is not getting a fair valuation from equity investors, but there are risks, as one of the early backers of Soundcloud argued in a post recently.

Tell me more: Soundcloud, which faces increasing competition from Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify, tried to raise $100 million in equity recently, but didn’t succeed.



What is it? India’s share in global tuberculosis cases, according to a new study by  Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy

Why is it important? India has the most number of TB cases in the world. Indian government’s ability to counter the crisis has come into question. An added level of danger and complexity is the growing number of multi-drug resistant TB cases. In Mumbai such cases grew by 21% in 2015-16.

Tell me more: Multi-drug resistant TB tends to be fatal, with 40% of the patients succumbing to the disease. India lacks tools that can detect such cases.

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The planet heats up

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com


Even as the US elected Donald Trump, who had questioned climate change in the past, 2016 missed out on the distinction of being the hottest on record since 1880. It could well have been, but the temperatures cooled down in September and October, which one of the media outlets that supported Trump mistook as evidence against global warming. The reason was a retreating El Niño, an abnormal weather pattern caused by warm waters of the western Pacific Ocean flowing eastwards.

As it stands, the world is getting warmer (chart 1). While the temperature rise in 2015 and 2016 is due to El Niño, it’s not the only reason (chart 2). One of the immediate effects is the speed at which glaciers are receding (chart 3). In July, 90 million cubic yards of glacier collapsed in the Aru range in Tibet, resulting in one of the largest avalanches.

Meanwhile, a new study, published recently in Nature Geoscience, confirmed more strongly than before the link between climate change and glacial melting. In 2017, we will do well to keep track of those glaciers, and what Trump does with the Paris climate pact aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.






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