Coal India Loses Decades-Old Monopoly



What is it? The number of years within which a Tribunal to be set up is expected to settle the Mahanadi Water Dispute. The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal for adjudication of this dispute.

Why is it important? This comes less than a month after the Supreme Court had directed the central government to set up a  tribunal to resolve this dispute. Odisha had moved the court in December 2016, seeking an order for Chhattisgarh to stop the construction activities of its projects on the upstream of Mahanadi. The latterdid not want the setting up of a tribunal and pointed to the 1983 agreement between Odisha and Madhya Pradesh (Chhattisgarh was a part of it until 2000) to settle the matter.

Tell me more: According to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956, the tribunal would consist of a Chairman and two members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from among the judges of the top court or high court. In addition, two water resources experts will advise the tribunal.


Rs 1.11 trillion

What is it? The total amount outstanding of loans taken by wilful defaulters (with loans of over Rs 25 lakh) in which lawsuits have been filed, as of September 30, 2017.

Why is it important? This figure stood at Rs 28,416.93 crore four years ago. At that time, nationalised banks accounted for nearly a third of the total amount outstanding in the accounts of wilful defaulters, which leaped to 58.7% at the end of September last year. The case of Punjab National Bank (PNB), which is in the eye of a storm over its alleged defrauding by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, has raised questions about systemic risks and audit processes at Indian banks, especially with respect to state-lenders.

Tell me more: The compounded annual growth rate of the total amount outstanding in wilful defaulter accounts with PNB is 95.13% between September of 2013 and 2017. The equivalent numbers of nationalised and private banks are 62.92% and 25.67% respectively.



What is it? The maximum margins four hospitals in the Delhi-National Capital Region have made on drugs, consumables (such as surgical masks and hand gloves) and medical devices (include disposable syringes with or without needles and catheters), according to an analysis by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

Why is it important? The report by the drug pricing authority highlights the practices of these hospitals including them prescribing and dispensing drugs that do not come under the price control regime, exorbitant profit margins made by them in the non-scheduled devices used in three cases (syringes, cannula and catheters) are exorbitant and that the costs of diagnostic services in hospitals were higher than those charged by private centres.

Tell me more: One example of the excessive profiteering by hospital is: a three-way stop cock (bi-valve) purchased by the hospital for Rs 5.77 was sold at Rs 106, giving the hospital a profit of 1,737%. The report concluded that the major beneficiaries of profits in the cases analysed because of inflated MRPs (maximum retail price) were hospitals rather than the manufacturers of drugs and devices.


45 years

What is it? The numbers of years where the state-run Coal India Ltd has monopoly status on commercial production of coal. The union cabinet on Tuesday decided to allow private players to commercially produce coal.

Why is it important? This is expected to increase competition, resulting in higher output and better prices for end users. Thermal power plants could have better fuel availability and less inventory carrying cost. India imported 191 million tonnes of coal for the year ended March 2017.

Tell me more: The coal mines will be auctioned based on ‘ascending forward auction’, where the winner will be determined based on the price per tonne of coal. At present, only end users are allowed to mine coal mines for captive use.



What is it? The projected growth rate for software export revenues for financial year 2018-19 by Nasscom, an industry lobby group.

Why is it important? The information technology sector, which is the biggest exporter, will maintain current growth rate. This will add between $9 billion and $ 11 billion export revenues in 2018-19, and companies are expected to hire 100,000 people to meet the growth.

Tell me more: Domestic software market is expected to grow at a faster rate at 10-12%. The market size ($28 billion) is only a fifth of software export revenues ($135 billion) projected for next financial year.


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News in Numbers, Oct 20, 2016: Safety PIN…

In the recent days, some banks have been sending out instructions to some of their customers asking them to change their personal identification number (PIN) or even blocking some debit cards to issue replacements. There have been disturbing news reports that talk about certain debit cards having been compromised with. With more and more Indians (though 78% of all consumer payments were made by cash last year) opting to go for digital modes of payment (what with the rapid growth in the usage of smartphones), nearly $500 billion worth of transactions in the country would happen digitally by 2020 (that is, 10 times the current levels), as per a report. In a bid to become cashless, we shouldn’t forget that there need to be robust systems to prevent such breaches and ensure protection to consumers from possible digital frauds.

Here are a couple of articles that talk about how to deal with online bank and ATM card frauds.


32 lakh

What is it? The number of debit cards that are reportedly compromised (unauthorised access to financial details of the card enabling stealing of funds).

Why is it important? It could turn out to be one of the biggest financial breaches in Indian banking history. The worst-hit banks are said to be: the State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Yes Bank. Of the total, 26 lakh are reportedly on the Visa and Mastercard platforms with the rest on RuPay. The Reserve Bank of India is said to have asked banks to replace debit cards whose security is suspected to have been compromised and this number is put at 17.5 lakh, according to another report.

Tell me more: SBI, India’s largest lender, has blocked the debit cards of 6 lakh customers and started the process of replacing them. As of July 2016, the total debit card base in India was 69.7 crore.



What is it? The number of hospitals in Odisha that have fire safety clearance, of the total of 568.

Why is it important? Highlights the blatant violation of fire safety norms by the healthcare system in Odisha and the need for better enforcement of rules by the authorities. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which brought out this fact, has issued a noticeto the state government after a fire accident killed 21 people at Sum Hospital in Bhubaneshwar on Monday evening. The Union Health Minister JP Nadda has said new guidelines will be issued to all states to ensure hospitals are fire-compliant.

Tell me more: The NHRC has called on the government to file a report in six weeks, asking it to mention the measures it has taken or proposes to take to prevent such mishaps in the future and also, the relief and rehabilitation given to the relatives of those who died or were injured in the accident.



What is it? The number of serotypes or strains of dengue virus that can be potentially targeted by a vaccine candidate, which is under development by the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in collaboration with Sun Pharma.

Why is it important? This is reportedly the first indigenous dengue vaccine candidate to be developed that could provide protection against all the four strains of the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine (except for one) or any particular medicine to treat dengue, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). As many as 51,731 cases of dengue and 93 dengue-related deaths have been reported in India so far this year. However, this potential vaccine has passed only the pre-clinical stages and it could take some time before it hits the markets.

Tell me more: The WHO approved the world’s first vaccine for dengue fever called Dengvaxia developed by Sanofi Pasteur in April this year though a high-level (Indian) government committee held back approvals citing the need for additional clinical trial data.


35 million

What is it? The number of smartphones shipped during the July-September quarter, according to Counterpoint Research.

Why is it important? This is a new record for the Indian market – smartphone shipments grew 25% on a year-on-year basis and 21% sequentially. Interestingly, Chinese vendors such as Lenovo, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo now command nearly a third of the Indian smartphone market (32%, up from 27% in the previous quarter), eating into the market share of top players such as Samsung, Micromax and Intex. Though Samsung and Micromax are still the top two players (in that order), their market share fell to 21.6% (from 25.6% in the June quarter) and 9.8% (from 14.1%) in the September quarter respectively.

Tell me more: Lenovo regained the third position while Reliance Industries’ smartphone brand Lyf moved up a position to become the fourth largest brand. Intex slipped from the third position to the fifth.



What is it? The number of entities that have been banned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) after getting the authority to regulate collective investment schemes (CIS) in 2013.

Why is it important? Though the market regulator had asked these firms to discontinue their schemes, repay investors in three months and file a winding-up report, none of them have done so. Highlights the difficulty in regulating such entities and the need for a better mechanism to refund investors who’ve fallen prey to Ponzi schemes. For instance, PACL Ltd, which owes Rs 49,100 crore to 5.8 crore investors, has not complied with the CIS rules and is yet to refund its investors.

Tell me more: SEBI has filed 567 prosecution cases against those collecting public money through illegal investment schemes, as on July 31.

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