Discoms: Cutting the losses


What is it? The percentage stake the government has in Coal India.

Why is it important? The government is reportedly considering offloading a stake in world’s single-largest producer of coal, after its plans to sell Air India did not attract any prospective buyers. Failure of Air India disinvestment could impact Rs80,000 crore target set for disinvestment in 2018-19. The government recently rejected Niti Aayog’s proposal to reduce the former’s stake in non-strategic public sector units even as it is reportedly confident of breaching its disinvestment target this fiscal.

Tell me more: The government, which was said to be considering the option of listing Air India, has suffered a setback after the markets regulator denied the national carrier exemption from a rule that mandates that the firm reports net profit for the last three years.

Rs 3-4 lakh crore

What is it? The amount in credit that may face refinancing risks if the current challenges in the financing environment remain, according to a report by India Ratings and Research.

Why is it important? The borrowers that have lower ratings may find it difficult to refinance outstanding loans unless liquidity is at least partially improved in financing channels. The sectors that face increased refinancing risks include power, telecom, infrastructure, and metals and mining and are skewed towards smaller businesses that do not have the capacity to withstand such pressures.

Tell me more: The reasons for these risks include the poor health of public sector banks that may lend to better-rated corporates, leaving little for the weaker ones, and the heavy reliance of non-bank financial companies on banks for credit.


What is it? The number of years for which Sandeep Bakhshi (the head of ICICI’s life insurance unit) has been appointed as the chief operating officer and whole-time director on ICICI Bank’s board, beginning June 19, subject to regulatory approvals.

Why is it important? The bank said on Monday that its managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar will go on leave until an independent probe into alleged conflict of interest and charges of impropriety is completed against her. Bakhshi will report to Kochhar and during her absence, to the board.

Tell me more: Former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna will conduct an investigation into the loans granted by ICICI Bank to Videocon Group, whose chairman Venugopal Dhoot had business links with Kochhar’s husband, Deepak Kochhar.

Rs17,350 crore 

What is it? The annual losses incurred by power distribution companies in India, according to a report by Deutsche Bank Market Research.

Why is it important? This is 70% reduction in losses in two years’, says the report. Power distribution companies, mostly state-run, incurred loss of Rs70,000 crore per year before the UDAY scheme was introduced. The losses narrowed as the power utilities closed the gap between cost of supply of power and tariff rate to Rs0.24 per kWh, a reduction of 57%.

Tell me more: Under the UDAY scheme – where debt of power utilities was converted as sovereign debt – the transmission and distribution losses has to be capped at 15% by January 2019. There is wide variation among states, with 16 states reporting losses increasing by 20% to 56%.


What is it? The percentage of audits done by KPMG on firms listed in FTSE 350 that did not meet the auditing standards set by Financial Reporting Council (FRC), United Kingdom.

Why is it important? FRC has mandated that all at least 90% of all audits done by the ‘Big four’ audit firms should meet the watchdog’s standard by 2018-19. PwC scored the highest with 84% of audits meeting the standard. EY and Deloitte scored 82% and 79%. FRC blamed senior management, ‘extent of challenge of management and exercise of professional scepticism’ as reasons for poor audit standards by KPMG.

Tell me more: In India, auditors have resigned from 30 companies in calendar 2018, as compared to seven resignations in 2017, according to data compiled by Prime Database.

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Saving For The Rainy Days

Rs 1,020 crore

What is it? ICICI Bank’s net profit in the January-March quarter of 2017-18, which is almost half of that reported (Rs 2,025 crore) in the same period a year ago.

Why is it important?The quarterly numbers of India’s third-largest bank by assets missed analyst estimates as its provisions for bad loans increased by 85% from the previous quarter and around 2.3 times from the year-ago quarter. Its gross non-performing assets (NPAs) as a percentage of total loans declined to 8.84%, against 7.82% in the third ending December 2017.

Tell me more: At a meeting held yesterday, the board of directors of ICICI Bank did not discuss the issue of conflict of interest issue relating to its CEO Chanda Kochhar.


6 to 10

What is it?The seniority of Supreme Court judges comprising the constitution bench who will hear a petition today challenging the rejection of the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, by the Vice President.

Why is it important?It is not clear who constituted this bench, which have bypassed SC judges who were ranked 2 to 5 in seniority, and who had held a press conference earlier this year expressing concern over several matters pertaining to India’s top court, including the basis on which cases were being assigned to judges.

Tell me more:Judges 6 to 10, in sequence, are Justice Arjan Sikri, Justice Sharad Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Adarsh Goel.



What is it?The year within which Finnish telecom gear maker Nokia expects Indian telecom firms to initiate lab trials of fifth generation or 5G technology, followed by proof of concepts.

Why is it important?This is among the first steps to meet the government’s aim of rolling out the technology to consumers by 2020, which would be on par with timelines of other countries. The technology, which could help India with projects like Smart Cities and enable domestic companies to compete with global peers, faces some big challenges such as the stressed finances of Indian telecom operators, the need for massive infrastructure investment and reasonably priced spectrum.

Tell me more:Bharti Airtel and Chinese firm Huawei successfully conducted India’s first 5G network trial under a test setup this February.



What is it? The number of years for which Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russian President on Monday.

Why is it important? Putin began his fourth term as the President of Russia and has been in power for 18 years. One of his biggest challenges would be improving the country’s economy, which has been affected by lower oil prices, fall in the rouble, inflation and international sanctions. Putin has been criticised for his inadequate efforts to diversify the Russian economy beyond oil and gas.

Tell me more: According to a poll, Putin’s most praiseworthy achievement was restoring Russia’s status as a great power, while the biggest complaint was that he had failed to reduce the wealth gap.



What is it? The number of runs defended by Hyderabad Sunrisers against Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League match on Monday.

Why is it important? This was the fourth low score, by IPL standards, defended by Hyderabad this year. With this latest win, Hyderabad became the first team this year to notch up eight wins(from 10 matches), the threshold that is generally an assured passage to the playoffs.

Tell me more: Hyderabad has not lost bowling second his year. The previous three scores Hyderabad have defended are 118 (against Mumbai), 132 (Punjab) and 151 (Rajasthan). This is despite losing Billy Stanlake, one of their prized bowlers, to injury.

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CWG: India’s First Badminton Gold



What is it? The number of weeks within which the Central government was to set up the Cauvery water management board and monitoring authority, following the Supreme Court’s February 16 judgment.

Why is it important? The top court on Monday pulled up the Centre for not drawing up the scheme to implement its February judgment on the distribution of Cauvery river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry. This was in response to a contempt petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, which has accused the Centre of doing little to follow the court’s orders. The Centre is expected to file the Cauvery management scheme by May 3.

Tell me more: Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has witnessed protests in recent days and the Centre has been accused of acting in favour of the latter, where state elections will be held next month.



What is it? ICICI Bank’s core capitalisation in December 2017, among the highest in the banking sector, according to Fitch Ratings

Why is it important? Fitch says though the bank’s core capitalisation and profitability are strong enough for a favourable rating, the recent allegations against the bank involving its chief Chanda Kochhar, her husband’s firms and the Videocon Group could pose reputational risks. It is the first rating agency to express doubts about the accusations of nepotism against ICICI Bank, India’s second largest private lender.

Tell me more: The board of the bank is reportedly divided over whether Kochhar should be asked to step down even as federal authorities are probing the case. The government changed its nominee on the bank’s board on Monday, which it termed as ‘routine’.


$2.5 billion

What is it? The total investment India could get if Xiaomi convinces its 50 global suppliers to set shop in India.

Why is it important? This could provide a major fillip to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme. Finnish company HMD Global, which manufactures the Nokia brand of phones, is also making efforts to manufacture its components in India. The Indian government recently imposed a 10% duty on the import of components such as populated printed circuit boards.

Tell me more: Xiaomi recently dethroned Samsung to become the top smarthphone brand in the country. If Xiaomi’s suppliers set up base in the country, they could together create 50,000 jobs.



What is it? The number of times that India have won the mixed team gold in badminton at the Commonwealth Games, following a 3-1 victory over three-times and defending champions Malaysia yesterday.

Why is it important? The mixed team event in badminton was introduced in the Commonwealth Games in 1998, but India never managed to go all the way. Emphatic singles wins by Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal scripted yesterday’s win.

Tell me more: At the end of Day 5, India stood third in the medals tally, with a total of 19 medals, including 10 golds. Australia led with 39 golds, followed by England with 22 golds.


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Facebook’s “Big Mistake”


What is it? The number of US products that China has levied additional tariffs on, though it has not announced the effective start date yet.

Why is it important? China took less than 11 hours to hit back at the United States, which proposed 25% tariffs on about 1,300 Chinese products, whose imports to the US are in the region of $50 billion. This has heightened fears of a global trade war, and rattled investors and fueled market fears.

Tell me more: Washington has targeted products that benefit from China’s industrial policy, while Beijing’s list picks out signature US exports such as soybeans, frozen beef, cotton and other agricultural products grown in states that voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.


87 million

What is it? The number of Facebook users whose personal information might have been improperly shared by the social media giant with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Why is it important? The new number was disclosed by Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer in a blog post yesterday, and is an increase over the 50 million number that has been cited in news reports so far. Of this, 70 million were Americans and 0.6 million were Indians. Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a US Parliamentary panel on April 11.

Tell me more: As of December 2017, Facebook had 1.4 billion daily active users, a number that increased 14% in 2017.



What is it? The number of startups reportedly funded under the Startup India initiative, of the 6,981 startups recognised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) as on February 6, 2018.

Why is it important? A Parliamentary committee report has expressed grave concerns about the gap between the number of startups recognised by the DIPP and those that have received funding and tax exemptions. Only 82 entities have been certified for claiming tax exemptions under the Income Tax Act, 1961. With such progress, it seems like a steep climb for the DIPP to achieve its target of facilitating and supporting 1,000 startups by March 2019.

Tell me more: According to a recent poll by community-based social networking platform LocalCircles, 80% of respondents said they have not benefited from the government’s Startup India plan.



What is it? The share of American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in ICICI Bank’s shares.

Why is it important? The bank and its top management are at the risk of facing a class action lawsuit in the United States by holders of the lenders’ ADRs, according to a note by brokerage firm Jefferies. ICICI Bank’s chief Chanda Kochhar is facing the heat for her alleged involvement in the financial dealings between the bank, Videocon Group and her husband Deepak Kochhar’s firms.

Tell me more: The bank has refused to hire external agencies to conduct an independent investigation into the nepotism allegations against Kochhar.


19 minutes

What is it? The number of minutes in a passage of play in which English football club Liverpool slammed three goals past Manchester City in the first leg of their quarter-final match in the Champions League.

Why is it important? The burst helped Liverpool win 3-0 and put them in the driver’s seat for the return leg in Manchester in a week’s time. All season long, teams have struggled to match up to Manchester City in the English Premier League, with the result that the club holds a 16 point lead with seven games left, and is poised to break the 100-point mark.

Tell me more: City’s only loss in the EPL this year at the hands of Liverpool in January, in the same ground where they lost yesterday.


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