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The Brunt Of Nature

2017 was the year when President Donald Trump refused to acknowledge the effects of global warming and moved to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord. Nature, probably didn’t like it. In the same year, the number of natural disasters spiked 20% on average versus the last 16 years. Global warming is real. There’s absolutely no denying that.

4

What is it? The number of states in which members of the Multiplex Association of India will not screen Padmaavat, the Sanjay Leela Bhansali period film that releases on Thursday.

Why is it important? The four states are Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, all ruled by the BJP, which is also in power at the Centre. Protests against the film—led by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which is unhappy at the depiction of the Rajput community in the film—turned into acts of vandalism in several parts of the country yesterday, putting the spotlight on the inability of administrations to maintain the rule of law and raising fingers on their being complicit.

Tell me more: On Monday, three byelections are scheduled in Rajasthan: for the Lok Sabha seats of Alwar and Ajmer, and the assembly seat of Mandalgarh. The bypolls were necessitated by the death of the sitting MPs and MLA, all of them from the BJP.

 

5

What is it? The number of years for which Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav was sentenced to jail in a fodder scam case by a special CBI court in Ranchi on Wednesday. In addition, he has been fined Rs 5 lakh.

Why is it important? Of the total six cases relating to the fodder scam for which he is facing trial, Yadav has been convicted in the third one. This case relates to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 33.67 crore from Chaibasa (now, in Jharkhand) district treasury during 1992-93, when Yadav was the chief minister of Bihar. Yadav, who is currently serving time in Ranchi’s Birsa Munda jail after being pronounced guilty in the second fodder scam case, is unlikely to escape legal wrangles soon, as verdicts in the remaining cases are expected over the next few months.

Tell me more: Another former chief minister Jagannath Mishra has also been given the same punishment as Yadav in this case. A total of 50 accused in this case have been convicted and six are off the hook.

 

Rs 88,139 crore

What is it? The total amount the government said it will infuse in 20 public sector banks this fiscal, of which Rs 80,000 crore will be raised by the finance ministry through recapitalisation bonds and the rest provided as budgetary support.

Why is it important? This is the first tranche of the unprecedented two-year recapitalisation plan of Rs 2,11,000 crore the government had announced last October. The capital infusion would prop up public sector banks, which account for 87% of the banking system’s total bad loans as of September 30 (resulting in higher provisioning) and which also require additional capital to move towards the full implementation of Basel III norms. This is likely to spur lending and revive growth at a time when bad loans have reached record levels.

Tell me more: Public sector banks have raised Rs 10,312 crore so far this fiscal from sales of shares to external investors. This means the total recapitalisation will cross Rs 100,000 crore in 2017-18.

 

330

What is it? The total number of natural disaster events in 2017, according to a report by Aon Benfield. An event qualifies as a natural disaster in this study if it meets at least one of the defined set of criteria such as economic losses of at least $50 million, 10 fatalities, 50 injured people, an insured loss of $25 million, and 2,000 homes/structures damaged or claims filed.

Why is it important? This is 20% higher than the average of 275 recorded in the period of 2000-2016 and is the highest in seven years. The total economic losses due to natural disasters was $353 billion, the second-costliest year on record. 2017 also broke other records such as being the second-costliest year on record for natural-disaster insured losses, the costliest year ever for weather disasters and, thereby, also for insurers who provide protection against such catastrophes.

Tell me more: In 2017, nine of the 10 costliest insured loss events (including four that were severe weather-related) impacted the continental United States, which pulled out of the 2015 Paris climate accord last year. The region accounted for 51% and 63% of catastrophe losses and insured catastrophe losses, respectively, last year.

 

Rs 1286 crore

What is it? The loss declared by Idea Cellular, India’s third-largest telecom service provider, in the third quarter (October to December) of 2017-18.

Why is it important? This is Idea’s biggest-ever quarterly loss and its fifth consecutive one. The company, which is set to merge with Vodafone India to become India’s largest telecom company by subscribers, has been deeply affected by the price wars triggered by Reliance Jio, which has done in 16 months what Idea took 17 years to do. In the last quarter, the 57% cut in interconnection usage charge (IUC) by the telecom regulator also eroded Idea’s revenues by Rs 820 crore; overall, Idea’s revenues dropped 24% to Rs 6,551 crore.

Tell me more: Last week, Bharti Airtel, the fourth heavyweight in Indian telecom, declared its Q3 results, where it announced a 39% drop in net profit, showing the lingering effects of the Jio pressure.

 

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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.

 

3.58%

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%).

 

12

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.

 

0

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.

 

78%

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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News in Numbers, Mar 20, 2017: The Wall (not Trump’s)

$130,000

What is it? Minimum wage for a H1B visa holder, as proposed in High Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act, introduced by Congressperson Zoe Lofgren of California earlier this year.

Why is it important? It’s one of the visa reforms being sought by some United States politicians, concerned about foreign nationals taking away American jobs. This bill was expected to impact the way Indian IT companies operate. One of the first signs of change on ground is a decision reported to have taken by Infosys not to apply for H1B visas for junior staff.

Tell me more: The introduction of the bill is potentially acting as a catalyst for IT companies even as they tweak their operating models so they are less dependent on H1B visas (and human resources in general).

 

139 days

What is it? The number of days Manipur was under economic blockade.

Why is it important? United Naga Council, which had imposed the blockade on the north eastern state to protest against the creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam into full fledged districts, has called it off effective Sunday midnight.

Tell me more: It’s a win for the BJP-led coalition, which is awaiting a floor test in the State Assembly. In the recent elections, Indian National Congress emerged as the single largest party. BJP joined hands with smaller parties to claim the right to form the government.

 

47

What is it? The number of people who were sworn in as ministers in Uttar Pradesh government under chief minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and  Dinesh Sharma.

Why is it important? The focus of everyone’s attention was Yogi Adityanath himself, who is known for provocative and often divisive speeches, and controversial statements. His selection as the country’s largest state came as a surprise to many who thought of recent election results as a mandate for development.

Tell me more: The newly formed government has 21 ministers in cabinet rank. BJP won 312 of the 384 seats it contested (and of 403 available) in the recently held assembly elections. Samajwadi Party won 47 seats and Bahujan Samaj Party won 19.

 

~ 400 million

What is it? The number of customers that telecom players Vodafone and Idea will have as a merged group.

Why is it important? That would mean a 35% market share by number of users. While there were talks about Vodafone – Idea merger for some months now (especially after the launch of Reliance Jio), the companies acknowledged they were in talks last month, and formally announced it after Idea board approved the merger on Monday.  The merged entity will control over 40% of revenue market share, and a quarter of all the spectrum available in the country.

Tell me more: Vodafone will own 45.1%, and Idea promoters will own 26% in the new company.

 

525

What is it? The number of balls faced by Cheteshwar Pujara against Australian cricket team at Ranchi in the ongoing test series.

Why is it important? It is the longest innings ever played by an Indian, and beats Rahul Dravid’s record of 495 balls against Pakistan, in which Dravid scored 270 runs. Pujara scored 202. This is the third test in India – Australia series. The match ends on Monday.

Tell me more: The others in the top five list (of Indian players) who stayed longest on crease by number of balls faced) are Navjot Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar.

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News in Numbers: September 26. ISRO does it again..

 isro pslv

8

What is it? The number of satellites that were launched by Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV-C35 on Monday.

Why is it important? The satellites that flew on India’s workhorse rocket included three from India, three from Algeria, and one each from Canada and the US. The main payload is India’s weather satellite, SCATSAT-1. It can predict formation of cyclones four to five days in advance by studying the wind speed and direction.

Tell me more: PSLV released the weather satellite into a 730 km Polar orbit and will release the other seven into a lower orbit of 689 kms. So far, PSLV has launched 39 satellites for ISRO.

 

61

What is it? The number of countries that have ratified Paris Agreement so far. India will be the 62nd, when it ratifies the climate change agreement on October 2.

Why is it important? US and China, the two largest carbon emitters,ratified the agreement earlier this month. With India, the third largest, joining the list, the world is closer to combating climate change better. The agreement  aims to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degree celsius over pre industrial times.

Tell me more: It was widely expected that India would ratify the agreement this year. The agreement would come into force after countries that account for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it.

 

$ 6.5 billion

What is it? The amount venture capitalists invested in Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola since 2010

Why is it important? The rationale is that the homegrown players would become ‘the Amazon of India’ and ‘the Uber of India’, just as China created its own internet giants in Alibaba (e-commerce) and Didi (cab aggregation). However, the last several quarters saw Amazon and Uber stepping up their gas in India, and might themselves end up being Amazon and Uber of the country. If that happens and it could adversely impact the returns VCs are hoping to get from their investments, and their outlook for India.

Tell me more: Amazon is estimated to have exceeded Flipkart’s sales in July. Post the merger of Uber and Didi in China, Uber has increased its focus on India.

 

68%

What is it? Percentage of votes with the top three telecom companies in the GSM industry body, Cellular Operators Association of India, according to Reliance Jio, which became a member in July 2014.

Why is it important? In a letter to COAI, Reliance cited this figure to allege that the industry body was favoring the top three companies(Bharti, Vodafone and Idea). COAI, in turn, called Jio a “backdoor operator”, deepening fault lines within the telecom sector and the industry grouping.

Tell me more: Telecom is a frenemy sector. Besides competing against each other, operators depend on each other to provide network linkages to complete calls—a sore point currently—and to fill network gaps.

 

7

What is it? Number of golf majors won by American Arnold Palmer,who died Sunday night at the age of 87 years.

Why is it important? This ranks Palmer joint seventh among all players. All his seven wins came between 1958 and 1964, a period during which he competed against Jack Nicklaus (18 majors, ranked first) and Gary Player (9 majors, ranked joint fourth).

Tell me more: They were called the ‘The Big Three’ who made golf mainstream. And Palmer, the first TV star of golf, was nicknamed ‘The King’.

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