The Infra Play

$124 billion

What is it? The amount pledged by Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s Silk Road plan or ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI).

Why is it important? India boycotted China’s forum for the initiative last weekend. The forum where the investment was declared saw India’s neighbours such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka participate. India has an issue with the new Silk Road plan as China is approaching connectivity projects in various parts of South Asia without taking it in confidence.

Tell me more: Recent data, however, shows, China’s investment in the BRI to have gone down by 2% in 2016 and 18% in 2017 so far.

Rs 11,725 crore

What is it? The amount to be spent on roads to connect 44 Naxal-affected districts.

Why is it important? The connectivity of Naxal-stricken areas was again under the scanner following the recent attack in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, which was one of the deadliest, killing over 24 security personnel in an ambush attack. The battalion under attack was providing cover for road construction. Rs 55 crore or 5% of the expenditure would be for administrative purposes which includes deployment of security forces.

Tell me more: The states besides Chhattisgarh are Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra. The project will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

>150

What is it? The number of countries which were hit by a cyber attack that affected 200,000 computers.

Why is it important? Car factories, hospitals, shops, schools were affected among others by the widespread computer worm, ‘WannaCry’ last weekend. A type of ransomware, the virus could cause more damage as offices open on Monday. It locks users out of their computers and demands a ransom to be paid for restoring access to files. Microsoft has squarely laid the blame at governments’ door for the creation of such threats.

Tell me more: The software giant whose operating system the virus exploits, blamed the governments for not sharing software weak spots that they know as part of their intelligence gathering but are kept secret. The virus was the result of one US National Security Agency’s hacking tools getting leaked online earlier this year.

9.15 km

What is it? Length of Dhola-Sadiya bridge over the Brahmaputra river in Assam.

Why is it important? India’s longest bridge. It is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26th. It will improve connectivity in the region, help India strengthen its defence in the border (the bridge is situated close to Indo-China border and can withstand the weight of a 60-tonne battle tank and act as a counter to China’s infrastructure geo-politics.

Tell me more: The construction of the bridge started in 2011, at a project cost of Rs 950 crore. It’s lengthier than Bombay Worli Sea Link by 3.5 kms.

50,000

What is it? The number of candidates who stood for elections in 283 local municipalities in Nepal.

Why is it important? This is the first time in 20 years that Nepal held its local body elections, and its first major step since adopting a democratic constitution in 2015.

Tell me more: The elections saw 71% turnout. There was sporadic violence, and one person lost life in police firing.

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News in Numbers, Feb 16, 2017: 💸 Investment bankers get an idea

$9,840.91 million

What is it? The trade deficit in January, 2017.

Why is it important? The trade deficit, or the difference in value of exports and imports, shrank to its lowest in four months. It was brought about by growth in exports for the fifth straight month, buoyed by petroleum products and engineering goods. The shrinking trade deficit also showed the impact of decreasing gold imports which shrank by 30%.

Tell me more: Demand in US, Europe and Japan led to the 4.32% increase in exports.

 

3

What is it? The number of Taiwanese parliamentarians in the delegation that visited India this week

Why is it important? It drew a diplomatic protest from China which objected to India hosting anyone from self-ruled Taiwan. China blocks Taiwan’s right to diplomatic relations with others as it considers it to be one of its own provinces. It also resists attempts of other countries with ties to it from acknowledging official institutions of Taiwan, encouraging, instead, the ‘one China’ principle. The complaint marks another entry in the uneasy Indo-China relations, plagued by border disputes and conflicting stands on the fight against terrorism.

Tell me more: India has termed the visit as informal and nothing unusual, for purposes of business, religion and tourism.

 

$40 million

What is it? The estimated fee for investment banks advising on the Vodafone India and Idea Cellular merger.

Why is it important? A deal that would create India’s largest telecom operator with around Rs 78,000 crore ($12 billion) sales would generate almost 10% of last year’s total investment fees earned by investment banks in India. Hence, quite a few banks are vying for a slice of the pie.

Tell me more: Banks in the fray reportedly include BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS, Standard Chartered and Rothschild, while Morgan Stanley has already been appointed.

 

Rs 37 trillion

What is it? Asset base of State Bank of India (SBI) post merger with five of its subsidiaries.

Why is it important? The cabinet approved the merger on Wednesday. State Bank of India is already the largest bank in the country, and the merger will push the bank into the top global 50 list in terms of assets (It’s at number 52 now). The merger is also expected to create operational efficiency, saving the bank Rs 10 billion in the first year.

Tell me more: The banks to be merged with SBI are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore , State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore. All put together, SBI will have 22,500 branches, 58,000 ATMs and over 50 crore customers.

 

$300 million

What is it? The amount Yahoo and Verizon have reportedly decided to lop off from the $4.8 billion acquisition deal

Why is it important? The reduction in the value comes after Yahoo disclosed two security breaches in the second half of 2016. The hack had compromised millions of Yahoo Users, and occurred in 2013 and 2014. The disclosure came after Verizon agreed to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion in July 2016 – and raised concerns about digital security, and the responsibility of tech firms that handle user data when a breach happens to various stakeholders including users and investors.

Tell me more: The first breach, in August 2013, affected over a billion accounts, and the second, in late 2014, affected over 500 million accounts.

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