Towering inferno

$30 billion

What is it? The cost of setting up a joint refinery, by state-owned companies — Indian Oil (IOC), Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) — in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, as per the agreement signed on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The refinery will be India’s largest, with a capacity of 60 million-tonne. Costing around Rs 2 lakh-crore, it will boost the country’s oil export potential, besides readiness to tackle demand at home. Being considered since 2015, the project faced land acquisition hurdles in 2016.

Tell me more: There will be a mega petrochemical complex to accompany the refinery at the site.

 

 

1,800

What is it? The number of Infosys overseas employees who earn above Rs 1 crore.

Why is it important? Employees hired abroad tend to earn more. Infosys is expected to face pressure on its cost as it is slated to hire 10,000 in the US in the next two years. Around 700 of the 1800 high earning overseas employees were hired after Sikka took over in 2014.

Tell me more: The number of India based Infosys employees who earn more than Rs 1 crore has come down from 113117 in FY15 to around 50 in FY17.

 

 

520 million

What is it? The number of 4G subscribers in India by 2022, as forecast by the latest Ericsson Mobility Report.

Why is it important? In the recent months, 4G migration got a boost with huge discounts from Reliance Jio. It also forced other players to bring down price. The report forecasts 740 million subscribers for 3G by 2022. In 2016, an April report by CLSA had put the combined subscription of 3G and 4G services at 120 million.

Tell me more: There are 1.17 billion wireless subscribers (April,  2017), which include increasingly unpopular technologies such as 2G and CDMA.

 

 

12

What is it? The number of people confirmed dead in the inferno in Central London on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The 24-story Grenfell Tower apartment block, was built in 1974 but was recently refurbished, and the fire spread through it at an unprecedented speed. Despite the presence of hundreds of firefighters, the fire could not be contained to evacuate everyone trapped in the tower. The disaster has called into question fire safety in high-rises, increasingly common in cities around the world. India has constantly been reminded of the shortfall in fire-preparedness of its high-rises, most recently by a CAG report on Maharashtra.

Tell me more: The tower block was home to 600 people, and the fire is being considered one of London’s deadliest.

 

 

2.17%

What is it? The rise in India’s wholesale price index in May, 2017.

Why is it important? This is the slowest growth in the last five months. The trend was also seen in consumer price inflation at 2.18%. It was driven down by falling food prices, as wholesale vegetable price index fell by 18.51% in May.

Tell me more: The low growth in inflation has led businesses to call for rate cuts.

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A fund to beat them all

2%

What is it? The estimated drop in inflation once the goods and services tax (GST) is implemented.

Why is it important? Inflation concerns have been central to RBI’s monetary policy reviews, having set the target in 2015 of reducing the headline inflation to 4% in the medium term. The Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia’s estimated of GST’s effect on inflation could finally encourage the central bank to cut the key rate (repo) that it had been keeping unchanged citing the risk of raising inflation.

Tell me more: Adhia insists the government has taken care to prevent the average taxation on commodities from going up. Regarding GST implementation, Adhia mentions the need to educate consumers about the new taxation to keep them from being cheated by unscrupulous traders.

 

$93 billion

What is it? The value of the initial commitment to SoftBank’s Vision fund, a private equity fund for cutting-edge tech companies.

Why is it important? The Vision Fund, engineered by SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, is the world’s largest private equity fund that has a planned investment pool of $100 billion as tech venture capital. The current amount, raised from investors such as the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment, Apple Inc, Qualcomm, Foxconn Technology and Sharp Corp, besides SoftBank, is the first round of fundraising.

Tell me more: The fund is targeting a $100 billion in the next six months from other investors. SoftBank led the world’s largest venture capital funding in April worth $5.5 billion in China’s Uber-rival Didi Chuxing.

 

Rs 20,000 crore

What is it? The amount Indian government will spend to acquire four landing platform docks (LPDs) or warfare amphibious ships under the ‘Make in India’ program.

Why is it important? This is the largest naval defence deal. Two ships would be made in partnership with private companies, and the winning private company will help the state-run Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. make the remaining two.

Tell me more: Make in India is a government program to promote domestic manufacturing in 25 sectors including defence.

 

11.3%

What is it? Percentage of total budgeted amount spent in April 2017 – the first month of the current financial year.

Why is it important? This represents a marked improvement compared to 8.2% of annual spending estimates in previous financial year. Central government spending used to spike in March, the last month of a fiscal, and drops sharply in the next month.

Tell me more: The move to advance the budget from February 28th to February 1st has helped to spread out expenditure evenly.

 

600

What is it? The number of jobs cut by Cathay Pacific, the biggest in two decades.

Why is it important? The move comes after the Hong Kong based airline reported loss in 2016 for the first time since 2008. One-fourth of managerial staff and 18% of non-managerial positions were cut at its Hong Kong head office. The move will save 6% of staff costs.

Tell me more: Air India, India’s national carrier which operates on 64 international and 118 national routes, is struggling to make profits with debt of Rs 50,357 crore and 21,000 employees.

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Less cashless?

449

What is it? The number of times Pakistan violated ceasefire across the Line of Control in 2016, according to India’s Home Ministry.

Why is it important? It’s up from 405 violations in 2015, indicating that on average Pakistan has been violating ceasefire at least once everyday in the last two years. Last week, Pakistani forces crossed the LoC in Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir to kill two Indian soldiers and mutilate their bodies.

Tell me more: 236 security personnel were killed between 2012 and 2016, 23 of them in the last two years, according to a response by Home Ministry to a Right to information query.

 

4%

What is it? The target inflation rate – within a tolerated band of 2-6% – for Reserve Bank of India, according to RBI Act.

Why is it important? RBI governor Urjit Patel is reportedly taking a hawkish stand and keep the inflation below 4%, rather than be flexible with the band. It’s in conflict with the expectations of market players, who believe targeting a rate within the band (closer to 6% rather than 4%) could help push growth.

Tell me more: Retail inflation stood at 3.81% in March, but water shortages in many parts of the country could push inflation rate higher in the coming months.

 

Rs 2259 billion

What is it? The amount of cash withdrawn from ATMs in March.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the cash withdrawn in March last year, and raises questions about one of the stated goals of demonetisation – reduce India’s reliance on cash – announced in November last year. However, some part of cash withdrawals could be because of the pent-up demand (the limits on cash withdrawals were removed only on March 13th), and not be an indicator of a long term trend.

Tell me more: Demonetisation, which sucked out 86% of cash in circulation, has impacted GDP growth adversely, especially informal sector which is more dependent on cash.

 

66%

What is it? The percentage of votes won by Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential elections

Why is it important? The French elections were keenly watched from across the world because it is seen as a bigger ideological fight between the far right and centrists. Brexit (the referendum that voted for UK to leave European Union) and election of Donald Trump were seen as a victory for the far-right, raising concerns that the world is getting too nationalistic. However, with the electoral loss of the far-right right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the fears appear to be abating.

Tell me more: At 39, Macron is the youngest ever French president. An ex-banker, he is pro-business and pro-European Union, and his victory has strengthened Euro against the dollar.

 

2 hours 25 seconds

What is it? The time Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge took to complete Breaking2 marathon at the Monza Formula One racetrack in Italy on Saturday.

Why is it important? Kipchoge was aiming for a two-hour marathon, which in the running world, occupies the same place that four minute mile did once upon a time. (It was broken by Roger Bannister on May 6, 1954.) While Kipchoge failed to make it by just 26 seconds, he still set a new standard for marathon, running faster than the present record holder Dennis Kimetto who ran 26.2 miles in2:02:57.

Tell me more: However, the attempt, sponsored by shoemaker Nike, will not go down as official world record because of the use of pacers and mopeds to give drinks to runners. Kipchoge and his fellow runners ran in Nike’s new, controversial Vaporfly Elite shoes.

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Bezos, Amazon and Blue Origin

6%

What is it? The new, increased reverse repo rate fixed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday.

Why is it important? This was a surprise move as the RBI was expected to keep rates unchanged at the review. Even though the key rate of repo (the rate at which the central bank lends to banks against government securities) was not changed, the tinkering of the reverse repo by 25 basis points would still affect liquidity. This would incentivise banks to deposit more with the RBI as they would earn higher interest income from such deposits.

Tell me more: This points to the RBI’ concern of an increase in inflation.

 

$1 billion

What is it? The worth of Amazon.com’s stock that founder Jeff Bezos sells annually to fund his other project — the private space rocket company, Blue Origin.

Why is it important? The funding comes from Bezos’ personal stock-holding in Amazon, which made him the second-richest person in the world late last month. Bezos has a networth of $77.3 billion, largely due to his stock-holding. While in 2015, he held 83.43 million shares of the company, it has reduced through stake sale through the years to 81.91 million in 2016 and at 80.89 million shares in 2017. With the funding, Blue Origin is inching closer to the goal of launching passenger space trips, lasting 11 minutes from 2018.

Tell me more: Blue Origin, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is working on reusable rockets for affordable space flights.

 

5.7%

What is it? The growth forecast rate for 2017 of ‘developing Asia’, comprising 45 countries who are members of the Asian Development Bank.

Why is it important? This year and the next would see the slowest growth at 5.7% since 5% growth in 2001. The Asian Development Bank kept its forecast muted as China’s economic indicators  could get revised downwards and uncertainty in global policies take root.

Tell me more: The region had grown at 5.8% in 2016. While China is forecast to clock 6.5% in 2017, less than 6.7% in 2016, India is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2017, higher than 7.1% in 2016.

 

$2 billion

What is it? The value of defence deals signed between India and Israel on Thursday.

Why is it important? This is for the supply of advanced medium range surface-to-air missile systems. The technology was developed by by Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, along with a few other players, signalling the strengthening relationship between India and Israel..

Tell me more: This comes three months ahead of Modi’s visit to Israel. Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the country, and marks a change in India’s diplomatic relationship with the state.

 

$8.4 million

What is it? Grants to four Indian non-profits from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm.

Why is it important? The grants will help these organisations – Learning Equality, Million Sparks Foundation, Pratham Books StoryWeaver and Pratham Education Foundation – develop technology-based learning solutions. As India struggles to raise the standards of its school education, tech-based solutions could help in the process. Annual Status of Education Reports have painted a dismal picture of education outcomes.

Tell me more: The projects include a technology platform for translating books, hybrid learning programmes, digital content platforms and offline digital content for students.

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