airIndia

Zero Takers

0

What is it? The number of investors interested in buying a stake in Air India.

Why is it important? The government’s plan to sell 76% in the national carrier did not attract any bidders as on Thursday, the deadline for showing initial interest, in the world’s fastest growing aviation market. This is a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to dispose off the loss-making entity. The government may look to raise Rs 1 lakh crore in 2018-19 by the sale of state assets of which Air India was supposed to be a significant contributor.

Tell me more: The government, which had eased some terms and extended the deadline to receive bids, is now thinking of changing the terms of the sale.

7.7%

What is it? The GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of the Indian economy in the January-March quarter of 2017-18.

Why is it important? The growth, which beat analysts’ estimates, has helped India to retain the tag of the fastest growing economy in the world. It has surpassed China’s growth of 6.8% in the three months ended March and is the quickest pace in nearly two years. However, it remains to be seen if India can sustain the momentum of growth given the risks of surging oil prices and the resultant threat of higher inflation, in addition to a slump in currency, bad loans and bank frauds.

Tell me more:In the previous quarter, the Indian GDP growth was a revised 7% and in 2017-18, it expanded at 6.7%, the slowest since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office.

15

What is it? The number of seats– four Lok Sabha and 11 assembly – for which by-polls were held across 10 states recently, the results of which were declared on Thursday.

Why is it important? BJP managed to win just one of each (Parliamentary and assembly). Among the losses, the Kairana Lok Sabha election seems significant as the opposition parties were able to unite and defeat BJP, a strategy that they are looking to emulate in the 2019 General Elections. Winning in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, is vital for BJP to retain power in the upcoming elections. In 2014, it won 71 of the 80 seats, which is crucial for its majority status in the Lower House.

Tell me more: Tabassum Hasan, who won the Kairana seat, became the first muslim representative to enter Lok Sabha from Uttar Pradesh since 2014. BJP, which won 70 out of 80 seats in 2014, did not field any muslim candidates, though Muslims account for 18.5% of the state population as per Census 2011 data.

Rs5,91,663 crore

What is it? India’s fiscal deficit for financial year ended March 2018.

Why is it important?The government was able to meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP, as there were fears of further slippage in containing fiscal deficit. Arun Jaitley, while presenting the Budget last year, had projected a fiscal deficit of 3.2% in 2017-18. Higher deficit would mean extra market borrowings, which in turn, has the potential to increase cost of funds for other borrowers.

Tell me more:Introduction of Goods and Service Tax (GST) was cited as one of the reasons for slippage of deficit target to 3.5%. Under GST, tax payers can remit the tax by 20th of the following month. So tax collected in March would be collected by April 20th. Government follows cash accounting system, so this receipt in the following month couldn’t be recorded in March 2018.

10.7%

What is it?The growth of non-food credit in April 2018, as compared to 4.5% in same month last year.

Why is it important?Higher non-food credit is an indicator of economic growth, as firms anticipating higher demand would borrow to increase capacity or individuals feeling confident of their future earnings. Lending to services sector and personal loans grew by 20.7% and 19.1% respectively, while credit flow to industry increased only by 1%.

Tell me more:Higher credit growth is not met by higher deposit growth, which has plateaued after huge inflows during demonetisation. State Bank of India increased deposit rate on tenure between 1 and 2 years by 25 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point) to attract more deposits.

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A hardworking House? 😓🏦✒

3.81

What is it? The consumer price inflation (CPI) in March, 2017.

Why is it important? CPI or retail inflation grew fastest in five months, since October. This is in line with RBI’s concern about rising inflation, leading it to hold rates in successive policy reviews. It even raised its rate of borrowing from banks — reverse repo — to constrict liquidity, in the latest review. RBI expects inflation to reach 4.5% in the first half of FY17 and 5% thereafter.

Tell me more: The CPI, often affected by food price inflation, suffered from higher fuel prices, instead in March. Food price inflation (CFPI) was actually less than than in February, at 1.93%.

 

94.9%

What is it? The operating ratio of Indian Railways (IR) in 2016-17.

Why is it important? The ratio is higher than previous years, denoting high expenditure by IR to earn revenue. For every rupee, IR spent 94.9 paise. While the ideal benchmark of 80% or lower is still a distant goal, the ratio was 90.2% in 2012-13.

Tell me more: The increasing operating ratio coupled with low revenue growth in freight, seen in 2015-16, which accounts for the bulk (3/5th) of rail revenue, could strain the highest-ever budgetary allocation. There are certain steps for profitability which IR said it’s taking.

 

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The value of the stock of BS-III vehicles which remain unsold, following the Supreme Court’s ban.

Why is it important? It is the value of around 120,000 vehicles, representing 15% of the original stock of BS-III vehicles when the ban was declared. Two-wheeler manufacturers took a hit of Rs 1,200 crore in order to sell their heavily-discounted stock. The scramble to sell got more frenzied as Supreme Court, on March 30, extended the ban to not just stalling  BS-III vehicle manufacturing but also sales from April 1.

Tell me more: The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers says the uncertainty created in the auto sector, as a result of eight-month ban in Delhi on diesel cars and SUVs last year and the present blanket ban on sale of existing stock of BS-III vehicles could affect investments.

 

114%

What is it? Productivity of Lok Sabha during Budget Session 2017, which started on January 31 and ended on April 12..

Why is it important? It is one of the most productive sessions, and also one of the most contentious. Lok Sabha passed 23 bills, Rajya Sabha 14 and both 18. Some far-reaching legislations — including changes in the political funding by companies, and linking of Aadhaar to PAN cards — were passed as Money Bills, on which Rajya Sabha has only the power to suggest changes, but not stall their passage.

Tell me more: Four bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST) were passed during the session.

 

7 to 10 days

What is it? The likely duration of the Election Commission’s open challenge to hack Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Why is it important? This comes amidst accusations by political parties, especially Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, that EVMs were hacked in favour of the BJP. The Election Commission and its officials, past and present, have vehemently denied it. A widely shared newsitem on tampered EVMs in Madhya Pradesh was found to be false. Now, EC has issued an open challenge to experts, scientists and technologists to try and hack the machines.

Tell me more: In 2010, BBC had a report saying US scientists claimed to have developed a technique to tamper with the machines. “It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine,” the Indian Election Commissioner had told BBC then.

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News in Numbers, Mar 30, 2017: Bills and losses

14 paise/minute

What is it? The least possible retail price for calls according to leading mobile players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Why is it important? Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the claim. This puts a spanner in the works of embattled telecom players. They had rallied around to protest call charges lower than the interconnect charge of 14 paise a minute. This is paid by the operator on whose network a call originates to the recipient network operator. At the centre of the storm is Reliance Jio, whose pricing is being termed as predatory as its ‘free’ consumer offers involves paying other networks the interconnect charge. It has ardently lobbied for dropping of even the interconnect charges to be able to price its products even lower. But it would hit the income of other networks for connecting Jio’s calls.

Tell me more: Trai will present its argument of rejecting interconnect charges as the minimum retail price to the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal this week.

 

213 megawatts

What is it? India’s net exported power in April-February, 2017, turning it into a net exporter for the first time since exports began the mid-80s.

Why is it important? Even as states like Bihar continue to reel from scarce power supply, India turns net exporter, after commissioning new power lines through parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. It exported 5,798 megawatts to Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar, and imported 5,585 megawatts from Bhutan.

Tell me more: India started exporting electricity in the mid-80s but remained a net importer so far. More cross-border linkages with higher voltage will raise the quantity.

 

4

What is it? The number of money bills, part the last GST-related statutes batch, passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, during the ongoing budget session of the Parliament.

Why is it important? The seminal tax reform, Goods and Services Tax, could now see the light of day as early as July 1, across India. GST will create a uniform indirect tax structure and making the states and Centre equal stakeholders in it through the GST council. With the last four bills — central GST bill, the integrated GST bill, the Union Territory GST bill, and the GST (compensation to states) bill — passed by the lower house, the Rajya Sabha has 14 days to make recommendations only on the laws (money bills).

Tell me more: Between April and May, the GST council will have to categorise goods and services in the four taxation slabs for GST — 5%, 12%, 28% and 28%.

 

5

What is it? The number of amendments with which the finance bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.

Why is it important? The amendments included those relating to additional powers to income tax officials and political funding by companies. These moves by the government were not only criticised for giving too much power to tax officials and reducing transparency, they were also criticised for using Finance Bill to pass far reaching reforms. Rajya Sabha has limited power over Money Bill, it can suggest changes, but Lok Sabha need not accept them. BJP has a majority in Lok Sabha.

Tell me more: Three amendments were moved by Digvijaya Singh of Congress and the remaining two by Sitaram Yechury of CPI(M)

 

Rs 12,000 crore

What is it? The projected loss to automobile sector, including manufacturers and dealers, if the sale of BS-III (those complying to Bharat Stage 3 emission norms) vehicles are stopped from April.

Why is it important? Supreme court banned the sales of all the BS-III vehicles effective April, saying emissions from these vehicles impact the health. Manufacturers still have 8.24 vehicles that comply to BS-III norms, and junking them would result in the losses. However, the Supreme Court said the deadline was set 6 years ago, and the industry was given enough time to prepare for the transition. The vehicles in stock include 96,724 commercial vehicles, 6,71,308 two-wheelers, 40,048 three-wheelers and 16,198 cars. They are now rushing to clear these inventories now.

Tell me more: BS III corresponds to Euro III norms. BS IV – corresponding to Euro IV – is slated to be imposed from April 1st 2017, and BS VI, with even higher standards is expected to come into force by 2020.

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News in Numbers, Aug 11, 2016: Online census of MSMEs, maternity leave likely to increase…

October 2015: China’s Didi Chuxing invested in Ola.

August 1, 2016: Didi Chuxing buys Uber’s China unit.

Today: Uber indirectly owns Ola, which is trying to raise funds to compete with it in India!

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The confusion doesn’t end here. Do read on to know more about the quandary Ola is in. What do you think Ola should do? Do write to us.

259,685

What is it? The number of passenger vehicles sold in July, an increase of 16.78% from the corresponding month last year.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace of growth since October 2015, fuelled by new launches in the utility vehicle segment, the upbeat sentiment due to monsoon rains boosting farm output and the rollout of the Seventh Pay Commission payout. Utility vehicle sales increased by 41.85% to 64,105 units compared to 45,191 units in the same month last year.

Tell me more: Passenger car sales increased by 9.62% to 177,604 units in July from 162,022 units in the same month a year ago, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).

 

Rs 1 crore

What is it? The cost of conducting a census of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The databank would be launched today.

Why is it important? This is the first time the census of MSMEs is being carried out online, thereby saving money as the previous offline census conducted in 2008 cost Rs 50 crore. This would help the government plan development activities and incentive programmes for MSMEs in a better way. Besides, the government would launch six online finance facilitation centres today that would provide collective financing options for MSMEs. Inadequate and delayed credit is one of the main reasons for the increase in the number of sick MSMEs from 2.2 lakh in March 2013 to 4.74 lakh by March 2015.

Tell me more: MSMEs account for around a third of the manufacturing output in India. There are 47.89 lakh such firms in India as of July 18, 2016.

 

26 weeks

What is it? The proposed length of maternity leave in India, per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, that the cabinet approved on Wednesday.

Why is it important? It’s 12 weeks at present. The bill also proposed 12 weeks maternity leave for women who go for adoption or surrogacy. Legislations such as these might increase increase women participation in the labour force, which is low at 22.5% at present.

Tell me more: The government is looking to pass this bill in the current session of the Parliament, which concludes tomorrow. The amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, include facilitation of working from home and mandatory provision of a creche in firms having 50 or more employees.

 

100

What is it? The number of overtime work hours in factories in a quarter, doubled from 50, as per the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Under special circumstances, this can be increased to 125 hours through a special notification. This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Why is it important? Despite opposition from some members of Parliament (MPs) and trade unions from different parties, the government passed the bill on the grounds that it would help cover up the shortage in labour, especially technical, and that it is less than the upper limit of 144 hours recommended by the International Labour Organization. Some of the reasons for the Opposition MPs protesting against the bill include: it would affect fresh recruitments and employment generation and the need to pass this bill when the more “comprehensive” Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which supposedly benefits the workers and provides for safety measures, was pending.

Tell me more: The bill will now be introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Itwas not tabled with the detailed amendments in the Lower House on Wednesday, which were introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2014 and then, referred to the Standing Committee. According to Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, the bill with amendments to only two clauses was introduced to facilitate ease of doing business.

 

Rs 64 crore

What is it? Didi Chuxing’s investment in Ola last October.

Why is it important? Didi Chuxing may have violated the shareholder agreement it signed with Ola by its recent acquisition of Uber’s operations in China. Earlier, Didi Chuxing signed a non-compete agreement with Ola, which states that it must not engage with any firm that competes with Ola as long as it holds shares in the firm or for a period of two years after it sells its shares in it. With Uber indirectly owning a part of Ola, it remains to be seen what Ola and Didi Chuxing decide to do.

Tell me more: This is the first time that a startup has faced such a conundrum: not only does it have to share its financial information with Didi Chuxing but this situation may also hamper its ongoing fundraising efforts. On top of it, three of Ola’s four largest investors have invested in Uber too.

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