Less smoke in the kitchen


What is it? The new base rate of the State Bank of India (SBI) .

Why is it important? The largest Indian bank cut its base rate from the previous 9.25%. This would let earlier borrowers benefit from an easing of bank rates seen over the last few months. Borrowers who had taken out loans before April 1, 2016, were unable to benefit from cuts in the marginal cost-based lending rate (MCLR) (the new system of lending rate for customers) levied since then.

Tell me more: On January 1, 2017, SBI had cut its MCLR but it was not changed in yesterday’s cut.



What is it? The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in March.

Why is it important? The factory activity index rose for the third month, after contracting in December (as it had in December, 2015, as well). But the rate of expansion was the fastest in five months since October, 2016, with production and new orders growing.

Tell me more: It has helped that inflation rates eased since February. The private index, by Markit, recorded a rise in additional employment generated to cope with increasing orders in the pivotal sector.


$300 million

What is it? The deal value of the Ruias-led Essar Group’s sale of its BPO unit, Aegis, to Singapore-based private equity firm Capital Square Partners.

Why is it important? The move would help the group retire 2.2% of its debt. The group is in the middle of paring the large debt on its books, worth Rs 88,000 crore. Before Aegis was sold, the Essar Group had lined up two more businesses — its oil refinery arm (Essar Oil) and its steel business (Essar Steel) — but both missed their March targets of a stake sale.

Tell me more: The Aegis sale marks the group’s exit from business process outsourcing. The slated Essar Oil sale, of $12.9 billion, would be India’s largest FDI.


Rs 3.42 crore

What is it? Legal bill raised by lawyer Ram Jethmalani for his services to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal so far.

Why is it important? These costs will have to be borne by the Delhi government, and not by Arvind Kejriwal, according to a report. This has led to a furore. Arun Jaitley had sued Arvind Kejriwal defamation last year. Delhi government reasoned that Kejriwal made the statements that led to the suit in his capacity as a chief minister. However, some analysts point out he didn’t invoke Section 80 of civil procedure code, and therefore, it should be considered that he is fighting it in his personal capacity.

Tell me more: Ram Jethmalani, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country, had earlier said that he is charging just Re 1 from Kejriwal, because ‘his government itself is so poor.’


3.25 crore

What is it? The number of LPG connections released by oil marketing companies during FY 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is highest ever in a financial year. It includes over 2 crore connections given under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide LPG connections in rural areas, as a replacement for the unhealthy wood-based fire in the kitchens.

Tell me more: The numbers indicate the broader strategy of the government. Look for efficiency and cost savings in one section using Aadhaar and other policy initiatives (in this case LPG subsidies, which mostly went to well-to-do middle class households) and, at the same time, expand government services to more deserving sections.

Read More

News in numbers, Apr 1, 2016: Kolkata flyover mishap, prices of over 100 drugs capped…


What is it? The number of people killed due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Kolkata.

Why is it important? One of the biggest disasters due to a flyover crash, with people still trapped under debris. Highlights the need for safety in construction sector. Collapse of structures claimed 1,821 lives in 2014.

Tell me more: The number of injured is around 60-100, as per various media reports. The cause of the collapse is not known yet.


What is it? The number of drugs whose prices have been capped started today.

Why is it important? While prices for these drugs might not come down significantly, it will restrict how high it can go. The drugs include formulations to treat HIV/AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, bacterial infections, epilepsy and Hepatitis C.

Tell me more: A tablet of Atorvastatin (40 mg), a cardiovascular disease drug, would cost Rs 17.91 as against the earlier price of Rs 18.41. And, a tablet of Raltegravir (400 mg), used for HIV treatment, would cost Rs 139.25 as against Rs 143.13.

1 degree Celsius

What is it? The increase in average temperature above normal predicted for north west India this summer.

Why is it important? There is three fourth chance of maximum temperatures in the core heatwave zone, including Maharashtra’s drought-hit regions such as Marathwada and Vidarbha, to be above normal this summer.

Tell me more: This comes on the top of water crisis: the water levels in the 91 major reservoirs in India are 25% of the total capacity as against 36% a year ago and the 10-year average reserves’ level of 34%.


What is it? State Bank of India’s new benchmark interest rate, from 9.30% earlier.

Why is it important? It has switched over to a new method of pricing loans – from average cost of funds to marginal cost – to respond faster to policy changes. It remains to be seen if loan rates for new customers would fall, as banks would add credit risk premium of individual borrowers to MCLR to calculate the final loan rates.

Tell me more: Other banks such as HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda have announced their benchmarks for various loan tenures.

Rs 80,433.3 crore

What is it? Equity investments by domestic institutional investors in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This helped in narrowing equity market losses even as foreign investors consistently pulled out money from India.

Tell me more: Domestic investors turned net buyers of stocks last fiscal after being net sellers for six years. Nearly 80% of the net domestic inflows into mutual funds were invested in equities in 2015-16, the highest ever.

Read More