ReVISAble process? 🗽

$5.4 billion

What is it? The value of the stake in seven publicly-held companies that government plans to sell this fiscal.

Why is it important? The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has sought bids to manage the sales, as part of the disinvestment programme of the central government. Through strategic stake sale in publicly-held companies and minority stake sale in private companies, the government plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore ($11.26 billion) this year. It would help plug the 3.2% fiscal deficit of GDP for the year.

Tell me more: The companies include large entities such as Indian Oil, NTPC and Steel Authority of India. The initial disinvestment target is seldom met, with the central government often revising it lower through a fiscal. Last year, it managed to earn Rs 46,247 crore through disinvestment.

 

Rs 15 lakh

What is it? The penalty Air India proposes to levy on unruly passengers delaying flights for over two hours.

Why is it important? The national carrier, tasked with transporting government employees and ministers, has had a spate of such incidents, the latest ones involving parliamentarians. Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad and Trinamool Congress’ Dola Sen held up flights and misbehaved with the staff. Depending on the delay caused by unruly passengers, the fine would get levied: Delays upto an hour would attract Rs 5 lakh, between one and two hours Rs 10 lakh and beyond two hours Rs 15 lakh.

Tell me more: The proposal also has advice on tackling such situations which include an immediate filing of police complaint.

 

199,000

What is it? The number of H1B visa applications filed by employers for 2018 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Why is it important? This is the first time the total number of applications fell. Even though it is over two times the available visa quota of 85,000, the number of applications dwindled compared to last year and earlier. Last year, there were 236,000 applications filed by employers. It shows their apprehensions about the H1B visa programme, meant for hiring highly-skilled workers from out of US, after the Trump administration proposed restrictions.

Tell me more: The Indian IT majors have spoken of looking at more local hiring than sending Indian employees to client sites.

 

Rs 39,000 crore

What is it? The declared value of Sahara’s Aamby Valley property

Why is it important? The Supreme Court has now ordered to sell the property, spread over 10,000 acres, because Sahara failed to deposit Rs 5000 crore as required by the court’s earlier order. Sahara Group, through two firms, had raised Rs 24,029 crore from investors in 2009-10, flouting public issue norms. Market regulator Sebi asked Sahara to return the money to investors in 2010. It has paid about Rs 11,000 crore so far. Pending amount is Rs 14,779 crore.

Tell me more:  In February, the court had attached Aamby Valley, on concerns that Sahara is dragging its feet to return the money. Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who was arrested in 2014 over the case, is at present out on a bail.

 

$7.8 million

What is it? The fine amount Google will pay to settle an antitrust case related to Android operating system in Russia

Why is it important? The case indicates the dominance of the search engine giant, which in some ways mirrors the dominance of Microsoft’s operating system in the computer market and the antitrust case it triggered over 15 years ago. Google has also agreed to remove restrictions on pre-installed applications on Android platform. It could potentially become the norm in other markets too.

Tell me more: This is the culmination of a two year old legal battlethat started with a complaint by Yandex, Russia based search engine that said Google is using its dominant position in the market to stifle competition through restrictions on pre-installed apps that come with the phone.

Read More

News in Numbers, Nov 25, 2016: Tell me before I ask…

56

What is it? The number of people who have been allegedly murdered (51) and committed suicide (5) among those who sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act since it was introduced in 2005, according to data compiled by an NGO.

Why is it important? This points to the fact that the Act in its current form does not have any provisions to ensure safety of those who seek information using this law. Also, this highlights that one of the provisions of this Act under Section 4(2), which requires the authorities to voluntarily disclose information so that the public need not go seeking for it, is not followed effectively. There have been 311 instances of attacks or harassment of people who have asked for information under this Act. Maharashtra and Gujarat top the list in terms of alleged murders and suicides in this case.

Tell me more: The information commissioners could be empowered to work with other authorities such as the police, courts and human rights commissions to protect RTI users from any harm, as per a suggestion by Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator at CHRI. The organisation has put together this data for the period between October 12, 2005 and October 17, 2016. As many as 17.5 million RTI applications have been filed in these 11 years.

 

68.86

What is it? The level to which the Indian rupee fell against the US dollar on Thursday in intraday trade.

Why is it important? This was a record low and it closed at 68.75 a dollar, the lowest since August 2013 when India was caught in its worst currency crisis in over two decades. The US dollar seems to be attractive on the hopes that President-elect Donald Trump will go for an expansionary fiscal policy that would lead to higher inflation and interest rates. Though the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) intervened in the market to prop up the rupee, analyst reports suggest that it may be preserving forex reserves and use it prudently in the backdrop of global investors’ aversion to risks and higher chances of a rate hike in the US.

Tell me more: The Indian rupee was not alone in its fall. The currencies of other emerging markets also took a hit such as the Philippines peso fell to a nearly eight-year low while the Turkish lira touched its lowest on Thursday.

 

Rs 1.28 lakh crore

What is it? The estimated cost of implementing the withdrawal of old currency notes (of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000) and replace them with new ones is Rs 1.28 lakh crore, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

Why is it important? This would be about 25.6-32% of the total unaccounted cash that the government hopes to collect Rs 4-5 lakh crore (as reportedly conveyed by it to the Supreme Court). The move by the government has attracted both praise and criticism and this is one way to determine if the cost and effort was worth the exercise. The enterprise sector is estimated to lose Rs 61,500 crore or about half the total estimated transaction cost.

Tell me more: Banks are estimated to bear a cost of Rs 31,140 crore during the 50-day window period until December 30 while the cost to households would be Rs 15,000 crore (to stand in queues to exchange old notes with new ones). The government and the RBI are estimated to bear a cost of Rs 16,800 crore.

 

60%

What is it? The tax to be reportedly levied on unaccounted deposits in banks above a certain limit, as decided at a meeting of the Union Cabinet on Thursday night.

Why is it important? This would require amendments to the Income Tax Act, 1961, which the government plans to bring in during the current session of the Parliament, according to sources. The tax rate is likely to be higher than the 45% tax and penalty charged on the unaccounted wealth declared under the one-time Income Declaration Scheme that closed on September 30. However, this rate is lesser than the tax plus 200% penalty that the government had earlier said it would levy on the deposited cash if it doesn’t match the person’s income tax returns.

Tell me more: The government announced on Thursday that over-the-counter exchange of the denotified notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 at banks and post offices will not be allowed from today and that one may only deposit the old notes at banks.

 

$4.4 million

What is it? The amount Jill Stein, the Green Party’s Presidential candidate in the US elections, has raised so far from a crowdfunding effort to initiate recounts in three states – Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Why is it important? President-elect Donald Trump won in these states by a narrow margin – 0.3% in Michigan, 1.2% in Pennsylvania and 0.7% in Wisconsin and there have been reports that results in these states may have been manipulated or hacked. These three states account for 46 electoral votes and if on recount, the results are overturned, then Democratic Party Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton can emerge victorious. Trump got 290 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 232 on last count.

Tell me more: The amount raised by Stein so far roughly covers the filing fees ($2.2 million) and attorney’s fees of another $2-3 million. Including the cost of the statewide recount observers, the total costs are likely to come up to $6-7 million. Stein’s crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $4.5 million for the recounting process.

 

Read More

News in Numbers, Oct 24, 2016: The power of Five

Ink_marking_after_Vote_(India)

This February is likely to see a lot of action: the Union Budget is expected to be announced and five states likely to go for polls. The situation in each of the five states seems interesting: in Punjab, the ruling BJP-SAD alliance is looking to retain power even as Congress and new entrant AAP are looking to dethrone the alliance after two successive terms. Goa has a similar situation: BJP wanting to be back in power and up against the same two parties. In Uttarakhand, the Congress, which reclaimed power after a brief President’s rule, is all set to battle it out with the BJP. In Manipur, BJP is looking to strengthen its northeastern presence while the Congress is trying to hold on to its authority. The battle in Uttar Pradesh is getting more and more interesting by the day: the BJP is trying to re-create the magic it weaved during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (it won 71 of the 80 seats), SP is dealing with its own set of problems while BSP is trying to get the better of both. Here’s to interesting times ahead.

 

 

5

What is it? The number of states – Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Punjab – likely to go on polls simultaneously in February-March.

Why is it important? The results in the five states would be an indicator of BJP’s popularity (which swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections) and how people perceive its performance at the Centre whereas for the Congress, it would be a way to gauge if the party can see a revival as just 6% of India’s population live in Congress-ruled states – the lowest since Independence. For Aam Aadmi Party, it would indicate the progress it has made outside Delhi even as it nurtures ambitions to grow into a national party.

Tell me more: The Indian government has reportedly approached the Election Commission to seek its permission to present the General Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 1 in order to avoid violating themodel code of conduct that would kick in from the day the election schedule is announced until the results are declared.

 

Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh crore

What is it? The quantum of stressed assets Indian banks are reportedly looking to recover in the next few months.

Why is it important? After having identified the extent of bad loans and having provided capital for them, banks are now progressing to the next step of recovery. Last week, Essar Group sold 98% stake in its oil unit and other assets (largest debt reduction exercise by an Indian business) and three banks – ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and StanChart – got back an estimated $2.5 billion (around Rs 16,750 crore) as part of the first payment for their loans to the group. This is expected to give a boost to the recovery process initiated by the banks.

Tell me more: The lenders are hoping to recover the loans through resolution methods such as sale of assets, transfer to asset reconstruction companies and strategic debt restructuring (allows creditors to convert debt into equity and take over the management of defaulting companies).

 

Rs 3,050 crore

What is it? The penalty recommended to be imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular for not providing sufficient interconnect points to Reliance Jio.

Why is it important? This brings an end to the three-month long dispute between the three incumbents and the new entrant Reliance Jio. The telecom regulator ruled that the three firms deliberately blocked the calls made from Reliance Jio’s network, a move considered to have been done with the intention of stifling competition. This was in response to Reliance Jio’s complaint that 75% of the calls made on its network were failing as the incumbents were not providing it with adequate points of interconnection necessary to complete the calls.

Tell me more: For Airtel and Vodafone, the regulator has recommended a penalty of Rs 50 crore per circle for 21 service areas while for Idea Cellular, it is Rs 50 crore for 19 service areas. The regulator has floated a consultation paper that aims to review the existing provisions for interconnection. Interconnection is thearrangement under which telecom firms connect their networks, equipment and services to enable their subscribers to get access to the subscribers, services and networks of other telecom firms

 

$85.4 billion

What is it? The deal size of US telecom giant AT&T buying out entertainment group Time Warner.

Why is it important? If approved by the regulators, this would be the biggest deal in the world this year. The deal would help the third largest cable TV provider in the US (owns mobile phone, broadband and cable TV networks) to transform itself into a full service media provider – owning content would help provide a competitive advantage over the others. This is likely to spark industry consolidation and bring in changes in the way people consume content.

Tell me more: However, it remains to be seen if the deal is allowed to happen as US lawmakers and both the presidential candidates have raised questions about it – the acquisition is considered to be anti-competitive by some. A Senate sub-committee, which is responsible for competition, will hold a hearing in November.

 

$1.7 billion

What is it? The amount Chinese consumers spent on Apple-sanctioned apps in the July-September quarter this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? With this, they have exceeded the spend by Americans (nearly $1.45 billion) by 15% in this period. Chinese consumers spent five times more on Apple apps in the third quarter of 2016 than what they spent two years ago. The report noted that China is likely to drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. Apple recently announced the opening of its research and development centre in China even as it saw its year-on-year revenues fall by 33% in Greater China in its fiscal third quarter.

Tell me more: In terms of market share, domestic firms – Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – command a 56% market share in China, pushing Apple to the fifth position (8% market share), according to research firm IDC.

Read More

News in Numbers: 36 killed in Istanbul terrorist attack, 37% of India received scanty rainfall…

8.5%

What is it? The likely percentage of bad loans in Indian banks by March 2017 from 7.6% in March 2016, according to a Reserve Bank of India report.

Why is it important? Indicates that the problem will get worse before it gets better. RBI says bad loans – or non performing assets – will shoot up to 9.3% under a severe stress situation. As a result, banks will have to raise more capital, and if they cannot, their lending will go down. Credit has already slowed down in April and May.

Tell me more: However, the central bank has noted that the severe adverse economic conditions referred to in the report should not be considered as forecast or expected outcomes.

 

3,038

What is it? The number of requests India has sent to other countries seeking information about suspicious banking transactions of Indians abroad in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Why is it important? The number of such requests have gone up substantially from the previous years: 700 in 2013-14, 600 in 2012-13 and ranging between 39 and 92 between 2008-09 and 2010-11. Many of these requests are related to investigations of various scams including the HSBC Geneva case though these also include individuals and entities suspected for hoarding money abroad.

Tell me more: The Indian government has given time till September 30 for people holding unaccounted wealth to come clean and pay their taxes. India has signed an information-exchange agreement with the US and 110 tax jurisdictions have agreed to share information under this pact. As part of another agreement, 58 jurisdictions including India have agreed to share information from 2017 and another 36 countries would join in by 2018.

 

36

What is it? The number of people killed in a terrorist attack at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on Tuesday. At least 147 people have been wounded.

Why is it important? The Turkish Prime Minister says ISIS is behind the attack in the 11th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. ISIS, which was responsible for nearly a fifth of people killed in terrorist attacks in 2014, is the second most dangerous terrorist organization after Boko Haram (in terms of number of people killed), according to a report. Shows the growing influence of ISIS and their ability to breach security protocols.

Tell me more: Three suicide bombers attacked passengers with bombs and guns and according to preliminary findings, they blew themselves up after opening fire.

 

11.2%

What is it? The penalty developers may have to pay buyers in case of delay in handing over homes and apartments, according to the government’s recently announced draft real estate rules.

Why is it important? This is around 1.25-1.85% higher than the home loan rates, providing protection to home buyers. The average middle class home buyers usually avoid lengthy court cases when their homes are handed over to them late, sometimes bearing their monthly rental costs of their current residence in addition to paying EMIs of their new properties.

Tell me more: The Real Estate Regulatory Authority would be set up in states and union territories within three months of the rules being notified. The draft rules are open for public comments and suggestions until July 8.

 

34%

What is it? The percentage of India that received scanty or deficient rainfall in June as of Tuesday.

Why is it important? Though over half of the country has received normal rainfall this month, some of the drought-hit regions including Vidarbha face a rainfall deficit. The pulse-growing regions have received uneven rains, which could have an upward effect on prices of pulses, which have already been ruling high in the recent weeks. The sowing of kharif has been lower by 23% so far, according to data released last week while water levels at India’s 91 major reservoirs have fallen to 15% of their combined installed capacity.

Tell me more: The southern and north-western states have received rainfall 16% and 2% above average, respectively, while in central India and east and north-east India, there has been a deficit of 23% and 26%, respectively.

Read More