Robbing ONGC To Pay…

Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The cash reserves of Oil and Natural Gas Corp.(ONGC) as on March 31.

Why is it important? It has declined by a massive 90% from Rs 13,000 crore a year ago, after the company was asked to buy the government’s 51.11% stake in state-refiner HPCL for Rs 36,915 crore earlier this year and a record dividend payout of Rs 8,470 crore in 2017-18. The government has been tapping state-run companies to get its fiscal deficit math right and the cash depletion of ONGC comes at a time when it has been asked to increase investments to help cut down India’s crude imports.

Tell me more:India’s biggest energy explorer ONGC, however, has a good credit rating due to the government’s backing and easy access to the domestic banking system.


What is it? The number of airports that are operational under the government’s ‘regional connectivity scheme’, which is almost half of the 31 airports that were targeted to be operational by the end of 2017.

Why is it important? This indicates that the scheme which aims to build new airports in small towns and upgrade existing facilities is moving at a slow pace. This could affect the government’s goal of making an additional 100 million passengers fly in the next five years. India is the world’s fastest growing aviation market and, recently, smaller towns under the scheme have started contributing to the overall passenger traffic growth.

Tell me more:Some of the reasons for the delay in the progress of the scheme include states having insufficient funds to buy basic equipment and the longer-than-anticipated duration in building air traffic control or setting up terminal buildings.


What is it? The number of months since news broke of jeweler Nirav Modi defrauding Punjab National Bank of Rs 12,600 in loans.

Why is it important? On Monday, an official of India’s top investigative agency said it had asked Interpol to help locate and arrest Modi. This follows a report in the Financial Times on Sunday that Modi was in the UK and seeking political asylum. Previously, there have been reports of Modi being in New York and Hong Kong.

Tell me more:If Modi is in the UK, he would be the second Indian fugitive businessman holed up in Britain after defaulting on loans worth thousands of crore to Indian banks.


What is it? The number of FIFA World Cup tournaments Brazil would have won, if Goldman Sachs Group’s prediction for the 2018 edition comes true.

Why is it important? The investment bank has used 200,000 statistical models, analysed data on individual players and recent team performance in addition to running 1 million simulations to come up with this prediction. However, its 2014 prediction, which had also bet on Brazil, saw the team lose in the semi-final. Danske Bank also says the winner is likely to be Brazil, while Commerzbank and Swiss Bank UBS give it to Germany.

Tell me more: Brazil is the most successful team in the history of FIFA World Cup having won the finals for a record five times, the last time being in 2002.

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News in Numbers, May 19, 2016: Worst quarterly loss by an Indian bank, solved IIT-JEE papers…

Rs 5,367 crore

What is it? Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) net loss in the fourth quarter of 2015-16, compared with a net profit of Rs 307 crore in same period last year.

Why is it important? This is the worst known quarterly loss posted by any bank in India and it is PNB’s first since it went public in 2002. This is a result of the central bank’s direction to banks to reclassify their stressed assets as non-performing assets and points to the extent to which banks have been refusing to acknowledge them as bad loans. The big question now is the price at which the government and the market would recapitalise these banks.

Tell me more: PNB’s gross bad loans increased by around 62.6% to Rs 55,818 crore from the previous quarter and its provisions almost increased three-fold from a year ago to Rs 10,485 crore in the last quarter.


$125.5 million

What is it? India’s exports – mostly pharmaceuticals – to Venezuela as of February 2016

Why is it important? Cash-strapped Venezuela cannot pay for these drugs, impacting Indian drug manufacturers. Indian government has now proposed an oil-for-drugs barter deal with the country.

Tell me more:  Socialist economic model and low oil prices has led to political and social crisis at Venezuela. Its inflation predicted to more than double to 720% in 2016. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories wrote off $65 million in the three months ended to March 2016, almost all of which is owed by Venezuela while Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is short of $45 million.



What is it? The number of years of solved question papers of joint entrance examinations (JEE) that the Indian government and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will jointly release soon.

Why is it important? IIT-JEE is considered to be one of the toughest engineering entrance examinations in the world and this move is aimed at making it easier for aspiring students and reduce their dependence on coaching institutes. For this, the government will also make the entrance exam easier by conforming to Standard XII syllabus, which now requires greater proficiency than school levels. Kota, which is known as the coaching capital of India, has seen at least six student suicides this year.

Tell me more: Students can access the exam papers through a soon-to-be launched portal and a mobile app and the content will be available in 13 regional languages. Academicians and IIT faculty members would also give video lectures, which would enable additional learning through the portal and app.


14.8 degree Celsius

What is it? The average global temperature in April, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why is it important? Breaks yet another set of global temperature records – the hottest April since 1880 (from the time records are available), and the 12th straight month for which a monthly global temperature record has been broken (the longest such streak). Despite just being four months in 2016, there is a more than 99% likelihood of this year being the hottest year on record, indicating that the pace of global warming might be faster than originally thought to be.

Tell me more: If this is true, then 2016 would be the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record, which would also be another first. Global warming’s effects include ice melts, increase of ocean levels, ocean acidification affecting marine life, affect or wipe out some plant and animal species, and drastic weather events.



What is it? The age-adjusted incidence (AAR) of cancer among males in Aizawl district in Mizoram between 2012-14, according to the National Cancer Registry Programme.

Why is it important? This is the highest in India for males. Among females the incidence is the highest in Papumpare district, Arunachal Pradesh with an AAR of 249. In fact, cancer burden in the north-eastern states is among the highest in the world. Granular data like this would help the policy makers and the health specialists in devising intervention specific to a particular geography, thereby making it a more focussed-approach in dealing with cancer burden.

Tell me more: The cancer burden is estimated to be 14.5 lakh new cases of cancer in 2016 and 17.3 lakh new cases in 2020, with breast, lung and cervix as the leading types of the disease. The use of tobacco accounts for less than a third of all cancers in males and females.

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How PNB is feeling the pinch from wilful defaulters at both ends

This piece originally appeared on


At Rs.11,432 crore, Punjab National Bank (PNB) had the second largest portfolio of wilful defaulters: borrowers who have defaulted on meeting their loan commitments despite having the ability to make payments or who are in violation of some part of the loan agreement. PNB is also perhaps the only bank that has been making public, at three-month intervals, a list of these borrowers. An analysis of PNB’s lists for December 2014 and February 2016, during which its number of wilful defaulters multiplied 2.6 times, shows how truant borrowers are biting the bank at both ends.

At the top, the bulge is due to loan size…

The number of wilful defaulters grew at a faster clip than their amount at default. As a result, the average amount per wilful defaulter fell. However, what this masks is the rising distress among big borrowers. The top 10% and 25% of PNB’s wilful defaulters now account for 75% and 90% of the amount at risk, respectively—an increase over the corresponding 2014 figures.



… and half of the top 15 were not there in 2014

Of the top 15 wilful defaulters by loan size, eight were not there in 2014. And three of these eight are units of Ramsarup Industries.




At the bottom, the bulge is due to growing number of wilful defaulters

Along with an increase in large defaulters, PNB has also seen smaller defaulters grow at a faster pace than the portfolio average—an indication of the widening of the bad-loans problem.




They are now spread across twice as many cities

New Delhi (148 cases), Mumbai (90 cases) and Chandigarh (62 cases) still lead PNB’s city-wise list of wilful defaulters. But the number of cities has nearly doubled, another indication of the widening of the bad-loans problem.




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