The way to a man’s purse

$80 million

What is it? The Series E funding raised by online food delivery startup Swiggy (Bundl Technologies) from Naspers and existing investors such as Accel Partners and SAIF Partners.

Why is it important? The funding will help Swiggy take on its rivals, including the well funded Zomato Media, in the highly competitive hyperlocal food delivery space. This is Swiggy’s largest funding to date accounting for 51% of the amount it has raised so far. The startup will use the money to step up its investments in automation and customer behaviour prediction to improve user experience.

Tell me more: Naspers, South Africa based internet and entertainment group, has been making a series of investments in food delivery startups across the world – including iFood in Brazil, SinDelantal in Mexico and Delivery Hero in Germany.


Rs 25,000 crore

What is it? The debt amount Reliance Communications (RCom) has said it would repay by September 30, 2017.

Why is it important? The money, to be recovered from two transactions, is over 50% of its debt (Rs 44,34547,332 crore till March, 2017). The reassurance follows a few days that saw RCom’s stock get pounded, to a record low of Rs 20.5 on Monday, as investors were wary about its debt. Rating agency Moody’s has downgraded the company on the back of its “weak operating performance, high leverage and fragile liquidity position.”

Tell me more: Compounding its problems is the telecom market’s intense price competition with Reliance Industries’ Jio’s entry. The price war led to a Rs 948 crore-loss for RCom in the March quarter.


1 billion Euro

What is it? Development assistance Germany has pledged to India during prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country.

Why is it important? PM Modi is on a four-country tour with Germany as the first stop to strengthen trade ties. Germany has alsobeen reported to push for the European Union free trade agreement with India during a meeting between Modi and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Tell me more: The free trade agreement is seen as a counter to the growing protectionism propagated by US President Donald Trump, including his recent rant against German-made cars sold in the US. China’s One Belt One Road policy is also a cause for concern for European trade as it strengthens its hold on Asian trade networks.



What is it? Underwriting fees charged by investment banks for initial public offerings in the US.

Why is it important? Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in a recent report, cited absence of competition as a reason for the high fees. It said it was akin “akin to tacit collusion” and called for review by competition authorities. In Europe, the underwriting fee is about 3%, while in China it has doubled to 8% in the last few years.

Tell me more: The high fees is a strain on businesses that want to raise money from capital markets, and it’s particularly so for smaller businesses which shell out 11% of the amount raised as expenses. In India, IPO related expenses come to about 7% on average and 10% for smaller companies.



What is it? The number of harassment cases filed by “Anti-Romeo” squads of Uttar Pradesh police.

Why is it important? The drive to check harassment of women in public places is among the most criticised policies launched by Yogi Adityanath government. Rights activists called for disbanding the squads, arguing that it won’t stop harassment, and will increase the risk of infringement on civil liberties.

Tell me more: According to data released by the state, 3.38 lakh people, among the 7.42 lakh who were checked, were warned between March 22 to May 28.  Lucknow zone had the highest number of people who were warned by the squads – 1.14 lakh.

Read More

News in numbers, Apr 8, 2016: IIT fees increased, share of loss-making public companies…

5 million

What is it? The number of Reliance Communications’ (RCom) customers who will be migrated to fourth generation network operated by Reliance Jio, the yet-to-be launched telecom venture by Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries (RIL).  

Why is it important? This will be a test of call quality and broadband speed of Reliance Jio, whose launch is delayed to end of 2016. For RCom, owned by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani, the deal will help to launch the 4G services without spending much on setting up additional infrastructure.    

Tell me more: The two brothers signed a deal to share resources. RCom will share its network and spectrum, and RIL will allow RCom customers to use its network.    


Rs 2 lakhs

What is it? Revised annual fees payable by undergraduates studying at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The earlier fees was Rs 90,000 per year.

Why is it important? The upward revision will cut government’s subsidy bill. The central government spends Rs 6 lakh each year to educate one student. The increase will be spent to improve the infrastructure within IIT’s.

Tell me more: Students from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and most economically backward families (annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh) will not be required to pay the fees. For rest, either partial remission of fees based on family income or bank loan is made available.



What is it?  The Goods and Services Tax rate that finance minister Arun Jaitley says will be a part of the GST Bill

Why is it important?  The move – to make the 18% cap a part of the bill – might lower the resistance from the Congress Party to the passing of the bill in the parliament. While there is consensus about the tax rate – proposed by a committee headed by chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian – the government was reluctant to include any rate in the bill (as demanded by Congress) because it puts a constraint on raising tax revenues.

Tell me more: Experts have argued that implementation of GST will widen tax base, eliminate myriad taxes and their cascading effects, simplify compliance and help center and state tax administrations work together efficiently.



What is it? The percentage of State Level Public Enterprises estimated to be incurring losses, per Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? The losses have adverse impact on state budgets, leaving less funds for development. The financial performance reflect poor management and excess manpower at the state run enterprises as well as policies such as administered prices and other market conditions.

Tell me more: There are 849 state level public enterprises operating in the areas of manufacturing, finance, power, infrastructure, agriculture and allied services and employ over 18 lakh people.


€ 1,500

What is it? Fine payable for anyone caught paying for sex in France. For second offence, the fine will increase to Euro 3,750 and an entry in that person’s criminal record.   

Why is it important? The law passed by the French parliament will criminalize paying for sex rather than the act of soliciting sex. France follows the model adopted by Norway and Northern Ireland. Opponents of this approach say this pushes prostitution underground.   

Tell me more: There are 3 million sex workers in India and 40% of them are children, as per Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate in 2007. Sex workers are allowed to practise in their private homes individually, but organized prostitution is banned.

Read More

News in numbers, Mar 9, 2016: Brands quick to drop Sharapova, Mukesh Ambani’s TV push…


Rs 1,165 crore

What is it? The amount the Indian government is looking to raise by selling 5% of its stake in state-run Container Corporation on Wednesday.

Why is it important? Represents progress in disinvestment. This follows its mopping up of Rs 5,000 crore from divestment in NTPC (the second biggest in six months) about a fortnight ago. The government has raised Rs 18,300 crore so far this fiscal by selling its stakes in six public sector units, which is about a quarter of its disinvestment target of Rs 68,500 crore by the end of this month. The government is likely to miss its target for the sixth straight year this fiscal.

Tell me more: The government owns 61.8% in Container Corporation is selling up to 9.75 million shares at a floor price of Rs 1,195 per share.


$29.7 million

What is it? Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova’s earnings from prize money, endorsements, appearances and royalties in 2015, according to Forbes.

Why is it important? Sharapova, who revealed she failed a drugs test at this year’s Australian Open, was the highest paid female athlete for the 11th consecutive year in 2015. On Monday, she admitted she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she was taking for diabetes and low magnesium for the last 10 years. Major brands including TAG Heuer, Nike and Porsche ended up severing ties with the five-time Grand Slam champion.

Tell me more: The World Anti-Doping Agency had included meldonium in the banned list last September, which came into effect from January 1, 2016. The player, who currently ranks seventh in the world, said she had not read the email informing her about the ban of this drug.

Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The size of the alleged scam at Syndicate Bank.

Why is it important? The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the case based on a complaint from the bank, has registered cases against four businessmen and five bank officials. Despite strict laws and rules such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, and Know Your Customer norms, it is believed that the suspects had opened 386 accounts in three branches in Rajasthan. They were allegedly involved in discounting fake cheques and bills against fake letters of credit and arranged overdraft limits against nonexistent life insurance policies between 2011-16.

Tell me more: The CBI said it was conducting searches in 10 locations across three cities – New Delhi, Jaipur and Udaipur.

$2 billion

What is it? The amount Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries plans to spend on cable and satellite television businesses over the next three years, according to anonymous sources.

Why is it important? Reliance Industries’ target is to get 1 million subscribers in six months, which would increase to 20 million in three years. This is equivalent to the number of Indian homes that have a broadband or any other internet connection. Such targets in the television space, along with Reliance’s push in the telecom sector (via RJio), are likely to affect smaller players in the space including his brother Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications (RCom). It remains to be seen if this renews the rivalry between the two brothers.

Tell me more: Reliance Industries has spent at least $18 billion for its 4G telecom business, which it plans to launch later this year.

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? Indian Railways’ advertisement revenue target over the next few years.

Why is it important? Currently, the Indian Railways earns less than 5% of its revenue from non-tariff sources, which compares poorly with global railway systems in Japan and European countries that generate 15-30% of their revenues from such sources. The Indian Railways has appointed Ernst and Young to help them in this initiative. The utility is considering various measures to cut costs and increase sources of revenues as it looks to offset an increase in its wage bill and also, stick to its modernisation plans.

Tell me more: The ‘Sundry Earnings’ of the Railways was Rs 6,229 crore this year and the target for 2016-17 has been increased by over 50% to Rs 9,590 crore.

Read More