Rs 2.14 lakh crore
What is it? The amount India is likely to save on its oil import bill in 2015-16 – on the back of the huge drop in oil price.
Why is it important? This would help India reduce its current account deficit (when imports exceed exports) and likely help in reining in inflation levels. India’s current account deficit decreased to $6.2 billion (1.2% of GDP) in the first quarter of 2015-16 from $7.8 billion (1.6% of GDP) a year ago. Oil prices have been on the decline and the Indian basket of crude oil price fell to a 11-year low on Tuesday.
Tell me more: However, falling oil and commodity prices indicate sluggish demand and global economic slowdown. This could have a downward impact on India’s exports, which could neutralise the effect of the country’s lower oil import bill on the current account deficit. Also, a slowdown in Gulf Countries, which are oil exporters, could adversely affect the Indian diaspora and the country’s cross-border private remittances.
What is it? The amount of gold that Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai is likely to deposit with banks under India’s recently introduced gold monetisation scheme.
Why is it important? This is about 25% of its gold reserves. More importantly, it’s the first significant contribution under the scheme, which aims to encourage households and institutions to deposit gold with banks to reduce gold imports. The scheme has received a lukewarm response so far – the scheme has been able to attract only 400 gm of gold since it was launched in early November. It also remains to be seen if devotees like the idea of their gold offerings being melted and recycled, and also, if other temples such as Tirupati would follow suit.
Tell me more: At Rs 2,398 per gram of 22-carat gold, 40 kg of the yellow would be worth around Rs 9.6 crore, though after melting, the pure yield will be lesser. It is estimated that Indian households and institutions hold 20,000 tonnes of gold worth over Rs 52 lakh crore. India, which has surpassed China as the world’s largest gold consumer, imported gold worth $34 billion in 2014-15 and the government is looking to reduce that.
What is it? Proposed upper limit of H1B visas (US work visas), according to a legislation introduced by two US Senators in the Senate.
Why is it important? It is 85,000 now. If it turns into a law, then it could mean higher costs for businesses (especially Indian IT companies) that employ foreign workers in the US at lower wages. They also use workers from abroad for skillsets not available in the US. American workers are likely to benefit from larger pool of jobs available for them. However, some Indian IT company leaders and analysts say the chances of this turning into a law are less.
Tell me more: This legislation is aimed at protecting the jobs of US citizens. Recently, there were also complaints that some companies were misusing H1B visas.
What is it? Average illicit financial flows per year from India between 2004-2013, according to a report by US think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI).
Why is it important? It adds up to $510 billion for 10 years. India ranks as the fourth-biggest source of black money, after China, Russia and Mexico. Its efforts to tackle the problem has not yielded much results yet. The recent scheme launched by the Indian government to bring back black money stashed abroad received a lukewarm response – details of undisclosed foreign assets worth Rs 3,770 crore from 638 declarations were received in the three-month window that ended on September 30.
Tell me more: In the previous 10-year periods released by GFI, India ranked fourth and fifth between 2003-12 and 2002-2011 respectively.
What is it? Jail term for promoters or builders who violate orders given by appellate tribunals, according to the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, which has been approved by the Cabinet.
Why is it important? It is one of the main clauses that aims to change the buyer-builder equation and provide more power to buyers of properties to hold the builders/promoters accountable for their projects.
Tell me more: The Bill would be presented to the Parliament in the ongoing Winter Session. Other clauses in the Bill that aim to make the real estate sector consumer-friendly and transparent include: project developers would be required to deposit at least 70% of the project cost in a separate escrow account, appellate tribunals will be required to adjudicate cases within 60 days as against 90 days proposed earlier.