Sugar? Yes Please!

India’s sugar output in last three months was better than the produce in the same period of the previous year. So much so, that sugar association (ISMA) is now estimating that output for the entire year may be at its highest since 2014-15.


$500 million

What is it? The size of the deal that India had placed with Israel’s state-owned defence contractor Rafael to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles. It has now cancelled the order.

Why is it important? This is reportedly due to reservations on the part of the Israeli firm to fully transfer the technology as per the ‘Make in India’ provisions and the Indian defence ministry reportedly deciding to back state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation, which has said it will develop a world-class missile within four years. Till then, Pakistani foot soldiers are likely to have an advantage over India’s as they possess portable anti-tank missiles that can strike Indian bunkers and tanks at a distance of 3-4 km, while India’s equivalent missile tanks have a range of 2 km.

Tell me more: The order cancellation could be taken up for discussion during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in a couple of weeks.



What is it? The number of people who were detained across Mumbai on Wednesday due to a bandh called by Dalit groups in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? Normal life was disrupted in India’s financial capital: schools and colleges remained shut, Internet services were down, and attendance was poor in offices. With protestors squatting on railway tracks, rail services were stalled, roads were blocked and shops shut. Although Dalit leader Prakash Ambedkar called off the bandh on Wednesday evening, tension simmered in the state. A 16-year-old student was killed in a road-block agitation in Nanded.

Tell me more: The protests began on Monday after a 28-year-old man was killed when the Dalit community was celebrating the 200th anniversary of a battle won by a backward community called Mahars (who fought alongside the Britishers) to overthrow the upper caste Peshwas.


$0.9 billion

What is it? The expected consolidated free cash flow of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) in 2017-18, according to international brokerage firm CLSA.

Why is it important? If RIL meets the forecast, it would mean the end of a four-year run of negative cash flows, which is a measure of a company’s overall financial health and performance. This is likely to put India’s biggest firm by market capitalisation on a strong footing as projects worth $40 billion would begin to deliver as capital expenditure declines. Recently, RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani said the firm aims to be among the top 20 companies in the world.

Tell me more: The brokerage said the monetisation of refinery off-gas cracker and petcoke gasification plant would boost the operating income of RIL. In telecom, it expects the firm to monetise Reliance Jio Infocomm’s customers in addition to its industry-leading capacities.



What is it? The number of locomotives in India that will be installed with a GPS tracking device under the first phase of the Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS), a move that will enable passengers to track trains on a real-time basis.

Why is it important? This Indian Railways initiative, in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), comes in the backdrop of piling complaints of train delays and accidents. The new GPS-enabled trains would replace the existing national train enquiry system (NTES), which has a train controller who updates the train status manually.

Tell me more: So far, trials on GPS-enabled locomotives have been done on six electric locomotives on the New Delhi-Guwahati and New Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani routes. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by December 2018.



What is it? The year-on-year growth in India’s sugar production during the three-month period from October to December, according to industry association Indian Sugar Manufacturers Association (ISMA).

Why is it important? In these three months of 2017, production stood at 103.3 lakh tonnes, against 81.9 lakh tonnes in the corresponding period of 2016, mainly due to improved outputs from Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. This augurs well for the 2017-18 sugar year (October to September), which could register its highest production since 2014-15, when India produced 283 lakh tonnes. ISMA has estimated 2017-18 production at 251 lakh tonnes.

Tell me more: Earlier, the government had been considering removing stock limits on sugar  to curb the fall in prices resulting from a bumper harvest.

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Short-staffed 👮/👮👮


What is it? The vacancy in the police department in Uttar Pradesh.

Why is it important? India’s most populous state has more than double the vacancy of the national average of 24%, and also the highest. While the sanctioned strength is 363,000, there are only 181,000 police personnel deployed in the state. The vacancies in IPS ranks in UP was revealed in the Parliament a few weeks ago. While the national average vacancy in IPS was 18.9%, UP had 22% vacant posts.

Tell me more: Only Nagaland was has a surplus in their police force, with 22,264 personnel against 21,574 sanctioned posts.



What is it? The growth in domestic passenger vehicles sold in March, 2017 over 2016.

Why is it important? The growth rate, as per company releases, indicates robust gains. The largest car maker, Maruti Suzuki, posted an 8% and second-largest, Hyundai, a 9% growth. March has been the best month for passenger vehicle sellers since the days of demonetisation that dampened consumer spending.

Tell me more: Tata Motors and Toyota Kirloskar registered growth above 80% in March. Mahindra struggled with reported BS III inventory and saw a decline in sales.


72 million

What is it? The number of customers Reliance Industries claims have signed up so far for its telecom offering, Jio under the Prime offer.

Why is it important? While the number attempts to capture the rush to avail of the near-unlimited and free data and voice services offer for a year, it also highlights the Jio’ marketing coup. The hitherto free services which would eventually draw a Rs-303 monthly fee from April, 15, has made it the wireless operator with the largest subscriber additions in February. It accounted for 73% of the total 27.8 million additions in February.

Tell me more: The enrolment in Jio Prime was extended beyond the previous deadline of March, 31 to April.



What is it? The number of H1B visa applications United States received last year

Why is it important? The H1B cap of 85,000 got filled within a week. The application process for this year begins today, in a political environment far different from last years. Donald Trump administration is far less welcoming of foreign workers and the US congress is looking at several bills that call for H1B reforms. Thenumber of applications by Indian IT firms will be keenly tracked.

Tell me more: Indian IT companies are big users of H1B, and reforms in US would force them to change their strategy, and be less dependent on H1B visas. Some firms – including Infosys and Wipro, have been moving in that direction for some time now.


$12 billion

What is it? The combined net worth of US president Donald Trump’s senior staff members.

Why is it important? It’s wealthiest in the modern American history. Donald Trump won the elections mostly by appealing to the anger of the middle class Americans at the elite, and the fear of job losses. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s daughter and son in law, who have important roles in the administration, have business interests worth $740 million.

Tell me more: The details of personal wealth are from disclosures made by White House starting Friday night.

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Chart of the Day | Reserve Bank of India’s profits

Reserve Bank of India’s profit is 2.4 times of Reliance Industries

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s central bank, reported a surplus of Rs 65,876 crore for the twelve months ended March 2016, the highest ever in its 81-year history.

At this level, RBI’s surplus is 2.4 times of Reliance Industries’ (RIL) profit of Rs 27,630 crore reported during the same period. RIL is India’s most profitable company, ahead of software companies like Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys.

And the biggest beneficiary of this record surplus is the central government. As per the RBI Act, the central bank has to transfer all its surplus to the government.

So how does the RBI earn money? Mainly through interest bearing domestic and foreign securities. Around 85% of its total income of Rs 80,870 crore.

And it hardly spends money with total expenses of Rs 14,990 crore. Salary bill (Rs 4,058 crore), agency charges (Rs 4,756 crore) and printing of notes (Rs 3,421 crore) were the major expenditure items. Agency charges are the commission paid by RBI to the banks that sell government securities. Apart from being the central bank, RBI also functions as a banker to the central government selling bonds.

Should the current arrangement of transferring all surplus to government continue, or should RBI be given powers to spend the money for public good? What do you think? Let us know.

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What is the one thing that Reliance and Infosys have in common?

This piece originally appeared on


One company is in the manufacturing business, the other is in services. They are at different stages in their evolution as businesses and as repositories of talent. Yet, there’s one thing that Reliance Industries Ltd and Infosys Ltd—two of India’s largest and most profitable companies—have in common: the scarcity of women in the top league of employees that earns above Rs.5 lakh a month.

By gender

Under the Companies Act, companies have to disclose details of all their employees earning Rs.60 lakh and above per year (or Rs.5 lakh a month). In 2014-15, Reliance had 511 such employees and Infosys 276. But only six at Reliance and 18 at Infosys were women, highlighting even greater under-representation of the gender in the top tier.




By employees and financials

What do the salaries drawn by this set say about the distribution of wealth across the company? Such employees accounted for 0.2% of Infosys’s workforce and 1% of its wage bill. By comparison, this set accounts for 2% of Reliance’s workforce but 20% of its wage bill, a characteristic of the manufacturing business, where blue-collar employees dominate the workforce. As a share of net profit, Reliance does better than Infosys.




By age

About three-fourths of this set in Infosys is in the 40-49 age bracket. By comparison, a similar percentage at Reliance is 50 years or older, including a quarter above 60. Also, broadly speaking, a linearity is seen in the relationship between age and salary at Infosys, but not at Reliance.




By age and time in company

At almost every age bracket, on average, Reliance has been rewarding the more recent entrant into the company better than those who have been there longer. For Infosys, this phenomenon is seen less.




By educational qualification

Engineers dominate in both companies—53% in Reliance and 64% in Infosys—followed by management graduates.



By top 20 employees

The average remuneration for the 20 highest-paid employees of Reliance is two-and-a-half times that of the Infosys set. More tellingly, the Infosys set has spent almost twice as many years in the company as the Reliance set; thrice if the top four Reliance veterans are excluded from this count.




Notes: For the purposes of calculating average salary, only those employees who were with the company for the full year have been considered. All calculations for Reliance Industries exclude numbers from its subsidiaries (mainly Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail).

Data source: Company annual reports for 2014-15

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