Pre-trump trouble

5,436

What is it? The drop in approved new petitions of India-based companies for HIB visas in 2016.

Why is it important? The number represents a drop of 37% at 9,356 new petitions for the top seven India-based companies seeking approval in fiscal 2016, says a report by National Foundation for American Policy. It’s an indicator that the opportunities for Indian technology workers in the US started narrowing even before Trump administration took charge. The companies affected in 2016 include TCS, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro.

Tell me more: Indian companies have been accused of flooding the visa lottery system earlier.

 

Rs 11,000 crore

What is it? The amount State Bank of India (SBI) is looking to raise in a share sale to qualified institutional investors (or a private placement).

Why is it important? The move to raise its capital base could bring in 73% of the equity capital (Rs 15,000 crore) that was approved to be raised in FY18 at SBI’s central board meeting in March. Meeting with Basel III norms and provisioning for bad loans have necessitated raising of fresh capital by Indian banks.

Tell me more: SBI had last sold shares in 2014.

 

Rs 100 crore

What is it? The cost of redeveloping a railway station in Bhopal, Habibganj, by Bansal Group. The work will commence on June 9.

Why is it important? This is the first redevelopment of an Indian Railways (IR) station through a public-private partnership. The project marks a major step to modernise and privatise IR. Not only upgrading passenger facilities at stations, this would boost IR’s non-fare revenues, for example, through land monetisation. The Bansal Group will invest Rs 350 crore for commercial development of land parcels around the station, on a 45-year lease, according to an agreement in 2016.

Tell me more: The Bhopal-based Bansal Group will be operating and maintaining the station for a period of eight years.

 

7

What is it? The number of countries which have cut ties with Qatar, the West Asian country, accusing it of supporting Islamist terrorism. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain were the first to cut diplomatic and transport ties, followed by Yemen, Libya and Maldives.

Why is it important? The geopolitical rift among the Arab neighbours would have ripple effects on the globe, including oil prices, which dropped 1%. While both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been accused earlier of funding Islamists and terrorists, Qatar has drawn the ire of others due to its supposed support of Iran. The boycott is being seen as a move to target Iran as well.

Tell me more: Qatar will bear the brunt of the ban as transport links with neighbours have been severed and will make food imports (40% of the nation’s supplies) and travel out of the country dearer. The Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has raised his concerns for the650,000-strong Indian population in Qatar, by writing to the Centre.

 

10

What is it? The number of students whose admissions got rescinded at Harvard for posting obscene memes in a private Facebook group chat.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of the worrying trend of social media being used to spread content which is obscene, hateful, abusive and even illegal; and how organisations are trying to tackle it. Last year, prospective students at Harvard who posted similar messages were let go with a strongly worded, but generic statement..

Tell me more: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been making some attempts to clean up such content, but it has proven to be a difficult task. It might also be hurting these firms. Salesforce might have walked away from a Twitter acquisition deal last year because of Twitter’s inability to tackle abusive content.

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Men of steel ✊

96%

What is it? This year’s southwest monsoon rainfall estimate as a percentage of the Long Period Average (LPA), or IMD’s long-term rainfall-tracking benchmark.

Why is it important? The first-stage forecast is for normal southwest monsoons, alleviating worries about a dry season, for now. The monsoon’s distribution and timely arrival would determine if there would be a positive impact on GDP or not. In 2016, the same was for 106% of the LPA (which is 89 cm for 1951-2000). But in the drought-ridden year of 2015, the initial forecast was 93%, only three percentage points less than this year’s estimate.

Tell me more: The forecast would get updated in June, when the weather phenomenon of El Nino would have evolved further to paint a more accurate picture.

 

Rs 64,562 crore

What is it? The investment by the public steel manufacturer, Steel Authority of India Ltd (Sail) till December, 2016.

Why is it important? Sail is spending on modernisation and expansion of its integrated and special steel plants when India is set to leapfrog Japan in steel output in a few years. While the Indian Steel Association has said production would increase from 101.3 million tonne in 2016 to 240 million tonne by 2031, the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has predicted India would overtake Japan as the third-largest producer by 2019 with 118 million tonne. Sail’s expansion would raise its capacity from 12.8 million tonne a year to 21.4 million tonne (67%).

Tell me more: The steel major is in the last leg of its Rs 70,000-crore planned investment to raise capacity by 60-70%.

 

4.95 million

What is it? The net subscribers added by Netflix, the Internet video-streaming service, in the first quarter of 2017 (Jan-Mar).

Why is it important? The measure of new customers for Netflix went down both sequentially (30%) and year-on-year (27%) due to the lack of a blockbuster original production, and the tepid response to its new releases such as the latest Marvel-backed superhero series (Iron Fist). Instead, its profitability improved. In India, it finds itself competing for audience with Amazon Prime and homegrown popular apps such as Star India’s Hotstar, even before it got a chance to consolidate a lead.

Tell me more: Netflix’s net income/profit rose to $178 million in the quarter, a 166% rise sequentially and 536% rise year-on-year. In India, it plans to double its investments with an office in Mumbai, rather than operate the business out of Singapore which it had been doing so far.

 

51,000 kms

What is it? The length of roads to be developed as expressways under Indian government’s Bharatmala scheme.

Why is it important? Mega road projects have both short term and long term benefits, generating jobs immediately and boosting growth over time, and Bharatmala is one of the most ambitious and expensive projects of the NDA government. The total investments is pegged around Rs 10 trillion. The National Highways Development kickstarted by Vajpayee government will be subsumed under Bharatmala going forward.

Tell me more: A more specific and formal outlay and plan is likely to be a part of the next budget.

 

Rs 2.35 lakh crore

What is it? Market capitalisation of State Bank of India, end of Tuesday.

Why is it important? State Bank is now the most valued public sector unit, surpassing Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, which has a market cap about about Rs 2.29 lakh crore. State Bank shares rose by 16% this year. Interestingly, this came on the day when Vijay Mallya was arrested and then let go on a bail after a few hours in London. A consortium of banks led by State Bank of India had sued Mallya’ Kingfisher Airlines for defaulting on loans. State Bank’s gross non performing assets (or bad loans) stood at 7.23% end of December.

Tell me more: State Bank stands fifth in the list of top Indian companies by market capitalisation. Tata Consultancy leads the list, followed by Reliance Industries and HDFC Bank.

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Less smoke in the kitchen

9.10%

What is it? The new base rate of the State Bank of India (SBI) .

Why is it important? The largest Indian bank cut its base rate from the previous 9.25%. This would let earlier borrowers benefit from an easing of bank rates seen over the last few months. Borrowers who had taken out loans before April 1, 2016, were unable to benefit from cuts in the marginal cost-based lending rate (MCLR) (the new system of lending rate for customers) levied since then.

Tell me more: On January 1, 2017, SBI had cut its MCLR but it was not changed in yesterday’s cut.

 

52.5

What is it? The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in March.

Why is it important? The factory activity index rose for the third month, after contracting in December (as it had in December, 2015, as well). But the rate of expansion was the fastest in five months since October, 2016, with production and new orders growing.

Tell me more: It has helped that inflation rates eased since February. The private index, by Markit, recorded a rise in additional employment generated to cope with increasing orders in the pivotal sector.

 

$300 million

What is it? The deal value of the Ruias-led Essar Group’s sale of its BPO unit, Aegis, to Singapore-based private equity firm Capital Square Partners.

Why is it important? The move would help the group retire 2.2% of its debt. The group is in the middle of paring the large debt on its books, worth Rs 88,000 crore. Before Aegis was sold, the Essar Group had lined up two more businesses — its oil refinery arm (Essar Oil) and its steel business (Essar Steel) — but both missed their March targets of a stake sale.

Tell me more: The Aegis sale marks the group’s exit from business process outsourcing. The slated Essar Oil sale, of $12.9 billion, would be India’s largest FDI.

 

Rs 3.42 crore

What is it? Legal bill raised by lawyer Ram Jethmalani for his services to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal so far.

Why is it important? These costs will have to be borne by the Delhi government, and not by Arvind Kejriwal, according to a report. This has led to a furore. Arun Jaitley had sued Arvind Kejriwal defamation last year. Delhi government reasoned that Kejriwal made the statements that led to the suit in his capacity as a chief minister. However, some analysts point out he didn’t invoke Section 80 of civil procedure code, and therefore, it should be considered that he is fighting it in his personal capacity.

Tell me more: Ram Jethmalani, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country, had earlier said that he is charging just Re 1 from Kejriwal, because ‘his government itself is so poor.’

 

3.25 crore

What is it? The number of LPG connections released by oil marketing companies during FY 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is highest ever in a financial year. It includes over 2 crore connections given under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide LPG connections in rural areas, as a replacement for the unhealthy wood-based fire in the kitchens.

Tell me more: The numbers indicate the broader strategy of the government. Look for efficiency and cost savings in one section using Aadhaar and other policy initiatives (in this case LPG subsidies, which mostly went to well-to-do middle class households) and, at the same time, expand government services to more deserving sections.

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