In Malaysia, A Nonagenarian Upsets



What is it? The total number of deaths in northern India due to thunderstorms in May.

Why is it important? After 124 deaths in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan due to thunderstorms on May 3, 11 more people were reported dead on Thursday after more thunderstorms hit select parts of UP. In UP alone, thunderstorms have left 75 dead and 91 injured.

Tell me more: With western disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir moving eastwards, the IMD has warned of fresh disturbances and dust storms till May 13. In 2017, 2,057 people died due to natural disasters, according to a Ministry of Home Affairs annual report.



What is it? The number of wholesale stores that Walmart plans to openin the next four to five years.

Why is it important? A day after announcing its purchase of 77% in India’s largest online retailer Flipkart for $16 billion, Walmart announced these plans for its existing offline business in India, where its performance has been patchy. Going forward, one of the points of interest will be what kind of synergies can Walmart create between the offline and online parts.

Tell me more:Walmart currently operates 21 stores across India. These are Best Price wholesale stores, mostly in India’s tier-II and tier-III cities, offering close to 5,000 items. The $ 16 billion deal, gives the offline retail giant, an online presence.



What is it? Age of Mahathir Mohamad, who was sworn in as Malaysian prime minister on Thursday.

Why is it important?In a huge political upset, former strongman Mahathir’s opposition alliance, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), defeated the Barisan National (BN) coalition, which has governed Malaysia uninterrupted since 1957. The 92-year old leader came out of retirementto defeat corruption scandal-ridden PM Najib Razak, who has been in power since 2008.Mahathir ruled Malaysia from 1981-2003.

Tell me more:Indian-Malaysians make up 7% of the country’s population, and 36 contested in this election. The number of Indian expats working in Malaysia is 130,000 and India is Malaysia’s 10thlargest trading partner.



What is it?The number of times private American company SpaceX has launched used rockets into space.

Why is it important?On Thursday, SpaceX had to abortthe launch of a satellite owned by Bangladesh’s Bangabandhu Satellite-1 on top of a reusable Falcon 9 rocket. The booster was supposed to land back on a drone ship and be reused, something that SpaceX has done 24 times: 11 by land and 13 by sea. However, less than a minute before takeoff, SpaceX received an “abort” message from ground systems. The launch is now rescheduled for Friday.

Tell me more:Friday’s launch will feature the final upgrade to Falcon 9 rocket, the Falcon 9 Block 5. The new rocket, with a stronger heat shield and new retractable landing legs, is designed to do 10 or more flights with limited refurbishments.


Rs 1,800 crore

What is it? The amount that the family offices of Sunil Munjal (of Hero Enterprise) and Anand Burman (of Dabur) have offered to jointly invest in Fortis Healthcare.

Why is it important?The Fortis board on Thursday chose the Munjal-Burman joint bidfor the healthcare chain’s hospitals and diagnostics businessover the bids from the TPG-Manipal Health combine and IHH Healthcare. The deal still has to be cleared by shareholders.

Tell me more:The Rs 1,800 crore investment will comprise Rs 800 crore upfront via preferential shares and Rs 1,000 crore through a preferential issue of warrants convertible after 18 months.


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Bezos, Amazon and Blue Origin


What is it? The new, increased reverse repo rate fixed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday.

Why is it important? This was a surprise move as the RBI was expected to keep rates unchanged at the review. Even though the key rate of repo (the rate at which the central bank lends to banks against government securities) was not changed, the tinkering of the reverse repo by 25 basis points would still affect liquidity. This would incentivise banks to deposit more with the RBI as they would earn higher interest income from such deposits.

Tell me more: This points to the RBI’ concern of an increase in inflation.


$1 billion

What is it? The worth of’s stock that founder Jeff Bezos sells annually to fund his other project — the private space rocket company, Blue Origin.

Why is it important? The funding comes from Bezos’ personal stock-holding in Amazon, which made him the second-richest person in the world late last month. Bezos has a networth of $77.3 billion, largely due to his stock-holding. While in 2015, he held 83.43 million shares of the company, it has reduced through stake sale through the years to 81.91 million in 2016 and at 80.89 million shares in 2017. With the funding, Blue Origin is inching closer to the goal of launching passenger space trips, lasting 11 minutes from 2018.

Tell me more: Blue Origin, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, is working on reusable rockets for affordable space flights.



What is it? The growth forecast rate for 2017 of ‘developing Asia’, comprising 45 countries who are members of the Asian Development Bank.

Why is it important? This year and the next would see the slowest growth at 5.7% since 5% growth in 2001. The Asian Development Bank kept its forecast muted as China’s economic indicators  could get revised downwards and uncertainty in global policies take root.

Tell me more: The region had grown at 5.8% in 2016. While China is forecast to clock 6.5% in 2017, less than 6.7% in 2016, India is expected to grow at 7.4% in 2017, higher than 7.1% in 2016.


$2 billion

What is it? The value of defence deals signed between India and Israel on Thursday.

Why is it important? This is for the supply of advanced medium range surface-to-air missile systems. The technology was developed by by Israel Aerospace Industries and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, along with a few other players, signalling the strengthening relationship between India and Israel..

Tell me more: This comes three months ahead of Modi’s visit to Israel. Modi will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the country, and marks a change in India’s diplomatic relationship with the state.


$8.4 million

What is it? Grants to four Indian non-profits from, Google’s philanthropic arm.

Why is it important? The grants will help these organisations – Learning Equality, Million Sparks Foundation, Pratham Books StoryWeaver and Pratham Education Foundation – develop technology-based learning solutions. As India struggles to raise the standards of its school education, tech-based solutions could help in the process. Annual Status of Education Reports have painted a dismal picture of education outcomes.

Tell me more: The projects include a technology platform for translating books, hybrid learning programmes, digital content platforms and offline digital content for students.

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Isro’s commercial boosters

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The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) is all set to launch 104 satellites in one go aboard its trusted rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), on Wednesday—a world record for the most satellites launched in a single mission. Of the 104, 101 are foreign satellites, which will bring revenue to the government agency. Till 2016, Isro had launched 75 foreign satellites, out of a total of 121. Forex revenues of Isro’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, rose 204.9% in 2015 (see chart 1) on the strength of foreign satellite launches. In 2015-16, commercial launches brought in Rs 230 crore, which was 4% of Isro’s average spending over the previous three years (see chart 3).

Isro’s low prices are drawing foreign clients. Private space programmes such as Arianespace and SpaceX are yet to equal its cost-effectiveness. Besides, Isro has a 100% success rate in foreign satellite launches. While a satellite launch on Arianespace’s rocket will cost about $100 million after subsidies, SpaceX will charge $60 million. In contrast, Isro charged an average $3 million per satellite between 2013 and 2015 (see chart 2).

isro 1


isro 2


isro 3


isro 4

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News in Numbers, Feb 08, 2017: Infosys: a question of governance

$11 million

What is it? Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka’s salary, including variable component.

Why is it important? The founders of Infosys have reportedly raised concerns over the remuneration of the offshoring giant’s first non-promoter CEO, besides the severance packages given to Rajiv Bansal, former CFO, and David Kennedy, former compliance officer and the appointment of Punita Sinha, wife of Union minister Jayant Sinha, as an independent director.

Tell me more: Vishal Sikka’s $11 million package is linked to Infosys achieving $20 billion revenue target. Rajiv Bansal received a severance package of Rs 17.38 crore in 2015, while Kennedy received $868,250 when he quit end of last year.

Rs 16,200 crore

What is it? The detected amount of black money stashed away by Indians in foreign accounts, following revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

Why is it important? Demonetisation revived questions about efforts to recover illegal funds squirrelled away in accounts abroad. The government shared the total illegal money tracked so far, even though it could not estimate the total quantity.


Tell me more: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley mentioned the government could track Rs 8,000 crore worth of credits in offshore accounts by Indians named in the ICIJ report, while in about two years through systematic investigations, it could bring to tax Rs 8,200 crore in black money deposited abroad in secret bank accounts in HSBC.



What is it? The record disposal rate of grievances of the Income Tax department.

Why is it important? The IT department proved to be more technologically savvy than many of its peers. It has redressed over 20,000 complaints last year since the launch of its ‘e-nirvan’ service for taxpayer grievances.

Tell me more: The resolved complaints between July and September, 2016 were 9,444 while in October-December, 2016, they were 11,345, making organisation the most efficient on the government’s Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System.



What is it? The number of foreign satellites Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) will launch next week (February 15), mounted on its trusty PSLV-C37 rocket.

Why is it important? As private players increase their play in space exploration around the globe, costs will play a crucial part as government funding won’t remain the main source. Isro, even though a government agency, has one of the lowest price tags for services that other countries can avail. Elon Musks’ SpaceX’s Falcon-9 satellite launch can cost $60 million, low by global standards, but Isro’s PSLV can be launched at one-third the cost.


Tell me more: In addition to three Indian satellites mounted on the rocket, the 101 foreign nano-satellites, taking up 600 kgs on the rocket, will earn the space agency half of the total cost for the launch. Isro has been earning foreign exchange by accommodating other countries and till July, 2015, it had earned Rs 637.35 crore. In June, 2016, it had launched another 17.



What is it? The number of days of paid leave Facebook workers will get to bereave a family member

Why is it important? This comes at a time when conversations on paid leave in US are mostly around births, and not deaths. Only 60% of private companies in the US give paid leaves for mourning, and only for a few days, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO wrote in the social networking site. Given the influence Facebook has, it could lead to other companies following its footsteps

Tell me more: Facebook employees will have 20 days to mourn the death of an immediate family member, and 10 to mourn the death of an extended family member. They will also have up to  six weeks to take care of a sick relative, (and three days off in case of short term illnesses).

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