We wanted flying cars, instead we got…

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600

What is it? The number of employees reportedly fired by Wipro after its annual performance appraisal.

Why is it important? Observers comment on the timing, amidst the uncertainty surrounding sending employees to their revenue-earning countries on temporary work visas. Not just the US with its H1-B visa but other countries such as Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, are tightening work visa rules as well. This leaves Indian IT companies to mull ways of keeping operational costs in check when hiring local talent and artificial intelligence for their client sites, while pruning a large domestic employee bench in India.

Tell me more: Wipro had over 179,000 employees at the end of December, 2016. It insists it is performing its ‘rigorous performance appraisal’ which is undertaken on a regular basis and is not a one-off, without confirming thenumber of people fired.

 

$186 million

What is it? The amount (Rs 1,200 crore) earned by the government through a 9.2% stake sale in National Aluminium Co (Nalco).

Why is it important? The asset sale kicks off this year’s disinvestment programme of the government. It plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore ($11.26 billion) in all, though the initial investment target is seldom met, with the central government often revising it lower through a fiscal.

Tell me more: Last year, it managed to earn Rs 46,247 crore through disinvestment. Nalco’s share sale was oversubscribed 1.43 times.

 

3

What is it? The number of casualties (one death and two injuries) in the central Paris shooting  attack by an Isis terrorist on Thursday night.

Why is it important? This is the latest in a slew of militant attacks in France, mostly perpetrated by Islamists from France and Belgium, killing more than 230 people since 2015. The attack on Champs Elysees has occurred just a few days from the presidential elections (Sunday).

Tell me more: Tourists and locals were cleared of the area. It is reported there was intimation of a dangerous individual coming into France from Belgium, though whether it is the same terrorist, now killed, is unclear.

 

$4.1 billion

What is it? Royalty payments outflow from India in 2012-13.

Why is it important? Regulation of royalty payments could turn out to be one of the levers India might pull in response to US president Donald Trump passing an executive order which placed curbs on H1B visas, used primarily in Indian IT companies. Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, speaking at an event on Thursday said, “it is a situation which is not where only the Indian companies have to face the US executive order.”

Tell me more: Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is on a visit to US, has also raised H1B visa issue with US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross.

 

$1.3 million

What is it? Starting price of flying car, from AeroMobil, a Slovakia-based startup.

Why is it important? While the company is expected to ship the cars only in 2020, it is all set to take pre-orders from customers. Two other flying car companies, Terrafugia and Pal-V Liberty are also taking reservations for their products. This might put to rest some complaints about startups that they are not living up to their promise of delivering transformational products, underlined by Peter Thiel’s famous comment, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

Tell me more: AeroMobil’s car can transform itself into a flight in about 3 minutes, and has a flight range of about 750 kms. It’s top ground speed is 160 kmph and flight speed of 360 kmph. Fictional spy James Bond has used a flying car in The Man with the Golden Gun.

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ReVISAble process? 🗽

$5.4 billion

What is it? The value of the stake in seven publicly-held companies that government plans to sell this fiscal.

Why is it important? The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management has sought bids to manage the sales, as part of the disinvestment programme of the central government. Through strategic stake sale in publicly-held companies and minority stake sale in private companies, the government plans to raise Rs 72,500 crore ($11.26 billion) this year. It would help plug the 3.2% fiscal deficit of GDP for the year.

Tell me more: The companies include large entities such as Indian Oil, NTPC and Steel Authority of India. The initial disinvestment target is seldom met, with the central government often revising it lower through a fiscal. Last year, it managed to earn Rs 46,247 crore through disinvestment.

 

Rs 15 lakh

What is it? The penalty Air India proposes to levy on unruly passengers delaying flights for over two hours.

Why is it important? The national carrier, tasked with transporting government employees and ministers, has had a spate of such incidents, the latest ones involving parliamentarians. Shiv Sena’s Ravindra Gaikwad and Trinamool Congress’ Dola Sen held up flights and misbehaved with the staff. Depending on the delay caused by unruly passengers, the fine would get levied: Delays upto an hour would attract Rs 5 lakh, between one and two hours Rs 10 lakh and beyond two hours Rs 15 lakh.

Tell me more: The proposal also has advice on tackling such situations which include an immediate filing of police complaint.

 

199,000

What is it? The number of H1B visa applications filed by employers for 2018 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Why is it important? This is the first time the total number of applications fell. Even though it is over two times the available visa quota of 85,000, the number of applications dwindled compared to last year and earlier. Last year, there were 236,000 applications filed by employers. It shows their apprehensions about the H1B visa programme, meant for hiring highly-skilled workers from out of US, after the Trump administration proposed restrictions.

Tell me more: The Indian IT majors have spoken of looking at more local hiring than sending Indian employees to client sites.

 

Rs 39,000 crore

What is it? The declared value of Sahara’s Aamby Valley property

Why is it important? The Supreme Court has now ordered to sell the property, spread over 10,000 acres, because Sahara failed to deposit Rs 5000 crore as required by the court’s earlier order. Sahara Group, through two firms, had raised Rs 24,029 crore from investors in 2009-10, flouting public issue norms. Market regulator Sebi asked Sahara to return the money to investors in 2010. It has paid about Rs 11,000 crore so far. Pending amount is Rs 14,779 crore.

Tell me more:  In February, the court had attached Aamby Valley, on concerns that Sahara is dragging its feet to return the money. Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who was arrested in 2014 over the case, is at present out on a bail.

 

$7.8 million

What is it? The fine amount Google will pay to settle an antitrust case related to Android operating system in Russia

Why is it important? The case indicates the dominance of the search engine giant, which in some ways mirrors the dominance of Microsoft’s operating system in the computer market and the antitrust case it triggered over 15 years ago. Google has also agreed to remove restrictions on pre-installed applications on Android platform. It could potentially become the norm in other markets too.

Tell me more: This is the culmination of a two year old legal battlethat started with a complaint by Yandex, Russia based search engine that said Google is using its dominant position in the market to stifle competition through restrictions on pre-installed apps that come with the phone.

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