Center’s Thrust To Education

$50 billion
What is it? The targeted size of bilateral trade between India and Indonesia by 2025. It was $18.13 billion in 2017.

Why is it important? In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official visit to Indonesia, the two countries have signed 15 agreements in sectors including defence, science, health, railways and technology. They also pledged to step up defence and maritime cooperation and have planned to develop a strategic Indonesian naval port in the Indian Ocean. India is in a bind as Indonesia is seeking its support to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council though the former has consistently supported Maldives for this so far. The voting is scheduled for next week.

Tell me more: India also announced a 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens to visit India.

Rs 550 crore

What is it? The amount the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has ordered Reliance Communications (RCom) to pay Ericsson by the end of September.

Why is it important? This is a part of NCLAT’s Wednesday order after the debt-laden firm reached a settlement with the Swedish telecom gearmaker. The order has halted RCom’s 270-day insolvency process and also, allowed RCom’s lenders to complete the sale of the telcom firm’s wireless assets including airwaves and mobile masts to Reliance Jio Infocomm in a deal that is reportedly worth $3.8 billion.

Tell me more:Ericsson, which had signed a seven-year agreement in 2014 to manage and operate RCom’s nationwide telecom network, had filed an insolvency petition against the latter to claim around Rs 1,600 crore in dues.


What is it? The percentage of total funding the central government is looking to provide to states for key school schemes in the form of incentives and on the basis of performance.

Why is it important? This step is aimed at helping states improve their school education system and will depend on the measures taken by them including teaching-learning outcome and rationalisation in teacher deployment. Surveys by NGO Pratham and that by a state government point to low reading/understanding skills and the inability to solve math problems at the basic level by many children in both government and private schools.

Tell me more: The overall student-teacher ratio is 1:27 compared to the required 1:30 under the Right to Education Act. The Indian government will spend Rs 34,000 crore under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, which clubs key schemes.


What is it? The projected growth rate of the Indian economy in 2018, according to Moody’s FInancial Services, a ratings firm.

Why is it important? The current growth projection is lower than Moody’s earlier projection of 7.5% growth in 2018. Higher crude oil prices and tighter financial conditions are cited as reasons for downgrade in the growth rate. Between 1 April and 28 May this year, crude oil prices (Indian basket) have increased by $12.15 a barrel, or 19%.

Tell me more: For every $10/ barrel increase in crude oil price, India’s GDP growth is reduced by 0.15%, according to an earlier estimate by the Reserve Bank of India.

25 basis points 

What is it? The increase in retail fixed deposit rates for tenure between 1 and 2 years by India’s largest commercial bank, the State Bank of India (SBI).

Why is it important?The increase shows fading of demonetisation benefits, which brought in record deposits into the banking system from November 2016. Now with credit growing at a faster rate than increase in deposits, the state-run SBI has felt the need to increase the retail deposit rates for select tenures.

Tell me more: Increase in retail deposit rate is likely to increase the benchmark Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR), which the SBI will release on Friday. SBI had increased MCLR in March by 10-20 basis points (one basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point).

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Pre-trump trouble


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.



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.



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 ✊


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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