The Stock Shock



What is it? The losing streak of the BSE Sensex. In these last five days, the bellwether index has shed 4.2%.

Why is it important? After a steady and continuous run up in 2017, share prices are correcting, not just in India but also across the world. In the US, the Dow Jones crashed 1,600 points during intra-day trading on Monday, its biggest fall ever, eventually closing the day with a loss of 1,175 points. The Dow has wiped off its 2018 gains in the last two days.

Tell me more: A host of global reasons (like the US hiking interest rates and the run-up in prices) and local reasons (the imposition of a long-term capital gains tax in India) are being cited for the weakening sentiment.


88.2 million

What is it? The number of passengers that passed through Dubai International Airport in 2017.

Why is it important? This figure makes this airport in the Middle East, which is a hub for Emirates Airline, the busiest international airport for the third year in a row. Its 2017 passenger number is an increase of 5.5% over its 2016 number. Dubai’s elevation has come in a short period of time, and in 2014 it overtook London’s Heathrow airport as the busiest international airport. The airport expects international passenger footfalls to cross 90 million in 2018.

Tell me more: While Dubai is the busiest international airport, the busiest airport overall (domestic plus international) in 2017 was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, servicing 101.6 million passengers.



What is it? The fall in the price of Bitcoin on Monday, briefly even dropping below $7,000 to reach a level it last hit on November 14.

Why is it important? The meltdown reflects the growing caution against crypto currencies and how they integrate into the mainstream. In the last week, concerns have arisen about increased regulation, hackers and potential price manipulation at a major crypto currency exchange. On Friday, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup said they had disallowed crypto-currency purchases on their credit cards.

Tell me more: In India, economic affairs secretary SC Garg said the government was planning policy measures to make crypto currencies illegal as a payments system and appoint a regulator to oversee unregulated exchanges trading.



What is it? The EBITDA margin (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of Tata Motors’ India business in the third quarter (October to December) of 2017-18, the results for which the company announced yesterday.

Why is it important? On a year-on-year basis, that’s an increase of 7.5 percentage points, and comes on the back of a 59% increase in revenues, suggesting improving performance in the India business of Tata Motors. For the past couple of years, Jaguar Land Rover, the company’s international business, has been pulling performance at the company.

Tell me more: In the third quarter, the company posted a decline in net profit for the third straight quarter to Rs 1,214 crore, compared to Rs 2,501 crore in the previous quarter.



What is it? The number of years it has been since American singer-songwriter Paul Simon released his first solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook, in 1965. He has since released another 15 albums and toured prolifically.

Why is it important? On Monday, the 76-year-old said 2018 would be his last year doing live shows, citing the demands of touring and the death of lead guitarist, Vincent N’guini. Further, Simon would celebrate this passing of an era with a series of shows in the US and Europe between May and July in ‘Homeward Bound-The Farewell Tour’.

Tell me more: He first made his name in the 1960s as one half of Simon & Garfunkel. After they split in 1970, Simon built a successful career as a solo artist, showing an interest for global musical styles, working with South American and African musicians in projects that drew attention for their musical ambition and political context.


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Lend us your ears

Rs 29,524 crore

What is it? The revised revenue target of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for fiscal 2018.

Why is it important? This is a 40% reduction from the projection made by the Finance Ministry, of Rs 47,305 crore. The dipping revenues of Indian operators has led to a drop in licence fees (8%) and spectrum usage charges (3-6% of gross revenue) paid to Dot.

Tell me more: DoT says the fourth quarter licence fees is Rs 2,686 crore, down from Rs 3,450 crore in the third quarter. The gross revenue, according to Business Standard, was Rs 2.10 lakh-crore in FY17, from Rs 2.36 lakh-crore in FY16. In May, an inter-ministerial panel was constituted to bring relief to the financially strained telecom sector through policy reforms.

83.6 million

What is it? The number of Tata Motors’ shares Tata Sons will buy from Tata Steel.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator that Tata Sons is reducing cross-holdings among its group companies. Tata Sons’ stake would increase from the current 28.71%, and Tata Steel’s go down to nil from 2.9% in Tata Motors. Tata Motors still owns 0.46% in Tata Steel. Tata Steel had earlier brought down its stake in Titan.

Tell me more: Tata Sons was reportedly planning to spend about Rs 7000 crore to buy shares from group companies and reduce cross holding.


What is it? The number of people killed in a raging forest fire in central Portugal since Saturday.

Why is it important? Portugal is prone to forest fires during the summer months, but this disaster has been termed the country’s biggest tragedy in memory by its Prime Minister Antonio Costa. People were killed in their cars, trapped by the flames as they tried to evacuate.

Tell me more: A lightning strike during a dry thunderstorm (in which the rain evaporates before hitting the ground due to heat) and caused a forest fire.


What is it? The percentage of marginal farmers (those with less than 1 hectare of land) that have borrowed from non-institutional lenders.

Why is it important? Non-institutional lenders include moneylenders, family and friends, according to PRS Legislative Research based on 2013 data. This suggests that farm loan waivers – being considered by some state governments – will have minimal impact on marginal farmers. In contrast, in case of large (10+ hectares) and medium (4-10 hectares) farmers, loans from non institutional sources stand at 21% and 29% respectively.

Tell me more: Among states, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu have most number of households in debt – at 93%, 89% and 83% respectively. All India average is about 52%. Reserve Bank of India, among others, have pointed outthe negative impact of farm loan waivers in the recent past.

2 months

What is it? Grace time for filing Goods and Services Tax (GST) returns post its planned launch on July 1st.

Why is it important? This will help Indian companies, especially small businesses, transition to the new system, which requires them to file three returns a month. Some have raised concerns that the country might not be ready yet for GST, given the complexity of the new tax laws, and the current IT infrastructure in the country. They have proposed that it should be either postponed or rolled out in a phases, starting with a few industries. But GST Council, which governs GST under the chairmanship of India’s finance minister, has said there will be no delay.

Tell me more: GST Council also approved an anti-profiteering authority to penalise businesses that don’t pass on the benefits of GST to customers. The authority will be in force for two years.

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News in Numbers, Mar 15, 2017: Money travels less 👣


What is it? The retail price inflation in February.

Why is it important? The rate of growth, year-on-year, of consumer price inflation climbed up after six months of falling. Prices of fuel and food contribute mostly to the fluctuations, as RBI specified non-food and non-fuel inflation to not have budged from 4.9% since September. CPI mirrors the consumer food price inflation which shows the first increase in seven months by 2.01%.

Tell me more: Wholesale price inflation, too, rose by 6.55% in February, spurred again by positive price rise in food and cost of fuel and power.



What is it? The estimated number of employees who will be offered a voluntary retirement scheme by Tata Motors.

Why is it important? Even though it is less than 1% (0.8%) of Tata Motors’ total employee strength of 60,000 people, this is the second time in two years that it resorted to a VRS. As  the automaker’s domestic business drags down the overall profits with its losses, the scheme is being used to cut costs in a restructuring exercise.

Tell me more: While top tier has been approved and decided, the mid-level of its management structure is being discussed.


3 times

What is it? The higher energy density in a new solid-state battery compared to today’s lithium ion batteries. It was invented by John Goodenough, father of lithium-ion batteries.

Why is it important? The invention has now been endorsed by Alphabet Inc’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who termed it as “promising”. The 94-year-old inventor’s new all-glass batteries could solve the world’s energy storage problems with its higher capacity to hold energy. It could push up electric car adoption.

Tell me more: The batteries are said to be safer as they transmit energy at lower temperatures than lithium-ion ones and can be made at very low cost given ample supply of sodium around the world.



What is it? The number of Mumbai railway stations that Shiv Sena wants to be renamed

Why is it important? The far-right regional party wants the stations to shed the colonial imprint, underlining how names and symbols have a strong political resonance. Such demands have gained momentum in the last few decades. Mumbai got its official name changed from Bombay in 1995 (followed by Chennai (Madras) and Kochi (Cochin) in 1996 and Kolkata (Calcutta) in 2001)

Tell me more: Shiv Sena wants Mumbai Central to be renamed after Jagannath Shankar Seth, and Charni Road, Elphinstone Road, Curry Road and Sandhurst Road stations to be renamed as Girgaum, Prabhadevi, Lalbaug and Dongri respectively.


~ Rs 1000 crore

What is it? The amount spent by Indian telecom players on advertisements in 2016, according to the Pitch Madison Advertising Report.

Why is it important? This is up 50% from the previous year, and reflects the fight for customers last year, triggered by the launch of Jio. Reliance Jio Infocomm, which launched its services last year, had telecom players not only reduce their prices but also step up on advertising to gain, and more importantly, retain customers. Jio’s introductory offer included free call and data till end of March 2017.

Tell me more: Airtel was the biggest spender in 2016, splurging Rs 450 crore to Rs 550 crore on ads. Jio spent Rs 100 crore to 150 crore. Jio is aiming at 50% market share by 2021.

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News in Numbers, Feb 15, 2017: Jailbird

3 years, 6 months

What is it? The time left in AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala’s sentence in the disproportionate assets case.

Why is it important? She was convicted by the Supreme Court yesterday, which upheld the trial court verdict and punishment over a later Madras High Court judgement. As Sasikala has to surrender soon to serve the remaining sentence, the knot over the state’s leadership may finally unravel with MLAs expected to return to the floor to cast their votes.


Tell me more: Sasikala and her two relatives will have to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each, and she won’t be able contest elections for six more years after she returns from jail (having served for four years).


2.2 million

What is it? Number of people in India and China who died prematurely from long-term exposure to the potent air pollutant particulate matter, PM 2.5, in 2015.

Why is it important? The death count equals 52% of PM 2.5’s toll on the world in 2015. The annual average PM 2.5 level of 58 µg/m3 in China and 74 µg/m3 are extreme concentrations of the pollutant, when 50% of the global population is exposed to 35 µg/m3.

Tell me more: India also saw an increase of 67%, above the global average of 60%, in ozone-attributable deaths.



What is it? Those who got sick from Ebola and infected 61% of the total stricken by the virus, called superspreaders.

Why is it important? The small count of superspreaders infecting scores of others, points to how transmission of the deadly Ebola virus could have been controlled. The West African epidemic which began in 2014, quickly got out of control, to claim over 11,300 lives and over 28,000 confirmed cases of infection. Africa’s communal burial rituals led to greater contact of healthy individuals with Ebola’s most dangerous carriers — dead bodies or the dying. Keeping these superspreaders away from others could have prevented two-thirds of the cases.


Tell me more: It was found once admitted, patients in hospitals and care centres did not transmit the virus.


Rs 111.57 crore

What is it? Tata Motor’s net profit in quarter ended 31, December 2016.

Why is it important? That’s down 96% from Rs 2,953 crore during the same quarter last year. While analysts anticipated a hit in profits, it was worse than expected. Commercial vehicles sales were down, and the margins of its UK subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover, a money spinnerfor Tata Motors, fell sharply.

Tell me more: Tata Motors sales dropped 2.2% to Rs 67,864.95 crore in the October-December quarter from Rs 69,398 crore during the same period last year.


Rs 136 crore

What is it? India’s investment in a second Hindustan Aeronautics production line to manufacture Tejas, indigenously developed light combat aircraft

Why is it important? Indian airforce is mostly dependent on import of foreign aircraft, and the additional production line will help HAL supply 16 LACs. It will replace Russian made  MiG-21 planes.

Tell me more: After a delay of over 33 years post approval, Tejas entered service last year. HAL has supplied only three of them so far, due to production constraints.

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