BJP May Have AP Problem



What is it? The number of dollar billionaires who made it to the 32nd edition of the annual ranking of the world’s billionaires by Forbes magazine, released Tuesday night.

Why is it important? The combined net worth of these 2,208 people is $9.1 trillion, up 18% from a year ago. This comes at a time when inequality is increasing in the world: between 1980 and 2016, the top 1% of income earners—a set in which these billionaires will feature—captured 27% of growth, while only 12% went to the bottom 50%.

Tell me more: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world ($128 billion) and Mukesh Ambani is the richest in India ($39 billion).


$84.4 billion

What is it?  The value of bilateral trade between India and China in 2017.

Why is it important? This is the highest ever figure in a year for Indo-China trade, and is a growth of 18.7% over the $71.1 billion recorded in 2016. This comes in the backdrop of the two countries clashing over the Doklam issue and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which shows how economic relations can be a equaliser. India’s exports to China increased 39% to $16.3 billion, while India’s imports from China grew 14.6% to $68.1 billion.

Tell me more: However, the bilateral trade figure is short of the $100 billion target set by the two countries in 2012 for 2015.


404 days

What is it? The number of days after which Serena Williams, one of the most decorated tennis players of all-time, is returning to the women’s tour.

Why is it important? Williams is returning to top-flight tennis at the age of 36 years and about six months after giving birth. She is challenging templates of how sportswomen tend to be viewed on choices revolving around gender and age.

Tell me more: She was scheduled to play her first match at 8.30 am IST on March 8, International Women’s Day. Williams last played at the 2017 Australian Open, which she won and later discovered she did so while being eight weeks pregnant.



What is it? The number of MPs that Andhra Pradesh (AP) sends to the Lok Sabha.

Why is it important? Late on Wednesday night, the Telugu Desam Party, which currently rules AP and is also a partner to the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), said it was pulling out its two Central ministers. Its action came in the backdrop of finance minister Arun Jaitley ruling out awarding ‘special status’ to AP. At present, of the 25 MPs, 17 are from TDP and BJP, and this break-up poses an issue for BJP for the 2019 elections.

Tell me more: For centrally sponsored schemes, the Centre pays 90% of the funds required for ‘special status category states’, against the 60% norm.


Rs 34,800 crore

What is it? The upfront payment that Tata Steel has reportedly offered to make to banks, among other things, to buy a controlling stake in Bhushan Steel, which is currently in bankruptcy proceedings.

Why is it important? On Wednesday, in a filing with stock exchanges, Tata Steel said it had been “identified as the highest evaluated compliant resolution applicant”, or the frontrunner, to acquire Bhushan Steel. On Wednesday, in a broad market that was down 0.9%, the Tata Steel stock fell 2%.

Tell me more: If Tata Steel does bag Bhushan Steel, it would be Tata Steel’s first large acquisition since its challenging experience with Corus in 2007.

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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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The heat is on

0.88 degree-Celsius

What is it? The magnitude by which April 2017 was warmer than the global mean temperature from 1951-1980 (base period).

Why is it important? The deviation makes last month the second-warmest April in history, according to Nasa. Last year’s April was 1.06 degree-Celsius warmer than the base temperature and was the hottest. Both 2015 and 2016 clocked high temperatures consistently, with 2016 being the warmest year in history, a result carbon dioxide and other human-led emissions into the atmosphere. This year the mercury has not shot up as much as in 2016 but since February, has clocked second-highest temperatures ever.

Tell me more: Modern record-keeping of temperatures began in 1880 and 2017 would be its 138th year.


Rs 1,168.02 crore

What is it? The consolidated net loss of steel major, Tata Steel, in the fourth quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? The loss was less than the one in the fourth quarter of FY16 (of Rs 3,041.88 crore) but it marks the removal of an obstacle to merging its European operations with the German ThyssenKrupp in a joint venture. The pensions scheme at its UK operations had been the hurdle. This quarter, the loss was primarily due to exceptional items amounting to Rs 4,069 crore, which included resolution of the pension claims of its UK employees.

Tell me more: Consolidated profit before the exceptional items are added, amounted to Rs 3,352 crore in Q4 FY17.


>9.1 million

What is it? The number of new taxpayers brought within the income tax ambit by the authorities after the demonetisation drive.

Why is it important? The new taxpayers amount to almost 25% of the count of taxpayers last season (37 2015-16). The finance minister, Arun Jaitley, says out of the new taxpayers in the net this year, 1.8 million have been identified with cash transactions not in line with their income profiles.

Tell me more: More than 972,000 of those under the scanner have responded to the IT department’s queries, providing answers for 1.3 million bank accounts with cash deposits of Rs 2.89 crore.


$234 million

What is it? The amount Incred, a non banking finance company backed by Anshu Jain, former Co-Chief of Deutsche Bank aims to disburse by March next year, primarily to small and medium sector.

Why is it important? It comes at a time when big banks, saddled by bad loans, are shying away from lending to SMEs. Incred said in April that it has disbursed Rs 100 crore (or a little over $15 million) in its first 100 days of its operations.

Tell me more: Non banking finance sector in general has been getting more active in the SME sector, and have doubled their market share in this segment in the last five years, according to Crisil, a credit rating agency.


~3.8 million

What is it? The number of plastic pieces on the beaches of Henderson Island.

Why is it important? Henderson Island, located in the South Pacific Ocean, is uninhabited, remote, and visited only once in five to 10 years. It has the highest concentration of human-activities generated debris – estimated to weigh over 250,000 tonnes – recorded anywhere in the world, washed ashore by the sea, and serves as an indicator of marine pollution.

Tell me more: The nearest major population centre to this Unesco World Heritage site is 5000 kms away.

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News in Numbers, Dec 8, 2016: The surprise decision…


What is it? The repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends to commercial banks.

Why is it important? It has been left unchanged by the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee, a unanimous decision by the six-member team. This decision has been widely perceived to be a surprise even as many analysts had predicted a rate cut after the cash crunch brought on by the government’s move to replace high-value currency notes, which threatens to slow down the economy. The rates were held steady amidst concerns about the re-emergence of food inflation pressures, a likely increase in crude oil prices and the expected increase in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve.

Tell me more: The central bank has lowered its growth forecast to 7.1% from the earlier projection of 7.6% due to demonetisation.


Rs 35,170 crore

What is it? The increase in net spending for which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has sought Parliamentary approval in the current fiscal.

Why is it important? This is the second time that additional funding is being sought. In August, extra funds of $3.1 billion was approved for spending in 2016-17. The recent request comes after the Indian economy grew by 7.3% in the July-September quarter, mainly driven by government spending as private investment activity showed no signs of gaining pace.

Tell me more: The additional spending includes Rs 4,000 crore for a rural jobs programme, Rs 3,100 crore for the farm ministry and Rs 1,100 crore to cover a higher pensions bill.



What is it? The percentage of customer acquisition forms (of a total of 7.84 crore audited) that were found to be non-compliant as of September 2016 during verification of such forms used to enrol customers by telecom operators.

Why is it important? Indicates that a significant share of users are not verified (as mandated) before providing them with mobile connections. A total of Rs 2,335.9 crore penalty has been levied on telecom service providers as on the last day of September. It remains to be seen if the telecom ministry’s recent circular notifying the use of Aadhaar e-KYC (know your customer) service of the Unique Identity Authority of India for issuing mobile connections to users is likely to bring down the number of such violations.

Tell me more: The Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells carry out the verification exercise of customer acquisition forms of 0.1% of users at the end of every month.


£1 billion

What is it? The amount Tata Steel plans to invest in UK over the next 10 years.

Why is it important? This is part of the deal that Britain’s largest steelmaker has offered to unions and in return, it expects them to move to a defined contribution scheme from the existing expensive pension scheme. This deal brings Tata Steel a step closer to merging its European assets with Germany’s Thyssenkrupp, which does not want to take on the former’s pension liabilities in case a merger happens. The unions would decide on the deal in January next year.

Tell me more: The deal also includes Tata Steel offering to keep both the furnaces operational at Port Talbot in South Wales for five years at least with no compulsory redundancies during that period. Tata Steel employs 4,000 people at the Welsh plant and 11,000 in the UK.



What is it? The number of cases where the baby cannot fit down the birth canal per 1,000 births compared to 30 in 1,000 in the 1960s, according to a research.

Why is it important? The research suggests that the regular use of caesarean sections is affecting human evolution. Increasingly, more mothers require surgery to deliver babies due to their narrow pelvis size. Earlier, women with a very narrow pelvis would not have survived birth but now due to medical interventions, they do and pass on their genes to their girl children. The question of why the human pelvis has not grown wider over the years despite the fact that the head of a human baby is larger than that of other primates, still remains unanswered.

Tell me more: The research published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ says that the study points towards the trend of larger newborns (which are more healthy) and that the trend towards smaller newborns has disappeared.


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