Action Against Discrimination

5 million

What is it?The approximate number of people that use Philip Morris’ iQOSsmoking device in over 30 countries. The pen-like device heats but does not burn tobacco and produces a nicotine-containing vapour instead of smoke.

Why is it important? The firm is reportedly looking to launch its device in India, where the use of tobacco kills more than 900,000 people every year and is home to the second-largest adult smoking population in the world. Earlier this year, in the United States, a federal advisory committee had recommended that the Food and Drug Administration reject a bid by Philip Morristo sell its device in the US as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. The FDA’s decision is expected in a few months.

Tell me more:The firm promotes its Marlboro cigarettes in India but has a share of just 1.4% in India’s $10-billion cigarette market.


Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The quantum of short-term loans Air India has sought from banks, who have been requested to submit their financial bids by June 13.

Why is it important?This comes at a time when the national carrier has failed to pay salaries to its over 11,000 employees for the third month in a row and is seeking working capital requirements on an urgent basis. The government’s plan to sell 76% stake in the airline met with zero bidders and as a result, it is reportedly will come out with revised bidding norms soon. The carrier has a total debt of Rs 52,000 crore, of which Rs 22,000 is aircraft loan and the rest, working capital loans and other liabilities.

Tell me more:Air India has asked the government to restore equity infusionin the carrier. It has received over Rs 26,000 crore under a Rs 30,231-crore bailout package announced by the UPA-II government in 2012.



What is it?The size of the committee the Indian government has set up for monitoring and redressal of grievances with respect to the alleged discrimination faced by the north-eastern people living in different parts of the country.

Why is it important? Discrimination against those from the North East came into focus after the death of Nido Tania, a 20-year-old from Arunachal Pradesh, in 2014. He was attacked in a South Delhi market due to his race and died due to severe lung and brain injuries. The panel would be given powers for ensuring strict action in cases of racial discrimination, atrocities and violence and also, for suggesting measures to curb such crimes.

Tell me more:The government recently said it has implemented all the recommendationsof the MP Bezbaruah committee to ensure people from the north-eastern states do not face discrimination. The committee’s report says over 2 lakh peoplemigrated from the North East to Delhi between 2005 and 2013, of which 86% have faced discrimination.



What is it?The cost of capturing one tonne of CO2 (Carbon dioxide) from air by Carbon Engineering, a Canadian firm backed by Microsoft founder, Bill Gates.

Why is it important?The cost is significantly lower than the current price of $600 per tonne, and could end up as viable solution to capture carbon in the environment. The Canadian company has an operational plant since 2015 that has converted one tonne of CO2 per day.

Tell me more:Through this technology, which is peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal, Carbon Engineering has produced 1 barrel of liquid fuel by combining the pure CO2 with hydrogen derived from water.



What is it?The number of cops identified to have received monthly bribesfrom businessmen in Telangana, according to a list prepared by the state’s top cop.

Why is it important?The practice of collecting monthly bribes (or mamools) is common, but this is the first known instance of identifying large number of corrupt cops. The identified cops are reassigned to armed reserves without any responsibilities.

Tell me more:Telangana police created a whatsapp number and email IDto receive complaints from the public regarding corrupt cops. Based on complaints, the DGP office investigated and included the corrupt cops in the list.


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Why Agri-Equipment Companies Should Watch Telangana

On November 6, the Telangana government said it would provide 24×7 power to the farm sector for the “next five to six days”. It was part of a bigger plan. It is seeing this as a dry run to its eventual objective of providing 24 x7 power to farmers, beginning March 2018.

If that happens, and if farmers plug more into the greater supply, it could open up new opportunities for companies in the business of agri-equipment like pump-sets and drip irrigation sets.

Power availability is an issue in India everywhere, especially in rural areas. The last time an exhaustive count of power availability was done at the village level was as part of Census 2011. This was when the 10 districts that are Telangana today were a part of Andhra Pradesh.

In October 2016, these 10 districts were re-carved into 31 districts, but to stay synchronous with the data, this piece will consider them as 10 districts.

Villages in these 10 districts received 5-7 hours of electricity for agricultural use in the summer months of April to September (See Graph 1). The situation would have improved since then.

In fact, in the six-month period to September 2017 alone, Telangana increased power generation by 25%, which was the highest among all large- and medium-sized states, shows data from the Central Electricity Authority.

Villages and farmers need this incremental electricity. According to the Socio Economic Caste Census of 2011, 8 of 10 districts in Telangana each had at least one-third of agricultural land that was unirrigated, led by Adilabad (55%). This means produce on this land is largely dependent on rains. If there is greater surety of power supply, those with the means to buy, or the ability to borrow to buy, might be more inclined to invest in agricultural equipment that enable better productivity through greater mechanization and irrigation.

So, where in Telangana might these pockets of demand be? Here’s what the rural areas of these districts looked like in 2011 on five metrics that define ownership of agri-equipment and purchasing power. And there resides lines of inquiry for chief marketing officers (CMOs) of agri-equipment companies.

This data for Telangana is also available with How India Lives at the sub-district level. If you are interested in accessing this data, please write to johnraja@howindialives.com

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In The Making: The Largest Ever Tech Takeover


Broadcom has offered to acquire smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm. The average surface temperature is above that of pre-industrial era’s now. Telangana government has decided to supply electricity to the farm sector for the whole day for 4-5 days.


$105 billion

What is it? The value of the offer in cash and stock by Broadcom to acquire smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm.

Why is it important? If it goes through, it would be the largest-ever takeover in the technology sector, and Broadcom would become the third-largest chipmaker after Intel and Samsung. However, Qualcomm, which is in the midst of a $38.5 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductor, is likely to reject the bid on the argument that it undervalues the company. Further, this deal would face tough anti-trust scrutiny.

Tell me more: Including debt, the total transaction value would be $130 billion. Qualcomm is currently fighting a legal battle with Apple and facing an anti-trust investigation in Europe.


1.1° Celsius

What is it? The amount which the average surface temperature was above the pre-industrial era from January to September 2017, according to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization.

Why is it important? This has set 2017 to be on course to be among the three hottest years on record, which means many high-impact events such as floods, catastrophic hurricanes, heatwaves and droughts. The warning signs for governments to act couldn’t be more compelling as long-term indicators of climate change worsen, including a rise in sea levels, and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations and ocean acidification.

Tell me more: As many as 200 countries began discussions in Germany on Monday to strengthen a global climate accord even as the United States plans to quit.



What is it? The number of Indians whose names figure in the ‘Paradise Papers’, a global investigation that reveals financial dealings in tax havens of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.

Why is it important? The income tax department and the capital market regulator said on Monday they would investigate if any of these people were involved in illegal transactions. The Central Board of Direct Taxes has asked its investigation arm to re-check tax returns filed by individuals and companies named in the Paradise Papers. And the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will seek information from stock exchanges on listed companies’ offshore entities, which will be matched with statutory disclosures.

Tell me more: Of the 180 countries featured in Paradise Papers, India ranks 19th in terms of number of names.


24 hours

What is it? The number of hours a day the Telangana government is aiming to provide power supply to the farm sector for “five to six days” this week, beginning Monday.

Why is it important? This dry run of sorts is a precursor to its goal of 24×7 power being available to all 31 districts from March-April 2018. Usually, state governments have focused on subsidising power to the farm sector, whereas Telangana, on the face of it, is strengthening delivery.

Tell me more: In the April to September 2017 period, Telangana registered a 25% increase in power generated on a year-on-year basis, which was next only to the much-smaller states of Sikkim and Meghalaya.


$9.75 million

What is it? The interest payment on a dollar-denominated debt instrument that Reliance Communications missed on Monday.

Why is it important? This is the first debt-related default in a foreign currency by the Anil Ambani-owned company, whose telecom business lies in shambles, and which is now dependent on asset sales and lender restructuring to salvage an exit.

Tell me more: Elsewhere, it was a red-letter day for a part of Ambani’s financial services business: the company that manages his group’s mutual fund business listed yesterday and closed at a 13% premium to its issue price.


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EVMs’ funding problems 💰

Rs 3,174 crore

What is it? The cost of over 1.6 million voter verifiable paper audit trail machines, funds for which the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) has asked the government to urgently release.

Why is it important? Amidst an opposition-parties’ clamour for reverting to paper ballot for transparency and tamper-proofing, the CEC has reiterated the urgency to order the paper trail machines to fortify the voting process. The machines let voters see a slip for seven seconds with the symbol of the party they just voted for on electronic voting machines, ratifying whether the correct vote has been recorded or not. The wait for funds had begun since June, 2014, and over 11 reminders have been given to the government.

Tell me more: Even as the Supreme Court awaits the timeline for deploying such machines, the order for the machines has already delayed for the Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2019.



What is it? The number of major airports — Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad — put on high alert after an emailed tip-off on Saturday about imminent hijackings.

Why is it important? The security at these airports was increased overnight on Sunday through to Monday. Passengers have been going through double screenings and checks. Anti-hijacking briefings and an airport security committee meeting were held for stakeholders and staff at these airports. The level of security was raised to that of Independence Day.

Tell me more: Quick action teams, of the Central Industrial Security Force, which was overseeing the security, were also deployed. The email said the sender had overheard a group of men planning to hijack planes at these airports. Cyber police has been deployed to track the sender.


> Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The investment by South Korean Kia Motors is expected to make in Andhra Pradesh.

Why is it important? One of the largest FDIs, the investment is expected to be around Rs 10,300 crore in two phases. The company, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motors, will also be a feather in AP-chief minister, N Chandrababu Naidu’s cap, competing for India’s FDI pie (one of the largest FDI recipients) with neighbouring Telangana and other states.

Tell me more: An official announcement is yet to come from Kia.



What is it? Reservation in educational institutions and government jobs in Telangana for those Muslims who are economically backward, according to a bill passed by the state assembly on Sunday.

Why is it important? Chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao had promised to do so in his poll campaign. By increasing the reservation to 12% from the existing 4%, it has exceeded the Supreme Court’s 50% ceiling. 62% of the seats in education and government jobs are reserved for various categories. The only opposition to the bill came from five Bharatiya Janata Party members in the assembly who termed it unconstitutional. They were later suspended for disrupting the proceedings. Rao said it was reservation based on economic backwardness, and not religion.

Tell me more: The bill, the Telangana backward classes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes (reservation of seats in educational institutions and of appointments or posts in services under the state) bill, 2017, also increased reservation to scheduled tribes from 6% to 10% .


> 150

What is it? The number of cities in the United States that held protests against president Donald Trump, demanding that he release his tax returns.

Why is it important? Breaking a long tradition, Trump declined to release his tax returns while running for presidency. He hasn’t done that after assuming his office. Besides, his business ties have raised questions about conflicts of interest and it remains a contentious issue.

Tell me more: The protests turned violent at Berkeley, California, leading to arrests of over 20 people, underlining the polarisation taking place in the US.

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