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Trade Gap Is Widening. A Lot.

 

Rs 11,300 crore

What is it? The amount the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has reportedly asked Punjab National Bank (PNB) to pay to counterparty lenders in the alleged fraud involving billionaire jewellery designer Nirav Modi.

Why is it important? Although India’s second-largest state lender expressed confidence that it has the capability and capacity to recover the money involved in the fraud, it raises questions as to how and when it would be able to do so. It is said to have sought the help of the government to get out of the mess. Modi reportedly fled the country on January 1, along with his family. Shares of PNB slumped for the second day, taking their total loss to 21%.

Tell me more: The Enforcement Directorate registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and conducted searches at the offices and residences of Modi and Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems in connection with a Rs 280-crore fraud case against the former. The two other complaints relating to the Rs 11,300 crore gap would be supplemented in this case at a later stage.

 

89,409

What is it? The number of employees the Indian Railways seeks to hire in the Group C category (Level I and II) in one of its biggest recruitment drives.

Why is it important? Most recruitments would reportedly be for the ‘safety’ category, which had a vacancy of over 1.2 lakh as of April 2016. The focus on this increased after a series of rail accidents last year. According to an analysis, the number of deaths due to train derailments in 2016-17 was the highest in a decade; further, according to Niti Aayog, since 2012, six out of 10 rail accidents are due to mistakes or negligence on the part of the railway staff.

Tell me more: Still, the Indian Railways would have to conduct a few more such huge recruitment drives to be able to bridge the vacancy gap, as about 40,000-45,000 employees retire from the organisation every year. This fiscal, around 56,000 employees are set to retire.

 

12

What is it? The number of years in which India aims to have an all-electric fleet of cars.

Why is it important? On Thursday, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said there isn’t any need for an electric vehicles (EV) policy for India. This provides a respite to automakers, who are unprepared to meet a wholesale shift to cleaner technology. This is a U-turn from the government’s earlier stance: in January, Gadkari had said the policy had been drafted by government think tank Niti Aayog and that it was pending approval by the Cabinet.

Tell me more: Amitabh Kant, chief executive of Niti Aayog, said India only needs action plans as “technology is always ahead of rules and regulations”. In 2015-16, only 22,000 units of electric vehicles were sold in India, of which just 2,000 were four-wheelers.

 

 

$16.3 billion

What is it? The trade deficit (exports minus imports) in January 2018. This is India’s highest trade deficit since May 2013.

Why is it important? Much of the widening in the trade deficit is on account of a 43% year-on-year surge in oil imports, which make up 29% of India’s total import basket. The increase in the oil import bill is the result of oil prices shooting up since mid-2017, reducing the room available with the Indian government for fiscal management.

Tell me more: Oil prices have cooled off in the past couple of weeks, coinciding with the weakness in share prices, but they are not expected to fall significantly from current levels.

 

9

What is it? The number of gold medals won by Germany so far in the ongoing Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Why is it important? It is one more than the number of gold medals that Germany won in the 2014 Sochi games, where it finished sixth. Its 2018 count, which has catapulted Germany to the top of the medal leaderboard, includes an unexpected and captivating victory in figure skating pairs, where it was represented by Aljona Savchenko (who previously represented Ukraine) and Bruno Massot (previously France).

Tell me more: Norway was a big mover on the medal board on Thursday, winning three gold medals to rise from fourth to second.

 

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Darjeeling: More force to keep calm

1,400

What is it? The number of paramilitary personnel deployed in Darjeeling by the Centre.

Why is it important? They will help the West Bengal government in tackling the protests in the town. The protests, triggered by the West Bengal government’s decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools across the state, soon flared up into the longstanding demand for a separate state, spearheaded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Tell me more: The unrest has resulted in violence in the last few days. Protesters clashed with police and torched an outpost.

$6 billion

What is it? The amount Reliance Industries (RIL) and BP will invest in three projects, including  the development of deepwater gas fieldsand other areas downstream areas in India.

Why is it important? India’s energy use is expected to skyrocket with energy consumption set to more than double by 2040 to 1,908 mn-tonne. Oil companies are moving now to be ready for the demand. Both private companies such as RIL and BP and state-owned companies such as IOC, BPCL and HPCL are investing in increasing capacity.

Tell me more: BP, the British petroleum company, intends to set up fuel stations along with RIL.

 

$13.84 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit, difference between the value of total exports and imports, in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The gap has been widening for the third straight month, and is the highest in two and a half years. Gold imports of nearly $5 billion widened the deficit.

Tell me more: Gold import had fallen right after demonetisation and its impact on trade deficit seen in January and February, 2017.

 

146

What is it? The number of districts identified as having total fertility rate (TFR) of more than three children born per woman.

Why is it important? These districts, 145 of which were identified in 2016, are in the high TFR states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam — that make up 44% of the country’s population. The government has devised an initiative, Mission Parivar Vikas, to impart awareness and intensive family planning services in these places to control population growth.

Tell me more: High TFR in these districts also lead to unsafe conditions for mother and child, accounting for 25-30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths, as reported.

 

104

What is it? The tiger count in the national park of Kaziranga and Burachapori in Assam.

Why is it important? It shows an increase of 21 tigers since 2014. Last year and the start of 2017 seem to have been ominous for India’s tiger population, and this is a ray of good news. While 99 wild tigers died in 2016, 21 Royal Bengal tigers died in Jan-Mar this year.

Tell me more: The last official census was of 2,226 tigers in the wild, though widely contested by wildlife experts.

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Mother of all bombs? 💣

7.4%

What is it? The rate at which Infosys revenues grew in the fiscal year 2016-17.  It closed the year with $10.21 billion in revenue.

Why is it important? The growth rate disappointed the market and its stock price fell by over 3% in trading on Thursday. Volume growth for the quarter was 7.7%, down from 15.39% in the same period last year, essentially bringing it closer to the growth rates when Vishal Sikka took over as CEO.

Tell me more: Infosys, which was in the news recently after the company founder NR Narayana Murthy publicly expressed his displeasure over compensation given to top managers, has also appointed Ravi Venkatesan as co-chairman along with R Seshasayee. The company also said it will payout Rs 13,000 crore via share buyback or as dividends.

 

67%

What is it? The increase in the number of corruption complaints against government departments by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

Why is it important? The bulk of the complaints, 11,200 out of a total of 49,847, were against the Railways, one of the largest-consumer facing government institutions. Other departments which attracted large number of corruption complaints were mostly consumer-facing such as banking and the IT department, or overseeing highly-regulated sectors such as the Ministry of Petroleum, Telecommunications. But data shows the CVC has been passing on less cases against senior government officials to the CBI or Central Vigilance Officers for investigation, referring only 0.16% in 2014 and 0.001% in 2017 of all such cases, down from 1.88% in 2014.

Tell me more: In the year 2015, complaints had declined by 50% than in 2014, at 29,838. The news about the rise in complaints comes after just a few weeks of the CVC’s portal’s crash when data against corrupt officials were reportedly deleted.

 

9,797 kg

What is it? The weight of the GBU-43 bomb dropped by US on a cave and tunnel complex used by Islamic State  in Afghanistan.

Why is it important? It is one of the largest non-nuclear bombs in the US military arsenal, officially called Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or Moab, and unofficially referred to as “the mother of all bombs”.  US President Donald Trump, who had vowed to wipe out Isis in his election campaign, called it “a very successful mission”. The US didn’t didn’t disclose the number of deaths caused by the bomb – militants or civilian. Some experts have said the bombing was symbolic, rather than tactical, and might not alter the course of the war, now in its 16th year.

Tell me more: Originally developed for the invasion of  Iraq in 2003, Moab is 30-feet long, and was dropped from a cargo plane. This is the first time the bomb was used.

 

$10.4 billion

What is it? The foreign trade deficit of India in March, 2017.

Why is it important? The trade deficit, after decreasing, to less than $10 billion, for two consecutive months in Jan-Feb, on strong exports, sprang back to a wider gap than Oct-Dec, in March. Even though exports continued to strengthen, growing at 27.59% year-on-year, the rise in crude oil (101.43% rise) and gold imports widened the deficit.

Tell me more: The trade deficit for the whole of FY17, however, narrowed by 11% from a year ago, to $105.7 billion.

 

Rs 1,675 crore

What is it? The latest funding raised by Ola, the Indian cab-booking app, from SoftBank, the Japanese telecom and Internet company.

Why is it important? While all eyes are on Softbank’s next move with its other major Indian investment, Snapdeal, its fresh funds worth $250 million for Ola, closed last year, has now been made public. However, Ola, like other Indian unicorns, reportedly raised the money at a valuation lower than the last round of funding, from $4.5 billion to $3 billion.

Tell me more: SoftBank’s subsidiary SIMI Pacific made the investment in Ola’s parent company ANI Technologies, before it had floated its new investment vehicle in India, Vision Fund.

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News in Numbers, Feb 16, 2017: 💸 Investment bankers get an idea

$9,840.91 million

What is it? The trade deficit in January, 2017.

Why is it important? The trade deficit, or the difference in value of exports and imports, shrank to its lowest in four months. It was brought about by growth in exports for the fifth straight month, buoyed by petroleum products and engineering goods. The shrinking trade deficit also showed the impact of decreasing gold imports which shrank by 30%.

Tell me more: Demand in US, Europe and Japan led to the 4.32% increase in exports.

 

3

What is it? The number of Taiwanese parliamentarians in the delegation that visited India this week

Why is it important? It drew a diplomatic protest from China which objected to India hosting anyone from self-ruled Taiwan. China blocks Taiwan’s right to diplomatic relations with others as it considers it to be one of its own provinces. It also resists attempts of other countries with ties to it from acknowledging official institutions of Taiwan, encouraging, instead, the ‘one China’ principle. The complaint marks another entry in the uneasy Indo-China relations, plagued by border disputes and conflicting stands on the fight against terrorism.

Tell me more: India has termed the visit as informal and nothing unusual, for purposes of business, religion and tourism.

 

$40 million

What is it? The estimated fee for investment banks advising on the Vodafone India and Idea Cellular merger.

Why is it important? A deal that would create India’s largest telecom operator with around Rs 78,000 crore ($12 billion) sales would generate almost 10% of last year’s total investment fees earned by investment banks in India. Hence, quite a few banks are vying for a slice of the pie.

Tell me more: Banks in the fray reportedly include BofA Merrill Lynch, UBS, Standard Chartered and Rothschild, while Morgan Stanley has already been appointed.

 

Rs 37 trillion

What is it? Asset base of State Bank of India (SBI) post merger with five of its subsidiaries.

Why is it important? The cabinet approved the merger on Wednesday. State Bank of India is already the largest bank in the country, and the merger will push the bank into the top global 50 list in terms of assets (It’s at number 52 now). The merger is also expected to create operational efficiency, saving the bank Rs 10 billion in the first year.

Tell me more: The banks to be merged with SBI are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore , State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore. All put together, SBI will have 22,500 branches, 58,000 ATMs and over 50 crore customers.

 

$300 million

What is it? The amount Yahoo and Verizon have reportedly decided to lop off from the $4.8 billion acquisition deal

Why is it important? The reduction in the value comes after Yahoo disclosed two security breaches in the second half of 2016. The hack had compromised millions of Yahoo Users, and occurred in 2013 and 2014. The disclosure came after Verizon agreed to acquire Yahoo for $4.8 billion in July 2016 – and raised concerns about digital security, and the responsibility of tech firms that handle user data when a breach happens to various stakeholders including users and investors.

Tell me more: The first breach, in August 2013, affected over a billion accounts, and the second, in late 2014, affected over 500 million accounts.

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