Pre-trump trouble

5,436

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.

 

7

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.

 

10

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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News In Numbers – August 18

News In Numbers: August 18

 

211 vs 175

India’s largest airlines by market share, IndiGo, has placed an order to purchase 250 Airbus A320neo aircraft, in a deal worth $26.55 billion at list prices. This is the largest-ever order for Airbus in terms of number of planes. The IndiGo order will help Airbus open its lead over rival Boeing in the Indian market. Data from the aviation regulator shows Airbus had 211 aircraft in operation in India, against Boeing’s 175. Globally, though, with revenues of $233 billion in 2014, Boeing was bigger in size than Airbus ($175 billion), primarily because the former’s sales include bigger and more expensive airplanes.

 

Rs 7,957 crore

The extent to which power distribution companies in Delhi reportedly overstated accumulated losses over the years. The estimate has been arrived at by the auditor to the government in a forthcoming report. If true, the report is a major boost to the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, which made high power charges in the national capital one of the main points in its electoral campaign. The report gives room to the AAP government to press for a reduction in power rates. According to the report, the three discoms, two from the Anil Ambani Group and one from the Tata Group, bought costly power, ‘suppressed’ revenue and gave undue favours to group firms.

 

$75 billion

The amount the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has committed to invest in India as part of an infrastructure fund created by the two countries. This fund seeks to invest and expand India’s network of railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors. The two countries also plan to increase their trade by 60% in the next five years. India received $239 million as foreign direct investment (FDI) from the UAE in 2013-14, and $1.31 billion between 2009-10 and 2013-14. India received $34 billion as FDI in 2014.

 

2

The number of verticals that are reportedly being created by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to implement the proposed Goods and Services (GST) Bill. Besides these two verticals (one for performance management and the other for taxpayer services), there are various sub-groups working under the CBEC, and state officials are working on the law and procedures. The GST Bill, which is supposed to merge all central and state taxes into a single tax rate, was passed by the Lok Sabha but not by the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority. A few media reports, quoting anonymous sources, say the government is considering a special session of Parliament in September to pass the GST Bill.

 

Rs 143 crore

The Supreme Court has asked the Central government to update it about the three-member committee it had asked to constitute to ensure the implementation of its order on government advertisements. This May, the court laid down certain guidelines for government advertisements to avoid misuse of public funds for glorifying the ruling party, and had suggested only the photographs of the President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India be used in government advertisements. An NGO had filed petitions in the Supreme Court in July to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the Delhi government (alleging it had earmarked Rs 526 crore for government ads in 2015-16) and the Tamil Nadu government for putting out ads that glorified their respective leaders. Previously, the Congress-led UPA government spent Rs 143 crore to place 84,733 advertisements in print publications between 2008-09 and 2012-13 related to the birth and death anniversaries of 15 leaders.

 

 

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