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.



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.



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.



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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