What is it? India’s forest and tree cover, which is 24.39% of the country’s total geographical area (GA), according to the India State of Forest Report 2017 released by the government on Monday.
Why is it important? This is an increase of 8,021 sq.km from 2015, or about a 1% increase. But this increase should be taken with a caveat: the Forest Survey of India defines “forest cover" in an expansive way, and ends up including urban parks, orchards and plantations, among others, as well.
Tell me more: In 2015, the total forest and tree cover was 79.42 million hectare, representing 24.16% of India’s total GA. This indicates the country has an uphill task of having 33% of its GA under forest cover. However, 15 states and Union territories have over 33% of their GA under forest cover, of which seven have more than 75% forest cover.
What is it? The number of companies—ArcelorMittal and Numetal Mauritius—that have reportedly submitted binding financial bids for bankrupt Essar Steel as the deadline closed on Monday evening.
Why is it important? Other potential bidders such as Tata Steel and Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources have reportedly withdrawn as Numetal, a special purpose vehicle backed by a consortium of Russia’s VTB Capital and the Ruia family, has entered into an agreement to purchase a key pipeline that supplies raw materials to Essar Steel’s Odisha plant due to which competing bidders may find the acquisition of Essar Steel to be less attractive.
Tell me more: However, it remains to be seen if Numetal’s application is accepted as the Ruia family (also, the promoters of Essar Steel) is present in the consortium, which goes against the recent changes made to India’s bankruptcy laws that bar defaulting promoters to bid for distressed assets.
1 billion euros
What is it? The total income in 2015-16 of Oxfam, the United Kingdom-based confederation of 20 non-government organisations that has been rocked by a sexual misconduct scandal involving some of its employees.
Why is it important? On Monday, it emerged that some government institutions and corporates were reportedly reviewing their funding to Oxfam following revelations that senior Oxfam aid staff used sex workers in Haiti and Chad, and that designated employees elsewhere in the organisation reportedly either sought to cover this up or failed to crack down on.
Tell me more: On Monday, Oxfam’s deputy chief executive Penny Lawrence resigned from her position. Lawrence was Oxfam’s international programmes director when concerns about sexual misconduct were first reported.
What is it? The amount raised in equity funding by Lendingkart Technologies, a fintech start-up that provides online loans to small businesses. The latest fund raise, announced on Monday, takes the total amount raised by the Lendingkart Group to Rs1,129 crore.
Why is it important? It continues the robust flow of funds into fintech start-ups, several of which are rewiring the loans space, either with their choice of targeted customers (for example, less-served small businesses) or product offerings (for example, peer-to-peer lending, or collateral-free loans).
Tell me more: Lendingkart’s latest funding round was led by Singapore’s Fullerton Financial Holdings, and also saw participation by existing investors, namely Sistema Asia Fund, Bertelsmann India Investment, Mayfield India, India Quotient and Saama Capital.
What is it? The increase in retail prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), for the month of January.
Why is it important? This is marginally lower than the December 2017 reading of 5.21%, which was a 17-month high. Yet it remained above the central bank’s medium-term target of 4%—the third consecutive month it has done so, thus all but ruling out the prospect of an interest rate cut in the near term.
Tell me more: Among sub-categories in food and beverages, inflation in vegetables remained high, while that in pulses and products fell sharply.
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