Current Affairs – March 2017

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Vodafone, Idea merge to create India’s largest, world’s 2nd largest telecom company

Kumar Mangalam Birla-led telecommunications major Idea Cellular has agreed to merge with the Vodafone India,  Indian unit of the UK headquartered Vodafone Plc.

The blockbuster merger will create world’s second largest (after China Mobile) and India’s largest telecom company by overtaking Bharti Airtel Ltd.

Key Facts
  • The merged entity will have almost 400 million customers with 35% customer and 41% revenue market share. It will have revenue of Rs. 81,600 crore and an operating profit of Rs.24,400 crore.
  • Together, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have debt of Rs. 1.08 trillion. The merger is expected to be completed in 2018.
  • The brand strategy for the new firm will be developed in due course. Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the chairperson of the merged entity.
  • Vodafone will own 45.1% in the combined entity, while Kumar Mangalam Birla and other promoters of Idea Group will own 26% and the rest will be owned by the public.
  • The merged entity would hold 1850 MHz, including circa 1645 MHz of liberalised spectrum acquired through 7 auctions.
  • It will be capable of building substantial mobile data capacity, utilising the largest broadband spectrum portfolio with 34 3G carriers and 129 4G carriers across the country.
  • The merger will be completed by 2018, subject to approvals from shareholders, creditors, stock exchanges, SEBI, telecom department and Competition Commission of India (CCI).

Idea-Voda

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India ranks 122 in 2017 World Happiness Report

India ranked at 122 out of 155 countries in the World Happiness Report 2017 published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on the eve of International Day of Happiness (20 March).

The rankings are based factors such as  inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (i.e. a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support. Together they are used to generate a happiness score of country on a scale from 1 to 10.This year it is fifth such report since the first was published in 2012.

Key Highlights of report
  • 10 Happiest Countries: Norway (1), Denmark (2), Iceland (3), Switzerland (4), Finland (5), Netherlands (6), Canada (7), New Zealand (8), Australia (9) and Sweden (10).
  • 5 Saddest Countries: Rwanda (151), Syria (152), Tanzania (153), Burundi (154) and Central African Republic (155).
  • The entire top ten were wealthier developed nations. But the report mentioned that money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict were ranked lower.
  • India was placed behind the majority of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations, apart from war-ravaged Afghanistan (141). In the previous edition of the report, India ranked 118.
  • Eight SAARC nations: Pakistan (80), Nepal (99), Bhutan (97), Bangladesh (110) and Sri Lanka (120). Maldives did not figure in the report.
  • BRICS Countries: Brazil (17), Russia (56), China (79), South Africa (116) and India (122).

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