News in Numbers, June 15, 2016: GST a step closer to reality, Ola in talks to raise funds…

7

What is it? The number of underwater robots British scientists working from an Indian research ship will release across a 400-km stretch of water in the Bay of Bengal to help better predict India’s monsoon.

Why is it important? These robots will measure the salinity, current and temperature and transmit this data to a satellite. A simultaneous study of atmospheric measurements by UK and India will be conducted. The two sets of data would be compared to see how ocean conditions affect monsoon patterns – which assumes significance as India is eagerly awaiting the rains after two successive years of drought.

Tell me more: The Southwest monsoon hit the Kerala coast on June 8 (a delay of seven days) and is progressing northwards slowly, according to the weather department.

 

22

What is it? The number of states whose finance ministers attended a meeting with the central government where the Goods and Services Taxes (GST) reform was discussed on Tuesday.

Why is it important? With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that “virtually” all states, except Tamil Nadu, have supported the GST, the opposition now narrows down to Congress and J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK. This brings India’s biggest tax reform (having a single tax in place of different existing ones) a step closer to reality and the Indian government is trying to get the legislation passed in the monsoon session that begins in July.

Tell me more: After the latest round of elections to the Rajya Sabha, NDA has 74 members in the House (against UPA’s 71) though it still requires the support of 163 members of a total of 245.

 

$300-400 million

What is it? The amount taxi aggregator Ola is reportedly looking to raise, though other reports put the figure at $1 billion.

Why is it important? This comes after Uber announced raising $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s investment fund, of which it plans to invest a substantial portion in India. Both Ola and Uber are engaged in intense competition to gain dominance in India’s $12 billion taxi market. For Uber, India is extremely important as it struggles to compete with Didi Chuxing in China and for Ola, it is a matter of survival and fending off competition from cash-rich Uber.

Tell me more: Both the firms contradict each other while citing market share figures. However, Uber’s growth rate has overtaken that of Ola’s to increase its market share to 26.5% in the last two years and Ola is the leader with 52% share, according to Counterpoint Research.

 

0.79%

What is it? The increase in wholesale price inflation in May.

Why is it important? This is the second consecutive monthly increase and the fastest since October 2014 – fuelled by rise in food prices. Wholesale food prices rose 7.88% last month compared to 4.23% in April, driven by vegetables prices. With the consumer price inflation accelerating at the fastest pace in 21 months, interest rate cuts are unlikely in the near future.

Tell me more: The above-normal rainfall predicted for this year is likely to have a softening effect on food prices.

 

$70 million

What is it? The amount Twitter has reportedly invested in audio streaming company SoundCloud.

Why is it important? Both Twitter and SoundCloud are struggling to increase their user base and monetise their services. SoundCloud has about 175 million monthly users, and competes with Spotify. Twitter has 320 million average monthly active users and earlier this year reported its first quarter with no growth in its user base.

Tell me more: This would be the microblogging site’s second attempt to venture into music, after it closed its one-year-old Twitter Music in 2014.

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