The Worst Spell

7

What is it? The number of days (between June 6 and 12) Mumbai could receive very heavy rainfall, according to Skymet Weather.

Why is it important? Skymet’s CEO Jatin Singh has warned this could be the worst spell in Mumbai since July 26, 2005, when the city received 900 mm of rainfall in a day. On that day 13 years ago, over 500 were killed and most deaths were reported from slum areas. In a recent study, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had identified 225 flood-prone areas, including 60 chronic ones that see chronic deluges every year.

Tell me more:Monday rains caused flights to get delayed or diverted, disrupting the movement of trains, besides tree-falling incidents and traffic woes.

35

What is it? The free baggage allowance (in kg) of a second class train passenger, while that of a sleeper class is 40 kg.

Why is it important? Though Indian Railways’ baggage allowance rules is around for around 30 years now, it has decided to enforce it strictly from now. If passengers are caught with excess baggage, they will have to pay six times the penalty. For instance, a sleeper class passenger travelling 500 km with an excess baggage of 40 kg would have to pay a penalty of Rs 654, against a cost of Rs 109 for putting the excess luggage in the luggage van.

Tell me more:Passengers in AC 3-tier sleeper/AC chair car, AC 2-tier sleeper/first class and AC first class are given free allowance of 40 kg, 50 kg and 70 kg respectively.

Rs 1.09 lakh

What is it? The base price of the electric scooter launched on Tuesday by Hero MotoCorp-backed electric vehicle startup Ather Energy.

Why is it important?Ather is looking to disrupt the two-wheeler market. Its maiden launch has been delayed by about a year. On Tuesday, it launched two models: the 340, whose performance is said to be comparable to a 110 cc petrol scooter and which retails at Rs 1.09 lakh—roughly twice the cost of a similar petrol-powered scooter—and the 450 (125 cc, Rs 1.24 lakh). The 340 has a range of 60 km on a single charge and the 450 has a range of 75 km.

Tell me more:Founded in April 2013, Ather Energy has raised $40 million in three funding rounds from four investors: Hero, Tiger Global, and Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal.

42

What is it? India’s forecast rank in technological readiness among the world’s 82 largest countries between 2018 and 2022 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Why is it important? If the forecast comes true, India’s ranking would improve from 47 between 2013 and 2017. The report says there is a strong correlation between the level of Internet usage and a country’s overall technological readiness score, and it expects India to be one of the four nations to make strong jumps. However, according to the World Economic Forum, India ranks 107 (of 137) in technological readiness, though it appreciated the country’s efforts in the ICT sector.

Tell me more:Australia, Singapore and Sweden share the top spot in EIU’s ranking forecast, which has assessed countries in access to the Internet, digital economy infrastructure and openness to innovation for the next four years.
2

What is it? The number of test-playing nations against which Afghanistan has recorded series wins in the T20 format.

Why is it important? On Tuesday, Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in the second T20 match of their three-match bilateral series. Afghanistan has beaten Zimbabwe in three T20 series, going back to 2015-16. The latest win will burnish its credentials as it prepares to take on India in its first-ever test match next week.

Tell me more:Afghanistan’s win was shaped by another clinical bowling performance from their 19-year-old star spinner Rashid Khan, who averages a wicket every 13 balls at an economy rate of 5.9 runs per six balls in T20 cricket.

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Younger Ambani makes a call

News In Numbers: September 15

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-25%

What is it? The decline in subscriber base of Reliance Communications in the five-year period between March 2011 andMarch 2016, according to figures from the telecom regulator.

Why is it important? The Anil Ambani-owned entity was the only one among the main telecom companies to lose subscribers. Yesterday, Reliance and Aircel, India’s fourth-largest and sixth-largest telecom company by subscribers announced a merger to create the third-largest company by subscribers. Both companies are challenged on many fronts, and there remain questions on the alliance details.

Tell me more: During the same five-year period, Aircel grew its subscriber base by 58%. Similar growth was registered by the market leaders: Bharti (52%), Vodafone (47%) and Idea (95%).

$ 1 billion

What is it? The development aid India has offered Afghanistan during the two-day visit of Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

Why is it important? Reflects the changing dynamics between India and Afghanistan. Even last year, Afghanistan was seen as being too close to Pakistan for India’s comfort. This year, it is changing. While the aid is towards at Afghanistan’s education, health, agriculture and other sectors,  the two countries also agreed to strengthen “security and defense cooperation.”

Tell me more: In May, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a deal to develop a port in Iran that will let the three countries trade directly bypassing Pakistan.

$66 billion

What is it? The amount German drug and chemicals major Bayer will pay to buy American seed company Monsanto.

Why is it important? This is the largest ever cash acquisition on record. The merged entity would be the largest supplier of seeds and pesticides. Bayer has been gradually increasing its offer to buy Monsanto, in a sector that has been consolidating over the last several years. The resulting industry structure will impact farm and food systems across the world.

Tell me more: The merger is also expected to come under significant regulatory and legal scrutiny – both in US and Europe.

 

1.142 billion

What is it? The number of stars cataloged in a map released by European Space Agency.

Why is it important? This is the most detailed 3D map yet of Milky Way galaxy, and gives the precise positions and brightness of 1.142 billion stars, besides distances and motions of more than 2 million stars. It could “revolutionise our understanding of how stars are distributed and move across our Galaxy,” according to Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science.

Tell me more: The data is from ESA’s Gaia spacecraft — a space observatory which began its mission in December 2013, and is located about 1 million miles above Earth.

 

41

What is it? The number of doubles matches won by Leander Paes of India in Davis Cup, the world team format in men’s tennis.

Why is it important? Paes is one victory short of matching the all-time record of 42 doubles wins in Davis Cup by Nicola Pietrangeli of Italy. It’s, however, unlikely to come this weekend, when India takes on Spain, one of the world’s best all-round teams.

Tell me more: Nicola Pietrangeli’s doubles record was set over 66 Davis Cup ties, and included 12 losses. By comparison, Paes’ doubles compilation has been over 52 ties and includes 11 losses.

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News in Numbers, May 24, 2016: India’s first supercomputer, India and Iran sign 12 deals…

84%

What is it? The percentage of samples of 38 commonly available brands of pre-packaged bread in Delhi that have tested positive for potassium bromate and potassium iodate, according to a report by an NGO.

Why is it important? Potassium bromate is possibly cancer-causing to humans while potassium iodate can contribute to thyroid-related diseases (both have been banned in many countries). The food regulator said it had already decided to remove potassium bromate from the list of permitted additives and is gathering evidence against the other substance before it restricts its usage. Some of the companies have denied the use of these chemicals.

Tell me more: Both the chemicals are used for treating flour. The study by Centre for Science and Environment conducted tests on bread samples of brands such as Britannia, Harvest Gold, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, Domino’s, McDonald’s and Slice of Italy.

 

70

What is it? The number of supercomputers India is planning to build over the next seven years, the first of which will be ready by August 2017.

Why is it important? They can be used for discovery of drugs, weather forecast and climate modelling among others. India, which launched a Rs 4,500-crore National Supercomputing Mission last year, has 11 machines in the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers (as of November 2015), lower compared to US (233 systems) or China (37 systems).

Tell me more: This mission is likely is likely to improve India’s position in the top 500 most powerful supercomputers, though it has to tackle the challenges of heat and power management. China has the world’s most powerful supercomputer, which retained its top position for the fifth straight year in 2015.

 

$500 million

What is it? India’s investment commitment to develop Iran’s Chabahar port in the first phase.

Why is it important? This provides increased trade access to India with Iran, Afghanistan and central Asia and gives landlocked Afghanistan an alternate route to access the Indian Ocean, bypassing Pakistan. The tripartite deal signed by India, Iran and Afghanistan is also a sign of India’s strategic victory over China, which has been vying to develop this port and increase its influence in the region. It is seen as a sort of counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, which China has been developing as part of a $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Tell me more: It’s the first visit by an Indian leader to Iran in 15 years. Prime Minister Modi has also signed 12 deals with Iran (including the Chabahar port) on economy, trade, transportation, culture, science and academic cooperation.

 

0.2%

What is it? The average percentage points by which Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump is ahead of Democratic party’s likely nominee Hillary Clinton in presidential polling, according to RealClearPolitics, a polling data aggregator.

Why is it important? This is the first time that Trump has overtaken Clinton. However, this could just be a temporary deviation as Trump has wrapped up his nomination while Clinton is yet to (likely in early June) but the increasing Republicans’ support for Trump could mean that this is going to be tight race between the two.

Tell me more: There are questions raised about the way in which the average is calculated, which is a simple straight average of the five most recently-conducted polls, which use different methodologies to calculate their numbers.

 

500

What is it? The number of liquor retail outlets run by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) that will be closed down by the state government.

Why is it important? Besides being an indication that the newly elected chief minister J Jayalalithaa intends to keep her promises of phased prohibition, it also raises questions on how she would manage the state’s finances. Over 30% of Tamil Nadu’s revenues comes from state-run liquor shops even as it faces a revenue deficit of over Rs 9,000 crore.

Tell me more: By the state’s own admission, one of the main reasons for the sharp increase in Tamil Nadu’s revenue deficit is the host of freebie and subsidy schemes being implemented by the state. The state-run liquor shops have been a major source of funding these schemes. There are 6,286 TASMAC outlets in Tamil Nadu and the state ranks sixth among 17 states/UTs in terms of alcohol consumption, according to a 2015-16 survey report.

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News in numbers, Jan 4, 2016: Pathankot terror attack, revenue from excise duty hikes…

 

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? Additional revenue Indian government expects to earn in 2015-16 from hikes in excise duty on petrol and diesel.

 

Why is it important? It will partially help in covering for the shortfall in revenue from disinvestments in public sector units (PSUs) and direct tax collections. The government had aimed to raise Rs 69,500 crore from selling shares in PSUs but managed to mop up just over 18% or Rs 12,700 crore so far. Between April and November 2015, the direct tax collections was less than half (46.26%) of the budgeted target of Rs 7.97 lakh crore in 2015-16.

 

Tell me more: The government on Saturday increased excise duty on petrol by Rs 0.37 per litre and by Rs 2 per litre on diesel. This is the third hike in 2015-16 and since November 2014, the seventh. The three excise duty hikes translate to a total increase of Rs 2.27 per litre on petrol and Rs 3.47 a litre on diesel.

 

2-1

 

What is it? India’s score in the 11th edition of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship. India beat defending champion Afghanistan on Sunday.

 

Why is it important? With this win, India has lifted the SAFF cup for the seventh time. This is also likely to have an impact on India’s position in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) rankings to be released on January 7. From 121 in 2001, India’s ranking has slid to 166 currently, reaching a low of 171 in 2014 since the start of the new millennium.

 

Tell me more: India had lost to Afghanistan 0-2 in the final match of the 2013 edition.

 

$522 billion

 

What is it? Estimated global oil and gas investments in 2016, according to Oslo-based consultancy Rystad Energy.

 

Why is it important? If this happens, it would be the lowest in six years. In 2015, global investments in this sector had seen a 22% fall to $595 billion. This would also be the first time that there may be a decline in investments for two straight years since the 1986 oil crash, according to Bjoernar Tonhaugen, vice president of oil and gas markets at Rystad Energy . One of the major fallouts of this is the loss of jobs. In November last year, the number of job losses in oil and gas companies had crossed the 250,000 mark worldwide, according to industry consultant, Graves & Co.

 

Tell me more: Crude oil prices fell 35% in 2015 and are expected to decline even further in 2016. A combination of factors — global glut, suppliers refusing to cut down on production and engaging in price war to attract customers — are responsible for the rapid decline in oil prices.

 

7

 

What is it? Number of military personnel killed in a terrorist attack on Pathankot air base situated in Punjab, about 30 km from the Pakistan border. As many as 20 have been wounded.

 

Why is it important? Raises questions about security lapses and how the terrorists managed to enter the air base undetected. This is the second attack on Punjab after the Gurdaspur district attack in July 2015 that killed 10 people including the Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police. In the latest terror attack, militants disguised as soldiers, stormed the base a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an impromptu visit to his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Four terrorists have been reportedly killed and two more are said to be holed up at the base.

 

Tell me more: The government claimed the operation successful on Saturday but fresh attacks on Sunday, it said the operation was not over yet.

 

160 million

 

What is it? Number of one rupee notes issued in 2014-15 and 2015-16 so far by the government.

 

Why is it important? The cost of printing a one rupee note at Rs 1.14, exceeds its value – and the life of a paper note is 9 to 10 months. It’s a reason why currencies of lower denominations tend to be in coins. The government had stopped issuing one rupee notes between 1995-96 and 2013-14.

 

Tell me more: In 2014-15, a total of five million notes of one rupee denomination and in the current fiscal year, 155 million notes were introduced in the market.

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