News in Numbers – September 6


What is it?

Number of Indian bowlers in the top 10 in the latest one-day international (ODI) rankings released by the sport’s governing body.

Why is it important?

Bowling has been the weak link in ODIs for India, which is ranked joint third. R Ashwin, at number 12, is the highest-ranked Indian bowler. In ODIs in the past 12 months, of the 10 test-playing nations, India conceded the most runs per wicket (37.3) and second-most runs per over (5.68).

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By comparison, India was tied with South Africa in having three players in the top 10 list of ODI batsmen: Virat Kohli (ranked 2), Rohit Sharma (7) and Shikhar Dhawan (8).


What is it?

Number of passenger complaints against Air India in July for every 10,000 passengers ferried by the airline on domestic routes, the most among large carriers.

Why is it important?

Air India has consistently had the worst record among domestic airlines on complaints. In the latest episode, a section of Air India pilots took leave on Monday, in the backdrop of protests over payment and other issues, delaying flights.

Tell me more:

The best were Vistara (0.1) and IndiGo (0.3). In July, 34.2% of complaints across airlines related to “flight problems”, followed by customer service (27.4%).


What is it?

The year by which India will achieve universal upper secondary education, as per Global Education Monitoring report by UNESCO.

Why is it important?

This would be 55 years late as compared to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which wants ‘free, equitable and quality’ primary and secondary education for all. Universal primary and lower secondary education will be achieved only by 2050 and 2060 respectively.

Tell me more:

There is a correlation between education and economic growth. Universal upper secondary education by 2030 in poor countries will lift 60 million people out of poverty by 2050, as earnings will increase by 75%.

283.36 million tonnes

What is it?

India’s estimated horticultural production in 2015-16

Why is it important?

This is higher than the country’s foodgrain production for the fourth year in a row – and is a good news for farmers for a number of reasons. Fruits and vegetables take up less land than foodgrains, and can benefit small and marginal farmers. They can also be harvested in shorter durations, compared to foodgrains, and ensure cash flow to farmers, a reason why it’s picking up.

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Onion production grew 11% to 21 million tonnes in 2015-16, while tomato production was up 12%. Potatoes dropped by 9%.

$255 billion

What is it?

Market cap of China-based web company Tencent Holdings, whose well known brands include WeChat and QQ

Why is it important?

It’s now the most valuable company in Asia, and among the top ten in the world. It was mostly recently in news in India after it invested in Hike Messenger, propelling the Indian startup to Unicorn status (over $1billion in valuation). Tencent has been active in India for some years now, and made its first startup investment in Practo in 2015.

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Tencent overtook China Mobile on Monday rising by 4% in Hong Kong. Tencent primarily makes money through its flourishing online gaming business.

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News in Numbers, June 1, 2016: UP’s entry tax, impact of no discounts on online shopping…


What is it? India’s economic growth rate in the January-March quarter of 2015-16.

Why is it important? With this, India retains the tag of the fastest growing major economy in the world for the second consecutive year. The growth has mainly been driven by a rebound in agriculture, improved government spending and private consumption, though companies are reluctant to make investments – putting the burden of boosting growth on the government.

Tell me more: India’s economy grew 7.6% in 2015-16 compared to 7.2% in the previous year. It also became a $2 trillion economy based on Tuesday’s exchange rate ($1 = Rs 67.26).



What is it? The entry tax imposed by the Uttar Pradesh government on goods purchased from e-commerce sites.

Why is it important? This decision is said to be done to protect offline retailers’ profits due to the new-age e-commerce firms. Industry lobby Nasscom has opposed similar moves by states (such as Assam, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Rajasthan) on the basis that it puts additional burden on customers and SME traders, besides increasing technology upgradation costs of e-commerce firms to accommodate these new levies, which would anyway become redundant once the Goods and Service Tax is implemented.

Tell me more: Flipkart, through its logistics arm eKart, has filed a writ petition in the High Court of Uttarakhand opposing the state’s move of imposing 10% entry tax on goods bought through e-commerce sites whereas the standard entry tax rate is 5%.


175 million

What is it? The estimated number of online shoppers in India by 2020, according to a report by Google and consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Why is it important? This would account for a quarter of the total organised retail sales in four years, up by 10% from the current level. The growth, estimated at over 40% each year, will happen even if e-commerce firms decided to do away with discounts.

Tell me more: A third of the estimated 175 million shoppers are likely to drive two-thirds of online purchases.


15 lakh

What is it? The approximate number of students in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) who will be considered Class XII pass, as per a government announcement.

Why is it important? This makes formal and vocational streams of education equivalent, providing the opportunity to the ITI students to pursue higher education and get better jobs. The ITI graduates will get Class XII (if a student has passed Class X before joining the ITI) and Class X (if a student has passed Class VIII before joining the ITI) certificates from the national board of open schooling by giving an exam.

Tell me more: There were 13,105 ITIs as of May 2016, which is to be increased to 18,000 by September this year.



What is it? Krishi Kalyan cess to be imposed on all taxable services with effect from today, taking the effective rate of service tax to 15%.

Why is it important? The cess, which is to be used for agriculture and for improving the wellbeing of farmers, is likely to help the government garner Rs 5,000 crore in the remaining 10 months of 2016-17. This would make some services including air and rail travel, mobile bills, eating out in restaurants, health check-ups, movie tickets, insurance policies, private tuition and coaching centres and some banking services more expensive – an extra spend of Rs 5 for every Rs 1,000 spent.

Tell me more: The cess, which is to be levied on the value of the service and not on the component of service tax (similar to Swachh Bharat cess) will apply to bills generated before June 1 but paid from today.

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The forest fires beyond Uttarakhand: A dataviz of over one lakh forest fires by time and location

This piece originally appeared on



The forest fires ravaging Uttarakhand this year have been widely reported. Less reported are the 20,000 or so forest fires that enflame many other parts of India every year between February and June, partly because of rising temperatures and agricultural practice of shifting cultivation, before the rains arrive.

The data interactive below maps the number of forest fires by date and location, as reported by the Forest Survey of India, between 2012 and 2016. In all, that’s 102,527 forest fires till May 1, 2016.

In the last five years, 2012 saw the maximum incidents of forest fires, though 2016 is running close. Typically, forest fires peak in March: in the last five years, the month accounted for between 46% and 66% of forest fire incidents, and was particularly bad in 2012. The number of incidents tends to fall in April, but 2016 has been an exception on that front.

Although Uttarakhand has seen a spike in forest fires in both high-count years, 2012 and 2016, there are 12 states that have registered more forest fires than it in the last five years. Large parts of the northeast (where the practice of shifting cultivation is common) and Odisha are affected every year, as are parts of Central India. In the last five years, the states to have registered the maximum number of forest incidents are Odisha (10,636), Mizoram (10,335), Assam (9,602), Chhattisgarh (9,210) and Maharashtra (7,534).

As many as seven of the top 15 districts by forest fire incidents are in the northeast. The top five are Karbi Anglong in Assam (4,166), Dantewada in Chhattisgarh (3,631), Aizawl in Mizoram (3,535), Gadchiroli in Maharashtra (3,485), and Dima Hasao in Assam (3,464).

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News in numbers, Feb 2, 2016: India’s rising food imports, proposed fee hike for IIT students…



What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in January, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This has jumped to a four-month high after touching the lowest in 28 months in December (49.1). This is also above the 50-level threshold, an indication that manufacturing, which accounts for 16% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), could be on the revival path. This strengthens the expectation that the Reserve Bank of India will keep key rates unchanged on Tuesday when it announces its sixth bimonthly monetary policy review.

Tell me more: The new export orders sub-index increased to 52.5 in January from 51.5 in December, the highest in five months.



What is it? Increase in global corn prices since January 13.

Why is it important? An impact of India importing corn for the first time in 16 years. It has announced plans to buy half a million tonnes, and according to traders, might import 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of corn. Two consecutive droughts and growing demand from India’s 1.25 billion population is likely to force India to import other commodities such as lentils and oilmeals. This is likely to transform the country into a net importer of some of the commodities for the first time in years. India needs to step up investment and other measures to ensure agriculture grows at a faster pace than the 2% recorded in the first half of 2015-16.

Tell me more: Agriculture accounts for around 13% of India’s GDP and two-thirds of the country’s population depend on it for their livelihoods.


Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The proposed annual fee hike for the students of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by a committee of the institutes’ directors. This would be over a threefold increase from the current Rs 90,000 annual fees charged per student.

Why is it important? The fee hike is one of the two main measures suggested by the panel to provide greater financial autonomy to the IITs and is enough to cover the salary and maintenance costs. The other suggestion is to create a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore, which would offer interest-free loans to students (from IITs and other higher education institutes) for projects and research infrastructure.

Tell me more: These proposals are being considered and could be part of the budgetary announcements later this month.



What is it? Total number of public health emergencies declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) so far, the latest one being the Zika virus.

Why is it important? There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus, which is suspected to cause birth defects (microcephaly) where babies are born with abnormally small heads, underdeveloped brains and usually die young. Though the virus (caused by the same mosquito as dengue) has spread in 24 countries in the Americas region, one-third of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of dengue infection (Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America).

Tell me more: Brazil, the worst affected nation, has reported over 3,700 cases of microcephaly and according to the country’s health minister, in 80% of the infected people, there were no symptoms. It has reported at least 1.5 million cases of Zika infection. Elsewhere, Tata Motors is now considering changing the name of its new small car, Zica for fear of the negative association with the virus.


~$568 billion

What is it? Valuation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Why is it important? Alphabet is the most valuable traded company in the world today, dislodging Apple ($535 billion) from that position. This is not the first time, though. Google was ahead of Apple in 2010. This comes after Alphabet announcing its fourth quarter earnings where it posted a profit of $4.9 billion from $4.7 billion a year ago.

Tell me more: This is the first time the company has given separate figures for its Google business (includes search engine and YouTube) and “Other Bets” businesses (include experimental projects such as self-driving cars, internet balloon programs). The latter posted an operating loss of $3.6 billion and revenue of $448 million in 2015. Google’s revenue in 2015 was $74.5 billion while its operating income increased by 23% to $23.4 billion.

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