News in Numbers – September 16, 2015

News In Numbers: September 16, 2015

 

37.4%

The combined wealth of India’s 198,000 high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) population as a percentage of India’s GDP (in 2014-15). The world’s second most populous nation is home to the 11th largest population of millionaires. India recorded the highest growth rates in the world for HNWI population (26.3%) and wealth (28.2%), due to falling oil prices and “constructive” election results. India and China led the growth of rich individuals and wealth in Asia Pacific, which surpassed North America’s HNWI population by a slim margin and is expected to overtake it in terms of wealth too, by the end of 2015. China’s HNWI population in 2014 stood at 890,000 whose wealth rose 19.3% to $4.5 trillion, which is more than twice of India’s GDP in 2014-15.

 

20.7%

The drop in India’s merchandise exports in August, the steepest decline in five months and contracting for the ninth consecutive month. The two main reasons for this are lower commodity prices and a weak global demand. Exports stood at $21.2 billion while imports declined 9.95% to $33.7 billion in August. India’s trade deficit marginally narrowed to $12.5 billion in August from $12.8 billion in July. The decline in exports was mainly due to a 48% year-on-year fall in shipments of petroleum products to $2.8 billion. Reviving exports is critical as it accounts for nearly a fourth of India’s GDP. S C Ralhan, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations has called for the intervention of the Prime Minister and the Commerce and Industry Minister to immediately consult with the export bodies and draw up a roadmap to tackle the situation where reaching last financial year’s export target was looking difficult.

 

Rs 1 lakh crore

The amount Indian Railways is planning to seek from the Finance Ministry for safety upgrade, after a spate of recent railway accidents across India including Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which has brought the spotlight once again on the safety aspects of the railways. Chairman of the Railway Board, A K Mital, has said the Indian railways is preparing a “comprehensive safety plan” that includes elimination of all level crossings and strengthening of tracks and bridges. Japanese railways and companies have agreed to help the Indian government in achieving its ‘zero accident mission’. In 2014, 27,581 people died in railway related accidents, of which 9.3% were railway crossing accidents.

 

7

The number of days within which private airlines would have to present their plans to reduce “excessive” fares on certain routes to the Indian government. Junior aviation minister Mahesh Sharma said the government is open to imposing price caps if the responses of the private carriers are inadequate. He also said that the last minute fares are on the higher side and that these are giving the airlines “a bad name”. However, he added that the government prefers to settle this issue without introducing any caps or other rules. The Indian aviation is struggling with $11.3 billion in debt and just two airlines- Indigo and GoAir – made a profit in 2014-15. GoEuro, a European travel website, ranked India as the most inexpensive country in terms of air travel where it costs about $10.36 per 100 km. Recently, chairman of Competition Commission of India, Ashok Chawla, said that there is no need to put a cap on airfares and that market forces would be able to fix the right fares in an unregulated environment.

 

Rs 20,000 crore

The estimated revenue that the festival of ‘Ganeshotsav’ generates across India, according to a report by industry body Assocham. ‘Ganeshotsav’ or ‘Ganesh Chathurti’ is an important Hindu festival celebrated to honour the elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Terming the festival as ‘recession-proof’, Assocham said expenditure on the festival is growing at an annual rate of 30% and the number of ‘mandals’ (elaborate, artificial structures erected with idols of Ganesha) is increasing at 5-10% per year. The report says the setting up of these ‘mandals’ attract “generous contribution by people from all walks of life” and generate employment for thousands of people. A proxy of how the big the festival: organisers of ‘mandals’ across Mumbai had taken a combined insurance cover worth Rs 450 crore last year.

 

 

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The truth about airline discount sales: smaller pool of tickets on offer and higher visibility

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

Last week, AirAsia India and GoAir became the latest domestic airlines to offer discounted tickets for the coming lean season, following SpiceJet, which launched four such offers in July and August. An analysis of such discount sales, where the number of tickets on offer was mentioned by the airline, shows that for all the visibility they generate, most of the time, the pool of tickets on offer is small. From a passenger’s perspective, it turns the proposition into a luck of the draw. From the airline’s perspective, in most cases, it’s about positioning itself as a price player without conceding too much from its profits.

Slim pickings for passengers

In seven out of 10 offers, the number of discounted seats on offer was less than 10% of the total seats the airline sold during the same period; four were under 5%. There was one offer in which SpiceJet put up about one-third of its ticket block on discount. That same year, SpiceJet posted its largest-ever loss of Rs.1,003 crore and, six months later, its existence was in question. Even after revival, SpiceJet remains the most active on the discounting front, though with a significantly lower percentage of seats.

 

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Slim giveaways from airlines

The airline discount strategy is to stoke interest of flyers. In most cases, the travel period is long, thus catching the potential interest of a large percentage of the airline’s passengers. But since the number of discounted seats is a fraction, the net effect of discount offers on profits, in most cases, is marginal.

 

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News in Numbers – September 2, 2015

News In Numbers: September 2, 2015

 

1 million

The number of workers who went on strike in 2014, nearly 45% down from the number registered in 2003. Ten central trade unions, which claim a combined membership of 15 million, have called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday to demand the withdrawal of the proposed changes in labour laws and stop disinvestment of public sector units. Essential services, including banking and public transportation, are likely to be affected. But data suggests that industrial unrest has gradually decreased in India. The number of person-days of work lost has dropped from 30.25 million in 2003 to 3.63 million in 2014. Likewise, the number of strikes and lockouts has come down from 552 in 2003 to 143 in 2014. The number of industrial closures, and workers affected and laid-off have also seen a gradual decline over the years.

60%

The percentage of seabird species, including penguins, gulls and albatrosses, that have plastic in their gut, which is likely to increase to 99% by 2050. Researchers, based on past data, have predicted that nine out of 10 individual seabirds have consumed plastic. This number was less than 5% in 1960. Seabirds are said to be good indicators of the state of the ecosystem and are “at the top of the marine food chain”, which could increase the ill-effects of plastic pollution through the chain. According to Plastic Pollution Coalition, an international collaboration of organisations and businesses, the ratio of plastic debris to zooplankton (tiny organisms drifting in seas and oceans) is 36:1. A 2015 study ranked India 12th among countries ranked by mass of mismanaged public waste estimated in 2010.

84,000

The number of unsold housing units in Bengaluru in the second quarter of 2015. With this, the Karnataka capital has surpassed Mumbai in terms of unsold inventory for the first time. The National Capital Region continued to lead, with an estimated inventory of 170,000 unsold units. Bengaluru saw an increase in the number of launches in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period a year ago, but the absorption rate decreased to 10%, from 11%. India’s top listed real estate companies had unsold inventory worth Rs70,000 crore in March this year, up 9.4% from a year ago.

40%

The drop in prices of aircraft fuel in Delhi between January 2014 and August 2015. On Monday midnight, state oil companies cut prices of aviation turbine fuel by 11.5%, the most in six months. This move is expected to boost the financial prospects of airlines in India, most of whom are labouring to return to profits.

44%

The percentage of Indian mothers who are able to breastfeed their babies within one hour of delivery, putting India in the lowest position among South Asian countries, according to a report. India’s score only marginally improved in 2015 from 2012. Of the 26 million babies born in India, mothers of nearly 56% of the babies are not able to follow optimal feeding practices during the first year. In India, about half of all births in 2007-08 happened at home, with institutional deliveries ranging from 35% in Chhattisgarh to 76% in Madhya Pradesh. India is also home to the highest number of maternal deaths, accounting for one-fifth of total maternal deaths in the world in 2010.

 

 

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The decade of low-cost airlines has another winner: Low-cost rail AC

This piece originally appeared on Livemint.com

 

A new front in the battle for the top-end passenger opened in September 2003, when Air Deccan was launched as India’s first low-cost airline, aiming to wean away the rail traveller who travelled in air-conditioned (AC) classes.

 

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While Deccan has come and gone, low-cost airlines are here to stay, accounting for three-fourth of domestic market share in June 2015. Interestingly, low-cost rail AC, which comprises AC three-tier and AC chair car and formed a key growth premise of low-cost airlines, has also flourished.

In the initial years of low-cost airlines, these two classes of AC rail travel initially lost ground but have since not only emerged ahead, but also opened up a lead. It does not help that the government taxes air travel heavily, but subsidises train travel.

 

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What this also illustrates in the larger context of low-cost airlines is that while they have made a significant dent at the upper end of the rail AC segment, the lower end of rail AC is more than holding its own.

 

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