News in Numbers, Feb 13, 2017: Nothing to kill or to die for


What is it? Number of people killed in a gun-battle in Kashmir on Sunday.

Why is it important? The violence in the state, rekindled in 2016, continues with four terrorists killed in the fight. With two Indian soldiers dead, J&K security forces’ death toll increased. Avalanches had claimed lives earlier this year, which succeeds a year with the highest death count of 82 among the forces since 2008.

Tell me more: A civilian was also killed and three soldiers injured in the incident. In civilian deaths, three road-workers had been killed by militants last month.


Rs 385.6 crore

What is it? The first-ever loss reported by India’s third-largest telecom player, Idea Cellular in the third quarter financial year 2017 (Q3 FY17).

Why is it important? While it was expected Idea would report a loss, the amount was more than the forecast. A quarter of free voice and data promotional offers by Reliance Jio has dented financial performance of all the three (including Airtel and Vodafone) major players, with the smallest, Idea, being hit the hardest.

Tell me more: Idea says the sector can hope to recover only when Jio starts charging for its pan-India mobile services. Idea’s income fell from a profit of Rs 764.2 crore in Q3 FY16 and Rs 90 crore in Q2 FY17. The operator waited for the official confirmation of a merger with Vodafone India before sharing its financial results this quarter.


~$200 million

What is it? The amount Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) overseas arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), is said to have overpaid in acquiring Videocon Group’s 10% stake for $2.5 billion, in a large natural gas-field in Africa’s Mozambique in 2013.

Why is it important? If proved, this could mean a big lapse in judgement for the public sector company and India’s largest oil and gas explorer by revenue. What was allegedly on the market for $2.3 billion, was acquired for $2.475 billion by it, and since has faced a write-down in asset value as crude energy prices fell. The payment to Videocon is now being investigated by the oil ministry.

Tell me more: OVL later bought stake in the same area from another energy player, the US Anadarko Corp, for $2.64 billion in 2014 that the latter calculated was a gain of over 62% of the purchase price.


310 miles

What is it? The distance travelled by a North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile before it landed in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Why is it important? By testing the missile, North Korea has violated United Nation’s restrictions, even as many observers commented that it was to provoke Donald Trump, the newly elected president of United States, a long time ally of Japan. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe, who is on a visit to US, and was with Trump, called it “absolutely intolerable.”

Tell me more: Just a day before the launch, Trump and Abe had urged North Korea not to test ballistic missiles and to drop its nuclear programme. It comes about two weeks ahead of the largest ever joint military exercise between the U.S. and South Korea.



What is it? The number of housing units sold in the quarter ended December 2016 in top nine cities in India, according to a report by PropTiger.

Why is it important? The sales are down 20% from the previous quarter, one of the expected impacts of demonetisation, which took away 96% of currency in circulation. The monthly average sales during November and December when demonetisation was in full flow, dropped by 40% and 49% respectively, PropTiger said in a report.

Tell me more: Gurgaon, Noida and Ahmedabad saw 30-40% decline in sales, while Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai saw 20% drop in sales.

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News in Numbers: September 26. ISRO does it again..

 isro pslv


What is it? The number of satellites that were launched by Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV-C35 on Monday.

Why is it important? The satellites that flew on India’s workhorse rocket included three from India, three from Algeria, and one each from Canada and the US. The main payload is India’s weather satellite, SCATSAT-1. It can predict formation of cyclones four to five days in advance by studying the wind speed and direction.

Tell me more: PSLV released the weather satellite into a 730 km Polar orbit and will release the other seven into a lower orbit of 689 kms. So far, PSLV has launched 39 satellites for ISRO.



What is it? The number of countries that have ratified Paris Agreement so far. India will be the 62nd, when it ratifies the climate change agreement on October 2.

Why is it important? US and China, the two largest carbon emitters,ratified the agreement earlier this month. With India, the third largest, joining the list, the world is closer to combating climate change better. The agreement  aims to cut down global greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to less than 2 degree celsius over pre industrial times.

Tell me more: It was widely expected that India would ratify the agreement this year. The agreement would come into force after countries that account for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions ratify it.


$ 6.5 billion

What is it? The amount venture capitalists invested in Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola since 2010

Why is it important? The rationale is that the homegrown players would become ‘the Amazon of India’ and ‘the Uber of India’, just as China created its own internet giants in Alibaba (e-commerce) and Didi (cab aggregation). However, the last several quarters saw Amazon and Uber stepping up their gas in India, and might themselves end up being Amazon and Uber of the country. If that happens and it could adversely impact the returns VCs are hoping to get from their investments, and their outlook for India.

Tell me more: Amazon is estimated to have exceeded Flipkart’s sales in July. Post the merger of Uber and Didi in China, Uber has increased its focus on India.



What is it? Percentage of votes with the top three telecom companies in the GSM industry body, Cellular Operators Association of India, according to Reliance Jio, which became a member in July 2014.

Why is it important? In a letter to COAI, Reliance cited this figure to allege that the industry body was favoring the top three companies(Bharti, Vodafone and Idea). COAI, in turn, called Jio a “backdoor operator”, deepening fault lines within the telecom sector and the industry grouping.

Tell me more: Telecom is a frenemy sector. Besides competing against each other, operators depend on each other to provide network linkages to complete calls—a sore point currently—and to fill network gaps.



What is it? Number of golf majors won by American Arnold Palmer,who died Sunday night at the age of 87 years.

Why is it important? This ranks Palmer joint seventh among all players. All his seven wins came between 1958 and 1964, a period during which he competed against Jack Nicklaus (18 majors, ranked first) and Gary Player (9 majors, ranked joint fourth).

Tell me more: They were called the ‘The Big Three’ who made golf mainstream. And Palmer, the first TV star of golf, was nicknamed ‘The King’.

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News in Numbers, August 4, 2016: Rajya Sabha passes GST bill, Centre to import more pulses…


What is it? The number of Rajya Sabha members who voted in favour of the Constitution Amendment Bill to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India. None voted against the bill, with AIADMK abstaining.

Why is it important? This is the crucial step before implementing GST that will replace various indirect taxes collected by the centre and the states, with one tax and one rate across India. Near unanimous vote in favour of the bill was possible after central government acceded to one of the key demand of the Congress party to scrap 1% inter-state tax on movement of goods.  

Tell me more: At present, the central government has powers to tax production (excise duty) and services (service tax), and the states have power to tax consumption (VAT). Under GST, all the three will be merged as one tax, GST, and both the states and the central government can tax them. To do this, the constitution has to be amended and any amendment to the constitution has to be accompanied by a two-third majority voting.


30,000 tonnes

What is it? The additional quantity of tur and urad dal that the Indian government is to import.

Why is it important? This will help check their prices. The production of pulses is estimated to have dipped in 2015-16 and average prices have increased by nearly 30% last year. However, states are to partially responsible for the high prices of pulses as they have been reluctant to lift pulses allocated to them by the central government for retail sale at subsidised prices. Of the 29,100 tonnes allocated to 11 states, three states have lifted just a little over 16% of the pulses.

Tell me more: There is a buffer stock of 1.75 lakh tonnes of pulses so far. The central government sells tuvar dal at Rs 67 per kg and urad dal at Rs 82 per kg.

4.7 crore

What is it? The number of customers telecom firm Vodafone has gained through mobile number portability (MNP), which was fully implemented in June 2015.

Why is it important? This makes Vodafone the highest gainer of customers through this medium, followed by Bharti Airtel and Idea, which added 3.82 crore and 1.8 crore users respectively. Besides these three, other telecom service providers were net losers of customers through MNP, with Reliance Communications losing the maximum customers (1.18 crore).

Tell me more: All the telecom players, however, were found to be guilty of hampering the process of their customers shifting to other service providers and were fined a cumulative Rs 9.45 crore for not abiding by the MNP rules. Bharti Airtel attracted half of the fine followed by Aircel (Rs 1.58 crore), Vodafone (Rs 1.22 crore), BSNL (Rs 1 crore) with the penalties on other players ranging between less than a lakh to a few lakh rupees.


Rs 10,000

What is it? The proposed penalty for drunken driving (up from Rs 2,000), as per the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

Why is it important? The bill, which has increased penalties for various traffic violations by 2-10 times, if passed, is likely to help in the government’s target of curbing road accidents and fatalities by 50% in five years. In 2015, 1.46 lakh people were killed in road accidents while the number of injured was over 5 lakh. According to a 2011 study by the United Nations, India has the highest number of road deaths in the world.

Tell me more: The proposed increases in penalties include: Rs 5,000 for driving without a license and racing (from Rs 500), Rs 1,000 for driving without a seat belt (from Rs 100), Rs 2,000 for driving without an insurance (from Rs 1,000), Rs 5,000 for dangerous driving (from Rs 1,000), Rs 1,000 and disqualification of license for three months for driving without a helmet (from Rs 100) and Rs 10,000 for not giving way for emergency vehicles.



What is it? The number of startups Ratan Tata has invested in over the last two years

Why is it important? That makes him one of the most active investors in the country and in fact he was ranked the top angel investor last year. Now, Mr Tata is setting up full fledged a venture capital fund in partnership with University of California and with a corpus of $100 million to $150 million.

Tell me more: Ratan Tata’s investments include Snapdeal, Urban Ladder, Ola and Zivame.

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News in Numbers, June 2, 2016: Call drop data in 11 cities, India’s first rail university…


What is it? The number of cities that will get access to call drop data in the next 15 days.

Why is it important? The naming and shaming strategy is expected to push telcos to improve their service quality, and keep the drops below 2%. Earlier, the Supreme Court struck down the telecom regulator’s recommendation of imposing penalty on telcos. Now, it is reportedly seeking the authority to do so from the government.

Tell me more: On Wednesday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released the call drop data for Delhi. Airtel’s 2G and 3G call drop rates have deteriorated in May when compared to those last September while Vodafone’s 2G call drop rates improved (though still above the permitted 2% limit) and on its 3G network, it remained constant at 1.4%.



What is it? Percentage of loans given by public sector banks (excluding the State Bank of India and its associates) of the total as of March 2016.

Why is it important? It’s down from 50.06% in March 2015 and the lowest in over 12 years. The shrinking market share is likely to expedite consolidation in Indian banking industry. Recently, the Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said India would have 8-10 competitive public sector banks “when the dust settles”.  

Tell me more: This is an effect of the central bank’s mandate asking lenders to clean up their balance sheets by March 2017, which led to categorising more loans as bad, increase in provisions and net losses, and deterioration in capitalisation levels. In terms of deposits too, public sector banks lost their market share – from 50.95% in March 2015 to 48.32% in March 2016.


Rs 865 crore

What is it? The cost of setting up India’s first railway university in Vadodara, excluding land costs.

Why is it important? The railway university, which would offer MBA, B.Tech, M.Tech degrees, and diplomas is aimed at transforming India into a global centre for research and development in railway engineering and management. Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest under a single management.

Tell me more: An internal report by the Railway Board last year had suggested the setting up of rail research centres and introducing railway-related subjects in existing universities instead of setting up new ones. The National Academy of Indian Railways in Vadodara is the apex training institute for all Railway officers.


Rs 20,000 crore

What is it? The cost of building a common Secretariat on Lodhi Road in Delhi to house various ministries (excluding a few key ones) and departments.

Why is it important? This move is likely to make inter-communication between ministries and departments easier and quicker and would also help the government in tackling shortage of office space, which often pushes them towards high rentals.

Tell me more: The proposal by the Central Public Works Department would be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his approval. This includes razing down of residential complexes of 4,000 families who will be provided with alternate housing.



What is it? The number of Delhi University (DU) teachers who have been protesting against some recent changes in University of Grants Commission (UGC) rules since May 24.

Why is it important? This affects the evaluation of answer sheets of around 1.3 lakh undergraduate students. They are protesting against the increase in number of working hours, difficulty in getting promotions, especially for Assistant Professors, and the likely loss of jobs for approximately 5,000 teachers, especially those in ad hoc positions.

Tell me more: The UGC has called for a meeting of all stakeholders on June 6 to discuss issues including the basis on which teachers are promoted and their workload and if the issues are not resolved then, it could lead to a delay in DU results and sessions.

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