News in numbers, Jan 26, 2016: India and France sign deals worth $15 bn, new voters added…

$ 15 billion

What is it? Deal value of 30 agreements signed between India and France in the last two days

Why is it important? Two major deals – $9 billion to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts and a shareholding agreement between Indian Railways and Alstom to produce 800 locomotives worth $ 3 billion locally – were taken forward and will help meet India’s priorities now. One to replace the ageing MiG fighter jets, and another to give boost to ‘Make in India’ program.

Tell me more: Financial details are yet to be agreed for the Rafale deal, where an Inter-governmental agreement has been signed. In Alstom deal, a shareholder agreement was inked.  French President François Hollande is on a three day visit to India, and will be the chief guest at India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations.

 

18 million

What is it? That’s the number of new voters added in the one year. With this, India now has 850 million electors.

Why is it important? Shows the success of the Election Commission to enthuse teenagers who become eligible to vote to enroll. Half of new voters enrolled are in the age bracket of 18-19 years, as compared to 10-15% in previous enrolment drive.

Tell me more: Census data shows 4.8 million people in age bracket of 18 to 19 years, but the enrollment numbers are double of that. The data doesn’t match, though Census is 2011 figures. Voter turnout in 2014 parliamentary elections was 66.4%, the highest ever.

+ 0.67 ° Celsius

What is it? Increase in annual mean temperature in 2015 in India, the third warmest year since 1901.

Why is it important? Twelve out of fifteen warmest years were recorded in last fifteen years, indicating a secular trend of increase in temperature. In particular, October – December last year, was the warmest since 1901.

Tell me more: World Meteorological Organization too declared 2015 as the hottest year on record, with temperature 1 degree celsius above pre-industrial era.

 

3.09 crore

What is it? The number of income tax returns filed electronically between April and December 2015.

Why is it important? That’s a jump of 27.3% from 2.43 crore during the same period last year, and close to 3.41 crore filed during the full financial year. (There are about 5.16 crore crore tax payers in India according to income tax department, based on returns filed and tax deducted at source). The jump underlines the advantages of digitising citizen to government interactions, and also the inefficiencies in physical movements of documents. There were complaints about the delays in receiving filings earlier.

Tell me more: Data provided by income tax department hit headlines recently after economist Thomas Piketty, best known for his study on inequality published in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, complained that there was “an extreme lack of transparency in information about income-tax data.”

1500 plus

What is it? The number of candidates vying for US presidency.

Why is it important? The final contest for White House often ends up between the Republican and Democratic nominees. (This time there could be a third, with Michael Bloomberg considering a presidential bid.) However, a large number of presidential hopefulsrepresenting a range of parties (American Independent Party, American Freedom Party, Constitution Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, Objectivist Party and so on) or as independents throw in their hats too. In 2012, the number of presidential hopefuls was

Tell me more: While most of these candidates can be ignored, third party performances have had impact on elections – in 1996, businessman Ross Perot, competing as an independent won 18.6% of the popular vote.

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News in numbers, Nov 16, 2015: Discounts on cancer drugs, ISIS’ share in terror attacks…

50-60%

 

What is it? Discounts to be given for 202 cancer drugs, 186 medicines to treat cardiovascular diseases and 148 types of cardiac implants at central government hospitals.

 

Why is it important? Cancer is already the biggest or the second biggest killer in India and affordability of drugs is a major concern. For instance, Imatinib, a generic drug used to treat certain types of blood cancers, retails for Rs 850-1,029 per 100 mg tablet strip.

 

Tell me more: The Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) scheme, launched by the government in partnership with government-owned HLL Lifecare, will set up and run a chain of pharmacies across the country to sell these drugs at lower costs. The first AMRIT outlet was inaugurated at AIIMS in New Delhi on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

7.5%

 

What is it? Share of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in terrorist attacks perpetrated in 2014, according to the Global Terrorism Database.

 

Why is it important? The Jihadist group, which claimed responsibility for the multi-venue attacks in Paris on Friday night, is turning out to be the most significant terrorist threat globally. The attacks, which claimed the lives of 129 people, reflect an increase in the capabilities of the terrorist group (if investigations confirm their claims).

 

Tell me more: The attacks targeted six venues including a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants and bars. Three coordinated teams of eight attackers shot at people and blew themselves up, while one was shot dead by the police.

 

$772 million

 

What is it? Penalty levied by the US on French multinational Alstom for bribing government officials in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Taiwan.

 

Why is it important? In the global context, this is the largest criminal fine ever levied under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the US anti-corruption regulation. In the Indian context, Alstom was recently awarded the letter of award for contracts worth $5.6 billion to supply 800 electric locomotives to the Indian Railways between 2018 and 2028. This could be worrisome for the Indian government, which is trying to improve its rankings in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, where corruption is cited as a major impediment.

 

Tell me more: Alstom had pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying its books and records and not implementing adequate internal control, besides bribing government officials. A Connecticut district court judge on Friday formally sentenced the company to pay the fine.  

 

3

 

What is it? Number of children in political life of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, one of whom is reportedly likely to be anointed deputy chief minister of Bihar.

 

Why is it important? Between Misa Bharati Devi, Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejashwi Yadav, the choice might be a pointer of the second rung of leadership in the RJD. Also, it shows dynastic politics, which is seen as a threat to democracy, continues to thrive. Research by political scientist Kanchan Chandra of the New York University shows that 21% of the current Members of Parliament (MPs) come from political families, which though down from 29% in 2009, is still high.


Tell me more: RJD won 80 seats in the recently concluded Bihar elections, 9 more than JD (U). Nitish Kumar is set to take oath as chief minister, for the third consecutive time, on November 20.

 

50%

 

What is it? Percentage by which the Indian government plans to reduce deaths due to road accidents in the next five years.

 

Why is it important? Deaths due to road accidents (140,000) accounted for 83.7% of all traffic accidents in India in 2014. An average of 51 cases of road accidents were reported per hour last year, resulting in 16 deaths per hour. Accidents involving two-wheelers accounted for over a fourth of the lives lost.

 

Tell me more: The national action plan being drawn by the government includes new two-wheeler safety norms, working on road designs, penalties on companies and engineers for bad road designs, a separate fund for road accident victims, and action against registered public and private hospitals who detain bystanders bringing in the injured or demand payment from them (unless they are family members of the injured).

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News in numbers, Nov 10, 2015: OECD’s India GDP forecast, global warming impact on India…

 

7.2%

What is it? The growth estimate for the Indian economy in the current financial year by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a Paris-based economic organization

Why is it important? This has remain unchanged from its September forecast. However, OECD has said despite having relatively better growth prospects, the delay in passing key structural reforms and the rising bad loans are the main impediments. It remains to be seen if the Parliament would pass key bills such as the GST Bill, Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013 and the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 as the BJP needs to rely on the Congress in the Rajya Sabha for its support to push through these bills.

Tell me more: OECD estimates for India’s economic growth is 7.3% in 2016-17 and 7.4% in 2017-18.

 

Rs 40,000 crore

What is it? The size of two contracts the Indian Railways has awarded to US-based General Electric Company (GE), and French multinational Alstom for setting up diesel and electric locomotive factories in Bihar. Only the first project was officially announced on Monday.

Why is it important? The first big foreign direct investments in the railways sector in India. This would bolster indigenous production backed by the latest technology, help the Indian Railways improve its infrastructure and provide employment opportunities by giving rise to ancillary industries. Under the agreement, GE and Alstom would supply 1,000 diesel locomotives and 800 electric locomotives in 10 years. Railways had 5,633 diesel and 4,568 electric locomotives at the end of March 2014.

Tell me more: Though both the projects were approved in 2007 by the then Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav but were mired in controversy and bureaucratic red tape. The Indian Railways (26% stake) and the foreign companies (74% stake) would form joint venture companies to construct and run the diesel and electric locomotive factories.

 

Rs 31.2

What is it? The central and excise duties’ components in the retail price of a litre of petrol at Rs 60.7 in Delhi. This is Rs 6.45 higher than the cost of producing a litre of petrol at the refineries based on the average cost of gasoline and the foreign exchange rate in the second half of October.

Why is it important? Shows the relative inflexibility of taxes as crude prices move up and down. To protect tax revenue as oil prices dropped sharply, government moved away from ad-valorem (tax as percentage of price) to a tax per litre. This means customers will not fully benefit from fall in oil prices. Both central and state governments are expected to earn around Rs 80,000 crore by taxing petroleum products this fiscal.

Tell me more: Central government hiked excise duty for the fifth time in a year. The previous four hikes were made between November 2014 and January 2015 and resulted in additional revenue of Rs 20,000 crore for the government in the 2014-15.

 

8 billion

What is it? The value of the order for 75 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft placed by Jet Airways at list price, though aircraft manufacturers usually sell aircraft below the list price.

Why is it important? This is the largest ever aircraft deal for the Naresh Goyal-founded airlines and large orders usually get a good discount. This deal is seen to be good for Jet Airways in terms of upping its game in the fiercely competitive industry, though the delivery of the aircraft would begin from mid-2018. The new aircraft is said to be fuel efficient, which uses 20% less fuel than the first Next-Generation 737s and has the lowest operating costs in its class at 8% per seat less than its nearest competitor, according to Boeing. This is significant because jet fuel accounts for 45-55% of an airline’s revenue in India.

Tell me more: Jet Airways currently has 115 aircraft with an average age of 6.04 years. The second biggest airline (in terms of passengers carried) posted its biggest standalone quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2015-16 for the first time in nearly nine years.

 

55 million

What is it? Number of people in India who would be endangered if the global temperature rises by 4°C, according to a report by Climate Central, a US-based research organisation. This is about 4.4% of India’s current population.

Why is it important? Carbon emissions would cause warming, which in turn would lead to rise in sea levels that could submerge land, causing danger to the inhabitants. Though India is the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, the government says its historical cumulative emission is below 3% currently. All the countries, especially the advanced economies have to keep up their commitments of keeping the earth’s average temperature from rising beyond 2°C, a widely accepted benchmark for preventing further damage due to global warming.

Tell me more: A 4°C rise in temperature could submerge land inhabited by 470-760 million people. However, if countries are able to contain carbon emissions resulting in 2°C warming, then the number of people who could be affected could be brought down to 130 million.

 

 

 

 

 

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