News in Numbers, June 28, 2016: E-commerce in India, committee to maintain inflation targets…

$10.2 billion

What is it? The total gross merchandise value (GMV) of the top e-commerce firms in India at the end of May 2016. GMV is the total value of goods sold excluding discounts.

Why is it important? This is just a 13.3% growth from the GMV the top e-commerce firms recorded last May – and that primarily came from Amazon India, which grew from $1 billion to $2.7 billion in a year. Flipkart’s GMV has remained almost constant at $4 billion for the last one year and Snapdeal’s dropped 50% to $1.2 billion as of June, according to numbers collected by the Economic Times.

Tell me more: Due to the festive season and the discounts e-tailers offered, the total GMV clocked was $10.5 billion in December 2015. Of the total GMV of $10.2 billion recorded in May 2016, others such as ShopClues and Paytm accounted for 22.54% ($2.3 billion).

 

14

What is it? The number of Andhra Pradesh state government departments that have shifted from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, Guntur and Mangalagiri on Monday.

Why is it important? Signals Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s anxiety to move out of Hyderabad (which went to Telangana following the bifurcation two years back) as early as possible. Technically, AP government can function out of Hyderabad for the next eight years, and Amaravati, the new capital is not ready yet.

Tell me more: Government departments would relocate between June 29 and July 21 to the new capital region of Amaravati. However, the Andhra Pradesh government would have to make do with a scattered set-up until the administrative city in the core capital area is developed. The state government has pooled 33,000 acres of land for the development of Amaravati.

 

6

What is it? The number of members on the panel that would be responsible for maintaining inflation targets under the new monetary policy framework.

Why is it important? The RBI has initiated the process to set this panel up, marking it as one of the major changes monetary policy saw under Raghuram Rajan.

Tell me more: The panel will have three members from RBI and three recommended by the government. The panel’s main objective is to make sure the inflation remains within the range agreed by them. Now, retail inflation is 5.76% (May). The committee may be formed before August 9.

 

20

What is it? The number of educational institutions for which the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought greater autonomy from the Human Resource Development Ministry.

Why is it important? A sign that the PMO believes that educational institutions need more freedom to set their own course structure, fee, admission procedures, etc. is needed to become world class. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced during Budget 2016 that easier rules would be provided for 10 public and private institutions to emerge as world-class teaching and research institutions.

Tell me more: HRD had proposed lighter rules earlier for the “world-class” institutions earlier, but PMO has now suggested they relax it even further.

 

272

What is it? The number of Income Tax Department appeals dismissed by the Delhi High Court in a recent order.

Why is it important? The reason for the dismissal was because the department failed to do something simple: correct the defects in the appeals and re-file them without much delay. The errors included: missing pages, illegible script, wrong font, lack of stamps and proper handing over of case records. The court has directed its registry to ensure that these appeals are not filed again, most of which have tax liability exceeding Rs 20 lakh, leading to a likely revenue loss for the government.

Tell me more: The court was waiting since 2012 for the department to correct the errors in the 272 appeals.

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News in Numbers, June 17, 2016: Tax on sugar exports, Amazon decreases commission rates…

20%

What is it? The tax imposed by the Indian government on sugar exports.

Why is it important? This move, which comes after sugar prices increased from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 40 a kg in six months, is expected to boost domestic supplies. Due to drought in major sugar-growing areas, India’s sugar production is estimated to decline to 25 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 28.3 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Of the 366 sugar mills in the country, only about 60% were operating as on March 31.

 

34.05%

What is it? Percentage of women in rural areas who were open to living with their daughters in old age, according to a 2011-12 survey.

Why is it important? This was just 24.6% as per the 2004-05 survey, reflecting the changing norm of relying only on their sons in old age. People living in the urban areas also show a similar trend: it’s now 38.94% from 28.9% in 2004-05.

Tell me more: In terms of receiving financial support from daughters in old age, the trend is similar: 41.45% of women in rural areas (versus 30.48% per 2004-05 survey) and 44.75% of women in urban areas (versus 32.87% per 2004-05 survey) were okay with the idea, as per the 2011-12 survey.

 

$24 million

What is it? The amount New-York based company Andela has raised, led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative (CZI).

Why is it important? This is CZI’s first private-sector investment and it is leading a financing round for the first time since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan launched their charitable foundation last December. The initiative drew criticism as it was incorporated as a limited liability company, which is not governed by the rules for a non-profit organisation.

Tell me more: Andela trains software coders in Kenya and Nigeria to help them get jobs at large technology firms. Others who participated in the funding include: GV (formerly, Google Ventures), Spark Capital, Omidyar Network, Learn Capital and CRE Ventures.

 

3.5%

What is it? The new commission rate sellers of mobile devices and tablets will pay Amazon India effective today, down from about 5.5% earlier.

Why is it important? The move could help sellers to offer products at a lower cost by bypassing foreign direct investment rules that do not allow online marketplaces to influence product prices. This is in contrast to its rival Flipkart which recently decided to increase seller commissions by 5-6% from June 20, even as it struggles to raise funds.  

Tell me more: Amazon India has reduced the commission rates for sellers on certain categories including desktops, laptops, electronic devices, movies and educational software. This comes after Amazon reportedly increased its commission rates up to 9% on various categories a couple of months ago.

 

17,540

What is it? The number of Pakistani citizens whose visas were rejected by the Indian government between January 1 to May 31 this year.

Why is it important? This is around 50% of those who applied for visa to visit India, which is significantly higher than the rejection rate of 22.2% in 2015 and 17% in 2014. This is reportedly due to increased security concerns after the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists in January this year.

Tell me more: The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan has written a letter to the Union Home Secretary asking for the reasons behind the high rejection rates.

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News in Numbers, June 8, 2016: India closer to its NSG aspirations, Amazon’s India push…

$21.3 billion

What is it? The estimated cost of delay and additional fuel consumption due to freight vehicles being stopped at check posts and/or state borders, long queues at check posts, poor road conditions etc., according to a study.

Why is it important? Underscores the need for Goods and Services Tax – which would bring in a single tax rate in place of the myriad existing ones, and reduce paperwork at checkposts and state borders. This would cut some costs. However, it would also need better infrastructure – wider roads and focus on multi-modal transportation – and action against unnecessary police intervention.

Tell me more: The study by IIM-Calcutta and logistics firm Transport Corporation of India gave the break up of the cost incurred due to delays and cost of fuel consumption due to such delays: $6.6 billion and $14.7 billion respectively.

 

35

What is it? The total number of member-nations of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, with the latest addition being India.

Why is it important? This would help India to buy high-end missile technology and also bring it closer to becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a body that controls global nuclear trade. Though India has received support from the US for India’s entry into this coveted group, China has been against this and favouring Pakistan’s membership.

Tell me more: India has the capabilities of exporting nuclear fuel such as thorium and supply nuclear technology in the future but it cannot do so until it is a member of the NSG. India’s entry into this group will also give it a strategic victory over Pakistan as it can block it from joining the NSG.

 

6.5%

What is it? The present Repo rate – the rate at which the central bank lends to the banks.  It was kept unchanged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday.

Why is it important?  RBI holding the rates was expected, but it comes at time when there is debate – fuelled primarily by Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy – on whether the central bank is too reluctant to bring down rates, which might help small and medium industries.

Tell me more: The RBI has cited concerns about an upside in inflation risks mainly due to increase in international commodity prices, especially oil, and the implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. The central bank may not go for any interest rate cuts this year as RBI’s survey of professional forecasters have assigned the highest probability of 49% for average inflation to be 5-5.9% in 2016-17 against its target of containing it within 5%. The RBI also left the cash reserve ratio, the portion of their deposits that banks have to keep with the central bank, at 4%.

 

Rs 404

What is it? The amount a passenger would have typically got as refund, if they had cancelled a Delhi-Mumbai ticket costing Rs 2,419 (base fare: Rs 1,559) booked on June 7.

Why is it important? Highlights how cancellation charges can sometimes exceed the base fare amount (in this case, it is 1.29 times the base fare). India’s aviation regulator will reportedly announce new rules barring airliners from levying cancellation charges exceeding the base fares.

Tell me more: A couple of months ago, airlines in India offered discounts and brought down airfares but increased the cancellation charges up by 50-100%.

 

$3 billion

What is it? Additional investment commitment by Amazon in India.

Why is it important? This is likely hit Indian e-commerce firms such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, which have been struggling to raise funds to keep up in the race as competition intensifies. It also shows how badly Amazon needs to win in India, after losing out to Alibaba Group Holding in China. In July 2014, the company had announced a $2 billion investment in the country, which it spent in less than two years.

Tell me more: With the additional funds coming in, Amazon’s total pledged amount would exceed $5 billion (over Rs 33,000 crore) in India.

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News in Numbers, May 12, 2016: New drought policies, some Amazon India sellers in trouble…

3

What is it? The number of months the government has to set up a National Disaster Mitigation Fund to tackle drought, per Supreme Court directions.

Why is it important? This would accelerate and streamline drought relief and preparations, and mitigate its impact including farmer suicides. Over 330 million people (about a quarter of India’s population) are drought-hit and 116 farmers have committed suicide in 10 states so far.

Tell me more: Other measures listed by the Supreme Court include: replace colonial methods and manuals with a modern, transparent, rule-based framework to deal with drought, implement provisions of the National Disaster Management Act and formulate a national policy under it, revise the existing drought management manual of 2009 and standardised nomenclature. The apex court rapped three states – Gujarat (for delay in acknowledging drought), Haryana and Bihar (for not declaring drought at all).

 

Rs 9,000 crore

What is it? The value of domestic assets and shares of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is reportedly considering to attach, in relation to the IDBI bank loan fraud case.

Why is it important? Mallya’s assets and shares are being examined to be attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act so that no third-party rights can be created in them, according to an ED official. However, attachment and attempts to sell Mallya’s properties have not fetched the authorities/banks anything so far.

Tell me more: The IDBI Bank loan fraud case pertains to an allegation by the investigating agency that Mallya has siphoned off Rs 430 crore from the Rs 900 crore loan given by the bank to his now defunct firm Kingfisher Airlines, to buy properties overseas. The grounded airline owes around Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.

 

50

What is it? The number of sellers of Amazon India who have been alleged to falsely claiming credit on Central Value Added Tax (Cenvat).

Why is it important? The alleged tax evasion – using the provision that allows tax relief on inputs for a product or service – could be about Rs 118 crore. It also highlights the tough time global tech companies – others include Facebook, Uber and Google – have been facing in India.

Tell me more: The authorities has questioned Amazon India and conducted searches in its business premises across the country to determine if Amazon is involved in any wrongdoing related to this case.

 

4

What is it? The number of telecom circles Vodafone will launch 4G services in, over the next few months.

Why is it important? This would help India’s second largest telecom service provider to cover 1,000 cities across nine circles by the end of this year, which will likely contribute to the onset of a pricing war and consolidation in the industry. Bharti Airtel is aggressively pushing to establish dominance in the 4G segment before Reliance Jio’s expected launch by the end of the year.

Tell me more: The new circles are Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh East and West Bengal. According to a Deloitte India report, a third of the mobile users in the country are expected to adopt 4G services by the end of the year, possibly resulting in the reduction of traditional voice calls.

 

11

What is it? The average age of US technology companies that went public in 2014, compared to four years in 1999.

Why is it important? An indicator that these firms are shying away from an initial public offering (IPO) longer than earlier due to rapid increase in private investor money. Poor performance of IPOs of tech companies in the last few years have not helped. This is likely to change the way investments are done in tech startups, given that investors have to wait longer to realise their returns.

Tell me more: The data is according to a research by Jay Ritter, a University of Florida professor, which points to the fact that tech companies are preferring the private route to grow into unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) and decacorns (valuation above $10 billion) instead of the public listing route.

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