News in Numbers, Dec 8, 2016: The surprise decision…

6.25%

What is it? The repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends to commercial banks.

Why is it important? It has been left unchanged by the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee, a unanimous decision by the six-member team. This decision has been widely perceived to be a surprise even as many analysts had predicted a rate cut after the cash crunch brought on by the government’s move to replace high-value currency notes, which threatens to slow down the economy. The rates were held steady amidst concerns about the re-emergence of food inflation pressures, a likely increase in crude oil prices and the expected increase in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve.

Tell me more: The central bank has lowered its growth forecast to 7.1% from the earlier projection of 7.6% due to demonetisation.

 

Rs 35,170 crore

What is it? The increase in net spending for which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has sought Parliamentary approval in the current fiscal.

Why is it important? This is the second time that additional funding is being sought. In August, extra funds of $3.1 billion was approved for spending in 2016-17. The recent request comes after the Indian economy grew by 7.3% in the July-September quarter, mainly driven by government spending as private investment activity showed no signs of gaining pace.

Tell me more: The additional spending includes Rs 4,000 crore for a rural jobs programme, Rs 3,100 crore for the farm ministry and Rs 1,100 crore to cover a higher pensions bill.

 

5.5%

What is it? The percentage of customer acquisition forms (of a total of 7.84 crore audited) that were found to be non-compliant as of September 2016 during verification of such forms used to enrol customers by telecom operators.

Why is it important? Indicates that a significant share of users are not verified (as mandated) before providing them with mobile connections. A total of Rs 2,335.9 crore penalty has been levied on telecom service providers as on the last day of September. It remains to be seen if the telecom ministry’s recent circular notifying the use of Aadhaar e-KYC (know your customer) service of the Unique Identity Authority of India for issuing mobile connections to users is likely to bring down the number of such violations.

Tell me more: The Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells carry out the verification exercise of customer acquisition forms of 0.1% of users at the end of every month.

 

£1 billion

What is it? The amount Tata Steel plans to invest in UK over the next 10 years.

Why is it important? This is part of the deal that Britain’s largest steelmaker has offered to unions and in return, it expects them to move to a defined contribution scheme from the existing expensive pension scheme. This deal brings Tata Steel a step closer to merging its European assets with Germany’s Thyssenkrupp, which does not want to take on the former’s pension liabilities in case a merger happens. The unions would decide on the deal in January next year.

Tell me more: The deal also includes Tata Steel offering to keep both the furnaces operational at Port Talbot in South Wales for five years at least with no compulsory redundancies during that period. Tata Steel employs 4,000 people at the Welsh plant and 11,000 in the UK.

 

36

What is it? The number of cases where the baby cannot fit down the birth canal per 1,000 births compared to 30 in 1,000 in the 1960s, according to a research.

Why is it important? The research suggests that the regular use of caesarean sections is affecting human evolution. Increasingly, more mothers require surgery to deliver babies due to their narrow pelvis size. Earlier, women with a very narrow pelvis would not have survived birth but now due to medical interventions, they do and pass on their genes to their girl children. The question of why the human pelvis has not grown wider over the years despite the fact that the head of a human baby is larger than that of other primates, still remains unanswered.

Tell me more: The research published in the journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ says that the study points towards the trend of larger newborns (which are more healthy) and that the trend towards smaller newborns has disappeared.

 

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Comparing income disclosure schemes of 1997 and 2016

If one takes number of people who declared their black money, Chidambaram’s scheme received far wider number than the current one. But in terms of amount of money declared and tax (estimate) collected, then Jaitley’s scheme is bigger.

That’s not the correct way to compare as Chidambaram’s scheme was implemented 19 years back. So if we bring that number to today’s value, then how it would look?

 

We used compounding rate of 10%, then Chidambaram’s scheme would comfortably beat the current collection. One can always dispute the compounding rate. If 6% is used, then tax collected would be less than what is estimated under IDS 2016.

 

Beyond the numbers are two crucial issues:

 

  1. The inability of tax authorities to actively curb black money generation. It is not common to hear people demanding cash payment while buying or selling houses.
  2. Regular disclosure scheme emboldens people to indulge in tax evasion as probability of getting caught is less than the return from tax evasion.

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News in numbers, Nov 4, 2015: Decline in prices of pulses, most top firms miss sales estimates…

Rs 20

What is it? Average decline in prices of pulses across India in the last few days, according to the central government representatives.

Why is it important? Rising price of dal has been a hot topic for weeks now. Last month, the prices of pulses (key ingredients in Indian cooking) went up to as much as Rs 187 per kg. Retail prices of toor dal and urad dal almost doubled in October from a year-ago period. The requirement of pulses in India is 22 million tonnes whereas the production was only up to 17 million tonne. Hoarding by some traders also impacted the rates upwards.

Tell me more: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said with the ongoing market arrivals of urad dal and arrival of the new crop of toor dal in early December, the prices are expected to go down further. The hoarded stock would soon be released into the retail market easing the supply situation further.

 

200

What is it? Types of affidavits abolished by the Delhi government on Tuesday. This refers to affidavits required for documents such as marriage certificates, income certificates, ration cards.

Why is it important? It simplifies government-citizen interactions, is lighter on people’s purse, and can potentially bring down corruption. All these documents now require just self-attestation, which means one need not look for MLAs and gazetted officers for affidavits. It remains to be seen how the government would deal with those who provide wrong information in their application forms.

Tell me more: Now, there would be only 40 types of affidavits required, half of which come under the purview of the central government.

 

67%

What is it? Share of top Indian companies (of 161 analysed) that missed sales forecast in the July-September quarter.

Why is it important? This shows that India still has some distance to cover in terms of economic recovery. Of the 161 companies studied, 108 companies missed the estimates for sales. Two consecutive years of poor monsoon and winter rains damaging crops have stifled rural consumer demand, affecting sales of companies.

Tell me more: The earnings of all 13 companies in the consumer packaged industry did not meet consensus expectations.

 

6%

What is it? Percentage of amount spent from budget allocated to the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation during April-September 2015.

Why is it important? Among all the ministries, this ministry, headed by Venkaiah Naidu, has spent the least in percentage terms. The Narendra Modi government has been trying to increase public expenditure in infrastructure projects to spur growth.

Tell me more: The ministry of civil aviation and ministry of drinking water and sanitation are the top two spenders while among the bottom spenders, ministry of labour and ministry of tourism follow Naidu’s ministry.  

 

2,627

What is it? Number of people holding directorship in more than 20 companies, according to data by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of the prevalence of shell companies. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has observed that in many of the shell companies, the directors or shareholders are people of limited financial means such as drivers, cooks and other employees of people who intend to launder money. Holding directorship in more than 20 companies is against the provisions of Companies Act, 2013 as well as the erstwhile Companies Act, 1956.

Tell me more: As many as 345 addresses are shared by at least 20 companies. The SIT has asked the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to proactively detect shell companies.

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News in Numbers – September 3, 2015

News In Numbers: September 3, 2015

 

5

The number of persons sent to jail by a Delhi court on Wednesday, the first conviction in a 2010 Commonwealth Games scam case. Four are officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), each of whom received four years, while the fifth person, the managing director of a private firm, got six years. They have been convicted for their involvement in a street-lighting scam, which resulted in a loss of Rs 1.4 crore to the exchequer. Of the 10 ongoing corruption cases that relates to the Games, one is against former Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi and nine others for alleged irregularities in awarding a contract to a Swiss company, causing a loss of Rs 95.6 crore to the exchequer. Last January, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) closed nine of the 19 FIRs (first information reports) filed for lack of evidence.

 

Rs 25,000 crore

The estimated loss to the Indian economy due to a one-day strike by 10 central trade unions on Wednesday, according to industry bodies CII and Assocham. However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed the strike as something that “had a marginal or an inconsequential impact”, saying that most people were not even aware. The trade unions claimed that over 15 crore organised sector workers participated in the strike, and media reports suggest banking and transportation services were hit in parts of the country. Workers from 23 public sector banks, 12 private banks, 52 regional rural banks and over 13,000 cooperative banks went on strike on Wednesday.

 

422

The number of trees estimated per person on earth, according to a group of researchers led by ecologist Thomas Crowther. The researchers have combined two methods – satellite imagery and ground-based counting – to arrive at an estimate of 3.04 trillion trees on earth. This is 7.6 times the previous estimate of 400 billion trees, which was arrived at by primarily using the second method. With an estimate of 15 billion trees being cut down every year, the number of trees has declined by 46% since humans began cultivation about 12,000 years ago. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about 36 football fields worth of trees are lost every minute across the world.

 

0.1%

According to gross-value added (GVA, which is essentially GDP minus taxes plus subsidies) data, inflation was 0.1% in the Indian economy in the first quarter of 2015-16. In the fourth quarter of 2014-15, this number was in negative territory, indicating the economy was in deflation. Except for agriculture, industry and services are in deflation. On Wednesday, chief economic advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian warned the Indian economy “appears to be in or close to deflation territory” but maintained that it would grow at around 8% in 2015-16. The CEA has said in the past that policymakers should also look at the Wholesale Price Index, which is in the negative, besides the Consumer Price Index. The Reserve Bank of India kept key interest rates unchanged in August citing inflationary concerns.

 

75,000

The number of Indians in the age bracket of 15 to 34 years who were killed in road accidents in 2014, of which 82% were men. The victims in this age group accounted for 53.8% of the road accidents recorded last year and those in the 35-64 age bracket accounted for 35.7%. Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra account for nearly one-third of total road fatalities last year. About 1.2 million Indians were killed in car accidents in the last 10 years or so, an average of one every minute. According to a World Health Organization report, India has the highest absolute number of recorded road deaths, followed by China.

 

 

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