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Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Brings In Moolah

 

Alibaba raked in billions with its Singles’ day shopping festival, outdoing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. SoftBank is padding Uber with more money. Air India is borrowing yet again while it sits on a mountain of debt. Industrial output bounced a little but is still lower than August’s. 

 

$10 billion

What is it? The amount that SoftBank Group could end up committing to ride-hailing service Uber, both in fresh funding and in buying out existing investors.

Why is it important? Uber yesterday announced it had entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment. For Uber, which is in a state of flux on several fronts, it marks its association with the weightiest investor in the Internet economy. For SoftBank, it gives it a piece of the leader of the unicorn club and a pivotal seat in the ride-hailing sector.

Tell me more: SoftBank is also an investor in other ride-hailing companies, notably Didi in China, GrabTaxi in Singapore and Ola in India.

 

$25.3 billion

What is it? The sales generated by Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce firm, from its 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in 24 hours, which celebrates single people.

Why is it important? The ninth edition of the annual sale is its highest ever, up 42% from 2016, cementing its position as the world’s largest shopping event. It is almost twice the combined sales from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US in 2016. Seen another way, it is higher than the GDP of Cameroon. Some experts say the massive growth is due to retailers competing with each other to grab a pie of consumer spending in the growing Chinese economy.

Tell me more: The online extravaganza broke other records too. Alibaba surpassed last year’s sales figure in 13 hours. Chinese postal and courier companies handled at least 331 million packages, over 30% higher than those in the same day a year ago.

 

Rs 1,500 crore

What is it? The value of loan reportedly received by Air India from Bank of India to meet its working capital needs.

Why is it important? It highlights the financial situation of Air India, which has a total debt of Rs 52,000 crore and recently received an in-principle nod for disinvestment. However, according to a report, the new owners are likely to take over only the aircraft debt and not working capital loans, which would be transferred to a special purpose vehicle (to be managed by it) before the sale. Of the total debt, Rs 33,000 crore is on account of working capital loans.

Tell me more: The recent working capital loan comes nearly a month after the national carrier floated a tender seeking government-backed short-term loans for the mentioned amount.

 

3.8%

What is it? The rate at which India’s industrial output grew in September on a year-on-year basis.

Why is it important? While this was lower than the 4.3% recorded in August, it was significantly higher than the depths of June and July, two months that also contained the overhang of the transition to a new goods and services tax (GST).

Tell me more: Of the 23 industries, 11 registered growth, indicating that stability was gradually returning to the industrial sector after the disruptions caused by demonetization and GST.

 

Rs 25,000-30,000

What is it? The amount Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) reportedly spends on a cricketer for DNA testing.

Why is it important? This is to understand each player’s body needs to maintain a particular fat percentage, whose limit for a senior Indian player is 23%. This test is believed to help cricketers improve their speed in fat burning, endurance, recovery and muscle building by developing a customised and comprehensive fitness programme. However, researchers are divided on the usefulness of such tests to improve athletes’ performance: one study claims these are ‘virtually meaningless‘, while another says DNA-matched training programmes improve their performance by three times than the mismatched ones.

Tell me more: Earlier, Indian cricketers took Skinfold tests and DEXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scans to measure body fat percentage.

 

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Google’s trust issues

2.42 billion Euro

What is it? The fine imposed by European antitrust authorities on Google for having used its dominant search engine to direct traffic to its shopping comparison service.

Why is it important? Order will benefit non-Google price comparison service providers who lost out because of Google’s practice of promoting its own service ahead of generic search results. The fine amount is the largest imposed by any antitrust body.

Tell me more: European Commission found traffic to Google’s own shopping service increased manifold (45% in the United Kingdom), whereas rival websites have witnessed sudden drop in traffic (85% in the United Kingdom).

 

Rs 2,199 crore

What is it? The title sponsorship fee for five years of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the league T20 cricketing tournament. BBK Electronics-owned Vivo won the bid.

Why is it important? The Chinese phone brand retained its sponsorship rights with the bid, which it won after PepsiCo withdrew in 2015 following corruption charges in IPL. The earlier Vivo contract was for Rs 200 crore for two years. The current one marks a 340% average yearly jump, while BCCI says it is a 554% jump over the previous contract.

Tell me more: Vivo beat sister company, Oppo whose bid was worth Rs 1,432 crore.

 

2 billion

What is it? The number of monthly active users on Facebook, the largest social networking site, which it reached late on Tuesday night.

Why is it important? The number of users, who have logged onto Facebook or its Messenger app at least once in the last one month, is more than the population of any country and even more than that of six continents, except Asia.

Tell me more: Facebook’s new users are growing at 17%, fast for a 13-year-old Internet company and 66% of its monthly users return daily, up from 55% when it had touched 1 billion users.

5%

What is it? The maximum holding of any non-promoter investor can have in Reliance Industries (RIL), after the company gets shareholders’ approval on July 21.

Why is it important? RIL will have to take this step in order to meet the central bank’s terms and conditions before starting its payments bank. It owns 70% stake in the new venture, with State Bank of India holding 30%. The central bank’s prior permission is needed if non-promoters increase equity stake beyond 5%.

Tell me more: RIL plans to amend its Articles of Association at the annual general meeting. The state insurer, Life Insurance Corporation of India holds 8.31% in RIL.

 

25

What is it? The number of government departments to be completely computerised in the next few days.

Why is it important? With 100% digitisation, these departments will turn into e-offices with electronic record-keeping, doing away with unwieldy physical records and obsolete papers. The government’s efforts at digitising records have already resulted in 462,000 e-files, compared to last year’s 8,000.

Tell me more: The cumbersome processes of affidavits and attestation have been done away with in 58 central ministries/departments and 33 states and union territories.

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News in Numbers, Mar 23, 2017: Doctors 🚑 down tools

Rs 2 crore

What is it? The annual retainer fee of grade A cricketers, which the BCCI doubled from last year.

Why is it important? Following the performance in the last few test matches against Australia, players such as Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara will also be eligible for this remuneration as they have been upgraded to grade A.

Tell me more: Grade B cricketers will receive Rs 1 crore and grade C Rs 50 lakh, annually. The pay-hike follows October’s doubling of match fees to Rs 15 lakh a match.

 

1,470

What is it? Number of vacant Indian Administrative Services posts.

Why is it important? These posts, crucial for the bureaucracy and administrative machinery of the country, remain vacant despite being authorised to be filled. Indian Forest Services and Indian Police Services also have 560 and 908 posts vacant, which are otherwise sanctioned to be filled up. The numbers have come down from 2012, when IAS had over 1,700 vacancies and IPS over 1,200.

Tell me more: The government says recruiting has been stepped up for IAS in the last four years, while for IFS recruiting was increased in the 2015 examinations and for IPS in the 2009 examination.

 

636,248

What is it? The number of terror-related accounts on Twitter, which the micro-blogging site suspended since August, 2015.

Why is it important? This is the result of the social media platform’s increased efforts to curtail terror propaganda and terror recruitment handles. It is working with organisations such as People against Violent Extremism and the Lumen database to sieve accounts promoting violent terrorism.

Tell me more: In 2016, Twitter had blocked accounts related to Islamic State, the extremist group, for example. No less than 376,890 accounts were suspended in July-December, 2016, for promoting terrorism.

 

Rs 7,719.65 crores

What is it? The amount India gave as aid to foreign countries in 2015-16.

Why is it important? It is more than what the country received as aid from multi-lateral organisations/foreign countries, making India a net donor. It is a key element of foreign policy — especially with respect to its neighbours. Most of the aid went to neighbouring countries — primarily Bhutan, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, in that order.

Tell me more: Global Fund and European Union are the top two providers of aid to India. Global Fund aims to fight diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis, and had earlier tied up with Tata Trusts to launch an India Health Fund.

 

40

What is it? The number of government hospitals in Delhi, whose resident doctors plan to go on strike today.

Why is it important? It is a sign that the protests by resident doctors in Maharashtra — in its fourth day — is spreading outside the state, and could garner more support from doctors in other states. The doctors are demanding a safer workplace. A doctor was assaulted by a patient’s relatives recently at Dhule. Fifty-three doctors were attacked in last last two years, according to a report.

Tell me more: Bombay High Court had directed the protesting doctors to return to duty. It has had no impact yet. Meanwhile at AIIMS, Delhi, resident doctors said they will work with helmets on as a sign of protest and to highlight the issue.

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News in Numbers, Feb 06, 2017: It takes seven to play fair

7 out of 10

What is it? Countries which voted in favour of the motion at the International Cricket Council (ICC) to remove the ‘Big Three’ model of revenue-sharing between member country cricket boards and the ICC, introduced in 2014.

Why is it important? The vote, in line to get ratified in ICC’s April board meeting, will replace the Board Of Control For Cricket India’s (BCCI) claim to ICC’s highest revenue share. The ICC will likely move towards a more equitable distribution of its earnings among member countries, away from the controversial rule implemented in 2014 that gave India the lion’s share of 20.3% of ICC global revenues, followed by England 4.4% and Australia 2.7% in the 2015-2023 revenue cycle. The rule was based on the argument that these three were more influential in the game and brought in more revenue for the ICC.

Tell me more: India’s old ally Bangladesh and the other two beneficiaries voted against while Sri Lanka was the only country to vote with India, for the Big Three. Zimbabwe did not vote.

 

61 days

What is it? The number of days O Panneerselvam held office as chief minister of Tamil Nadu after the death of his predecessor J Jayalalithaa

Why is it important? Panneerselvam’s resignation from his post on Sunday to let VK Sasikala succeed him comes amidst widespread frustration in the state. In his brief stint as chief minister, Panneerselvam had gained respect for his refreshingly different approach from the autocratic style of Jayalalithaa and for the way he handled the aftermath of cyclone Vardha and protests over Jallikattu. Sasikala, on the other hand, has no experience in administration, has not won any election so far, and faces a court case over accumulating disproportionate wealth.

Tell me more: Panneerselvam’s earlier terms as chief minister lasted longer. He held the office for 161 days after Jayalalithaa was forced to resign by the Supreme Court in 2001, and for 235 days after Jayalalithaa was sent to prison by a special court in 2015.

 

Rs 60,000 crore

What is it? The annual cost of Delhi’s traffic congestion.

Why is it important? Preventing traffic congestions in Delhi could mean saving Rs 60,000 crore for a region which contributes over 4.12% to the country’s GDP. The stakes could even increase to Rs 98,000 crore by 2030 according to a study by IIT Madras, as fuel wasted in idling vehicles, productivity loss, injury from air pollution and road accidents compound the loss further.

Tell me more: Productivity loss on bus commutes was found toconstitute 75% of the total cost and dedicated bus lanes could shave off 50% from the future economic toll traffic would take.

 

1,131

What is it? The number of migrants intercepted by the Libyan coast guard off its shores through last week.

Why is it important? Shows Libya is taking efforts on its own to curb the flow of illegal migrants, leaving their sub-Saharan countries for European shores. The migrants from last week are a fraction of the number of migrants pouring in Libya to travel onwards. Opportunist human smugglers have made Libya a hotbed of abuse and exploitation, with many migrants dying on the sea due to inhuman conditions of transport. The numbers have made European countries offer Libya aid to try and curb such entries.

Tell me more: Libya became the entry-hub for illegal migrants looking to cross the Mediterranean over to Europe after Turkey andGreece shut off theirs.

 

7

What is it? The number of times the winner of Directors Guild of America Award for directing a feature film did not go on to win an Oscar the same year since its inception in 1948

Why is it important? This year, Directors Guild award went to Damien Chazelle who directed La La Land, a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – indicating that the much coveted Academy Award will also go to him. La La Land which first hit the cinemas in November has 93% on movie rating aggregation site Rotten Tomatoesand has earned $223.5 million at the box office

Tell me more: La La Land has won 14 Oscar nominations. The winners will be announced on 26th February during the awards ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California.

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