News in Numbers, August 8, 2016: Apple India sales decline, floods have killed over 300…


What is it? The number of smartphones Apple shipped in India in the April-June quarter of this year, according to a report.

Why is it important? This is a third lower than the 1.2 million smartphones the company shipped in the same period last year. These numbers do not look good at a time when Apple is betting big on India, even as its sales in China (its second largest market after the US) has slowed down recently. The Indian government relaxed some foreign direct investment norms a couple of months ago, where Apple was seen as one of the beneficiaries.

Tell me more: Apple’s loss seems to have been Android phones’ gain, whose shipments increased by over 28% to 29.8 million in the second quarter of 2016.


Rs 19 crore

What is it? The average overall pay package of the chief executive officers (CEOs) of 20 of the 24 private sector companies listed on BSE Sensex in 2015-16. The other four are yet to disclose this information.

Why is it important? This is almost double from the average CEO salary of Rs 9.9 crore in 2013-14 and a 35% hike from 2014-15’s average. This came during a year when the combined net loss of 11 BSE Sensex companies was Rs 33,905 crore, which far exceeded the cumulative net profit of 16 firms (Rs 23,525 crore) on this index. The three other firms posted a dramatic turnaround last financial year.

Tell me more: Of the six public sector companies on the BSE Sensex, details of only one firm was available, that of the chairperson of the State Bank of India, which was just Rs 31.1 lakh.


Rs 13,500 crore

What is it? The amount the government hopes to raise from public sector units (PSUs) buying back their shares in the next couple of months.

Why is it important? With the government having already garnered Rs 3,183 crore from stake sale in hydropower generation firm NHPC, employee subscription in Indian Oil Corporation and disinvestment in power utility firm NTPC in 2016-17, this is likely to take the total amount raised through this route to over Rs 16,000 crore – around 44% of the target the government has set from minority stake sale in PSUs this financial year. After missing its disinvestment targets for the sixth year in a row last year, these buy-backs could help the government achieve its target of Rs 56,500 crore in 2016-17 (with Rs 36,000 crore expected from minority stake sales and Rs 20,500 crore from strategic stake sales).

Tell me more: In June, the government had asked PSUs with a net worth of at least Rs 2,000 crore and cash balance of over Rs 1,000 crore to buy back their shares from the stock markets. A central public sector enterprise can seek to be an exception based on its financials and mentioning its capital expenditure plans.


> 300

What is it? The number of people who have died in different states such as Bihar, Assam and Uttarakhand due to floods in the recent weeks. Lakhs of them have been displaced.

Why is it important? Floods are an almost annual affair in the country during monsoon, which account for around 70% of India’s yearly rainfall. These occurrences are mainly as a result of poor drainage systems in urban areas with haphazard construction activities without due consideration to the hydrology of an area while in rural areas, it is due to bad policy decisions, climate change and man-made problems such as deforestation.

Tell me more: According to a 2015 United Nations report, India’s annual economic losses due to disasters is $9.8 billion, of which floods account for over $7 billion.


Rs 1,200

What is it? The proposed upper limit fee for issue of driving licences, up from Rs 320.

Why is it important? This is part of the proposed amendments to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules 1989, which is likely to make driving (any vehicle) more expensive. The charges for conducting a driving test is likely to increase to Rs 300 from Rs 50 while that for a twin-test (two-wheeler and four-wheeler) could be hiked to Rs 600 from Rs 50.

Tell me more: The other increases include hikes in cost of issuing smart-card driving licence, learner’s driving licence, international driving permit and introduction of fees for applying for changing details (such as residential address) in the licences. The states are allowed to levy additional fees for automation, technology and value-add services.

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News in Numbers, June 22, 2016: India’s FDI inflows, ISRO’s biggest-ever single launch…

$44 billion

What is it? India’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in 2015, up from $35 billion in 2014, according to a report by United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Why is it important? This puts India in the 10th position, though this is still less than 2% of its GDP (for Vietnam, it is 5% of its GDP). In terms FDI stock (outstanding value of all FDIs happened so far), India lags behind smaller countries such as Singapore and Mexico, which shows that it has a lot of potential to position itself as an attractive destination for foreign investment.

Tell me more: The government liberalised FDI norms in nine sectors on Monday, the second such policy overhaul in seven months. In November 2015, the government eased the rules in 15 sectors.


Rs 11.8 trillion

What is it? The share of 240 of the top 500 corporate borrowers in total outstanding debt of Rs 28.1 trillion, constituting about 42%.

Why is it important? Most of these loans are stressed, adding to the burden of Indian banks, which are reeling under record bad loans of Rs 5.6 trillion as of March 2016. It may hit their profitability and capital requirement plans further, if these companies fail to service their debt repayments. Of the Rs 11.8 trillion, Rs 5.1 trillion is already stressed (in default) while the remaining Rs 6.7 trillion faces the risk of default because these borrowers may be unable to refinance their loans that mature in 2016-17.

Tell me more: The report by India Ratings and Research warns that of the Rs 6.7 trillion that faces the risk of default, Rs 4.6 trillion could already be delinquent. The top 500 borrowers accounted for nearly a third of the total outstanding loans in 2014-15 and are estimated to account for 25-30% of the total assets in 2016-17.



What is it? The number of satellites the Indian Space Research and Organisation (ISRO) launched on a single rocket at 9.26 am today.

Why is it important? This would be the space agency’s biggest-ever single launch, double of the number of satellites placed in 2008. This would demonstrate ISRO’s capability of sending satellites to the lower earth orbit in a single launch even as state agencies face competition from spaceflight companies run by billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. It would also help ISRO tap into the global opportunity of small satellite launches.

Tell me more: The primary satellite carried by launch vehicle PSLV-32 would be India’s Cartosat-2 (images sent by the satellite would be used for cartographic applications, coastal land use and regulation and water distribution, etc.), besides co-passenger satellites from countries including the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia.



What is it? The number of people killed due to lightning in Bihar in the last 24 hours.

Why is it important? This is the highest death toll in lightning strikes within a day, according to the Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. A less-known or less-focussed cause of death in India, lightning kills more people than any other natural calamity. Lightning, which has accounted for a tenth of deaths caused by nature in most years, has caused 2,000 deaths every year since 2005.

Tell me more: The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology has set up lightning location network in Maharashtra and it is planning to extend it across India. The Bihar government has announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the victims’ families.



What is it? The number of years for which the Railway Budget has been presented separately, ahead of the General Budget.

Why is it important? This year’s Rail Budget presented by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu may well be the last, if NITI Aayog’s recommendation not to do this as a separate exercise is accepted by the government. The think-tank has argued that the separate Budget has been of no use to the sector and instead, has turned into an event to announce populist measures. The Rail Budget constituted 85% of the country’s Budget during the British rule but now, it is less than 10%.

Tell me more: The 20-page note titled ‘Dispensing with the Rail Budget’, jointly authored by NITI Aayog and economist Bibek Debroy and Kishore Desai, Officer on Special Duty, has been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. The government has asked the Railway Ministry for its comments on the same.

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News in Numbers – May 20, 2016


What is it? Net sales growth of 1,500 companies listed in stock exchanges in three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? Near flat sales could be early indicator of recovery. In three quarters between March and December last year, sales of the same set of firms contracted by 5% and 7%. Consumer oriented sectors like auto, entertainment, garments and infrastructure companies performed well.

Tell me more: Fall in value of Rupee helped software and pharma firms to post double-digit sales growth.


What is it? Increase in price of 1121 variety of Basmati rice in the last month to Rs 46 per kg in wholesale market.

Why is it important? The spike is due to impending rice ban to be imposed by Iran to protect its local farmers. The ban, which will be effective from July 23 this year, led to exporters signing contracts and export before the ban comes into force.

Tell me more: Basmati rice exports shrunk by 22% in dollar terms between April 2015 and February 2016. 1121 variety or known as PUSA 1121 rice is has dominant share in Basmati rice exports because of its grain length, aroma and non-sticky nature. For farmers, this variety needs less water and yields more.


What is it? The number of excess cancer-related deaths due to 2008-10 economic crisis in high and middle income countries.

Why is it important? Underlines the need for more government spending on healthcare. The 2008-10 economic crisis fueled unemployment, which in turn reduced the capacity of people to spend. This combined with absence of Universal Health Care led to deaths from cancer that could have been treated.

Tell me more: The data relates to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of world’s richest countries.

4,700 acres

What is it? Land claimed to be owned by Sahara Group that’s up for sale now.  

Why is it important? The sale is to meet the Supreme Court conditions to grant bail to Subrata Roy, chief of Sahara group. The apex court has demanded Rs 5,000 crore to grant bail, and another Rs 5,000 crore as bank guarantee. This is after the Sahara group failed to repay Rs 20,500 crore of deposits deemed illegal by the market regulator.

Tell me more: The sale of land is spread across 14 states. HDFC Realty and SBI Capital are managing the sales.


What is it? The pass percentage of class 10 students in Bihar. The pass rate dipped by 28 percentage points from last year.

Why is it important? The sharp dip was due to measures taken by education authorities to curb cheating. This followed after pictures of mass cheating in an examination centre in Vaishali went viral.

Tell me more: Pass percentage of boys in Bihar was 54% as compared to 38% among girls – in contrast to the rest of the country where girls have higher pass percentage than boys.

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Journalists in the line of fire: How safe are they in India?

This piece originally appeared on


When he was shot dead on 13 May in Bihar, Rajdeo Ranjan, bureau chief of Hindi daily Hindustan in Siwan, possibly became the fourth Indian journalist to be murdered in 2016 for work-related reasons.

Ranjan, who worked for Hindustan for 20 years, was shot dead by assailants on a motorcycle while he was returning home from work.

A day earlier, a Hindi television journalist was shot dead in Jharkhand.

Since 1992, according to a global database, 25 Indian journalists have been murdered for work-related reasons, and the cause of death of another 23 is suspected to be similar. Further, the numbers show a rising trend, with print journalists covering corruption and politics being targeted by political and criminal groups.

How many: India is among the 10 worst in murder count.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based non-profit that promotes press freedom worldwide, investigates the death of every journalist to determine whether it is work-related. It classifies these deaths into two broad categories: “motive confirmed” and “motive unconfirmed”.

It classifies a case as “motive confirmed” only “if we are reasonably certain that a journalist was murdered in direct reprisal for his or her work”. This could be crossfire/combat, a dangerous assignment (while covering a riot) or murder (“the targeted killing of a journalist, whether premeditated or spontaneous, in direct relation to the journalist’s work”).

It classifies a case as “motive unconfirmed” when the motive is unclear, but it is possible that a journalist was killed because of his or her work, and continues to investigate.

In all, CPJ registered 1,189 journalist deaths under the “motive confirmed” category since 1992, of which, 786 were murders. Data for India since 1992 shows a rising trend of murders, with the last block of five years being the worst since 1999-2004. Among countries, India ranks number 10 in absolute number of murders (without adjusting for population) and sixth in terms of the count of the “motive unconfirmed” set.




Who: Print journalists covering corruption and politics, felled by political and criminal groups.

CPJ further breaks down the data by the work profile of the murdered journalists. An analysis of the CPJ information for the 25 Indian journalists shows they were mostly from print publications—reporters and editors.

Further, they were assigned to cover corruption, politics and crime, and they were killed by political and criminal groups.



What: India lags in solving cases of journalist murders and nurturing freedoms of the press.

The CPJ Impunity Index casts a light on the countries where the killers of journalists have gone unpunished. In the 2015 index, which looks at data between September 2005 and August 2015, the top three countries in this list are involved in an armed conflict. India features in the index for the eighth consecutive year, at number 14.

Another annual survey by Reporters Without Borders measures the degree of freedom available to journalists in their respective countries, combining quantitative data on abuses and qualitative responses. In 2015, it ranked India a lowly 133rd out of 180 countries and classified it as “bad” in press freedom.




Data sources: Reporters Without Borders (World Press Freedom Index data), Committee to Protect Journalists (all other data). is a search engine for public data.


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