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, Apr 14, 2016: $250 mn to beat cancer, e-platform for farm produce trading…

1.20 million barrels per day (bpd)

What is it? The expected increase in global demand for oil in 2016, according to 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Why is it important? This is 500,000 bpd lesser than the previous estimate, raising concerns of crude prices going down again. Oil prices hit a 12-year low of $27 in January this year. A producers’ meet to freeze output at January levels to support prices, which is scheduled for this Sunday in Doha, is keenly awaited though Iran has refused to participate in it.

Tell me more: On February 16, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Qatar said they would freeze oil production at January levels, if other producers agreed to join in on the plan. This resulted in increase in oil prices by 30% in the subsequent weeks.

$250 million

What is it? Internet billionaire Sean Parker’s funding to set up a non-profit institute to beat cancer.

Why is it important? It brings together over 300 scientists at 40 labs in six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research – immunotherapy – which uses one’s immune system to fight cancer. This seeks to draw in on the advantages of scientists and researchers working together rather than in silos, though this also has the risks of suppressing diverse opinions to think alike.

Tell me more: The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy would pursue immune therapy patents on behalf of the six institutions and license them, taking a 10-15% cut of the revenue generated by the patents to be put back into the institute. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths and around 14 million new cases in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.

21

What is it? The number of local markets to be connected on an e-platform called National Agriculture Market launching today.

Why is it important? The e-platform aims to provide farmers with wider choices of selling their produce at better prices, a move that is likely to help the government fulfill its promise of doubling farm incomes by 2022. Currently, farmers sell their produce to traders at the nearest market. This comes at a time when farmers are reeling under two successive droughts.

Tell me more: The 21 markets are spread across 8 states. The Indian government plans to bring 585 such markets on to the platform by March 2018. However, the government may need to tackle some state laws/rules that may be a hindrance to this national e-marketing platform.

64 lakh litres

What is it? The quantity of water the Bombay High Court has asked the BCCI to supply to drought-hit villages in Maharashtra.

Why is it important? This direction comes along with the order to BCCI to shift all 13 IPL matches, including the finals, to be played in the state after April 30. BCCI had promised it would use treated sewage water for the IPL matches in Mumbai and Pune and the teams from these cities would contribute Rs 5 crore each towards drought relief measures in the state.

Tell me more: The BCCI said though it respects the court’s orders, it is difficult to re-organise the tournament mid-way. The BCCI Secretary said it was unfair to target the league and questioned if the swimming pools in five-star hotels have been shut or if people in the state have stopped watering their gardens.

30

What is it? The number of new fund offers (NFOs) for which mutual fund houses have filed draft papers with the market regulator so far this year.

Why is it important? Indicates that the mutual fund industry would retain or outpace last year’s growth (which saw 191 draft papers of NFOs). In 2015-16, 43 lakh new equity accounts were opened taking the total to 3.6 crore, the fastest addition since the 2008 global financial crisis. However, it is still less than the total of 4.1 crore accounts at the time of the crisis.

Tell me more: Reflecting the increasing demand for mutual fund products from retail investors in what is perceived to be a largely risk-averse market, the investors’ base hit a record high of 4.76 crore at the end of March.

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News in numbers, Dec 14, 2015: CSR platform on BSE, CCI’s recovery of penalties imposed…

 

Rs 2,000 crore

 

What is it? Amount sought by projects listed on ‘Sammaan’, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). This helps companies find implementing agencies for carrying out social welfare activities.

 

Why is it important? It’s an early indicator that the marketplace for social welfare activities might work. Sammaan provides an alternate way to raise funds for the estimated 20 lakh implementing agencies in India, which face a number of challenges while looking for money to help their causes. Corporates, on the other hand, would also benefit as they would be able to view a pool of verified implementing agencies along with their objectives, estimated budgets and progress and pick the ones they want to fund. It will also help certain classes of profitable companies, which have to spend 2% of their three-year annual average net profits for CSR projects.

 

Tell me more: In three days, 600 projects across 325 cities/towns have been listed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 200 corporates have registered.

38 million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd)

 

What is it? Quantity of natural gas India would receive from the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline for a 30-year period, which would be operational by 2019.

 

Why is it important? Will help India’s future energy requirements, which by one count will be the third largest energy consumer in the world by 2020.  This deal between the four countries heralds a new phase in regional cooperation and is seen as a move by India to connect with Central Asia to counter Chinese influence in the region.

 

Tell me more: The $7.2 billion deal would see Pakistan getting 38 mmscmd of natural gas while Afghanistan would get the remaining 14 mmscmd. Natural gas is the third major source of energy in India, accounting for about 10.2% of total production in 2013-14.

 

200 kg

 

What is it? Amount of gold Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Maharashtra wants to deposit under the Indian government’s gold monetisation scheme. This is over half of the gold reserves (380 kg) it owns.

 

Why is it important? If this happens, this would be the largest contribution under this scheme so far, beating Shri Siddhivinayak’s likely deposit of 40 kg of gold. However, it remains to be seen how the temple would go about this, given the Bombay High Court’s 2012 order, which had stayed the trust’s decision to auction gold, silver and diamond articles given by the devotees. The petitioners, two Shirdi residents, had argued that these were offerings by devotees and not for the purpose of raising money.

 

Tell me more: At Rs 2,661 per gm, 200 kg of gold would be worth about Rs 53.2 crore, not accounting for the impurities.  

 

Rs 82.1 crore

 

What is it? The amount the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has recovered from fines imposed on companies for violating rules since its inception in 2009.

 

Why is it important? This is just 0.6% of the combined penalty levied on companies (Rs 13,900 crore). And, approximately 97% of the penalties imposed have been stayed or overturned by courts or appellate authorities. Shows the competition regulator’s dismal record in recovering fine amounts, and brings to question its effectiveness.

 

Tell me more: Last week, the Competition Appellate Tribunal set aside an order of the CCI, which had asked 11 cement companies to pay a fine of Rs 6,316.6 crore for alleged cartelisation.

 

17

 

What is it? The number of women who have won seats in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.

 

Why is it important? Women rights in Saudi Arabia is keenly watched by India and rest of the world. This is the first time women have contested and also, voted in elections in the country’s history. It is a step towards social equality and political openness in a country that is deeply conservative. (Now, Vatican City is the only country in the world where only men are allowed to vote.) Hopefully, this step would be followed by lifting of other restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, which include- driving, venturing outside only with a male guardian and limited interaction with men they are not related to.
Tell me more: These municipal councils do not have legislative powers but advise authorities and help manage local budgets. Saudi Arabia ranked 130 among 142 countries in World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index Report 2014.

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News in numbers, Oct 9, 2015: Bombay HC rules in favour of Vodafone, right to privacy in India…

 

Rs 8,500 crore

What is it? The amount by which Vodafone India’s tax liability has come down, thanks to a Bombay High Court ruling. This relates to sale of its call centre business to Hutchison and assignment of call options (sale of assets at an agreed price) to Vodafone International – and concerns around transfer pricing. (Transfer pricing is setting of price of goods and services sold between two divisions/legal entities under the same group.)

Why is it important? This could spell good news for other companies such as IBM Corp., Royal Dutch Plc and Nokia Oyj that are fighting transfer-pricing cases in India. It could even set a new precedent or result in clearer tax policies and regulations, something that foreign investors have been seeking for.

Tell me more: This is just one of the cases Vodafone battling with the Indian tax authorities. Last year, the Bombay High Court had ruled in favour of Vodafone’s Indian unit in a Rs 3,200-crore dispute where the tax department had accused the company of under-pricing shares in a rights issue to its parent firm. Vodafone, which bought Hutchison’s business in 2007, has also been held liable for capital tax gains on that deal. That is yet to be resolved.

 

~ 100,000

What is it? The number of people Accenture is looking to hire in September 2015 – August 2016.

Why is it important? This would help Accenture maintain its lead position over TCS, which is considered to be an aggressive recruiter. Recently, the company which has around 336,000 people, shot past TCS (319,656) in headcount. And, TCS is planning to hire about 65,000 people in the current financial year (April 2015 – March 2016).

Tell me more: The company is planning to spend about $1 billion on acquisitions in 2015-16. It is planning to focus on three ‘new’ technologies – digital, cloud and cyber security, which contribute to a third of its overall revenue.  

 

90%

What is it? The upper limit of the percentage of house price that RBI allows banks to lend for loans of up to Rs 30 lakh.  

Why is it important? The limit on loan value is up 50% from Rs 20 lakh earlier. This reflects rising house prices – and would help more people to consider buying a property. Might help revive real estate sector, which has been faced with high unsold inventory and tepid sales.

Tell me more: The central bank has also relaxed the risk weights (the capital to be set aside by banks) for individual housing loans.

 

61 years

What is it? The number of years since Supreme Court said right to privacy is not fundamental.

Why is it important? It might change now. The Supreme Court on Thursday has set up a Constitution Bench to re-look at the issue. Making it a fundamental right will warrant changes in certain government laws/policies. This question has sprung up now because of the Aadhaar card enrolment process, which involves parting with information such as fingerprints and iris signatures.

Tell me more: A petitioner against the Aadhaar scheme has raised concerns about the government owning personal data of individual citizens, which could be misused for ill-gains.

 

55.56 – 157.14%

What is it? The increase in prices of some vegetables such as pointed gourd, pumpkin, bitter gourd and brinjal in three weeks (between September 16 and October 8).

Why is it important? Overall, though wholesale and retail inflation have been falling, the increase in food prices, especially those of vegetables and pulses is worrying. In August, vegetable prices increased by 8.5% from July prices while pulses and related products saw the highest rate of increase among all the product groups.

Tell me more: The top three reasons given for the price rise are delayed monsoons and deficient or excessive rains in some areas.

 

 

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