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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