News in Numbers, Nov 3, 2016: Whose job is it?

300

What is it? The approximate number of school students who would be cleaning railway platforms and station premises each Sunday.

Why is it important? The success of the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission depends on public awareness and participation and such a step is likely to help students understand the importance of sanitation and hygiene besides nudging the general public to be more conscious about cleanliness, starting from family members and friends. The Indian Railways has tied up with Sulabh International, a non-profit voluntary social organisation to create 164 student clubs across 20 states for this initiative. The organisation plans to cover all the 7,000-odd stations in the country.

Tell me more: According to a survey conducted at 407 railway stations based on passenger feedback, five of the top 10 cleanest stations are in Gujarat while the dirtiest were found to be in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

 

5.5 million

What is it? The estimated number of women who are likely to die from cancer annually by 2030, according to a report by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Why is it important? This is an increase of 60% in 20 years with the highest toll to be among women in poor and middle-income countries. The four deadliest cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and cervical) are largely preventable or can be detected early and much of the estimated deaths (by 2030) fall in this category. There were 3.5 million cancer deaths among women in 2012 and the number of new cancer cases are expected to increase from 6.7 million in 2012 to 9.9 million in 2030.

Tell me more: Another report published in the Lancet medical journal said the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is likely to double from 1.7 million in 2015 to 3.2 million a year by 2030. One out of every seven women in the world die due to cancer, which is the second highest cause after cardiovascular disease, according to ACS.

 

54,546 million metric tons

What is it? The amount of carbon stored in community lands managed by indigenous people, according to a study, which is based on satellite surveys of 37 tropical countries.

Why is it important? These lands are held collectively by communities more by custom, than by law officially recognized by the governments. Because of this status the communities can potentially lose their land to private parties. If that happens, there is a risk of carbon getting released into atmosphere, worsening the climate change. The carbon contained in these lands is equivalent to four times the global carbon emissions in 2014. The study suggests the indigenous communities be given a bigger role in climate stabilisation, which is also a cost-effective way of preventing further emissions due to forest loss.

Tell me more: A tenth of the total carbon contained above the ground in tropical forests is in areas that are managed by native communities. Just 21 of the 188 countries recognise indigenous land rights and have included forest people in their national plans for reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage of ATMs (automated teller machines) that should dispense Rs 100 notes exclusively within the next fortnight, according to a notification by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Why is it important? This comes after the apex bank conducted a review of the steps banks have taken to install ATMs that dispense lower denomination banknotes and found that only a few banks had done so. This is to help meet the general public’s requirements of lower denomination notes. The banks have been advised to share their feedback on the pilot project after two months.

Tell me more: The RBI had introduced a scheme called the Currency Distribution and Exchange Scheme under which it said it would incentivize banks for installing ATMs dispensing notes of denominations up to Rs 100 – reimbursement of 50% of the actual cost of the ATM machine or Rs 2 lakh (whichever is lower) for urban areas and 60% of the actual cost of the machine or Rs 2.5 lakh (whichever is lower) for semi-urban and rural areas.

 

Rs 1,124 crore

What is it? The value of orders bagged by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) from the Tata Group in 2012-13.

Why is it important? This reduced to nil in 2015-16. Within a year of being appointed as the chairman of Tata Sons in 2012, Mistry disallowed the Tata Group of companies from awarding new contracts to SPG as long as he headed the group. Mistry said in a 2013 letter to the CEOs of the Tata Group companies said this was to avoid any conflict of interest. SPG is headed by his elder brother Shapoor P Mistry.

Tell me more: After Mistry was sacked as the chairman of Tata Sons a few days ago, both the Tata Group and Mistry have reportedly put in place public relations teams to fight one of the biggest corporate spats in India.

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News in Numbers, June 16, 2016: India’s first civil aviation policy, coffee not cancer-causing…

$7 billion

What is it? The amount Didi Chuxing has raised recently.

Why is it important? This is double of what Uber had raised about a fortnight ago, leaving the Chinese company flush with $10 billion in cash – signalling intensifying competition in China. This may force Uber, which spent $1 billion this year to grow its share in China, to increase its focus on India that only makes it a tougher battle for Ola Cabs in India.

Tell me more: Uber, which received $3.5 billion funding from Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund a few days ago, is looking at the leveraged-loan market to raise as much as $2 billion. Didi has a pact with US’ Lyft, India’s Ola and Grab in Southeast Asia – to take on Uber- to use each other’s apps when customers travel to other markets in their network.

 

Rs 2,500

What is it? The maximum airlines can charge per hour of flying on regional routes, as per India’s first National Civil Aviation Policy.

Why is it important? This, along with other rules, are aimed to encouraging more people to take up air travel and boost economic growth. The policy is aimed at helping the government achieve its target of growing domestic passengers from 80 million to 300 million by 2022. India’s annual trips per capita is just 0.04 compared to 0.3 in China.

Tell me more: The other decisions include: allowing all airlines to fly international routes but they need to deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of their total capacity (whichever is higher) for domestic operations, development of ‘no-frills’ airport at an indicative cost of Rs 50-100 crore and stricter rules for making airlines fly on underserved routes.

 

1,000

What is it? The number of studies on humans and animals reviewed by an international working group of 23 scientists, after which they concluded that there is inadequate evidence to show that drinking coffee causes cancer.

Why is it important? This surely brings cheer to the millions of coffee-lovers across the world, who may or may not have known that the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed the beverage as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent for nearly 25 years. While coffee drinking has been observed to have reduce the risks of liver and uterine cancers, the evidence was inconclusive for 20 other types of cancer.

Tell me more: The scientists, however, found positive associations between drinking very hot beverages (65 degree Celsius or more) and cancer of the esophagus and it is now classified as “possibly carcinogenic”.

 

0.79%

What is it? The year-on-year decline in exports in May to $22.17 billion.

Why is it important? This is the slowest pace of contraction in 18 months, driven by exports of gems and jewellery, chemicals and engineering goods. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the decline in exports has bottomed-out though the pick-up may be slow. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations expects double-digit growth in exports from October onwards, which could help in achieving $300 billion in exports in 2016-17.

Tell me more: Imports declined 13.16% in May to $28.44 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $6.27 billion.

 

1.15 lakh tonnes

What is it? The quantity of pulses procured by the Indian government during the kharif and rabi seasons for buffer stock creation, against the target of 1.5 lakh tonnes this year.

Why is it important? Despite this, a sudden shortage in stocks has pushed the prices of pulses to as much as Rs 170 per kg. To bring down the prices of pulses, the government has increased the buffer stock of pulses to 8 lakh tonnes for this year and the Cabinet has okayed imports of pulses from Myanmar and some African countries.

Tell me more: The food ministry has asked private agencies that import pulses to dispose off the stocks within 45 days to ensure proper supply in markets and the state governments to take action against the hoarders.

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News in Numbers, May 19, 2016: Worst quarterly loss by an Indian bank, solved IIT-JEE papers…

Rs 5,367 crore

What is it? Punjab National Bank’s (PNB) net loss in the fourth quarter of 2015-16, compared with a net profit of Rs 307 crore in same period last year.

Why is it important? This is the worst known quarterly loss posted by any bank in India and it is PNB’s first since it went public in 2002. This is a result of the central bank’s direction to banks to reclassify their stressed assets as non-performing assets and points to the extent to which banks have been refusing to acknowledge them as bad loans. The big question now is the price at which the government and the market would recapitalise these banks.

Tell me more: PNB’s gross bad loans increased by around 62.6% to Rs 55,818 crore from the previous quarter and its provisions almost increased three-fold from a year ago to Rs 10,485 crore in the last quarter.

 

$125.5 million

What is it? India’s exports – mostly pharmaceuticals – to Venezuela as of February 2016

Why is it important? Cash-strapped Venezuela cannot pay for these drugs, impacting Indian drug manufacturers. Indian government has now proposed an oil-for-drugs barter deal with the country.

Tell me more:  Socialist economic model and low oil prices has led to political and social crisis at Venezuela. Its inflation predicted to more than double to 720% in 2016. Dr Reddy’s Laboratories wrote off $65 million in the three months ended to March 2016, almost all of which is owed by Venezuela while Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is short of $45 million.

 

50

What is it? The number of years of solved question papers of joint entrance examinations (JEE) that the Indian government and the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will jointly release soon.

Why is it important? IIT-JEE is considered to be one of the toughest engineering entrance examinations in the world and this move is aimed at making it easier for aspiring students and reduce their dependence on coaching institutes. For this, the government will also make the entrance exam easier by conforming to Standard XII syllabus, which now requires greater proficiency than school levels. Kota, which is known as the coaching capital of India, has seen at least six student suicides this year.

Tell me more: Students can access the exam papers through a soon-to-be launched portal and a mobile app and the content will be available in 13 regional languages. Academicians and IIT faculty members would also give video lectures, which would enable additional learning through the portal and app.

 

14.8 degree Celsius

What is it? The average global temperature in April, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why is it important? Breaks yet another set of global temperature records – the hottest April since 1880 (from the time records are available), and the 12th straight month for which a monthly global temperature record has been broken (the longest such streak). Despite just being four months in 2016, there is a more than 99% likelihood of this year being the hottest year on record, indicating that the pace of global warming might be faster than originally thought to be.

Tell me more: If this is true, then 2016 would be the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record, which would also be another first. Global warming’s effects include ice melts, increase of ocean levels, ocean acidification affecting marine life, affect or wipe out some plant and animal species, and drastic weather events.

 

271/100,000

What is it? The age-adjusted incidence (AAR) of cancer among males in Aizawl district in Mizoram between 2012-14, according to the National Cancer Registry Programme.

Why is it important? This is the highest in India for males. Among females the incidence is the highest in Papumpare district, Arunachal Pradesh with an AAR of 249. In fact, cancer burden in the north-eastern states is among the highest in the world. Granular data like this would help the policy makers and the health specialists in devising intervention specific to a particular geography, thereby making it a more focussed-approach in dealing with cancer burden.

Tell me more: The cancer burden is estimated to be 14.5 lakh new cases of cancer in 2016 and 17.3 lakh new cases in 2020, with breast, lung and cervix as the leading types of the disease. The use of tobacco accounts for less than a third of all cancers in males and females.

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News in numbers, Apr 19, 2016: Bullet train’s viability, global switch to a new polio vaccine…

32

What is it? The number of equity investments in private cancer therapeutic companies in the three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? The investments into these companies – totalling $604 million in three months alone – might bring a cure for cancer closer. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 and the number of cancer cases are expected to increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next 20 years.

Tell me more: Internet billionaire Sean Parker recently announced a $250-million funding to bring together 300 scientists at 40 labs and six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research called immunotherapy. This uses a person’s immune system to fight cancer.

88,000-114,000

What is it? The number of passengers India’s proposed bullet train connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad should carry to be financially viable, according to an IIM-Ahmedabad report.

Why is it important? Raises questions about its viability. To be viable, the train has to undertake 100 trips daily (50 trips each way), assuming ticket price of Rs 5/km for 300-km distance and an operating cost of 20-40% of the revenues. This also means three trains would be needed every hour each direction.

Tell me more: The government expects to start work on the Rs 98,000-crore project next year.

155

What is it? The number of countries (including India) that will switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent polio vaccine between April 17 and May 1.

Why is it important? It reduces the risk of vaccine-derived polio. The bivalent vaccine protects against types 1 and 3 of wild polio strains while trivalent protects against all three strains. Wild polio virus type 2 was confirmed to be eradicated in 2015, and by switching to bivalent vaccines, these countries eliminate the risk of causing vaccine-derived Type 2 polio.

Tell me more: India was declared ‘polio-free’ by the World Health Organization in 2014. The agency’s goal is to stop all three types of polio vaccines by 2020.

$5.07 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) in March.

Why is it important? The lowest in five years thanks to 80.5% decline gold imports in March and a 35.3% fall in oil imports (because of low oil prices). Low commodity prices have guarded India from the effects of global economic slowdown, which have caused exports to be the lowest since 2010-11, contracting for the 16th straight month in March.

Tell me more: India’s exports declined 15.9% to $261.1 billion in 2015-16 while imports fell by 15.3% to $379.6 billion in March.

7.1%

What is it? Revenue growth of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest software firm, in 2015-16.

Why is it important? While TCS has done well financially (its profits beat forecasts), the company is facing a trial in the US. Last week a US federal court jury imposed a  penalty of $940 million on TCS in an infringement case of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Tell me more: TCS plans to appeal in the higher courts. The company’s net profit grew by 14.8% to $3.69 billion in 2015-16 from a year ago.

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