News in Numbers, Nov 14, 2016: What’s the limit?

Rs 2,500

What is it? The cash withdrawal limit at ATMs per day, up from Rs 2,000, as per a government notification.

Why is it important? One of the consequences of the shock announcement of withdrawal of old currency notes in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday has been the long queues outside bank branches and ATMs where people have been standing for hours to exchange their old notes for new ones. The government’s apparent lack of preparedness at dealing with the move’s aftermath has been criticised and there have been instances of daily wage labourers losing out on their livelihoods, low-income workers struggling to get their hands on cash due to not having bank accounts or means/awareness to transact digitally.

Tell me more: After a review by the Finance Ministry, the limit of old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 that can be exchanged with new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 has been increased from Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 per day. The weekly limit of withdrawal from bank accounts has been hiked to Rs 24,000 from Rs 20,000 and the limit of Rs 10,000 has been removed.

2,000

What is it? The approximate number of companies that had contended the right of states to impose entry tax (levy on movement of goods from one state to another).

Why is it important? The Supreme Court on Friday ruled against these companies and upheld states’ rights to levy entry tax and said that this did not violate the principles of free trade. According to estimates, companies would have to reportedly pay Rs 30,000-Rs 35,000 crore in entry tax to states. The government is trying to roll out the Goods and Services Tax, which is to subsume all indirect taxes(including the entry tax) in the country, by April 1, 2017 but this could be delayed by another six months.

Tell me more: Companies including the Jindal Group, Vedanta, Tata Steel and Steel Authority of India had argued that the imposition of the entry tax by states on the movement of goods into their respective territories was against the right to freedom of trade and commerce in India, which is guaranteed under Article 301 of the constitution.

 

6

What is it? The number of years of negotiations to arrive at a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between India and Japan signed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan.

Why is it important? This would help India buy nuclear technology from Japan and for Japan, it is its first civilian nuclear pact cooperation with a country (India) that has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, this exception has been made by Japan reportedly due to a separate note that says that it would suspend nuclear cooperation with India if it conducts a nuclear test though unnamed Indian officials have insisted that this is not legally bindingbut only included keeping in mind “Japanese sensitivities”. This has raised apprehensions that this may lead to re-negotiations with other countries with whom India has signed nuclear pacts to insert similar clauses.

Tell me more: Another clause in the note reportedly says that if Japan scraps the deal in the event of India conducting a nuclear test, the latter cannot ask for compensation for disruption of electricity from a nuclear plant or for the resultant economic losses. Japan is the only country to have suffered the impact of nuclear weapons being dropped on it and therefore, has been uncomfortable signing such a pact with India, which is outside the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

 

0.2%

What is it? The expected increase in global carbon emissions above the 2015 levels from fossil fuels and industry in 2016, according to a study.

Why is it important? This is the third straight year with an almost flat growth rate and a significant decline from the 3% recorded in the 2000s. One of the main reasons for this could be attributed to a decline in emissions by China and the US, the two largest emitters. Emissions by China and the US are expected to decrease by 0.5% (from 0.7% in 2015) and 17% (2.5% in 2015) this year respectively. However, researchers said it is too early to say whether this is a temporary blip or the making of a long-term trend.

Tell me more: India’s emissions, which were growing by 6% per annum over the last decade, slowed down to 5% in 2015 and such levels are expected to continue as it expects to double its coal production by 2020.

 

$40.85 billion

What is it? Asset sales by Indian companies pending or completed in 2016.

Why is it important? This is the highest-ever asset sales by companies since liberalisation in 1991 and around 46% higher than the previous high of $27.96 billion recorded in 2007. This could be one of the main reasons for why private investment has been muted in the recent past. While the 2007 asset sales were due to investors wanting a bigger pie of India’s growth story (its economy grew by 9% or more between 2005-06 and 2007-08), 2016’s is due to the high debt levels of corporates.

Tell me more: Some of the deals in 2016 include: sale of controlling stake in Essar Oil to Russia’s Rosneft and its partners for nearly $13 billion and sale of Jaypee Group’s cement assets to Aditya Birla-controlled UltraTech Cement for around $2.4 billion.

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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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