News in Numbers, Feb 02, 2017: Chugging towards safety

Rs 1 lakh-crore

What is it? The corpus designated in the Union Budget 2017-18 for railway safety, to be created over five years.

Why is it important? With 11 train accidents in 2016 and one in 2017, either due to derailment or collision, along with a high number of level-crossing accidents (2,669 in 2015), the central government finally gave the nod to a separate safety fund this budget.

Tell me more: The Indian Railways had asked for Rs 1.19 lakh-crore to upgrade the safety of its rail network.


Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The limit to cash transactions set by the Union Budget, 2017-18.

Why is it important? The government reiterated its belief in black money being stored as cash, by banning cash transactions over Rs 3 lakh with certain exceptions. The penalties and the exceptions are likely to be determined by an amendment to the Income Tax Act (IT Act), proposed in the Finance Bill. They would need to be in place before April 1, when the ban comes into force.

Tell me more: The upper limit for the clampdown was suggested by a special investigation team, headed by Justice M B Shah (retired), in a report to the Supreme Court, after studying provisions in other countries.


Rs 10,000

What is it? The penalty taxpayers will have to pay if they do not file returns on or before December 31 of the assessment year, from April, 2018.

Why is it important? For individual taxpayers, this would mean a more careful approach to filing IT returns. What was earlier rare and often at the discretion of the tax officer, will now be formalised in the form of a penalty. It would be defined by a new section 234F in the IT Act and levied from the assessment year 2018-19. A fee of Rs 5,000 will be levied if the return misses the due date but is filed by December 31.

Tell me more: Small taxpayers with a total income of less than Rs 5 lakh will get some respite as they would not be penalised more than Rs 1,000.


40 tonne

What is it? The amount of oil sludge collected from the sea after two ships collided near Kamarajar Port in Ennore, Tamil Nadu.

Why is it important? The sludge and 27 tonne of oil mixed with water collected from a spillage that spread across 25-km from the collision spot finally comes after three-four days of ineffective response from the Indian Coast Guard. After grappling with broken-down submersible pumps and just 25-litre buckets, reinforcements from Delhi helped speed up efforts. The spillage affected both the area’s marine life with sludge-mired dead turtles washing ashore, and the local livelihood as fishermen had a hard time selling to alarmed customers.

Tell me more: A ship from Mumbai, fully loaded with petrol and diesel, collided on Saturday with an LPG tanker.



What is it? Facebook’s year-on-year growth in ad revenue, at $8,629 million, in the fourth quarter, ended December 31, 2016.

Why is it important? Despite an earlier warning from the company on slowing advertisement revenue, growth remains unabated at the largest social networking site. Fuelled by its mobile ad business, which now constitutes 84% of its advertising earning, overall revenue grew 51%. Its net income rose to $3,568 million, growing at 128%, beating Wall Street polls.

Tell me more: In the full year, ad revenues grew by 57% to $26,885 million, overall revenue by 54% and net income by 177%.  However, Facebook also suffered a setback with the news of a Texas juryordering it, its virtual reality unit Oculus and other defendants to pay $500 million to video-game publisher ZeniMax Media for using the latter’s code.

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News in Numbers, Dec 1, 2016: Can we replace the king?

Cash transactions rule in India. Over two-thirds of the transactions in India are done by cash, as per a report by CLSA. The government’s recent moves seem to be nudging people towards non-cash transactions. And, not all Indians are under the formal financial net yet. On Wednesday, the government appointed a panel to steer the country towards digitalisation. Will Indians be ready to embrace cashless transactions? How quickly can we do that? What about the security concerns? 


What is it? The number of members in a panel set up by government think-tank Niti Aayog to promote the use of digital payments.

Why is it important? It’s a part of the government’s efforts to make use of the cash crunch to turn people towards cashless payment options. Digital payments system comes with the advantages of transparency, traceability and accountability besides being faster, less inexpensive and more convenient. However, this also means battling security issues and easing concerns of consumers who may not be comfortable with the new medium. The panel consists of members from different parties, indicating that the government seeks to generate a political consensus in its push for digitalisation of the economy.

Tell me more: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naiduis the convenor of the panel, which includes Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik (Biju Janata Dal), Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy (Congress), Sikkim CM Pawan Kumar Chamling (Sikkim Democratic Front), Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis (both from the ruling BJP). Other panel members include NITI Aayog vice-chairman (Arvind Panagariya) and CEO (Amitabh Kant) and five special invitees including Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of the Unique Identity Authority of India.


What is it? The number of locations at which the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches on Wednesday to check black money held with currency exchanges, hawala dealers and others.

Why is it important? Indicates the government is pushing for a well-rounded attack on tracking down illegal hoarders of cash and suggests that there are ways in which some circumvent the laws, highlighting the need for their stricter enforcement. The authorities seized Rs 1.2 crore cash. The ED, which is responsible for enforcing the Foreign Exchange Management Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, attached assets worth over Rs 9,000 crore for hawala and money laundering crimes in 2014-15, which is likely to go up this fiscal. However, the high pendency – 4,776 cases pending in terms of number of investigations initiated as on March 31, 2015 – is a cause of concern.

Tell me more: As many as 100 investigators along with police personnel have undertaken the searches across the country.


What is it? India’s economic growth rate in the July-September quarter of 2016-17.

Why is it important? This is marginally higher than the rate recorded in the June ended quarter (7.1%) though slower than the 7.6% growth in the second quarter of 2015-16. It also fell short of 7.5% forecast by a Reuters poll of economists. The increase in acceleration in the second quarter this fiscal over the first was led by agriculture (compared to 1.8% in the first quarter) while manufacturing grew by 7.1% (compared to 9.1% in the previous quarter). Consumer spending, which accounts for 56% of India’s $2 trillion economy, is likely to be hit due to the recent demonetisation announcement and it remains to be seen how this affects India’s economic growth rates in the next few quarters.

Tell me more: India retains the tag of the fastest growing major economy as per the second quarter data. China recorded a growth rate of 6.7% in the quarter ended September.

32.5 million

What is it? The number of barrels of oil the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would produce per day from January 1. OPEC is a group of 14 major oil-exporting nations that account for a third of global production.

Why is it important? This is a cut by 1.2 million barrels per day, representing about 1% of global production and the first joint decision to reduce production since 2008. The agreement to cut production is to prop up oil prices. Due to an oversupply of oil, prices plunged from about $100 per barrel in 2014 to less than $40 per barrel this year, affecting oil-dependent economies such as Saudi Arabia. OPEC members have said they are looking at levels of $55-60 per barrel; a failure to clinch the deal may have sent oil prices down to $30 per barrel, according to analysts.

Tell me more: After the announcement, Brent crude futures, the global benchmark for oil prices, increased by 10%.

1 million

What is it? The number of Google accounts whose security has been breached since August by a new variant of Android malware, according to a report by security firm Check Point Software Services.

Why is it important? This is likely the biggest single theft of Google accounts. The malicious software called Gooligan is disguised as legitimate apps to steal authentication tokens that can be used to access data from Google Play, Gmail, Google photos, Google docs, Google Drive among others. The malware attacks 13,000 devices every day, potentially affecting those on Android 4 (Jelly Bean and KitKat) and Android 5 (Lollipop) – this represents nearly three-fourths of the Android devices in use today. About 57% of such devices are located in Asia, 19% in the Americas, 15% in Africa and 9% in Europe.

Tell me more: A device is infected when the user downloads and installs a Gooligan-infected app (from third-party app stores or malicious links), after which data about the device is sent to the campaign’s Command and Control server. This is followed by the malicious software rooting the device (unlocking the operating system) after which it downloads a module that allows Gooligan to steal information, install apps from Google Play and rate them and install adware to generate revenue.

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News in Numbers, July 15, 2016: Bastille Day attack in France, ban on cash transactions…

When a tragedy strikes, everyone gets confused. As consumers of news, it becomes all the more important to use our own filters to separate signal from noise. Here’s an interesting poster, “Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook” that might help.


Let us know what you think about News in Numbers, and please do share it with your friends 



What is it? The number of people killed in Nice, France during Bastille Day (or French National Day) after a truck drove into a crowd on Thursday.

Why is it important? This attack, which seems to be the work of a lone assailant, comes after eight months when Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people in Paris. Since the Paris attacks, all major public events in France are guarded by armed police and troops; however, it took a few minutes for the forces to kill the truck driver.

Tell me more: The driver drove onto pavements and a pedestrian zone, mowing down people who had gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks. There have been no reports of any Indians having been affected in the attack, as per the Ministry of External Affairs at around 7.16 am.



What is it? The number of cars Honda Motor Co’s India unit will recall to replace passenger front airbag inflators manufactured by Takata Corp.

Why is it important? The firm’s seventh recall in India in the last two years, this is part of its global recall of Takata airbags with inflators that have the potential to explode due to excessive force in hot and humid conditions. This has been linked to 13 deaths and over 100 injuries across the world. Carmakers in India have recalled 2.24 million vehicles between July 2012 and May 2016, according to an analysis.

Tell me more: The models to be recalled include City, Accord, Jazz, Civic and CR-V – manufactured between 2003 and 2011 – of which, over 70% are ‘City’ units.


Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The recommended upper limit on cash transactions by a special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the Supreme Court. Another suggestion is to allow a maximum of Rs 15 lakh cash holding by an individual and industry.

Why is it important? If these recommendations are accepted by the government, it would help establish a digital trail for major transactions and curb tax evasion. India’s black money is estimated to be over Rs 30 lakh crore or 20% of the country’s GDP – larger than the sizes of the economies of countries such as Thailand and Argentina – according to a study by Ambit Capital Research.

Tell me more: The SIT has suggested that if an individual or an industry wants to hold over Rs 15 lakh in cash, they ought to seek permission from the income tax department to do so.



What is it? The increase in wholesale price inflation in June.

Why is it important? The rate is the fastest in 20 months. The inflation rate more than doubled last month compared to the rate in the month of May, mainly due to an increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits for the fourth consecutive month. The above-normal monsoon is likely to result in subdued food prices, though interest rate cuts are unlikely in the next monetary policy on August 5.

Tell me more: Wholesale food inflation at 8.18% was high mainly due to increasing prices of potato (64.48%), pulses (26.61%), sugar (26.09%), vegetables (16.91%) and fruits (5.97%).


Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The size of the deal that Salman Khan has reportedly signed with a top television network for the satellite rights of his next 10 films and for making appearances on the channel in the future.

Why is it important? With this, Khan has beaten Hrithik Roshan’s record of selling the satellite rights of six of his films for Rs 550 crore. All his recent movies such as ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ have been major blockbusters and crossed the Rs 200-crore mark and it seems television channels are willing to bank on his future projects too. This, even as he has been battling two high-profile cases: the 2002 hit-and-run case and the black buck poaching case.

Tell me more: Other Hindi movie stars have signed similar deals: Ajay Devgn had signed a deal worth Rs 400 crore with a television network for 10 films while Varun Dhawan signed one for Rs 300 crore for the same number of films.

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