News in Numbers, Jan 19, 2017: Regional routes take flight

45

 

What is it? Number of initial proposals for operating flights with fares capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour under the Airports Authority of India’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (named UDAN)

Why is it important? The bidders propose to operate from 65 airports, out of which 52 are not served by any airlines, boosting regional air connectivity. But operating on the 200 regional routeswould also mean low pre-mandated airfares, for example, a fare of Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey of 500-km. Central and state governments will then help operators with viability gap funding, partly funded bythe Rs 8,500-levy on each departing flight on major routes.

Tell me more: The initial quotes are subject to counter quotes, with the lowest requirement for VGF winning the bid. Groundwork by the Ministry of Civil Aviation with AAI, State Governments, DGCA and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security have begun.

 

Rs 9.2 trillion

 

What is it? The value of new currency notes injected by the Reserve Bank of India to replace old banned notes.
Why is it important? Despite RBI pumping in nearly 60% of the amount removed (Rs 15.44 trillion) from circulation following demonetisation, there is no sight of the end to cash-withdrawal restrictions. RBI governor, Urjit Patel, facing a parliamentary panel on finance, did not elaborate on either the easing of the cash crunch or the amount of banned notes deposited.

Tell me more: Patel assured the panel that RBI would provide details of deposits of banned notes on a later date.

 

47.8%

 

What is it? The percentage of rural school students in class 5 who are able to read a book prescribed for class 2 learning.

Why is it important? The learning level in schools in rural India remains dismal as less than half of class 5 students can read books meant for three standards lower (class 2). The proportion has deteriorated from 2014’s 48% and 2010’s 53.7% of students, despite 97% enrollment in schools.

Tell me more: Class 5 students in private rural schools fared better with 62.9% of them above to read class 2 books, while only 41.6% from government schools made the cut in 2016. The findings are from the 11th Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), conducted in 589 districts, and previously published in 2014.

 

0.94 degree-Celsius

 

What is it? The above-normal deviation in average land and ocean temperature in the whole of 2016.

Why is it important? It establishes 2016 as the hottest year so far, a dire reminder of climate change that is plaguing the planet. Temperatures spiked to new national highs in India, Kuwait and Iran and Arctic ice melted faster than ever as a result of the global warming.

Tell me more: The year broke the record for the hottest ever, third year in a row since records were kept from 1880.

 

7.05 million

 

What is it? Netflix’s net subscriber addition in the fourth quarter of 2016 (ended December 31).

Why is it important? The robust growth in subscribers signal Netflix’s ambitious global expansion is bearing fruit, as Internet TV catches on. Nearly 73% (5.12 million) of the additions came from markets outside the US. Netflix which made a big-bang launch in 130 countries simultaneously in January, 2016, saw its shares rise up by 8 per cent after its results.

Tell me more: Competition is snapping at Netflix’s heels as Amazon.com unveils its Amazon Prime Video service worldwide.

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News in Numbers, Jan 17, 2017:

Rs 10,000

What is it? The daily limit of cash withdrawal at ATMs, raised from Rs 4,500 by the Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? Higher ATM withdrawal limit could be a signal from the central bank that it can now handle cash better since the withdrawal of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Though the overall withdrawal limit a week remains unchanged at Rs 24,000, the decision will reduce the number of trips one has to make to the ATM.

Tell me more: Cash withdrawal limit at ATMs has been raised from the initial Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 two days into demonetisation, to Rs 4,500 on December 31, to the current value. Limits on current accounts have been revised from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000.

8 million

What is it? Estimated tax-payers under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, slated to be unveiled from July 1 of this year.

Why is it important? A crucial milestone was reached on Monday as the centre and the states agreed on the ratio of control over small taxpayers and when to roll out the GST. Small taxpayers with turnover below Rs 1.5-crore will be shared between centre and the states in the ratio of 10:90 for audit and scrutiny. This will be randomly generated.

Tell me more: The draft laws for GST and various tax slabs are yet to be constituted. But in the ninth GST council meeting, there was consensus to meet the new deadline.

Rs 1,243 crore

What is it? The amount of money the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) may raise in its initial public offering (IPO) next week.

Why is it important? BSE, Asia’s oldest stock exchange, will be the first IPO in 2017. Last year, 26 firms raised Rs 26,000 crore through IPOs – the third biggest in the last 25 years. Seventeen out of the 26 firms are trading above their listing price.

Tell me more: Singapore Exchange Ltd, Atticus Mauritius and billionaire George Soros’ Quantum will be selling 15.4 million shares for Rs 805-806 a share. The other Indian stock exchange, National Stock Exchange, too, is looking to dilute 22.5% stake for Rs 10,000 crore

$30-50 billion

What is it? Saudi Arabia’s investment in its renewables energy programme to produce 10 gigawatts of power.

Why is it important? The producer of 13.6% of the world’s crude oil production is betting on non-fossil fuels to generate energy for itself. The project’s first stage would be generating nuclear energy. With crude oil bringing in 85% of its forex and accounting for 50% of its GDP, Saudi Arabia is taking steps to ensure its continuity by resorting to other fuels at home and cutting back crude production to prop up global prices.

Tell me more: The first two nuclear reactors would be for 2.8 gigawatts of energy. It will also look to connect to other countries such as Jordan and Egypt for the renewables energy projects

35%

What is it? US President-elect Donald Trump threatened to levy the import tax on German-made cars if they are not locally made.

Why is it important? Trump has legal powers to impose 15% import tariff for 150 days without US Congress approval, and if companies file litigation, it will take 18 months to decide, says Simon Evenett, an international trade expert. Earlier, Trump asked GM and Toyota to shift operations from Mexico to service local demand.

Tell me more: The German automakers’ shares were hit, following the outburst. BMW shares fell by 1.5% in Frankfurt, VW by 1.8% and Daimler (Mercedes Benz-owner) by 1.6%

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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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