News in Numbers, June 8, 2016: India closer to its NSG aspirations, Amazon’s India push…

$21.3 billion

What is it? The estimated cost of delay and additional fuel consumption due to freight vehicles being stopped at check posts and/or state borders, long queues at check posts, poor road conditions etc., according to a study.

Why is it important? Underscores the need for Goods and Services Tax – which would bring in a single tax rate in place of the myriad existing ones, and reduce paperwork at checkposts and state borders. This would cut some costs. However, it would also need better infrastructure – wider roads and focus on multi-modal transportation – and action against unnecessary police intervention.

Tell me more: The study by IIM-Calcutta and logistics firm Transport Corporation of India gave the break up of the cost incurred due to delays and cost of fuel consumption due to such delays: $6.6 billion and $14.7 billion respectively.

 

35

What is it? The total number of member-nations of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, with the latest addition being India.

Why is it important? This would help India to buy high-end missile technology and also bring it closer to becoming a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a body that controls global nuclear trade. Though India has received support from the US for India’s entry into this coveted group, China has been against this and favouring Pakistan’s membership.

Tell me more: India has the capabilities of exporting nuclear fuel such as thorium and supply nuclear technology in the future but it cannot do so until it is a member of the NSG. India’s entry into this group will also give it a strategic victory over Pakistan as it can block it from joining the NSG.

 

6.5%

What is it? The present Repo rate – the rate at which the central bank lends to the banks.  It was kept unchanged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday.

Why is it important?  RBI holding the rates was expected, but it comes at time when there is debate – fuelled primarily by Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy – on whether the central bank is too reluctant to bring down rates, which might help small and medium industries.

Tell me more: The RBI has cited concerns about an upside in inflation risks mainly due to increase in international commodity prices, especially oil, and the implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. The central bank may not go for any interest rate cuts this year as RBI’s survey of professional forecasters have assigned the highest probability of 49% for average inflation to be 5-5.9% in 2016-17 against its target of containing it within 5%. The RBI also left the cash reserve ratio, the portion of their deposits that banks have to keep with the central bank, at 4%.

 

Rs 404

What is it? The amount a passenger would have typically got as refund, if they had cancelled a Delhi-Mumbai ticket costing Rs 2,419 (base fare: Rs 1,559) booked on June 7.

Why is it important? Highlights how cancellation charges can sometimes exceed the base fare amount (in this case, it is 1.29 times the base fare). India’s aviation regulator will reportedly announce new rules barring airliners from levying cancellation charges exceeding the base fares.

Tell me more: A couple of months ago, airlines in India offered discounts and brought down airfares but increased the cancellation charges up by 50-100%.

 

$3 billion

What is it? Additional investment commitment by Amazon in India.

Why is it important? This is likely hit Indian e-commerce firms such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, which have been struggling to raise funds to keep up in the race as competition intensifies. It also shows how badly Amazon needs to win in India, after losing out to Alibaba Group Holding in China. In July 2014, the company had announced a $2 billion investment in the country, which it spent in less than two years.

Tell me more: With the additional funds coming in, Amazon’s total pledged amount would exceed $5 billion (over Rs 33,000 crore) in India.

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