A hardworking House? 😓🏦✒

3.81

What is it? The consumer price inflation (CPI) in March, 2017.

Why is it important? CPI or retail inflation grew fastest in five months, since October. This is in line with RBI’s concern about rising inflation, leading it to hold rates in successive policy reviews. It even raised its rate of borrowing from banks — reverse repo — to constrict liquidity, in the latest review. RBI expects inflation to reach 4.5% in the first half of FY17 and 5% thereafter.

Tell me more: The CPI, often affected by food price inflation, suffered from higher fuel prices, instead in March. Food price inflation (CFPI) was actually less than than in February, at 1.93%.

 

94.9%

What is it? The operating ratio of Indian Railways (IR) in 2016-17.

Why is it important? The ratio is higher than previous years, denoting high expenditure by IR to earn revenue. For every rupee, IR spent 94.9 paise. While the ideal benchmark of 80% or lower is still a distant goal, the ratio was 90.2% in 2012-13.

Tell me more: The increasing operating ratio coupled with low revenue growth in freight, seen in 2015-16, which accounts for the bulk (3/5th) of rail revenue, could strain the highest-ever budgetary allocation. There are certain steps for profitability which IR said it’s taking.

 

Rs 5,000 crore

What is it? The value of the stock of BS-III vehicles which remain unsold, following the Supreme Court’s ban.

Why is it important? It is the value of around 120,000 vehicles, representing 15% of the original stock of BS-III vehicles when the ban was declared. Two-wheeler manufacturers took a hit of Rs 1,200 crore in order to sell their heavily-discounted stock. The scramble to sell got more frenzied as Supreme Court, on March 30, extended the ban to not just stalling  BS-III vehicle manufacturing but also sales from April 1.

Tell me more: The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers says the uncertainty created in the auto sector, as a result of eight-month ban in Delhi on diesel cars and SUVs last year and the present blanket ban on sale of existing stock of BS-III vehicles could affect investments.

 

114%

What is it? Productivity of Lok Sabha during Budget Session 2017, which started on January 31 and ended on April 12..

Why is it important? It is one of the most productive sessions, and also one of the most contentious. Lok Sabha passed 23 bills, Rajya Sabha 14 and both 18. Some far-reaching legislations — including changes in the political funding by companies, and linking of Aadhaar to PAN cards — were passed as Money Bills, on which Rajya Sabha has only the power to suggest changes, but not stall their passage.

Tell me more: Four bills related to Goods and Services Tax (GST) were passed during the session.

 

7 to 10 days

What is it? The likely duration of the Election Commission’s open challenge to hack Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Why is it important? This comes amidst accusations by political parties, especially Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, that EVMs were hacked in favour of the BJP. The Election Commission and its officials, past and present, have vehemently denied it. A widely shared newsitem on tampered EVMs in Madhya Pradesh was found to be false. Now, EC has issued an open challenge to experts, scientists and technologists to try and hack the machines.

Tell me more: In 2010, BBC had a report saying US scientists claimed to have developed a technique to tamper with the machines. “It is not just the machine, but the overall administrative safeguards which we use that make it absolutely impossible for anybody to open the machine,” the Indian Election Commissioner had told BBC then.

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News in Numbers, Mar 15, 2017: Money travels less 👣

3.65%

What is it? The retail price inflation in February.

Why is it important? The rate of growth, year-on-year, of consumer price inflation climbed up after six months of falling. Prices of fuel and food contribute mostly to the fluctuations, as RBI specified non-food and non-fuel inflation to not have budged from 4.9% since September. CPI mirrors the consumer food price inflation which shows the first increase in seven months by 2.01%.

Tell me more: Wholesale price inflation, too, rose by 6.55% in February, spurred again by positive price rise in food and cost of fuel and power.

 

~500

What is it? The estimated number of employees who will be offered a voluntary retirement scheme by Tata Motors.

Why is it important? Even though it is less than 1% (0.8%) of Tata Motors’ total employee strength of 60,000 people, this is the second time in two years that it resorted to a VRS. As  the automaker’s domestic business drags down the overall profits with its losses, the scheme is being used to cut costs in a restructuring exercise.

Tell me more: While top tier has been approved and decided, the mid-level of its management structure is being discussed.

 

3 times

What is it? The higher energy density in a new solid-state battery compared to today’s lithium ion batteries. It was invented by John Goodenough, father of lithium-ion batteries.

Why is it important? The invention has now been endorsed by Alphabet Inc’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who termed it as “promising”. The 94-year-old inventor’s new all-glass batteries could solve the world’s energy storage problems with its higher capacity to hold energy. It could push up electric car adoption.

Tell me more: The batteries are said to be safer as they transmit energy at lower temperatures than lithium-ion ones and can be made at very low cost given ample supply of sodium around the world.

 

5

What is it? The number of Mumbai railway stations that Shiv Sena wants to be renamed

Why is it important? The far-right regional party wants the stations to shed the colonial imprint, underlining how names and symbols have a strong political resonance. Such demands have gained momentum in the last few decades. Mumbai got its official name changed from Bombay in 1995 (followed by Chennai (Madras) and Kochi (Cochin) in 1996 and Kolkata (Calcutta) in 2001)

Tell me more: Shiv Sena wants Mumbai Central to be renamed after Jagannath Shankar Seth, and Charni Road, Elphinstone Road, Curry Road and Sandhurst Road stations to be renamed as Girgaum, Prabhadevi, Lalbaug and Dongri respectively.

 

~ Rs 1000 crore

What is it? The amount spent by Indian telecom players on advertisements in 2016, according to the Pitch Madison Advertising Report.

Why is it important? This is up 50% from the previous year, and reflects the fight for customers last year, triggered by the launch of Jio. Reliance Jio Infocomm, which launched its services last year, had telecom players not only reduce their prices but also step up on advertising to gain, and more importantly, retain customers. Jio’s introductory offer included free call and data till end of March 2017.

Tell me more: Airtel was the biggest spender in 2016, splurging Rs 450 crore to Rs 550 crore on ads. Jio spent Rs 100 crore to 150 crore. Jio is aiming at 50% market share by 2021.

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News in Numbers, Feb 14, 2017: 😍 Indians 💖 Taxes

60,000

What is it? People who have responded online to Income Tax department’s request for e-verification and explanation of deposits after demonetisation.

Why is it important? As the IT department gears up to mine data gathered after demonetisation with sophisticated data analytics to unearth tax evaders, some from the first wave of online respondents have even agreed to pay tax arrears. The IT department has been trying hard to allay fears of undue persecution by first resorting to online queries for 1.8 million depositors, so that the honest taxpayer can explain deposits without bearing the brunt of an IT notice.

Tell me more: So far 200,000 people who had received the IT clarification request online have logged in. Before demonetisation, the IT department had sent 60,000 notices for large dubious non-Pan card transactions in September even as the – for tax compliance was going on.

 

5

What is it? Number of Grammy awards that British artist Adele won for her album ‘25’ in 2017.

Why is it important? In the world’s most prestigious music awards, the 28-year-old Adele became the first ever to win twice the top three coveted categories of album, record and song of the year, this time for her album and the ballad, “Hello”. She had won in 2012 for her album ‘21’. She also won Best Pop Solo Performance and Pop Vocal Album this year.

Tell me more: She beat Beyonce, who led with nine nominations for her influential album, ‘Lemonade’, on racism and feminism, but acknowledged the artist in her acceptance speech.

 

33,000 feet/10 km

What is it? The depth of the trenches in the Pacific Ocean where organisms were found with high levels of man-made pollutants, according to a report in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Why is it important? Man-made pollution has not spared even the deep sea. Shrimp-like tiny amphipods, Hirondellea gigas, were found in two of the ocean’s deepest trenches that were still 7,000-km apart, to contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.

 

Tell me more: Pollutants were found in every single sample, regardless of depth, regardless of species, according to the report’s lead author. He likened the contamination levels to that of Japan’s Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted northwest Pacific industrial zones. Given the sampled creatures are voracious scavengers feeding off any debris floating down to the depths, the concentration could be from contaminated fish remains and accumulation on sea-beds.

 

3.17%

What is it? Retail inflation in January 2017.

Why is it important? It is the lowest in the last five years, driven primarily by slowing of rise in food prices. Food inflation was 0.53% in January, compared to 1.37% in December. Core inflation (comprising of non-food, non-fuel items) however was the highest since October 2014, which likely prompted the Reserve Bank to maintain its benchmark interest rates in the recent monetary policy review.

Tell me more: Among the states, Jammu and Kashmir recorded the highest annual inflation for the month at 7.01%, followed by Delhi (6.32%) and Himachal Pradesh (5.92%).

 

2

What is it? The number of judges who will be delivering their judgement on the disproportionate wealth case against VK Sasikala, Tamil Nadu’s ruling party AIADMK’s general secretary.

Why is it important? A split verdict by the Supreme Court would extend the political tension in the state, even as fight the between O Panneerselvam the state’s chief minister and VK Sasikala who wants to occupy that chair intensifies. If the court rules against Sasikala, that is, if declines to uphold the earlier High Court acquittal of AIADMK chief, it would strengthen the hands of Panneerselvam, who by many accounts, has the support of voters, but not (at least, explicit) support of party MLAs.

Tell me more: The two judges P C Ghose and Amitava Roy are expected to deliver separate judgements on Tuesday. If there is a split verdict, the case will move to a third judge.

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News in Numbers, Feb 09, 2017: Indian Unicorns: Softbank sends a message

$475 million

What is it? The amount written off by Softbank in value of its shareholding in Snapdeal and Ola, two Indian unicorns in e-commerce and cab hailing industries respectively.

Why is it important? It’s a sign that investors are adjusting their expectations from home grown tech startups, given the competition from global players such as Amazon and Uber. Besides, as the customer acquisition costs continue to go up, startups and investors are rethinking about the size of addressable market for business models that are imported from abroad.

Tell me more: Softbank, especially under former Softbank president Nikesh Arora, was one of the most active players in Indian startup space a few years ago, and led an investment of $210 million in Ola and $627 million in Snapdeal in 2014.

 

6.25%

What is it? The repo rate, or the key policy rate for banks, which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) held for the second time in a row in its bi-monthly policy reviews.

Why is it important? Amidst popular expectation of a rate cut now that banks are flush with liquidity following nationwide deposits, the RBI left it untouched. It indicates the central bank wants to take its time to assess the impact of demonetisation on macroeconomics. Be it inflation or wages, it is now being said RBI will take a call after April.

Tell me more: RBI reiterated its commitment to bring down headline inflation to 4%, and noted Q4 FY17 it will remain below 5%. It alsorevised its GDP growth forecast from 7.1% to 6.9% in FY17.

 

140

What is it? The cases of rape registered with the Delhi police in January, 2017.

Why is it important? Crime against women continue unabated in the capital, despite concrete measures by the Delhi police, including sensitising the force, help desks at police stations and increased patrolling. While 14% of rape complaints remained unsolved in 2016, it was 30% in January.

Tell me more: There were 238 cases of molestation and 51 eve-teasing cases registered in January.

 

500,000

What is it? The proposed annual number legal immigrants allowed into the US, cutting the present quota by half in the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act).

Why is it important? The latest proposal adds another angle to the immigration debate taking the US by storm after Donald Trump’s election. It seeks to limit entry of foreigners without a skills-based visa by cutting the number of green card or legal permanent residency issued annually.

Tell me more: The bill also seeks to cap the refugee programme to 50,000 a year, coming in the wake of a year (fiscal ended September, 2016) that allowed 84,995 refugees in, the highest under the Obama administration.

 

$ 1 trillion

What is it? Reduction in China’s foreign exchange reserves in the last three years.

Why is it important? At $2.998 trillion, the reserves are the lowest in nearly six years. While nearly $3 trillion is not small by any measure, it comes when China’s economic growth is moderating. Some analysts believe that it could lead China to devalue its currency, if the trend persists.

Tell me more: Chinese government is concerned about the outflow of capital and has tightened rules on forex purchases and cross-border renminbi remittance in the recent past.

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