News in numbers, Apr 26, 2016: The water wasters, India’s malaria elimination plans…

1.32

What is it? The number of times Punjab’s water footprint exceeds world average for growing wheat.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of inefficient water usage across the country. For example, UP’s water footprint for wheat is 2.27% and Madhya Pradesh’s is 0.93%. With the drought affecting several parts of the country, this indicates the need for taking a fresh approach towards the crops India grows and how efficiently it grows them.  

Tell me more: The government procurement also seems to be tilted towards water inefficient states. For example, Rajasthan, the highest wheat producing state in 2014-15 and which has a low water footprint of 0.69 has a procurement share of just 4.6%.

Rs 22,085 crore

What is it? Government subsidy for petroleum products such as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and kerosene in the first nine months of 2015-16, 71% lower than the subsidies in 2014-15.

Why is it important? While reduction can be attributed to low crude oil prices, it also shows market reforms are working. The government had linked diesel and petrol prices to market and introduced direct benefit transfer scheme. India, which imports 80% of its oil needs, can use this saving along with the amount gained due to lower oil import bills, to spend on other purposes such as education and health.

Tell me more: India’s crude oil import bill is expected to almost reduce by half (45%) to $62 billion in 2015-16 from $113 billion the previous year.

3

What is it? The number of students who have been rusticated by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) for allegedly raising anti-national slogans at an event organised in support of Afzal Guru, a convicted terrorist.

Why is it important? JNU can be expected to sizzle for some more time. Kumar said he rejects the punishment as it is biased and that the students “will fight back and will win”.

Tell me more: A university committee set up to probe the incident found the students guilty on various charges such as not following university procedures, providing misinformation, instigating communal violence, participating in sloganeering, indiscipline, misconduct, and creating discord among students. Reportedly, financial penalty has been imposed on 14 students including student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. Some of the students including Kumar were arrested on sedition charges and are currently, out on bail.

200,000

What is it? The number of households in Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh where a malaria elimination project will be implemented by the Indian Council for Medical Research and Sun Pharma over the next 3-5 years. Mandla is one of the most malaria-endemic districts in the state.

Why is it important? This is India’s first public-private-partnership for research and innovation in preventive health care. This is likely to help India in its goal of eliminating malaria by 2030. According to official estimates, there were 561 deaths due to malaria in 2014 though this is much lesser than WHO’s estimates of 15,000 deaths a year and an independent research, which claims malaria kills over 200,000 people a year in India.

Tell me more: The project would include measures such as strengthening existing health systems, development and testing of medical products and disease surveillance and the learnings would be used to draw strategies for malaria elimination in other parts of the country.

458

What is it? The number of examiners the Indian government has hired for clearing applications for patents, designs and trademarks.

Why is it important? This increases the examiner strength by over 3.5 times, which would help in bringing down the time taken to process applications to 18 months by March 2018 from the current 5-7 years. As many as 237,000 patents and 544,000 trademarks registrations are pending approval.

Tell me more: Another 263 examiners would be hired on a contract basis to help clear the backlog.

Read More

News in numbers, Apr 18, 2016: States reducing rural spend, Tamil Nadu’s freebie culture…

14

What is it? The number of states that have reduced their rural spending in absolute terms in 2015-16 compared to the previous year.

Why is it important? The cutback in rural spending – for example, in agriculture, rural infrastructure and irrigation – comes during the second consecutive year of drought. One reason is the reduction in state revenues from their share in central taxes and grants in aid, which declined by 0.3% of GDP in 2015-16.

Tell me more: Of the 14 states that reduced rural spending, five cut down on their overall spending in 2015-16. This also raises the question if states have shifted their expenditure from rural spending by using the spending freedom got due to the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations.

~Rs 15,000 crore

What is it? The value of freebies provided by the Tamil Nadu government between 2006 and 2016, first five under M Karunanidhi’s DMK and the next under J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK.

Why is it important? Raises questions about the economics of freebies, especially when the state’s revenue deficit (net amount received is lesser than projected net amount to be received) is estimated to nearly double to Rs 9,155 crore in 2016-17 from the previous year. The freebies offered by DMK and AIADMK included rice at single-digit prices per kg, fans, mixers, gold, laptops, bicycles and television sets.

Tell me more: In response to a 2013 Supreme Court order, the Election Commission updated its Model Code of Conduct rules and said parties should not make promises that impair the quality of the election process or exert undue influence on the voters. The rules also require the parties to explain the rationale behind the poll promises and broadly state the financial means by which they would implement them.

$38.06-$40.86 per barrel

What is it? The prices at which the global benchmarks of crude oil (US and Brent crude futures respectively) were trading at around 6 am (Indian Standard Time) today.

Why is it important? Crude oil prices were down by 5.7% and 5.2% respectively from their last closing. This was due to the failed attempt by major oil-producers to curb their output at January levels to arrest falling oil prices, at their Doha meet on Sunday. This gives rise to concerns about continued global oversupply of crude and low oil prices in the near future.

Tell me more: Barclays estimates Brent to average at around $36 a barrel in the second quarter of this year.

$37,584 (~ Rs 25 lakh)

What is it? The value of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk’s total compensation in 2015.

Why is it important? Musk does not take salary from Tesla, and this amount is as per California’s minimum wage requirements. Musk has a 26.5% stake (as of December 31) in the company, worth around $9.47 billion. He received stock options worth $5.27 million in 2012 to compensate him for 10 years.

Tell me more: Other CEOs who got low compensation are Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who received $1 as salary in 2014 (along with additional compensation of $610,455) and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey whose compensation was valued at $68,506 last year.

$37 million

What is it? The amount Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer would receive if she leaves after Yahoo is sold off.

Why is it important? Telecom firm Verizon and Daily Mail General Trust (owner of MailOnline website) are expected to submit their bids to takeover Yahoo’s core business today.

Tell me more: Yahoo’s revenue has fallen by 8.5% since 2012 (Mayer was appointed CEO in July 2012) to $4.09 billion in 2015 while its adjusted profit has nearly halved to $0.95 billion during the same period. If Marissa Mayer is fired before the company is sold off, she would still receive $13 million, per reports.

Read More

News in numbers, Oct 16, 2015: Exports in September, registered births and deaths…

 

24%

What is it? The percent by which exports shrank in September 2015.   

Why is it important? It’s the sharpest fall since September 2009. India’s three major export commodities – petroleum products, engineering goods and gems & jewellery – have all shown sharp decline. Fall in crude prices can be attributed to drop in petroleum products export, but for others, it reflects poor global demand and increased competition from others. Imports too fell by 25%.     

Tell me more: Despite poor export numbers, the trade deficit shrunk by nearly $ 4 billion dollars in September 2015.  

36

What is it? The number of conditions Adani group has to fulfill while implementing the $12 billion Carmichael coal mine and rail project in Australia.

Why is it important? The move comes two months after the previous approval was set aside citing it hadn’t considered impact on two vulnerable animal species – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake. Among the conditions are the protection of 31,000 ha of habitat and return 730 megalitres of water every year for five years.

Tell me more: The impact of these conditions on total project cost will be watched closely and also where will Adani Group get the funding as ten international banks have withdrawn from the project.

Rs 557 crore

What is it? The amount laundered through eight banks using fake import invoices, and a part of Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation into Bank of Baroda case. ED’s net has widened to include HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank.

Why is it important? Every import and export transactions are tracked by banks to ensure the genuineness, with returns filed with India’s central bank on periodical basis. This is cross checked with data from customs authorities The scam involving remittance of large amounts of money to overseas bank accounts with fake invoices with no real imports exposed the poor internal control process of these banks.  

Tell me more: Last week, ED said it had unearthed a similar scam involving a single branch of a state-run Bank of Baroda involving Rs 6,173 crore.

 

Rs 150 crore

What is it? The annual savings to railways from buying 50 MW of power through an open bidding process.

Why is it important? This is the first time Indian Railways has tried open bidding method. The price obtained – Rs 3.69 per unit – is much lower than its average cost of Rs 6.7 per unit when purchased from state power utilities. Indian Railways consumes around 4,000 MW of power annually, incurring a cost of Rs 12,000 crore. Savings could benefit the loss making state utility to invest in safety and capacity expansion.  

Tell me more: Another tender for purchase of 585 MW of power will be released soon.    

 

85.5%

What is it? The percentage of births that were registered in 2013. It has improved marginally from 84.5% in 2012. The number of registered deaths is 70.9% as compared to 69.3% in 2012.

Why is it important? Reflects poor data quality that policy makers have to work with. Under domestic laws, it is compulsory to register all deaths and births so as to capture vital statistics like infant deaths, life expectancy, and how many received medical attention at the time of birth or death. The absence of complete registration hampers policy decisions as most often the poor states, where government intervention is required more, is where registration is also poor.

Tell me more: Gross natural addition to population – the difference between total births and total deaths – was 1.63 crore in 2013 as compared to 1.61 crore in 2012.

Read More