News in Numbers, Feb 07, 2017: A season of crackdowns

Rs 14,779 crore

What is it? The principal balance the Supreme Court wants to expedite recovering from the  Sahara Group for its investors.

Why is it important? Striking down Sahara’s appeal for time till 2019, the apex court ordered attaching its star property in Pune, the Aamby Valley, as part of the recovery process. Around Rs 600 crore of its Rs-25,780-crore principal owed was paid on Monday.  SC’s order was the latest entry in a season of crackdowns on erring business houses/moguls. The property will be under the court’s custody.

Tell me more: The court has asked for a list of other Sahara properties free from litigation for recovery of its dues to investors in two of Sahara’s companies. The due totals Rs 37,000 crore, as calculated by Sebi, including interest, of which around Rs 11,000 crore has been paid so far.

97

What is it? Number of companies, 96% of them tech giants, that filed a court motion challenging US President Donald Trump’s order on immigration.

Why is it important? Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Intel, Netflix and Twitter, and three consumer-goods companies including fashion brand Levi Strauss, have taken a step further than just denouncing the executive order by taking legal recourse. They join federal judges who have legally rebuffed Trump’s move to restrict immigration of certain nationalities, with one even restraining it nationwide. The companies’ motion was filed in the very appeals court which rejected the government’s emergency request to resume the travel ban.

Tell me more: The motion filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel ban “violates the immigration laws and the Constitution”.

Rs 2.5 lakh

What is it? The upper limit of deposits for which the Income Tax department will ask no questions, reiterated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Sushil Chandra.

Why is it important? Amidst growing concern about the expanding reach of the tax officer with all the cash-scrutiny, the senior official’s statement should bring relief. The limit means the IT department will for now refrain from running analytics on deposits below it.

Tell me more: It would study larger single deposits or multiple deposits against a single PAN card that don’t match IT returns.

80%

What is it? Percentage of Tata Sons’ shareholder votes that were in favour of removing former chairman Cyrus Mistry from Tata Sons’ board of directors

Why is it important? The move is a part of the ongoing fight between Tatas and Mistry that started with the removal of Mistry from the chairmanship of Tata Sons in October, followed by similar actions in various Tata companies, including Tata Motors and Tata Consultancy Services. The latest was expected. Tata Trusts controls 66% of Tata Sons, and a simple majority is enough to oust a director. Shapoorji Pallonji family, to which Cyrus Mistry belongs, and which owns 18.4% in Tata Sons, now has no representation in the board for the first time in over ten years.

Tell me more: Cyrus Mistry did not attend the board meeting. Ratan Tata’s half brother Noel Tata, whose sister is married to Mistry, voted in favour of Mistry’s removal from the board.

9

What is it? The number of chief justices recommended by Supreme Court collegium for various high courts

Why is it important? If the government approves, this would likely be the highest number of appointments of chief justices in one go. Many high courts in the country are being served by interim chief justices. More importantly, it’s an indicator that the tension between the government and the judiciary over appointment of judges could be easing. At its height, Supreme Court had struck down National Judicial Appointments Commission in October 2015 and revived the collegium system in which a panel of judges make the judicial appointments.

Tell me more: Besides High Courts, the Supreme Court also faces vacancies as a result of the tug of war. The apex court has been functioning with 23 judges since early this year, falling short of the sanctioned strength of 31.

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News in Numbers, Jan 13, 2017: Lucky seven for Tata?

30

What is it? The number of years Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has worked in the company (his entire career).

Why is it important? Popularly known as ‘Chandra’, he was appointed as Tata Sons’ chairman on Thursday – the seventh chief of the holding company of the group.  The move is likely to end the uncertainty that gripped the $116-billion coffee-to-cars group present in around 100 businesses. Less than three months ago, the previous chairman Cyrus Mistry, whose tenure was the shortest in Tata Sons’ history, was ousted unceremoniously – this spiralled into one of the ugliest corporate spats in Indian history. Chandrasekaran was the unanimous choice of a five-member search committee set up in October, which was tasked to find the next head within four months.

Tell me more: Under Chandrasekaran’s leadership, the profits of TCS was up more than threefold to Rs 24,375 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 7,093 crore in 2009-2010. TCS accounts for 60% of the group’s market capitalization and contributes to around 70% of its revenue.

 

5.7%

What is it? The percentage by which Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which measures growth in mining, manufacturing and electricity, grew in November 2016.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in 13 months (likely aided by the positive base effect) and compares with a contraction of 1.3% in the previous month and a contraction of 3.4% in November 2015. Also, this is the first set of industrial activity figures released after the government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes in November. However, its impact was felt on consumer prices inflation, which grew by 3.41% in December compared to 3.63% in the previous month, recording the slowest pace since November 2014.

Tell me more: Manufacturing grew at 5.5% in November 2016 compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the same period a year ago while electricity and mining grew at 8.9% and 3.9% in November as against 0.7% and 1.7% respectively in the corresponding period the previous year.

 

34,500

What is it? The increase in India’s annual haj quota by Saudi Arabia to 170,520.

Why is it important? This is the highest increase in nearly three decades and has renewed the debate on Haj subsidy. The government has set up a six-member committee to examine the viability of the subsidy and to explore ways to make it economical even without the subsidy. The Supreme Court in 2012 had asked the government to see how this can be phased out in 10 years. The setting up of the committee comes at a time when Uttar Pradesh elections are round the corner – a state where Muslim voters have about 20% share in its population.

Tell me more: In 2016, about 99,903 people from 21 embarkation points across India went to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) for haj through the Haj Committee of India while 36,000 went for their annual pilgrimage through private tour operators.

 

1.5%

What is it? The drop in the annual world food price index in 2016.

Why is it important? The world food price index, mapped since 1996, averaged 161.6 for the whole of 2016, falling for the fifth year in a row. Published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the index eased as promising harvests in staple cereals offset price rise in sugar and palm oil. Food price inflation softened despite the impact of adverse weather conditions such as El Niño (the occasional warming of waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean) on some crops like sugar.

Tell me more: Meat and dairy products also fell, and along with cereals fell by nearly 40% below their 2011 peak. But Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at FAO, warns, “Economic uncertainties, including movements in exchange rates, are likely to influence food markets even more so this year (2017).”

 

7.7%

What is it? China’s annual fall in exports in 2016.

Why is it important? China’s exports affect a large number of countries as it is the world’s largest trading nation. Its December exports fell by 6.1%, owing to slowing global demand. Declines were seen in electro-mechanical and labour-intensive goods. Later this year, China could see heavy tariffs on its goods levied by the US under its new administration, led by Donald Trump if he follows through his campaign promise.

Tell me more: China’s trade surplus stood at $40.82 billion as imports grew by 3.1% on demand for coal and iron ore, while its 2016 trade surplus was at $509.96 billion.

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News in Numbers, Nov 3, 2016: Whose job is it?

300

What is it? The approximate number of school students who would be cleaning railway platforms and station premises each Sunday.

Why is it important? The success of the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission depends on public awareness and participation and such a step is likely to help students understand the importance of sanitation and hygiene besides nudging the general public to be more conscious about cleanliness, starting from family members and friends. The Indian Railways has tied up with Sulabh International, a non-profit voluntary social organisation to create 164 student clubs across 20 states for this initiative. The organisation plans to cover all the 7,000-odd stations in the country.

Tell me more: According to a survey conducted at 407 railway stations based on passenger feedback, five of the top 10 cleanest stations are in Gujarat while the dirtiest were found to be in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

 

5.5 million

What is it? The estimated number of women who are likely to die from cancer annually by 2030, according to a report by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Why is it important? This is an increase of 60% in 20 years with the highest toll to be among women in poor and middle-income countries. The four deadliest cancers (breast, colorectal, lung and cervical) are largely preventable or can be detected early and much of the estimated deaths (by 2030) fall in this category. There were 3.5 million cancer deaths among women in 2012 and the number of new cancer cases are expected to increase from 6.7 million in 2012 to 9.9 million in 2030.

Tell me more: Another report published in the Lancet medical journal said the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer is likely to double from 1.7 million in 2015 to 3.2 million a year by 2030. One out of every seven women in the world die due to cancer, which is the second highest cause after cardiovascular disease, according to ACS.

 

54,546 million metric tons

What is it? The amount of carbon stored in community lands managed by indigenous people, according to a study, which is based on satellite surveys of 37 tropical countries.

Why is it important? These lands are held collectively by communities more by custom, than by law officially recognized by the governments. Because of this status the communities can potentially lose their land to private parties. If that happens, there is a risk of carbon getting released into atmosphere, worsening the climate change. The carbon contained in these lands is equivalent to four times the global carbon emissions in 2014. The study suggests the indigenous communities be given a bigger role in climate stabilisation, which is also a cost-effective way of preventing further emissions due to forest loss.

Tell me more: A tenth of the total carbon contained above the ground in tropical forests is in areas that are managed by native communities. Just 21 of the 188 countries recognise indigenous land rights and have included forest people in their national plans for reducing carbon emissions under the Paris Agreement.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage of ATMs (automated teller machines) that should dispense Rs 100 notes exclusively within the next fortnight, according to a notification by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Why is it important? This comes after the apex bank conducted a review of the steps banks have taken to install ATMs that dispense lower denomination banknotes and found that only a few banks had done so. This is to help meet the general public’s requirements of lower denomination notes. The banks have been advised to share their feedback on the pilot project after two months.

Tell me more: The RBI had introduced a scheme called the Currency Distribution and Exchange Scheme under which it said it would incentivize banks for installing ATMs dispensing notes of denominations up to Rs 100 – reimbursement of 50% of the actual cost of the ATM machine or Rs 2 lakh (whichever is lower) for urban areas and 60% of the actual cost of the machine or Rs 2.5 lakh (whichever is lower) for semi-urban and rural areas.

 

Rs 1,124 crore

What is it? The value of orders bagged by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) from the Tata Group in 2012-13.

Why is it important? This reduced to nil in 2015-16. Within a year of being appointed as the chairman of Tata Sons in 2012, Mistry disallowed the Tata Group of companies from awarding new contracts to SPG as long as he headed the group. Mistry said in a 2013 letter to the CEOs of the Tata Group companies said this was to avoid any conflict of interest. SPG is headed by his elder brother Shapoor P Mistry.

Tell me more: After Mistry was sacked as the chairman of Tata Sons a few days ago, both the Tata Group and Mistry have reportedly put in place public relations teams to fight one of the biggest corporate spats in India.

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News in Numbers, Oct 28, 2016: Powerful yet weakening…

58%

What is it? The decline in global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles between 1970 and 2012, according to a report by the WWF and the Zoological Society of London.

Why is it important? If the trend continues, global wildlife population could see a potential decline could reach two-thirds by 2020. And, the top threats to species are linked to human activities, which include habitat loss, degradation and overexploitation of wildlife. Biodiversity is the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans and with a decline in wildlife, this is likely to result in ecosystems collapsing – this includes clean water, air, food and climate services.

Tell me more: In India, about 41% of mammals, 46% of reptiles, 57% of amphibians, 7% of birds and 70% of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction while four of the 386 species of mammals analysed are already extinct.

 

61

What is it? The number of individuals and entities in India charged by the US Justice Department for their alleged involvement in a scam where at least five Indian call centres based in Ahmedabad are suspected to be involved.

Why is it important? In this massive scam, which has been in operation since 2013, 15,000 people have been cheated of more than $250 million. Callers from India posed as Internal Revenue Service and Department of Homeland Security officials and asked victims in the US to pay up to clear up tax dues or debt and threatened them with imprisonment, arrest, deportation or fines if they failed to do so. Their co-conspirators would then collect the funds from the victims, launder and transfer them to India.

Tell me more: The three-year-investigation by the US authorities is reportedly the largest law enforcement action ever against a telephone scam. US would be seeking extradition of those based in India.

 

$3.1 billion

What is it? The total value of private equity exits in the quarter ended September, up 29% from a year-ago period, according to a report.

Why is it important? Indicates the attractiveness of India as an investment destination. However, in the last quarter, deal value of private equity and venture capital investments declined by 45% to $8.2 billion on a year-on-year basis while deal volume fell by 24% to 287 transactions. Private equity firms preferred to exit through public market sales and strategic sales.

Tell me more: Sectors including telecom, information technology and healthcare witnessed an increase in strategic sales that drove the increase in number of PE exits in the quarter, according to the report by consulting firm Bain and Co.

 

18%

What is it? The stake held by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SPG) in Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group of companies.

Why is it important? The Tata family trusts are reportedly reaching out to sovereign wealth funds and other long-term investors to buy out the stake held by the SPG in the Tata group’s holding company if it became available for purchase. This is the result of a fallout between the Tatas and Cyrus Mistry (son of Pallonji Mistry, chairman of SPG) when the latter was ousted at a board meeting of Tata Sons on Monday. The spat turned uglier after Mistry listed a number of allegations against the group, which hinted at possible breach of corporate governance norms. The Tata group has hit back at Mistry saying his allegations are malicious and his claims unsubstantiated.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, a committee has been constituted to look for the next chairman and reportedly, the shortlisted candidates are N Chandrasekaran (CEO of Tata Consultancy Services), Ralf Speth (chief of Jaguar Land Rover) and Noel Tata (chairman of Trent Ltd who is also a member of the founding family and Mistry’s brother-in-law).

 

350

What is it? The approximate number of employees Twitter will layoff, representing about 9% of its staff strength.

Why is it important? The social networking firm had laid off a similar number of employees (up to 336) last year, which was about 8.2% of its workforce. This is part of its efforts to cut costs (and post profits in 2017) even as its recent attempts at selling the company failed. The firm expects to book $10-20 million in workforce restructuring charges. Having struggled to keep pace with the likes of Facebook and Snapchat, Twitter also announced it would shut down Vine video app, which it acquired for $30 million in 2012.

Tell me more: Twitter’s revenue rose 8.2% to $616 million while its user base increased by 3% to 317 million average monthly users during its fiscal 2016 third quarter ended September 30.

 

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