News in numbers, Feb 2, 2016: India’s rising food imports, proposed fee hike for IIT students…

 

51.1

What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in January, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This has jumped to a four-month high after touching the lowest in 28 months in December (49.1). This is also above the 50-level threshold, an indication that manufacturing, which accounts for 16% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), could be on the revival path. This strengthens the expectation that the Reserve Bank of India will keep key rates unchanged on Tuesday when it announces its sixth bimonthly monetary policy review.

Tell me more: The new export orders sub-index increased to 52.5 in January from 51.5 in December, the highest in five months.

 

2.6%

What is it? Increase in global corn prices since January 13.

Why is it important? An impact of India importing corn for the first time in 16 years. It has announced plans to buy half a million tonnes, and according to traders, might import 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of corn. Two consecutive droughts and growing demand from India’s 1.25 billion population is likely to force India to import other commodities such as lentils and oilmeals. This is likely to transform the country into a net importer of some of the commodities for the first time in years. India needs to step up investment and other measures to ensure agriculture grows at a faster pace than the 2% recorded in the first half of 2015-16.

Tell me more: Agriculture accounts for around 13% of India’s GDP and two-thirds of the country’s population depend on it for their livelihoods.

 

Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The proposed annual fee hike for the students of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by a committee of the institutes’ directors. This would be over a threefold increase from the current Rs 90,000 annual fees charged per student.

Why is it important? The fee hike is one of the two main measures suggested by the panel to provide greater financial autonomy to the IITs and is enough to cover the salary and maintenance costs. The other suggestion is to create a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore, which would offer interest-free loans to students (from IITs and other higher education institutes) for projects and research infrastructure.

Tell me more: These proposals are being considered and could be part of the budgetary announcements later this month.

 

4

What is it? Total number of public health emergencies declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) so far, the latest one being the Zika virus.

Why is it important? There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus, which is suspected to cause birth defects (microcephaly) where babies are born with abnormally small heads, underdeveloped brains and usually die young. Though the virus (caused by the same mosquito as dengue) has spread in 24 countries in the Americas region, one-third of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of dengue infection (Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America).

Tell me more: Brazil, the worst affected nation, has reported over 3,700 cases of microcephaly and according to the country’s health minister, in 80% of the infected people, there were no symptoms. It has reported at least 1.5 million cases of Zika infection. Elsewhere, Tata Motors is now considering changing the name of its new small car, Zica for fear of the negative association with the virus.

 

~$568 billion

What is it? Valuation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Why is it important? Alphabet is the most valuable traded company in the world today, dislodging Apple ($535 billion) from that position. This is not the first time, though. Google was ahead of Apple in 2010. This comes after Alphabet announcing its fourth quarter earnings where it posted a profit of $4.9 billion from $4.7 billion a year ago.

Tell me more: This is the first time the company has given separate figures for its Google business (includes search engine and YouTube) and “Other Bets” businesses (include experimental projects such as self-driving cars, internet balloon programs). The latter posted an operating loss of $3.6 billion and revenue of $448 million in 2015. Google’s revenue in 2015 was $74.5 billion while its operating income increased by 23% to $23.4 billion.

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News in Numbers – September 17, 2015

News In Numbers: September 17, 2015

 

10

The number of entities that have received ‘in principle’ approval for setting up small finance banks from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The central bank had received 72 applications. Last month, the RBI gave in principle approval to 11 entities to set up payment banks and PayTM has recently announced that it would be the first one to set up a payments bank in India by the end of the current financial year. A small bank, as the name suggests, would provide basic banking services such as deposits and loans but “in a limited area of operation”  whereas payment banks cannot offer loans but would provide small savings accounts, remittances and payments services. Small banks would help in financial inclusion  would help in the cause of furthering financial inclusion by “provision of savings vehicles”, giving credit to small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and other unorganised sector entities through high-technology, low-cost operations. The minimum paid-up equity capital for small finance banks was set as Rs 100 crore.

 

300

After 100 smart cities, the Indian government is now planning to develop 300 ‘smart village clusters’ at a cost of Rs 5,142 crore in the next three years. These would be developed as economic hubs that would offer employment opportunities, skill development training linked to economic activities, agro-processing, digital literacy, better schools, provision of piped water and sanitation, among other things. Besides this, the cabinet also approved the increase the number of days of employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme to 150 days from 100 in the areas that have been hit by drought or natural calamities. These two decisions are aimed at alleviating rural distress building up due to below-average monsoon in many parts of the country.The number of farmers committing suicide due to agricultural stress in certain states including Karnataka and Maharashtra are on the rise. A Crisil report says four states (Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) and five crops (jowar, soyabean, tur, maize and cotton) “are most hurt by deficient rains”. These states contribute to over a third of India’s total foodgrain production in India.

 

Rs 6 lakh

Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) decided to increase life cover for its 40 million subscribers to Rs 6 lakh, as compared to Rs 3.6 lakh at present. Life insurance payments were given to 30,000 subscribers’ families in 2014-15, at an estimated outgo of Rs 180 crore. Employers, who don’t provide health cover to their employees, contribute 0.5% towards the corpus, Employees Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI). EPFO manages Rs 8.5 trillion corpus. At 40 million subscribers, they represent mostly the organised employment whereas bulk of India’s workforce are unorganized and don’t get to benefit from this move.

 

 

23 lakh

The number of people who have applied for 368 positions of peons at the state assembly in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Of these, over 2 lakh applicants hold at least a graduate degree. There are 255 of them with doctorate degrees too. The requirements for this position is school education and bicycle-riding skills. A peon’s position would get pay a salary of at least Rs 16,000 per month plus other government benefits. The unemployment rate in India was estimated to be 4.9% in 2013-14 and that in the age group of 18-29 years was 12.9%. The unemployment rate of people in this age group who are at least graduates was 28%. The 66th round of National Sample Survey Organisation report has estimated that Uttar Pradesh would have 1 crore unemployed youth aged 15-35 years by 2017.

 

66%

The percentage of drop in central government funding allocation to Delhi for controlling vector-borne diseases between 2012 and 2015. It stands at just Rs 17 crore now. The Delhi government, in turn, has allocated a smaller proportion of funds to the municipal corporations. Of the total expenditure by the directorate of health services, the share of funds for controlling malaria and dengue has come down to less than 5% from 10%. The Delhi Health Society, set up to receive funds from the central government, had asked for Rs 2.5 crore to fight dengue and malaria in 2015-16 but received only 50% of that amount. The state government has unspent balance of Rs 19 crore from the previous year. Until September 12, over 1,800 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi and as on September 16, the death toll rose to 13. Delhi is witnessing its worst dengue outbreak since 2010.

 

 

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News in Numbers – September 1, 2015

News In Numbers: September 1, 2015

 

7%

The rate at which Indian economy grew in the first quarter of 2015-16, slower than the 7.5% in the previous quarter. Agriculture and manufacturing grew at a slower pace, while construction and trade, hotel, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting grew faster. Ratings agency Moody’s recently downgraded India’s GDP (gross domestic product) growth to 7%, from 7.5%, for 2015-16, Japanese brokerage Nomura has pegged the GDP growth rate at 8%. The Indian government has set a target of 8.1-8.5% for 2015-16, while the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has estimated it at 7.6%.

2

Number of banks the RBI has classified under the ‘Domestic Systemically Important Banks’ category, which means these are too big to fail: State Bank of India, India’s largest state-owned bank, and ICICI Bank, the largest in the private sector. This is the first time the central bank has made such a classification, which will be an annual exercise. SBI and ICICI will have to maintain additional capital as a certain percentage of loans, though both banks say their capital base is higher than mandated. The RBI framework for such a classification will have five buckets. The higher the number, the more systemically important a bank. SBI falls in bucket three, ICICI in bucket one.

$5.6 billion

A theoretical maximum penalty India’s competition regulator can levy on Internet giant Google, based on a calculation of 10% of its average global revenues for the past three years. The Competition Commission of India has accused Google of misusing its dominant position and unfairly promoting its other services through its search engine. In response to queries raised by CCI, 30 companies, including Makemytrip, Flipkart, Nokia’s maps division and Bharat Matrimony, have submitted their views. Google has time until 10 September to respond to CCI’s findings. Google’s search engine had a market share of 97.3% in India in July.

78

The number of days since ex-servicemen have been agitating at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding the implementation of one rank, one pension (OROP) in addition to annual revision of pension. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has ruled out annual revision, saying it does not happen anywhere in the world. He, however, said the government would “safeguard the interests” of soldiers who retire early by paying them higher pensions. Three more Army veterans have joined the fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar, taking the total number of those on hunger strike to 12. About 22 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows would be the immediate beneficiaries of this scheme, if implemented.

831

The number of dengue cases reported in Delhi this year, of which 93.6% were in August alone. The overall number is the highest in five years: thrice what was recorded during 1 January to 29 August between 2011 and 2014. In the same period in 2010, the number of cases was over 1,000. This year, India recorded 9,874 dengue cases until 29 July, of which Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu accounted for 62.7%. The number of dengue deaths in India stood at 25 in the same period, with Kerala accounting for 60% of the deaths.

 

 

 

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