News in Numbers, Nov 18, 2016: The right note…

15 million

What is it? The number of new Rs 500 notes that have reportedly been printed by the Security Printing and Minting Corp of India, the government agency that prints notes and coins.

Why is it important? There seems to be a delay in the printing of this denomination as the order is to print 400 million by the end of this month. The reason for the delay is due to the presses at Dewas (Madhya Pradesh) and Nashik (Maharashtra) are running below capacity. The presses operated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which are to produce the new Rs 2,000 notes, are now likely to take up the printing of the new Rs 500 notes to meet the demand. Printing of currency notes in Rs 100 denomination has been stalled, according to unnamed RBI officials, as the focus has now shifted to the new ones.

Tell me more: Before the demonetisation move, there were 16.5 billion Rs 500 notes and 6.7 billion Rs 1,000 notes in circulation.

 

789,000 barrels per day

What is it? India’s oil imports from Iran, according to a report by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts and ship tracking data.

Why is it important? This exceeded Saudi Arabia’s oil supply to India by 92,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Iran is now the top oil supplier to India. However, Saudi Arabia still retains the top slot over the January-October period. With the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting at the end of this month to take its final call on cutting down production to boost oil prices, it remains to be seen if Iran continues to enjoy the exemption to be excluded from these price cuts, given its recent dominant position in oil supply to India, the world’s third-largest oil importer.

Tell me more: Due to the western sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear development programme, the country had slipped to the seventh position in 2013-14 and 2014-15 among the 50-odd countries from which India imports oil.

 

25 million

What is it? The capacity of a vaccine facility (in terms of number of doses) set up in Gujarat by CPL Biologicals, a joint venture of Cadila Pharmaceuticals and US-based Novavax at an investment of Rs 100 crore.

Why is it important? The company says it has become the first Indian company to have developed a vaccine to treat seasonal influenza (Cadiflu-S), which is also the world’s first influenza vaccine based on virus-like particle technology (VLP). The vaccine does not contain any viruses, which means it completely does away with the possibility of any infection to the vaccinated person from the vaccine (viruses present in vaccines can sometimes replicate in the human body, causing disease by itself).

Tell me more: CPL Biologicals says with the VLP technology, it can develop the new strain specific vaccine in 12-14 weeks compared to the 24-32 weeks it takes to develop a conventional vaccine. Cadiflu-S doesn’t contain egg proteins, antibiotics and preservatives, which would help those who are prone to allergies.

 

Rs 137.18 crore

What is it? Losses posted by food delivery startup Swiggy (owned and operated by Bundl Technologies) in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This is an increase of nearly 65 times of the loss it posted in 2014-15 (company started operations in August 2014). Swiggy’s revenue increased to Rs 23.59 crore in FY16 (from Rs 11.59 lakh a year ago) while its total expenses were Rs 160.77 crore, indicating that it burnt cash in order to scale up (a trend observed in many other startups such as Flipkart and Ola). Food startups have been struggling to get their economics right with some of them such as Eatlo and Dazo shutting down, some being acquired (FoodPanda acquired TastyKhana) and others downsizing their operations.

Tell me more: Swiggy reportedly has started charging consumers delivery fees for orders from a few food outlets, which have refused to pay a commission to the startup. Earlier, it was delivering for free from these outlets, which is unlikely to be feasible in the long-term.

 

5-100 basis points

What is it? The cut in deposit rates offered by various Indian banks. A basis point (bps) is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

Why is it important? This is a result of the government’s recent demonetisation move, which saw customers depositing old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, which have ceased to be legal tender since over a week ago. Lending rates are expected to come down as well. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has noted on several occasions that banks have not been passing on interest rate cuts to their customers. Between January 2015 and March 2016, the RBI has reduced its benchmark repo rate (the rate at which the apex banks lends to other banks) by 125 bps but public sector banks have lowered their base rate by an average of 55 bps while the private ones have decreased it by 50 bps.

Tell me more: The RBI introduced a new methodology for setting interest rates since the beginning of this financial year after which public sector banks have reduced their base rates by 15 bps on an average while the private banks have lowered it by 25 bps.

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News in Numbers, Aug 30, 2016: Fines for animal cruelty, smartphones and productivity…

0.65

What is it? The percentage points by which the weighted average lending rate on outstanding rupee loans fell from December 2014 to June 2016. The repo rate (the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks) was reduced by 1.5 percentage points in the same period.

Why is it important? Indicates that monetary transmission has not been effective, despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) push to banks to reduce lending rates. On the other hand, the weighted average domestic term deposit rate has been reduced by 1.12 percentage points, a move seen as the banks’ attempt to protect their profit margins even as they struggle with mounting bad loans and higher provisioning for those.

Tell me more: The RBI said that with the new system (marginal cost of funds based lending rate), which has been effective since April 1, 2016, the banks’ benchmark lending rates would be “more sensitive to changes in the policy rate”.

 

Rs 25-100

What is it? The proposed fines for treating animals with cruelty by beating, kicking and torturing, as per changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, according to a report. The current penalties range between Rs 10-50.

Why is it important? Indicates that the government is getting serious about animal cruelty, after a series of shocking incidents. However, it’s not clear if such small hikes in penalties will deter the violators of animal protection rules. The PCA (amendment) Bill, 2016, is likely to be introduced in the Parliament during the Winter Session.

Tell me more: If someone is found to be using an injection on cows and other milch animal to improve lactation at the cost of the animals’ health, the proposed fine is Rs 5,000, up from the current Rs 1,000. There have been 24,353 animal cruelty cases reported in India between 2012-13 and 2014-15, according to government records.

 

10

What is it? The number of years the urine/blood samples of Olympic participants are stored by the International Olympic Committee for re-testing.

Why is it important? Re-testing of silver medal winning wrestler Russia’s Besik Kudukhov in 2012 London Olympics has led to his disqualification, and upgradation of Yogeshwar Dutt’s bronze medal to silver. The event was 60-kg freestyle wrestling. Once the official announcement is made, India would have three silver medals from the London Games, including those won by wrestler Sushil Kumar and shooter Vijay Kumar. Kudukhov died in a car accident in 2013.

Tell me more: The earlier maximum period for re-testing of samples was eight years from collecting them, which was then extended to 10 years in 2015.

 

17

What is it? The jail term given to a former primary school principal in Bihar for the death of 23 children after consuming a mid-day meal in 2013.

Why is it important? The court in Chhapra (headquarters of Saran district) treated it as a rarest of rare case and ordered for the sentence to be run consecutively rather than concurrently. The former principal Mina Devi has been given 10 years in prison for culpable homicide and seven years for criminal negligence in addition to a total fine of Rs 3.75 lakh. The mid-day meal scheme is the world’s largest school feeding programme of its kind and has been implemented to ensure children do not skip school due to hunger.

Tell me more: Devi was found negligent of storing mustard oil in a container that had traces of pesticide.

 

26%

What is it? The increase in productivity levels when people don’t use smartphones while working at their desks, according to a study.

Why is it important? This could help companies devise policies on the usage of smartphones at workplaces. One suggestion is to have dedicated smartphone-free time and one of the ways to implement this is to not allow the use of smartphones in normal work environments, according to the managing director (South Asia) at Kaspersky Lab.

Tell me more: The experiment tested the behaviour of 95 people aged 19-56 years in labs at the Universities of Würzburg and Nottingham-Trent where a pattern emerged correlating productivity levels and the distance of the smartphone from the user. The productivity levels were the lowest when the smartphone was on the desk and the highest when taken away from the room.

 

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News in numbers, Oct 7, 2015: Proposed hike in Delhi MLA salary, deposit vs lending rate cuts

7,500 km

What it is: The length of highways at risk of remaining incomplete or being abandoned due to losses, according to ratings firm Crisil. It pertains to build-operate-transfer (BOT) highway projects awarded to private developers between 2009-10 and 2011-12.  

Why is it important: This highlights the issues that plague the sector: land acquisition issues, weak financial health of the sponsors, aggressive bidding and lower toll revenue growth. Infrastructure woes would only make it more difficult as India tries revive its economy. This also puts an additional stress on banks that have significant exposure to the road sector. Remember, banks are already struggling with rising bad loans.

Tell me more: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has awarded 210 BOT projects covering 20,000 km, of which 38 projects covering nearly a fourth of the total length have been terminated. Only 80 projects spanning over 6,050 km are currently operational. Between April 1 and July 31 this year, the NHAI has awarded BOT projects spanning 873 km and EPC (engineering, procurement construction) projects covering 627 km.

 

4

What it is: The number of times the salaries of Delhi legislators is to go up, according to an independent committee set up by the Delhi Assembly Speaker. In absolute terms it would increase from Rs 82,000 to Rs 3.2 lakh a month.

Why is it important: If the committee’s recommendations are accepted by Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the state’s MLAs could be counted among the richest in India. Assam’s legislators get paid the highest – Rs 60,000 basic salary a month. It would be interesting to see what Kejriwal does given the party calls itself the “common person’s” party and the moral high ground it takes on various issues.  

Tell me more: The recommendations include: an increase in constituency allowance from Rs 18,000 per month to Rs 50,000, communication allowance from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000, conveyance allowance from Rs 6,000 to Rs 30,000, daily allowance of Rs 1,000-2,000 a day when the assembly is in session, a Rs 70,000 allowance for office assistants and a one-time furnishing office allowance of Rs 1 lakh.

 

Rs 450 crore

What it is: The amount Infibeam wants to raise to expand its business through an IPO.

Why is it important: The first e-commerce firm to be cleared by the market regulator for public listing in India. Some experts and investors have asked if there is an e-commerce bubble in India? Skyrocketing valuations, the ease with which e-commerce companies have been able to raise money, absence of a proper business model, high cash burn rates and no profitability are worrying. This would be a good test to gauge the broader investor appetite for this sector.

Tell me more: Infibeam, which runs infibeam.com and BuildaBazaar.com, wants to set up a cloud data unit and 75 logistics centres. Unlike its peers such as Flipkart or Snapdeal, Infibeam has not gone on the typical private equity investment route.

 

211

What it is: The number of new species discovered by scientists from various organisations in the Eastern Himalayas between 2009 and 2014, according to conservation group WWF.

Why is it important: The volume and variety of species discovered (133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one each of reptile, bird and mammal) highlight the fact that this region is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. The region includes Bhutan, north-east India, Nepal, the far north of Myanmar and southern parts of Tibet.

Tell me more: Some of the striking discoveries include a sneezing monkey during rains because it has an upturned nose and a blue ‘dwarf’ walking snakehead fish, which can survive on land for up to four days breathing atmospheric air. However, due to development and inadequate measures towards the protection of environment, only 25% of the “original habitats remain intact” and hundreds of species living in the region fall under the category of globally-threatened species.

 

130 bps versus 50 bps

What it is: Deposit rate cuts versus lending rate cuts. The average cut in one -year deposit rates by banks since January 2015 compared to the cut in lending rates, according to India Ratings. This is when the central bank has cut policy rates by a cumulative 125 basis points (bps).

Why is it important: Shows banks give importance to self-interest. Banks can make more money when it reduces deposit rates – and pay less to depositors – without proportionally cutting the lending rates.

Tell me more: India Ratings says from a 10-year study of the policy cycle and the banks, it appears that in most cases when policy rates are reduced, deposit rates have come down quicker than lending rates and the quantum of the former has also been higher.

 

 

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News In Numbers – August 21

News In Numbers: August 20

 

24

The number of additional days banks in India will be closed, beginning September 1. The government yesterday issued a notification, announcing that banks would remain closed on second and fourth Saturdays as against the current norm of working half-day. This February, the Indian Banks’ Association signed a pact with bank unions agreeing to increase employee wages by 15% and increasing the number of holidays by two every month. With this, the number of holidays in a year for bank employees will almost double (excluding Sundays), considering that banks have 25 public holidays in 2015.

 

1.85%

Low-cost airline SpiceJet on Thursday announced an offer of sale of 1 lakh tickets at rates ranging between Rs 799-2,699 one way, excluding taxes, for travel dates between 25 August 2015 to 26 March 2016. This is just 1.85% of the total passengers the airline carried between September 2014 and March 2015. After the airline changed hands and Ajay Singh returned to take over, it returned to profitability after seven quarters and recorded a net profit of Rs 22.5 crore in the fourth quarter of 2014-15. This February, the airline had put on offer 4 lakh tickets in a sale it called ‘cheaper than train fares’.

 

72.9%

The share of public sector banks in aggregate deposits as on March 31, 2015. With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) giving an in-principle approval to 11 entities for payment banks, there could be a case of these affecting the small and medium public sector banks, especially in terms of deposits. Overall, during 2014-15, banks have showed a decline in both deposit and credit growth. For instance, India Post, which is one of the 11 entities that can set up a payment bank, has 139,000 post offices, which is more than three times the number of bank branches in rural areas. Payment banks could offer deposit rates of 6-7% to attract customers, against the average of 4% that public sector banks offer, according to a report by Ambit Capital.

 

59

The number of companies the market regulator has barred from accessing capital markets for misusing stock options to allegedly evade taxes. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is yet to find out the exact reason for the misuse of stock options and has referred this case to the income tax department, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate to further investigate the matter and take appropriate action. In the last few months, there have been quite a few instances of companies getting barred from the capital markets or being suspended from trading. For example, this February, Sebi suspended trading in Kamalakshi Finance Corporation, and imposed trading restrictions on 33 entities for making undue gains of Rs 1,800 crore.

 

Rs 80

Wholesale prices of onions touched a two-year high at Rs 4,900 a quintal (100 kg) in Lasalgaon, Nashik (Maharashtra), India’s largest bulb wholesale market. It jumped by 8.9% in just a day. According to the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation’s director, prices have increased mainly due to a decline in supplies: harvesting has been delayed and there might be a fall in production of kharif onion. A few months ago, India had a stock of about 40 lakh MT, which has since reduced to about 16-18 lakh MT, mainly due to consumption and storage loss. Retail prices of onions are currently in the range of Rs 50-60 per kg in many parts of the country and have hit Rs 80 in the national capital.

 

 

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