News in Numbers, Dec 16, 2016: Will the lottery system work?

 

Rs 340 crore

What is it? The estimated cost at which Niti Aayog, the government think-tank body, is implementing two schemes (Lucky Grahak Yojana for consumers and Digi-dhan Vyapar Yojana for merchants).

Why is it important? These schemes, probably the first of their kinds announced by the government, are aimed encouraging customers to go for digital payments by incentivising them. Under the first scheme, lucky draws would enable 15,000 winners to get cashback prizes of Rs 1,000 each day for a 100-day period starting December 25 besides weekly awards worth Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 1 lakh. The second scheme would offer weekly prizes worth Rs 2,500, Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 for merchants. Currently, an estimated 5% of Indians use digital payment modes and point-of-sale transactions saw an increase of 95% since November 8.

Tell me more: The National Payment Corporation of India will implement these schemes, which will cover transactions between Rs 50 and Rs 3,000 done through UPI, USSD, Aadhaar Enabled Payment System and RuPay Cards. These would not be applicable for transactions done through private credit cards and e-wallets of private companies.

 

Rs 5 lakh crore

What is it? The amount that has been supplied to the market in new currency notes since November 8 (the date when the demonetisation move was announced).

Why is it important? This is about 32.5% of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore that was taken out of circulation when high denomination currency notes (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000) were withdrawn. The government says that by the end of this month, this number would reach at least 50% of the demonetised amount – in new and existing denominations. However, according to a calculation based on India’s printing capacity of currency notes and the need for notes in smaller denominations, it would take up to April 2017 to introduce Rs 9 lakh crore (58.4% of the demonetised amount) – the main problem being the inability of the presses to print Rs 500 notes.

Tell me more: The Reserve Bank of India had said that Rs 12.44 lakh crore has been deposited in banks as of December 10 but the government has expressed doubts about this figure and has asked it to countercheck to weed out discrepancies that might have creeped in due to double counting.

 

Rs 3,000 crore

What is it? The amount sought by Nusli Wadia, an independent director on the boards of three Tata Group companies, in damages. He has filed a defamation suit in the Bombay High Court on Thursday against chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Tata Sons.

Why is it important? Suggests that the Tata Sons-Cyrus Mistry corporate battle is getting uglier and is showing no signs of abatement. His defamation suit comes after Tata Sons had said that he was working in concert Mistry, the ousted chairman of Tata Sons, and against the interests of the Tata companies and shareholders, and moved a resolution seeking to remove him from the boards of Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals. Wadia asked the company to prove the charges levelled against him and served three legal notices to Tata Sons in November asking them to withdraw the allegations but the group failed to do so. This has been followed by the Rs 3,000-crore defamation suit.

Tell me more: The High Court is expected to take up the matter on December 19 and Wadia faces a shareholders’ vote on December 23 after the group’s holding company moved the resolution to remove him as an independent director.

 

$13 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) in November.

Why is it important? This was the highest in the last 16 months and sharply wider than the $10.41 billion recorded the previous month. Though exports rose for the third straight month in November on a year-on-year basis, it was lower than that in October – a likely impact of demonetisation and US Fed Reserve’s imminent decision to hike interest rates (it did so on Wednesday). The currency reset could have also resulted in a spike in gold imports (a 25.7% increase month-on-month and 23% from a year ago), which in turn, pushed up the trade deficit.

Tell me more: Of the 30 major product groups, 20 registered positive growth in November.

 

$14.6 billion

What is it? The amount media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has agreed to pay to gain full control over London-based Sky Plc.

Why is it important? This is Murdoch’s second attempt at gaining control after his previous bid was thwarted in 2011 over a phone-hacking scandal at his UK newspapers. However, this takeover attempt may not be a smooth one as minority shareholders have expressed concern at how the pay-TV company’s independent directors accepted the offer at seemingly low share price levels. Besides, there are also fears that this acquisition would threaten media plurality in the UK.

Tell me more: The deal values Sky at and Fox, which is the founding shareholder of Sky, currently owns 39.1% of the company’s shares.$23.4 billion.

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News in Numbers, Dec 6, 2016: Deified and demonised in equal measure…

17

What is it? The crime rate against women (number of crimes registered per 100,000 people) in Tamil Nadu, according to the National Crime Records Bureau 2015.

Why is it important? This is the lowest among all Indian states and is one of the many social, crime and industrial indicators in which Tamil Nadu ranks among the top five. A five-time chief minister, J Jayalalithaa who breathed her last on December 5 in Chennai, played a key role in the development of the southern state. One of the decisions that made her extremely popular (and attracted a great deal of criticism too) was the record number of ‘freebies’ and welfare schemes that she doled out in the state. She was convicted in a disproportionate assets case by a special court in 2014, which was overturned by the Karnataka High Court a year later. She was acquitted of all charges. Her death now raises questions about the future of AIADMK and how this would change the dynamics of Tamil Nadu politics.

Tell me more: A former actor, she starred in over 140 films since the 1960s and was paired with the leading heroes of all South Indian languages. Popularly known as ‘Amma’ or ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (revolutionary leader), she was one of the longest serving women politicians and enjoyed a cult status among many Tamilians. Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22 and just when the hospital authorities and her party members assured people that she would return to normal life, she suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday and was declared dead on Monday.

 

12%

What is it? The reduction in India’s emission intensity of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2005 and 2010. Emission intensity is the volume of emissions per unit of GDP.

Why is it important? Indicates India is likely on track to keep up its promise of reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels as part of an action plan submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Tell me more: The data is from India’s first biennial update report submitted to UNFCCC recently. India had committed to reduce the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25% by 2020 from the 2005 levels under the UNFCCC though it is not bound by any obligations.

 

46.7

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

Why is it important? It has declined from 54.5 in October, which marked the first time the index fell below the 50 mark (separates growth and contraction) since June 2015. It was also the first time that the biggest decline was recorded since November 2008 after the global financial crisis hit the world economy. This is attributed to the government’s withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from circulation effective November 9 and is the among the first signs of indication of the impact of demonetisation on the Indian economy.

Tell me more: Sectors including financial services, hotels, restaurants, renting and business activities were hit due to the cash crunch. India’s services sector, which contributes about 60% of the country’s economy, is likely to affect its economic growth rate in the second half of the current fiscal. India’s private sector activity fell to 49.1 in November from 55.4 in October, which was close to a four-year high.

 

Rs 5,000

What is it? The minimum order value above which the finance ministry has mandated the government departments to make electronic payments to suppliers, contractors or grantee and loanee institutions with immediate effect. The earlier threshold was Rs 10,000.

Why is it important? This is one of the steps taken by the government recently to promote digital transactions, aimed at bringing more transparency and accountability, leaving a better money trail. The other steps include all toll plazas in national highways to accept payments through debit or credit cards and e-wallets (apart from accepting old notes until December 15), encouraging shop owners to use debit cards and asking government employees to use debit cards for transactions and become ambassadors for promoting digital payments.

Tell me more: Last month, the government asked all automobile manufacturers to provide a digital identity tag in all vehicles for e-payments at toll plazas and check posts and ensure their seamless movement.

 

$22.2 billion

What is it? The aid appealed for by the United Nations in 2017 for people hit by conflicts and disasters globally.

Why is it important? This is a record high, up from $20.1 billion requested in December 2015 for this year, which was later increased to $22.1 billion. However, donors managed only over half of this amount this year, raising questions about how much next year would bring in. This is the largest funding gap ever. Indicates that the extent of humanitarian crises is rapidly increasing and probably, lasting longer; the situation is only likely to worsen with climate change and natural disasters predicted to become more frequent and severe.

Tell me more: The amount requested for next year is to help 93 million people who are the most vulnerable across 33 countries. There are over 128 people who are affected by natural disasters, conflict and displacement. Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, three war-torn countries alone account for a third of all the people in need of help.

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