News in numbers, Mar 4, 2016: Drought impact on Maharashtra, Indian firms’ dividend rush…



What is it? Median return on assets for Indian firms in 2014-15, according to a country report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Why is it important? It has gradually decreased since 2005 (except for an increase in 2010) and was the lowest over the last decade. The report attributes this to “supply side bottlenecks”, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, iron and steel sectors. This shows a divergence between corporate profitability and economic growth, which was recorded as 7.3% in 2013-14, the year in which India surpassed China to become the fastest growing economy in the world.

Tell me more: Two other factors show Indian corporates are likely to take time to get onto the growth path: companies’ heavy dependence on debt to finance growth (their leverage is one of the highest among emerging economies) and their ability to repay debts has fallen.


What is it? Number of major industrial regions in Maharashtra that are facing water shortage due to reallocation of the resource by the state government.

Why is it important? The regions – Thane-Belapur, Raigad-Taloja and Aurangabad – have 13,400 industrial units, of which most are small and medium firms. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, which operates these industrial estates, has cut down water supply as water levels in dams fell to less than 6.5%-50% of their capacity.

Tell me more: Maharashtra’s minister for water resources Girish Mahajan said that due to the drought, the industrial units have to face water shortage as “people and cattle in the affected regions are more important”. Over a third of the state (around 15,000 villages) are facing a severe drought situation.


What is it? Number of companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that have announced they are considering paying an interim dividend before the end of this month.

Why is it important? This comes within a few days from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement of a 10% tax on an individual, Hindu Undivided Family or firm if their dividend income exceed Rs 10 lakh per annum, in his Budget Speech for 2016-17. The tax is effective from April 1. This is almost double of the number of companies (27) that declared dividends in all of March 2015. A Business Standard report says at least 70 companies have called for board meetings to declare dividends by the end of this month.

Tell me more: Companies are already charged with dividend distribution tax, which effectively comes up to 20.36% including surcharge and cess but the dividend income received by shareholders was exempt from taxes.

Rs 49

What is it? The royalty fee recommended by a government panel for a 450 gm packet of genetically modified cotton seeds, termed Bollgard II by technology provider Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd (MMBL).

Why is it important? If this recommendation is accepted, then it would be a 70% reduction from the current royalty fee of Rs 163 per packet. This would benefit around 80 lakh cotton farmers in India but would hit MMBL’s finances, which earned Rs 4,479 crore in royalty fees between 2005-06 and 2014-15. The Indian government is working on a national draft policy on intellectual property rights, which should shed more clarity on price regulations.

Tell me more: Over 90% of cotton grown in India is based on MMBL’s technology, which has been licensed to 49 seed companies in exchange for a royalty fee. The committee has also recommended a maximum sale price of Rs 800 for a 450 gm packet of Bolgard II Bt Cotton seeds, lower than the prices they are being sold in states such as Maharashtra (Rs 830/packet), Telengana and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 930/packet) and Punjab and Haryana (Rs 1,100/packet).

Rs 5,000-Rs 8,000

What is it? Cost of a chopper ride from Bengaluru airport to one’s home or office in the city, to be offered by private travel operator, JetSetGo, which is backed by Puneet Dalmia (managing director of cement major Dalmia Bharat Group).

Why is it important? The city was ranked the sixth worst in IBM’s Commuter Pain Index in 2011 and this meant $6 billion worth of man-hours spent in traffic. The service might find takers among high-flying executives who can cut down the travel time by a fourth to 23 minutes the airport to the city. Bengaluru is home to IT majors Wipro and Infosys and unicorns such as Flipkart and Ola. The city has 6,700 high net worth individuals, according to the Asia Pacific 2016 Wealth Report.

Tell me more: JetSetGo plans to start its test flights in April and launch its services by the end of monsoon season this year. The company has already been running private shuttle services between Mumbai and Delhi thrice a week.

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News in numbers, Jan 20, 2016: VC-backed startups’ funding falls, ad spending in 2016…


Rs 4.34 per unit

What is it? The price at which Finland-based Fortum Finnsurya Energy has bid to build a 70-MW solar plant in Rajasthan under NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park tender.

Why is it important? This is the lowest solar tariff in India, beating the recent bids by SBG Cleantech and Sun Edison at Rs 4.63 per unit. Though such low tariffs raise concerns about the viability of these projects, the government says this has been possible “through transparent auctions with a ready provision of land, transmission and the like”. Lower crude prices tend to be bad for solar energy firms, but India’s energy push is opening up opportunities for some of them.

Tell me more: State-owned NTPC conducted the reverse bidding for 420 MW solar projects to be set up at Bhadla’s Solar Park – Phase II on Monday.


35 seconds

What is it? The minimum time it will take to book a train ticket on IRCTC website.

Why is it important? The railway ticket booking website has deliberately kept the booking time to 35 seconds to prevent automated software from exploiting the system. The 35 second wait time was arrived at after considering that it takes at least 35 seconds to fill in the needed information. This is expected to reduce complaints from individual users who end up not being able to book tickets online.

Tell me more: In 2014-15, 18.3 crore tickets were booked on the IRCTC website and 14.9 crore between April-December 2015.



What is it? The rate at which print advertising is estimated to grow in 2016 in India, according to a report by media agency GroupM.

Why is it important? However, print’s share in ad spending is estimated to decrease from 32.4% to 29.7% in 2016. Share of digital and television advertising are expected to increase to 12.7% and 47.1% this year. The growth in print sector is to be driven by auto, banking and finance and the government, besides regional advertising of telecom and consumer product brands in vernacular papers.

Tell me more: Total ad spending is estimated to grow 15.5% in 2016 to Rs 57,486 crore. Digital spending is likely to grow the fastest at 47.5% while growth rates of television and radio advertising are likely to slow down from 2015.


$1.5 billion

What is it? Amount venture capital-backed startups raised on 114 deals in the October-December quarter of 2015, according to a report by CB Insights and KPMG.

Why is it important? This is a decline of 46% in funding and 18% in number of deals in the last quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. In Q3 of 2015, VC-backed startups raised $2.8 billion on 139 deals. An indicator that startups may not enjoy the same steady flow of VC money as in the previous quarters. India recently announced setting up a fund of funds with a $1.5 billion corpus to spent over four years.

Tell me more: At a global level too, there was a 30% drop in funding to $27.2 billion invested across 1,742 deals, marking the “lowest quarterly deal activity since Q1 2013”.



What is it? China’s economic growth rate in 2015.

Why is it important? It is the slowest in 25 years. A slowdown in China, which is the second largest economy and the second largest importer of goods and services, is bound to affect the global economy. Concerns over China’s slowdown and a slump in commodity prices have prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut its global economic growth forecast to 3.4% in 2016 from its October projection of 3.6%. It has kept China’s growth projection unchanged at 6.3% this year. China’s release of its weak economic growth prompted speculation that the government might announce some stimulus package, causing global stocks to rise.

Tell me more: China’s economic slowdown in the last two years comes as its government is trying to transition to an economy that is led by consumption and services rather than exports and investments.

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News in numbers, Dec 3, 2015: Gujarat civic elections, El Niño effect on Tamil Nadu…




What is it? Number of district panchayats (out of 31) in which Congress won in the civic elections in Gujarat.


Why is it important? This is the first time in 20 years that the Congress has made some inroads in the rural areas in Gujarat, traditionally dominated by BJP. The Gujarat civic polls are seen as a precursor to the state elections to be held in December 2017 and a test for Anandiben Patel who took over as chief minister after Narendra Modi moved on to the centre. It’s also a gauge of the effect of the Patidar agitation on the voting results and patterns.


Tell me more: BJP retained its stronghold in all the six municipal corporations and also, winning in 40 out of 56 municipalities. Of the 230 taluka panchayats having 4,778 seats, Congress won 2,509 and BJP got 1,981.


Rs 1,932.9 crore


What is it? Combined net losses registered by Flipkart Internet (runs the consumer-facing portal) and Flipkart India, the wholesale arm of India’s largest e-commerce company in 2014-15.


Why is it important? It has doubled from Rs 715 crore in 2013-14, when they were a single unit. It shows the extent to which venture capitalists money is driving the e-commerce boom. Flipkart has been using the money to expand the business – through investment in infrastructure and acquiring customers (often by heavy discounting).


Tell me more: These two units posted a combined sales of Rs 10,390 crore in 2014-15.


3 degree celsius


What is it? The degree by which the sea surface temperature in the central tropical Pacific was higher than the normal in mid-November. An unusual warming of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is termed as the El Niño.


Why is it important? This is the largest positive deviation in recorded history and is one of the main factors responsible for the heavy rains in Tamil Nadu.


Tell me more: Besides natural reasons such as the El Niño, unplanned development of Chennai over the last few years, choking of stormwater drains and other water exits, flood fighting measures ignored while planning drainage projects and illegal construction on erstwhile water bodies are man-made reasons for the current situation in the capital city of Tamil Nadu.




What is it? Nominal GDP rate (growth rates measured at current market prices) of India in the second quarter of 2015-16.


Why is it important? This is the lowest in 10 years. In the second quarter of 2008-09, this was 19.9% and in the fourth quarter of 2009-10, it was recorded to be 23.3%. Nominal GDP growth minus the inflation rate gives the real GDP rate, which was 7.4% in the second quarter of 2015-16. This could explain why the country’s economic growth figures are not reflecting in factors such as corporate profits, Indian exports, car sales and loan growth of banks.


Tell me more: India’s real GDP outpaced China’s in the latest quarter.




What is it? The number of Indians who went missing abroad in the last three years.


Why is it important? A majority of them don’t get traced. Of 755, only 198 were traced since 2013. It’s increasingly becoming a part of external affairs agenda, and seen as how effective a government is, and as a sign of soft power.


Tell me more: Saudi Arabia and US top the list, with 176 and 173 missing Indians. 12 were traced in Saudi Arabia and 34 in the US. The numbers were shared in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs V K Singh.

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