News in numbers, Apr 19, 2016: Bullet train’s viability, global switch to a new polio vaccine…


What is it? The number of equity investments in private cancer therapeutic companies in the three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? The investments into these companies – totalling $604 million in three months alone – might bring a cure for cancer closer. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 and the number of cancer cases are expected to increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next 20 years.

Tell me more: Internet billionaire Sean Parker recently announced a $250-million funding to bring together 300 scientists at 40 labs and six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research called immunotherapy. This uses a person’s immune system to fight cancer.


What is it? The number of passengers India’s proposed bullet train connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad should carry to be financially viable, according to an IIM-Ahmedabad report.

Why is it important? Raises questions about its viability. To be viable, the train has to undertake 100 trips daily (50 trips each way), assuming ticket price of Rs 5/km for 300-km distance and an operating cost of 20-40% of the revenues. This also means three trains would be needed every hour each direction.

Tell me more: The government expects to start work on the Rs 98,000-crore project next year.


What is it? The number of countries (including India) that will switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent polio vaccine between April 17 and May 1.

Why is it important? It reduces the risk of vaccine-derived polio. The bivalent vaccine protects against types 1 and 3 of wild polio strains while trivalent protects against all three strains. Wild polio virus type 2 was confirmed to be eradicated in 2015, and by switching to bivalent vaccines, these countries eliminate the risk of causing vaccine-derived Type 2 polio.

Tell me more: India was declared ‘polio-free’ by the World Health Organization in 2014. The agency’s goal is to stop all three types of polio vaccines by 2020.

$5.07 billion

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

Why is it important? The lowest in five years thanks to 80.5% decline gold imports in March and a 35.3% fall in oil imports (because of low oil prices). Low commodity prices have guarded India from the effects of global economic slowdown, which have caused exports to be the lowest since 2010-11, contracting for the 16th straight month in March.

Tell me more: India’s exports declined 15.9% to $261.1 billion in 2015-16 while imports fell by 15.3% to $379.6 billion in March.


What is it? Revenue growth of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest software firm, in 2015-16.

Why is it important? While TCS has done well financially (its profits beat forecasts), the company is facing a trial in the US. Last week a US federal court jury imposed a  penalty of $940 million on TCS in an infringement case of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Tell me more: TCS plans to appeal in the higher courts. The company’s net profit grew by 14.8% to $3.69 billion in 2015-16 from a year ago.

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News in numbers, Apr 1, 2016: Kolkata flyover mishap, prices of over 100 drugs capped…


What is it? The number of people killed due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Kolkata.

Why is it important? One of the biggest disasters due to a flyover crash, with people still trapped under debris. Highlights the need for safety in construction sector. Collapse of structures claimed 1,821 lives in 2014.

Tell me more: The number of injured is around 60-100, as per various media reports. The cause of the collapse is not known yet.


What is it? The number of drugs whose prices have been capped started today.

Why is it important? While prices for these drugs might not come down significantly, it will restrict how high it can go. The drugs include formulations to treat HIV/AIDS, diabetes, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, bacterial infections, epilepsy and Hepatitis C.

Tell me more: A tablet of Atorvastatin (40 mg), a cardiovascular disease drug, would cost Rs 17.91 as against the earlier price of Rs 18.41. And, a tablet of Raltegravir (400 mg), used for HIV treatment, would cost Rs 139.25 as against Rs 143.13.

1 degree Celsius

What is it? The increase in average temperature above normal predicted for north west India this summer.

Why is it important? There is three fourth chance of maximum temperatures in the core heatwave zone, including Maharashtra’s drought-hit regions such as Marathwada and Vidarbha, to be above normal this summer.

Tell me more: This comes on the top of water crisis: the water levels in the 91 major reservoirs in India are 25% of the total capacity as against 36% a year ago and the 10-year average reserves’ level of 34%.


What is it? State Bank of India’s new benchmark interest rate, from 9.30% earlier.

Why is it important? It has switched over to a new method of pricing loans – from average cost of funds to marginal cost – to respond faster to policy changes. It remains to be seen if loan rates for new customers would fall, as banks would add credit risk premium of individual borrowers to MCLR to calculate the final loan rates.

Tell me more: Other banks such as HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda have announced their benchmarks for various loan tenures.

Rs 80,433.3 crore

What is it? Equity investments by domestic institutional investors in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This helped in narrowing equity market losses even as foreign investors consistently pulled out money from India.

Tell me more: Domestic investors turned net buyers of stocks last fiscal after being net sellers for six years. Nearly 80% of the net domestic inflows into mutual funds were invested in equities in 2015-16, the highest ever.

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