News in Numbers, June 17, 2016: Tax on sugar exports, Amazon decreases commission rates…

20%

What is it? The tax imposed by the Indian government on sugar exports.

Why is it important? This move, which comes after sugar prices increased from Rs 30 per kg to Rs 40 a kg in six months, is expected to boost domestic supplies. Due to drought in major sugar-growing areas, India’s sugar production is estimated to decline to 25 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 28.3 million tonnes in 2014-15.

Tell me more: Of the 366 sugar mills in the country, only about 60% were operating as on March 31.

 

34.05%

What is it? Percentage of women in rural areas who were open to living with their daughters in old age, according to a 2011-12 survey.

Why is it important? This was just 24.6% as per the 2004-05 survey, reflecting the changing norm of relying only on their sons in old age. People living in the urban areas also show a similar trend: it’s now 38.94% from 28.9% in 2004-05.

Tell me more: In terms of receiving financial support from daughters in old age, the trend is similar: 41.45% of women in rural areas (versus 30.48% per 2004-05 survey) and 44.75% of women in urban areas (versus 32.87% per 2004-05 survey) were okay with the idea, as per the 2011-12 survey.

 

$24 million

What is it? The amount New-York based company Andela has raised, led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative (CZI).

Why is it important? This is CZI’s first private-sector investment and it is leading a financing round for the first time since Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan launched their charitable foundation last December. The initiative drew criticism as it was incorporated as a limited liability company, which is not governed by the rules for a non-profit organisation.

Tell me more: Andela trains software coders in Kenya and Nigeria to help them get jobs at large technology firms. Others who participated in the funding include: GV (formerly, Google Ventures), Spark Capital, Omidyar Network, Learn Capital and CRE Ventures.

 

3.5%

What is it? The new commission rate sellers of mobile devices and tablets will pay Amazon India effective today, down from about 5.5% earlier.

Why is it important? The move could help sellers to offer products at a lower cost by bypassing foreign direct investment rules that do not allow online marketplaces to influence product prices. This is in contrast to its rival Flipkart which recently decided to increase seller commissions by 5-6% from June 20, even as it struggles to raise funds.  

Tell me more: Amazon India has reduced the commission rates for sellers on certain categories including desktops, laptops, electronic devices, movies and educational software. This comes after Amazon reportedly increased its commission rates up to 9% on various categories a couple of months ago.

 

17,540

What is it? The number of Pakistani citizens whose visas were rejected by the Indian government between January 1 to May 31 this year.

Why is it important? This is around 50% of those who applied for visa to visit India, which is significantly higher than the rejection rate of 22.2% in 2015 and 17% in 2014. This is reportedly due to increased security concerns after the attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by Pakistani terrorists in January this year.

Tell me more: The Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan has written a letter to the Union Home Secretary asking for the reasons behind the high rejection rates.

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News in Numbers, June 16, 2016: India’s first civil aviation policy, coffee not cancer-causing…

$7 billion

What is it? The amount Didi Chuxing has raised recently.

Why is it important? This is double of what Uber had raised about a fortnight ago, leaving the Chinese company flush with $10 billion in cash – signalling intensifying competition in China. This may force Uber, which spent $1 billion this year to grow its share in China, to increase its focus on India that only makes it a tougher battle for Ola Cabs in India.

Tell me more: Uber, which received $3.5 billion funding from Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund a few days ago, is looking at the leveraged-loan market to raise as much as $2 billion. Didi has a pact with US’ Lyft, India’s Ola and Grab in Southeast Asia – to take on Uber- to use each other’s apps when customers travel to other markets in their network.

 

Rs 2,500

What is it? The maximum airlines can charge per hour of flying on regional routes, as per India’s first National Civil Aviation Policy.

Why is it important? This, along with other rules, are aimed to encouraging more people to take up air travel and boost economic growth. The policy is aimed at helping the government achieve its target of growing domestic passengers from 80 million to 300 million by 2022. India’s annual trips per capita is just 0.04 compared to 0.3 in China.

Tell me more: The other decisions include: allowing all airlines to fly international routes but they need to deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of their total capacity (whichever is higher) for domestic operations, development of ‘no-frills’ airport at an indicative cost of Rs 50-100 crore and stricter rules for making airlines fly on underserved routes.

 

1,000

What is it? The number of studies on humans and animals reviewed by an international working group of 23 scientists, after which they concluded that there is inadequate evidence to show that drinking coffee causes cancer.

Why is it important? This surely brings cheer to the millions of coffee-lovers across the world, who may or may not have known that the World Health Organization (WHO) had listed the beverage as a “possibly carcinogenic” agent for nearly 25 years. While coffee drinking has been observed to have reduce the risks of liver and uterine cancers, the evidence was inconclusive for 20 other types of cancer.

Tell me more: The scientists, however, found positive associations between drinking very hot beverages (65 degree Celsius or more) and cancer of the esophagus and it is now classified as “possibly carcinogenic”.

 

0.79%

What is it? The year-on-year decline in exports in May to $22.17 billion.

Why is it important? This is the slowest pace of contraction in 18 months, driven by exports of gems and jewellery, chemicals and engineering goods. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the decline in exports has bottomed-out though the pick-up may be slow. The Federation of Indian Export Organisations expects double-digit growth in exports from October onwards, which could help in achieving $300 billion in exports in 2016-17.

Tell me more: Imports declined 13.16% in May to $28.44 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $6.27 billion.

 

1.15 lakh tonnes

What is it? The quantity of pulses procured by the Indian government during the kharif and rabi seasons for buffer stock creation, against the target of 1.5 lakh tonnes this year.

Why is it important? Despite this, a sudden shortage in stocks has pushed the prices of pulses to as much as Rs 170 per kg. To bring down the prices of pulses, the government has increased the buffer stock of pulses to 8 lakh tonnes for this year and the Cabinet has okayed imports of pulses from Myanmar and some African countries.

Tell me more: The food ministry has asked private agencies that import pulses to dispose off the stocks within 45 days to ensure proper supply in markets and the state governments to take action against the hoarders.

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News in Numbers – May 20, 2016

-0.1%

What is it? Net sales growth of 1,500 companies listed in stock exchanges in three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? Near flat sales could be early indicator of recovery. In three quarters between March and December last year, sales of the same set of firms contracted by 5% and 7%. Consumer oriented sectors like auto, entertainment, garments and infrastructure companies performed well.

Tell me more: Fall in value of Rupee helped software and pharma firms to post double-digit sales growth.

20%

What is it? Increase in price of 1121 variety of Basmati rice in the last month to Rs 46 per kg in wholesale market.

Why is it important? The spike is due to impending rice ban to be imposed by Iran to protect its local farmers. The ban, which will be effective from July 23 this year, led to exporters signing contracts and export before the ban comes into force.

Tell me more: Basmati rice exports shrunk by 22% in dollar terms between April 2015 and February 2016. 1121 variety or known as PUSA 1121 rice is has dominant share in Basmati rice exports because of its grain length, aroma and non-sticky nature. For farmers, this variety needs less water and yields more.

260,000

What is it? The number of excess cancer-related deaths due to 2008-10 economic crisis in high and middle income countries.

Why is it important? Underlines the need for more government spending on healthcare. The 2008-10 economic crisis fueled unemployment, which in turn reduced the capacity of people to spend. This combined with absence of Universal Health Care led to deaths from cancer that could have been treated.

Tell me more: The data relates to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a grouping of world’s richest countries.

4,700 acres

What is it? Land claimed to be owned by Sahara Group that’s up for sale now.  

Why is it important? The sale is to meet the Supreme Court conditions to grant bail to Subrata Roy, chief of Sahara group. The apex court has demanded Rs 5,000 crore to grant bail, and another Rs 5,000 crore as bank guarantee. This is after the Sahara group failed to repay Rs 20,500 crore of deposits deemed illegal by the market regulator.

Tell me more: The sale of land is spread across 14 states. HDFC Realty and SBI Capital are managing the sales.

46.66%

What is it? The pass percentage of class 10 students in Bihar. The pass rate dipped by 28 percentage points from last year.

Why is it important? The sharp dip was due to measures taken by education authorities to curb cheating. This followed after pictures of mass cheating in an examination centre in Vaishali went viral.

Tell me more: Pass percentage of boys in Bihar was 54% as compared to 38% among girls – in contrast to the rest of the country where girls have higher pass percentage than boys.

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News in numbers, Feb 5, 2016: Reliance-Birla deal, India’s estimated exports in FY16…

 

Rs 4,800 crore

What is it? Amount for which Reliance Infrastructure has agreed to sell its cement assets to Birla Corp.

Why is it important? This would help Reliance Infrastructure reduce some of its debts (total is Rs 16,000 crore). And for Birla Corp., this would mean its capacity would go up to 15 million tonnes from 9.3 tonnes and may be, quicker than it intends to.

Tell me more: Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group is counted among the top 10 indebted groups in India according to a Credit Suisse report, with total debt of Rs 1.14 trillion.

Rs 15,000 crore

What is it? Amount the Petroleum Ministry has sought from the Finance Ministry to shore up India’s second phase of strategic oil reserves.

Why is it important? Crude oil is stored in underground rock caverns that can be used in case external supply is cut off. India imports around 80% of its oil needs and this is expected to go up to 90% in the next 20 years, according to an India Tech-PwC report.

Tell me more: India is spending nearly Rs 5,000 crore “towards crude filling costs” in three storage facilities – Vishakapatnam, Mangalore and Padur – which can hold over 5.1 lakh truck-tanker loads of crude oil. This can power India for about 13 days as against strategic oil reserves of 90 days of net oil imports, the global standard set by the International Energy Association.

$265-270 billion

What is it? India’s estimated exports in 2015-16, according to the Federation of Indian Exports Organization (FIEO). This is 13-15% lower than the exports recorded in 2014-15.

Why is it important? Lower commodity prices account for a large portion of this fall, but export volume too is shrinking. Nearly half of 76 commodities for which volume data is available registered a drop in quantity sold in April – October 2015. These 76 commodities account for 44% of exports.

Tell me more: Job creation fell by a net 43,000 in April-June 2015, of which export-oriented companies reported a decline of 26,000.

10-12%

What is it? Projected growth of India’s IT and software services export revenue to about $121 billion in 2016-17 by industry lobby Nasscom.

Why is it important? Software industry employs 3.7 million people and lower growth rate would mean hiring would stagnate at 200,000 in next financial year. In comparison, nearly 1.6 million engineers graduate each year, and most of them vie to gain employment in the software industry.

Tell me more: The growth forecast of 12-14% in the current fiscal and also, the third consecutive year in which there is a decline in projections. The lower end of the projection for next fiscal is the lowest in five years.

$120 million (over Rs 800 crore)

What is it? Amount 400 food delivery startups in India have raised from venture capital firms and other investors in the last three years.

Why is it important? Despite all the funding, the startups have failed to replace the traditional delivery networks that have been in existence since the 1890s. The famous Mumbai’s ‘dabbawalas’ (colloquial term for those who deliver the meal boxes) provide approximately 200,000 lunch boxes from central kitchens and cooks’ homes every day. The biggest food startups in India including FoodPanda, TinyOwl and Zomato have had to let go of people and scale down operations in the last few months.

Tell me more: Mumbai’s dabbawalas have been popular for their low error rate (of meal boxes going astray) despite being run by a group of semi-literate people who use no technology and charge a nominal amount of Rs 400-1,200 per month depending on the distance and time taken.

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