News in Numbers, Jan 13, 2017: Lucky seven for Tata?

30

What is it? The number of years Natarajan Chandrasekaran, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has worked in the company (his entire career).

Why is it important? Popularly known as ‘Chandra’, he was appointed as Tata Sons’ chairman on Thursday – the seventh chief of the holding company of the group.  The move is likely to end the uncertainty that gripped the $116-billion coffee-to-cars group present in around 100 businesses. Less than three months ago, the previous chairman Cyrus Mistry, whose tenure was the shortest in Tata Sons’ history, was ousted unceremoniously – this spiralled into one of the ugliest corporate spats in Indian history. Chandrasekaran was the unanimous choice of a five-member search committee set up in October, which was tasked to find the next head within four months.

Tell me more: Under Chandrasekaran’s leadership, the profits of TCS was up more than threefold to Rs 24,375 crore in 2015-16 from Rs 7,093 crore in 2009-2010. TCS accounts for 60% of the group’s market capitalization and contributes to around 70% of its revenue.

 

5.7%

What is it? The percentage by which Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which measures growth in mining, manufacturing and electricity, grew in November 2016.

Why is it important? This is the fastest pace in 13 months (likely aided by the positive base effect) and compares with a contraction of 1.3% in the previous month and a contraction of 3.4% in November 2015. Also, this is the first set of industrial activity figures released after the government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes in November. However, its impact was felt on consumer prices inflation, which grew by 3.41% in December compared to 3.63% in the previous month, recording the slowest pace since November 2014.

Tell me more: Manufacturing grew at 5.5% in November 2016 compared to a contraction of 4.6% in the same period a year ago while electricity and mining grew at 8.9% and 3.9% in November as against 0.7% and 1.7% respectively in the corresponding period the previous year.

 

34,500

What is it? The increase in India’s annual haj quota by Saudi Arabia to 170,520.

Why is it important? This is the highest increase in nearly three decades and has renewed the debate on Haj subsidy. The government has set up a six-member committee to examine the viability of the subsidy and to explore ways to make it economical even without the subsidy. The Supreme Court in 2012 had asked the government to see how this can be phased out in 10 years. The setting up of the committee comes at a time when Uttar Pradesh elections are round the corner – a state where Muslim voters have about 20% share in its population.

Tell me more: In 2016, about 99,903 people from 21 embarkation points across India went to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) for haj through the Haj Committee of India while 36,000 went for their annual pilgrimage through private tour operators.

 

1.5%

What is it? The drop in the annual world food price index in 2016.

Why is it important? The world food price index, mapped since 1996, averaged 161.6 for the whole of 2016, falling for the fifth year in a row. Published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the index eased as promising harvests in staple cereals offset price rise in sugar and palm oil. Food price inflation softened despite the impact of adverse weather conditions such as El Niño (the occasional warming of waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean) on some crops like sugar.

Tell me more: Meat and dairy products also fell, and along with cereals fell by nearly 40% below their 2011 peak. But Abdolreza Abbassian, senior economist at FAO, warns, “Economic uncertainties, including movements in exchange rates, are likely to influence food markets even more so this year (2017).”

 

7.7%

What is it? China’s annual fall in exports in 2016.

Why is it important? China’s exports affect a large number of countries as it is the world’s largest trading nation. Its December exports fell by 6.1%, owing to slowing global demand. Declines were seen in electro-mechanical and labour-intensive goods. Later this year, China could see heavy tariffs on its goods levied by the US under its new administration, led by Donald Trump if he follows through his campaign promise.

Tell me more: China’s trade surplus stood at $40.82 billion as imports grew by 3.1% on demand for coal and iron ore, while its 2016 trade surplus was at $509.96 billion.

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News in numbers, Mar 8, 2016: India’s growth forecast, Indian Railways’ likely cost savings…

7.7%

What is it? India’s estimated economic growth in 2016-17, according to Fitch Ratings. It has kept its forecast of 7.5% growth for the current fiscal unchanged.

Why is it important? This is lower than its December forecast of 8% growth, which was done based on the Indian government’s increased capital expenditure and implementation of reforms. A gradual economic recovery in 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be due to higher disposable income (assuming a normal monsoon after two years of drought) and the implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission payout for central government employees, Fitch said in its latest report.

Tell me more: The ratings firm observed that the government has been finding it difficult to pass legislative reforms due to its weak strength in the Rajya Sabha and that it has continued to implement executive reforms.

43%

What is it? Share of women in the working-age group that do domestic work in India, according to a report by research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Equity Studies.

Why is it important? Domestic work is considered to be unproductive, which does not have monetary benefits and is excluded from government policies. The report says due to social status and poverty, women from traditionally marginalised groups fall prey to exploitative labour arrangements to provide cheap labour. The previous government under UPA was considering a proposal to make it mandatory for men to compensate their wives for housework, which was heavily debated.

Tell me more: The proportion of women in formal labour workforce is around 27%, less than half of that in developed countries such as the United States and Britain.

~ $1.076 trillion

What is it? Amount countries spent on importing food in 2015, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Why is it important? This is 20% lower than $1.345 trillion recorded in 2014, the first drop in five years and marginally (0.8%) less than FAO’s forecast in October. The twin reasons of bumper harvests and low oil prices (resulting in lower transportation costs) are the main factors behind the drop. Analysts say lower food costs would help large importers in the Middle East and Africa regions but a depreciation of their local currencies against the US dollar could offset the gains.

Tell me more: In October, FAO had said that lower commodity prices could affect farmers’ profits leading to lesser investment in agriculture.

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? Indian Railways’ likely cost savings in 2015-16, according to Railway Board’s Financial Commissioner S Mookerjee.

Why is it important? This is about 15% higher than the expected cost savings announced in this year’s Budget. Mookerjee said the loss-making Indian Railways plans to implement various initiatives to cut costs over the next five years. This includes importing crude oil and taking on lease refining capacity from oil marketing costs to cut down on diesel inventories. Indian Railways spends about 18% of its net ordinary working expenses on diesel consumption.

Tell me more: Another measure is exploring the opportunity of exporting 10% of rolling stock production (freight wagons, locomotives) to be exported to make its production facilities self-sustainable.

50

What is it? Number of women employees at ICICI Bank who are part of its pilot programme called iWork@Home project, which allows them to work from remote locations.

Why is it important? Following an internal survey at the country’s largest private sector bank, MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar says they found out that women quit their jobs to take care of their children or due to long commutes. This initiative, which uses face recognition technology and extended secure networks, allows employees access to the core banking servers from their laptops.

Tell me more: The bank expects around 500 women to be working from home soon and has already received 125 requests. Less than a third of ICICI Bank’s 73,000 employees are women.

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