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2.18%

What is it? The retail price inflation in May, 2017.

Why is it important? The consumer price inflation growth was the lowest since India started publishing it in 2012. This might increase the pressure on the central bank to cut the key rate of repo, on hold since October, 2016, at 6.25%. Rate cuts, however, depend on how RBI sees inflation moving in the quarters ahead.

Tell me more: Food prices in retail markets decreased by 1.05% in May, leading to the low overall price rise. Another government indicator, the quick estimate of industrial production, showed a positive trend of 3.1% growth in April, higher than in February and March, 2017.

 

28.6%

What is it? The percentage of tobacco users (in all forms) in India in 2016-17, according to World Health Organisation’s Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

Why is it important? The prevalence of tobacco users has gone down by 6 percentage points from 34.6% in the same study in 2009, a positive outcome as tobacco contributes to poverty. It translates to a reduction of 8.1 million less tobacco users in the country, which is the second-largest consumer of tobacco products in the world.

Tell me more: Between 54-62% of smokers of bidis and cigarettes have thought about quitting on seeing the warning labels on the packets, while it was 30-38% in 2009.

 

$25 million

What is it? The investment Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will make in the US ride services company, Lyft, to develop self-driving cars.

Why is it important? The mobility services arm of JLR, InMotion, will make the investment as other automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Mercedes, BMW and tech companies such as Alphabet and Intel are scrambling to help get the first self-driving prototype out in the market. Car-sharing and hiring apps like Lyft and Uber, too, are conducting their own R&D.

Tell me more: JLR will provide its cars to Lyft for the research and development. Self-driving cars, which saw increased focus from 2016 onwards, is expected to change the way customers buy cars and reduce cost of ride services as well.

 

10%

What is it? The percentage by which pharmaceutical companies can increase the price of non-scheduled drugs every year, according to Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013.

Why is it important? The companies want the cap to be increased to counter the increase in taxation with 12% from 9% for 80% (non-essential) of drugs, under the imminent Goods and Services Tax (GST) system.

Tell me more: Life-saving or essential drugs will have a tax rate of 5% under GST.

 

11,761

What is it? The shortage in Delhi police staff in the lower-middle ranks.

Why is it important? Delhi Police has been plagued by a top-heavy structure, with more senior staff than sanctioned strength but with most of the lower positions remaining unfilled. When nearly 26,000 constables and assistant sub-inspectors were promoted last year, it left a lacuna in the lower ranks. The current requirement is for over 14,000 personnel, from around 81,000.

Tell me more: Last November, there were 76,237 policemen and women in Delhi, against the sanctioned 82,378 posts. The working strength came down from 77,117 the year before, an RTI revealed.

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News in Numbers, Aug 17, 2016: Hike becomes a unicorn, dengue cases on the rise in Delhi…

$175 million

What is it? The amount Indian messaging startup Hike Messenger has raised from a group of investors led by Chinese Internet firm Tencent Holdings and Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Groupat a valuation of $1.4 billion.

Why is it important? This is Hike Messenger’s fourth and its biggest round of funding and with this, the startup has now entered the unicorn club. This would help the startup invest in services and make the product better even as it tries to catch up with the most popular or dominant messaging platform Whatsapp in India. Hike has over 100 million users, of which 95% are Indians while Whatsapp hit the 1 billion-mark globally in Feb this year.

Tell me more: Hike was launched by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Sunil Mittal who is the chairman of Bharti Enterprises, in December 2012. It has raised over $250 million so far.

 

3.55%

What is it? The increase in India’s wholesale price inflation in July, up from 1.62% in June.

Why is it important? This was the fastest in nearly two years (23 months) and was due to increase in inflation of both food and non-food articles. While the former increased by 9.38% last month (compared to 8.18% in June) the latter quickened to 9.49% in July (from 5.72% in June). Cereals, pulses, vegetables and fruits were the main reasons for the increase in food inflation while fibers and oil seeds pushed up non-food inflation.

Tell me more: In the last one year or so, the gap between wholesale price index-based inflation (WPI-based) and consumer price index-based inflation (CPI-based) has narrowed: last month, CPI-based inflation accelerated to 6.07%, again the highest in 23 months.

 

194

What is it? The number of companies that have been asked by Bombay Stock Exchange to delist. They have been suspended from trading for the last 13 years.  

Why is it important? This will help public shareholders. The promoters of the delisted firms have to purchase shares from the public shareholders at a fair price arrived at by an independent valuer (who is appointed by the exchange). The markets regulator is taking steps to bring down the number of listed companies to reduce the risk of price manipulation through such firms and improve the governance of public markets.

Tell me more: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) would reportedly attach the assets and properties of companies that fail to comply with the delisting notices. In June, it was reported that the BSE was finding it difficult to follow SEBI’s order of delisting firms that have been suspended from trading for more than seven years as half of the 509 letters sent by the exchange bounced back, indicating that the promoters are not traceable.

 

277

What is it? The number of dengue cases reported between June and August in Delhi.

Why is it important? With nearly 40% of the cases having been reported in the first two weeks of this month, the numbers suggest that the number of cases are displaying an increasing trend. A total of six cases were reported in May, 15 in June and 91 in July. Delhi reported 15,867 cases last year, the worst in 20 years and 60 lives were lost to the vector-borne disease.

Tell me more: As of June 28, India recorded 8,307 cases and at least 10 deaths from/due to dengue. According to one estimate, dengue costs India over $1.1 billion per year.

 

39

What is it? The number of airports in India that are not under the cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Why is it important? Soon, all 98 functional civil airports in the country would be brought under the security cover of the CISF, according to a decision taken at a meeting attended by ministers and officials of the Home and Civil Aviation Ministries. The Intelligence Bureau warned on Tuesday that none of the Indian airports are safe and do not have the capabilities to withstand an attack similar to that in Brussels that took place in March killing 32 people and injuring over 300.

Tell me more: The Home Ministry has ordered a security audit of all the airports and the probe committee is expected to submit its report in 20 days. The central government would then work with state governments to plug the loopholes at all airports.

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News in Numbers, June 15, 2016: GST a step closer to reality, Ola in talks to raise funds…

7

What is it? The number of underwater robots British scientists working from an Indian research ship will release across a 400-km stretch of water in the Bay of Bengal to help better predict India’s monsoon.

Why is it important? These robots will measure the salinity, current and temperature and transmit this data to a satellite. A simultaneous study of atmospheric measurements by UK and India will be conducted. The two sets of data would be compared to see how ocean conditions affect monsoon patterns – which assumes significance as India is eagerly awaiting the rains after two successive years of drought.

Tell me more: The Southwest monsoon hit the Kerala coast on June 8 (a delay of seven days) and is progressing northwards slowly, according to the weather department.

 

22

What is it? The number of states whose finance ministers attended a meeting with the central government where the Goods and Services Taxes (GST) reform was discussed on Tuesday.

Why is it important? With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that “virtually” all states, except Tamil Nadu, have supported the GST, the opposition now narrows down to Congress and J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK. This brings India’s biggest tax reform (having a single tax in place of different existing ones) a step closer to reality and the Indian government is trying to get the legislation passed in the monsoon session that begins in July.

Tell me more: After the latest round of elections to the Rajya Sabha, NDA has 74 members in the House (against UPA’s 71) though it still requires the support of 163 members of a total of 245.

 

$300-400 million

What is it? The amount taxi aggregator Ola is reportedly looking to raise, though other reports put the figure at $1 billion.

Why is it important? This comes after Uber announced raising $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s investment fund, of which it plans to invest a substantial portion in India. Both Ola and Uber are engaged in intense competition to gain dominance in India’s $12 billion taxi market. For Uber, India is extremely important as it struggles to compete with Didi Chuxing in China and for Ola, it is a matter of survival and fending off competition from cash-rich Uber.

Tell me more: Both the firms contradict each other while citing market share figures. However, Uber’s growth rate has overtaken that of Ola’s to increase its market share to 26.5% in the last two years and Ola is the leader with 52% share, according to Counterpoint Research.

 

0.79%

What is it? The increase in wholesale price inflation in May.

Why is it important? This is the second consecutive monthly increase and the fastest since October 2014 – fuelled by rise in food prices. Wholesale food prices rose 7.88% last month compared to 4.23% in April, driven by vegetables prices. With the consumer price inflation accelerating at the fastest pace in 21 months, interest rate cuts are unlikely in the near future.

Tell me more: The above-normal rainfall predicted for this year is likely to have a softening effect on food prices.

 

$70 million

What is it? The amount Twitter has reportedly invested in audio streaming company SoundCloud.

Why is it important? Both Twitter and SoundCloud are struggling to increase their user base and monetise their services. SoundCloud has about 175 million monthly users, and competes with Spotify. Twitter has 320 million average monthly active users and earlier this year reported its first quarter with no growth in its user base.

Tell me more: This would be the microblogging site’s second attempt to venture into music, after it closed its one-year-old Twitter Music in 2014.

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News in Numbers, May 17, 2016: Buffett’s stake in Apple, RBS to shut down India operations…

0.34%

What is it? The increase in wholesale price inflation (WPI) in April against -0.85% in March.

Why is it important? It increased after 17 months of deceleration. Retail inflation also went up to 5.39% in April from 4.83% in March, bringing back worries about its persistence. This could dampen hopes of interest rate cuts by Reserve Bank in June.

Tell me more: The WPI’s increase was mainly due to an increase in prices of food and manufactured items. Wholesale food prices rose 4.23% on a year-on-year basis due to a sharp increase in the prices of pulses and potato. Prices of manufactured items rose 0.71% last month year-on-year.

 

2.5%

What is it? The minimum share of apprentices profitable public sector units must have as a percentage of their total workforce with the maximum being 10%.

Why is it important? This will help Indian government’s Skills India programme (launched last year), which has a target of skilling 40.2 crore workers by 2022. India, which has the world’s largest youth population, is estimated to require 120 million more workers by 2022 and their skilling is imperative for economic growth.

Tell me more: The estimated share of India’s workforce that undergoes formal training (2.3%) compares very poorly with that in other countries – 68% in the UK, 75% in Germany, 52% in the US, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.

 

9.81 million

What is it? The number of shares investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has in Apple (as of March 31) valued at $1.07 billion.

Why is it important? This is Berkshire Hathaway’s second investment in a technology company – after IBM. Buffett buys companies with strong cash flows, decent dividends and a good management – and had avoided investments in high-growth tech firms because their future is harder to predict. His investment in Apple is an indication that the iPhone maker is transitioning/has moved from being a high-growth star to a low-growth but stable company.

Tell me more: Apple’s shares rose 3.7% to $93.88 on Monday after Berkshire’s announcement. The value of Berkshire Hathaway’s holding in the firm has dropped to $921 million since March 31.

 

10

What is it? The number of retail branches Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will shut down in India.

Why is it important? With this, RBS will wind up all its banking operations in India – as part of its global restructuring plans to reduce its presence from 38 countries to 13. Around 400650 employees are set to lose their jobs. The UK bank, which sold off its offshore loan book in India to UAE-based National Bank of Abu Dhabi and private banking business to Sanctum Wealth Management, failed to find any buyers for the rest of its India assets.

Tell me more: The bank will retain its back-office operations, which supports its global businesses and employs over 10,000 people.

 

62%

What is it? The percentage of children who attended a government primary school in 2014, down from 72.6% in 2007-08, according to an analysis by data journalism platform, IndiaSpend based on an NSSO survey.

Why is it important? Indicates an increasing preference for private schools and underlines the concerns about quality of education in government schools. Despite this and the fact that India has spent nearly Rs 5.9 lakh crore on primary education in the last 10 years, there has been a decline in learning outcomes, according to NGO Pratham’s 2014 report.

Tell me more: The data also confirms a popular perception that a higher percentage of children in urban areas prefer private schools over the government ones. Less than a third of children attended government primary schools in urban areas compared to 72.3% in rural areas in 2014.

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