News in Numbers, July 15, 2016: Bastille Day attack in France, ban on cash transactions…

When a tragedy strikes, everyone gets confused. As consumers of news, it becomes all the more important to use our own filters to separate signal from noise. Here’s an interesting poster, “Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook” that might help.

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80

What is it? The number of people killed in Nice, France during Bastille Day (or French National Day) after a truck drove into a crowd on Thursday.

Why is it important? This attack, which seems to be the work of a lone assailant, comes after eight months when Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people in Paris. Since the Paris attacks, all major public events in France are guarded by armed police and troops; however, it took a few minutes for the forces to kill the truck driver.

Tell me more: The driver drove onto pavements and a pedestrian zone, mowing down people who had gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks. There have been no reports of any Indians having been affected in the attack, as per the Ministry of External Affairs at around 7.16 am.

 

190,758

What is it? The number of cars Honda Motor Co’s India unit will recall to replace passenger front airbag inflators manufactured by Takata Corp.

Why is it important? The firm’s seventh recall in India in the last two years, this is part of its global recall of Takata airbags with inflators that have the potential to explode due to excessive force in hot and humid conditions. This has been linked to 13 deaths and over 100 injuries across the world. Carmakers in India have recalled 2.24 million vehicles between July 2012 and May 2016, according to an analysis.

Tell me more: The models to be recalled include City, Accord, Jazz, Civic and CR-V – manufactured between 2003 and 2011 – of which, over 70% are ‘City’ units.

 

Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The recommended upper limit on cash transactions by a special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the Supreme Court. Another suggestion is to allow a maximum of Rs 15 lakh cash holding by an individual and industry.

Why is it important? If these recommendations are accepted by the government, it would help establish a digital trail for major transactions and curb tax evasion. India’s black money is estimated to be over Rs 30 lakh crore or 20% of the country’s GDP – larger than the sizes of the economies of countries such as Thailand and Argentina – according to a study by Ambit Capital Research.

Tell me more: The SIT has suggested that if an individual or an industry wants to hold over Rs 15 lakh in cash, they ought to seek permission from the income tax department to do so.

 

1.62%

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

Why is it important? The rate is the fastest in 20 months. The inflation rate more than doubled last month compared to the rate in the month of May, mainly due to an increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits for the fourth consecutive month. The above-normal monsoon is likely to result in subdued food prices, though interest rate cuts are unlikely in the next monetary policy on August 5.

Tell me more: Wholesale food inflation at 8.18% was high mainly due to increasing prices of potato (64.48%), pulses (26.61%), sugar (26.09%), vegetables (16.91%) and fruits (5.97%).

 

Rs 1,000 crore

What is it? The size of the deal that Salman Khan has reportedly signed with a top television network for the satellite rights of his next 10 films and for making appearances on the channel in the future.

Why is it important? With this, Khan has beaten Hrithik Roshan’s record of selling the satellite rights of six of his films for Rs 550 crore. All his recent movies such as ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ have been major blockbusters and crossed the Rs 200-crore mark and it seems television channels are willing to bank on his future projects too. This, even as he has been battling two high-profile cases: the 2002 hit-and-run case and the black buck poaching case.

Tell me more: Other Hindi movie stars have signed similar deals: Ajay Devgn had signed a deal worth Rs 400 crore with a television network for 10 films while Varun Dhawan signed one for Rs 300 crore for the same number of films.

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News in numbers, Apr 8, 2016: IIT fees increased, share of loss-making public companies…

5 million

What is it? The number of Reliance Communications’ (RCom) customers who will be migrated to fourth generation network operated by Reliance Jio, the yet-to-be launched telecom venture by Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries (RIL).  

Why is it important? This will be a test of call quality and broadband speed of Reliance Jio, whose launch is delayed to end of 2016. For RCom, owned by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani, the deal will help to launch the 4G services without spending much on setting up additional infrastructure.    

Tell me more: The two brothers signed a deal to share resources. RCom will share its network and spectrum, and RIL will allow RCom customers to use its network.    

 

Rs 2 lakhs

What is it? Revised annual fees payable by undergraduates studying at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The earlier fees was Rs 90,000 per year.

Why is it important? The upward revision will cut government’s subsidy bill. The central government spends Rs 6 lakh each year to educate one student. The increase will be spent to improve the infrastructure within IIT’s.

Tell me more: Students from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and most economically backward families (annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh) will not be required to pay the fees. For rest, either partial remission of fees based on family income or bank loan is made available.

 

18%

What is it?  The Goods and Services Tax rate that finance minister Arun Jaitley says will be a part of the GST Bill

Why is it important?  The move – to make the 18% cap a part of the bill – might lower the resistance from the Congress Party to the passing of the bill in the parliament. While there is consensus about the tax rate – proposed by a committee headed by chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian – the government was reluctant to include any rate in the bill (as demanded by Congress) because it puts a constraint on raising tax revenues.

Tell me more: Experts have argued that implementation of GST will widen tax base, eliminate myriad taxes and their cascading effects, simplify compliance and help center and state tax administrations work together efficiently.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of State Level Public Enterprises estimated to be incurring losses, per Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? The losses have adverse impact on state budgets, leaving less funds for development. The financial performance reflect poor management and excess manpower at the state run enterprises as well as policies such as administered prices and other market conditions.

Tell me more: There are 849 state level public enterprises operating in the areas of manufacturing, finance, power, infrastructure, agriculture and allied services and employ over 18 lakh people.

 

€ 1,500

What is it? Fine payable for anyone caught paying for sex in France. For second offence, the fine will increase to Euro 3,750 and an entry in that person’s criminal record.   

Why is it important? The law passed by the French parliament will criminalize paying for sex rather than the act of soliciting sex. France follows the model adopted by Norway and Northern Ireland. Opponents of this approach say this pushes prostitution underground.   

Tell me more: There are 3 million sex workers in India and 40% of them are children, as per Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate in 2007. Sex workers are allowed to practise in their private homes individually, but organized prostitution is banned.

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News in numbers, Jan 26, 2016: India and France sign deals worth $15 bn, new voters added…

$ 15 billion

What is it? Deal value of 30 agreements signed between India and France in the last two days

Why is it important? Two major deals – $9 billion to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts and a shareholding agreement between Indian Railways and Alstom to produce 800 locomotives worth $ 3 billion locally – were taken forward and will help meet India’s priorities now. One to replace the ageing MiG fighter jets, and another to give boost to ‘Make in India’ program.

Tell me more: Financial details are yet to be agreed for the Rafale deal, where an Inter-governmental agreement has been signed. In Alstom deal, a shareholder agreement was inked.  French President François Hollande is on a three day visit to India, and will be the chief guest at India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations.

 

18 million

What is it? That’s the number of new voters added in the one year. With this, India now has 850 million electors.

Why is it important? Shows the success of the Election Commission to enthuse teenagers who become eligible to vote to enroll. Half of new voters enrolled are in the age bracket of 18-19 years, as compared to 10-15% in previous enrolment drive.

Tell me more: Census data shows 4.8 million people in age bracket of 18 to 19 years, but the enrollment numbers are double of that. The data doesn’t match, though Census is 2011 figures. Voter turnout in 2014 parliamentary elections was 66.4%, the highest ever.

+ 0.67 ° Celsius

What is it? Increase in annual mean temperature in 2015 in India, the third warmest year since 1901.

Why is it important? Twelve out of fifteen warmest years were recorded in last fifteen years, indicating a secular trend of increase in temperature. In particular, October – December last year, was the warmest since 1901.

Tell me more: World Meteorological Organization too declared 2015 as the hottest year on record, with temperature 1 degree celsius above pre-industrial era.

 

3.09 crore

What is it? The number of income tax returns filed electronically between April and December 2015.

Why is it important? That’s a jump of 27.3% from 2.43 crore during the same period last year, and close to 3.41 crore filed during the full financial year. (There are about 5.16 crore crore tax payers in India according to income tax department, based on returns filed and tax deducted at source). The jump underlines the advantages of digitising citizen to government interactions, and also the inefficiencies in physical movements of documents. There were complaints about the delays in receiving filings earlier.

Tell me more: Data provided by income tax department hit headlines recently after economist Thomas Piketty, best known for his study on inequality published in “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, complained that there was “an extreme lack of transparency in information about income-tax data.”

1500 plus

What is it? The number of candidates vying for US presidency.

Why is it important? The final contest for White House often ends up between the Republican and Democratic nominees. (This time there could be a third, with Michael Bloomberg considering a presidential bid.) However, a large number of presidential hopefulsrepresenting a range of parties (American Independent Party, American Freedom Party, Constitution Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party, Objectivist Party and so on) or as independents throw in their hats too. In 2012, the number of presidential hopefuls was

Tell me more: While most of these candidates can be ignored, third party performances have had impact on elections – in 1996, businessman Ross Perot, competing as an independent won 18.6% of the popular vote.

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News in numbers, Nov 5, 2015: All-time low solar tariff, human trafficking from Nepal to India…

Rs 4.63

What is it? Price at which US-based SunEdison will sell solar power per kilowatt-hour in India.

Why is it important? This is an all-time low solar tariff in India and gives a boost to the Indian government’s ambitious target of installing 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this, 100 GW would be comprised of solar energy. India’s solar generation capacity is 2,900 MW now. This would also help India’s plans of providing solar power at Rs 4.75 per unit to state electricity boards, which are struggling with mounting debts and losses and reluctant to buy power.

Tell me more: SunEdison won the auction for a 500 megawatt project in Andhra Pradesh. The previous low tariff was Rs 5.05 per kilowatt-hour for Canadian company SkyPower’s project in Madhya Pradesh.

 

5 to 9

What is it? Multiple by which nitrogen oxide emissions were higher in a sample of 11 vehicles manufactured by Volkswagen Group in India – compared to levels tested during the approval stage, according to the Automotive Research Association of India.

Why is it important? Indicates that despite tough laws, some companies are able to get through the approval process without playing by the rule book. It remains to be seen if it’s a one-off or an industry-wide phenomenon. For VW, it is more bad news as its emission scandal gets murkier. According to the ARAI, VW India has informed them that 314,000 cars (across Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi models) have been fitted with engines from the E 189 diesel engine family, which have been used to fool emission tests in the US and Europe.

Tell me more: The Indian government has issued a show cause notice to VW asking it to explain its position on these findings and disclose if it has used an emission defeat device in India. The company has confirmed that it has received the show cause notice from the government-owned agency, Automotive Research Association of India, and would respond to it by the end of this month.

 

25%

What is it? Share of devices connected on mobile networks in India that are 3G-enabled, according to a survey by Nokia Networks.

Why is it important? Of this, only 45% are used for 3G services – pointing to an opportunity for telecom companies to tap into. The survey shows that of the sample size of 650 million subscribers, just 2.3% have 4G-enabled devices. Given the likelihood of prices of 4G devices coming down in the near future, there is a possibility of 4G overtaking 3G in terms of subscription, Nokia Networks said.

Tell me more: Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Kolkata are the top five cities in terms of 3G device penetration. 

 

500%

What is it? The percentage increase in human trafficking from Nepal to India in 2015 (with two months to spare) compared to 2014.

Why is it important? The human trafficking from Nepal has seen a threefold increase after a massive earthquake devastated large parts of the country this April. Shows the levels of poverty that people have been subjected to, after the quake and their desperation to escape it all.  

Tell me more: Till this September, the Sahastra Seema Bal, one of India’s Central Armed Police Forces, has rescued 206 victims, of which 159 were rescued after the quake. In 2014, 33 victims were rescued.

 

€2 billion (over Rs 14,000 crore)

What is it? France’s committed investment for India’s Smart Cities Mission.

Why is it important? Despite the various challenges that the Indian economy faces, particularly the infrastructure sector, this indicates international interest in India’s long term growth story. But, there are serious concerns about how such ambitious urban projects would get funded.

Tell me more: The Western European nation is also investing 200 million (over Rs 1,400 crore) for the extension of the Bangalore metro network.

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