The power of 3

5.6%

What is it? India’s gross value added (GVA) growth in January – March quarter of 2017.

Why is it important? It’s the lowest in the last eight quarters, down from 6.7% in the previous quarter and 8.7% from the same period last year. GVA, which is calculated after subtracting the taxes and adding subsidies on products, is considered by some economists as superior to GDP in capturing economic realities. Sometimes GDP and GVA growth rates diverge, but in this quarter both declined. India saw its GDP growth rate for the quarter declining 6.1%, yielding the status of fastest growing large economy to China, which grew at 6.9% in the same quarter. GDP growth rate for the year was 7.1%.

Tell me more: GDP growth was largely affected by the construction industry which shrank (-3.7%) and by financial, real estate and professional services which grew by a meagre 2.2%. Some attributed the slowdown to lingering effects of Q3’s demonetisation, but Chief Statistician T C A Anant said it demands more study.

 

Rs 93.5 crore

What is it? The reserve price of the Kingfisher House in Mumbai, the defunct office of Kingfisher Airlines.

Why is it important? A sale failed to fructify at this price at the latest auction. Reserve price, set by the 17-lender consortium led by SBI, had been cut 38% since its first auction held in March, 2016. In every subsequent auction – there have been four since then, the price was cut by 10-15% from the previous. But the bankers’ hopes of recovering part of the Rs 9,000-crore dues, remained unrealised as there were no buyers for the property.

Tell me more: Another Kingfisher Airlines-property, the Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which was put on the block at the same time, has had better luck after three failed auctions. It was sold for Rs 73 crore.

 

3

What is it? The number of times that women have topped the Union Public Service Commission exams in a row.

Why is it important? Nandini KR, an Indian Revenue Services officer from Karnataka, has topped the latest (2016) civil services exams, whose results were announced yesterday. Interestingly, this contrasts with the gender gap in the overall success rate. Over three times as many men (846) cleared the exam than women (253). Among the top 25 candidates, 18 were men and 7, women.

Tell me more: For the 2016 exams, 11,35,943 candidates applied; 4,59,659 appeared;  15,452 cleared the preliminary exams. Finally, 1099 candidates have been recommended by the commission for appointment to various public services.

 

13

What is it? The number of airports in India that don’t require tagging / stamping of hand baggage for domestic travellers.

Why is it important? The new procedure aimed at travellers convenience was first introduced in seven airports in April this year, and has now been expanded to six more starting Thursday. This measure, in addition to using Aadhaar and mobile phones for authentication and pre-boarding checks, could help strike a better balance between safety and convenience.

Tell me more: Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of airport security had introduced the system in Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad airports, has now extended it to Patna and Chennai among others.

 

3

What is it? The number of non-participating countries in Paris climate agreement if US decides to pull out of the deal.

Why is it important? The other two countries are Syria and Nicaragua. While the White House hasn’t made an announcement on this yet, US President Donal Trump, as a presidential candidate, had promised to pull out of the Paris deal in his first 100 days to boost US oil and coal sector. The agreement binds participating nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Tell me more: If US decides to pull out, it will impact the country’s relationship with its allies which are more committed to tackling climate change. Within the US, Trump is likely to alienate institutions and people who have been warning about the dangers of climate change. Elon Musk, for example, tweeted that he would leave White House councils if Trump decides to pull out of the deal.

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When blood is wasted

600,000 litre

What is it? The volume of blood and its various components, in 2.8 million units, discarded by blood banks across India in the last five years.

Why is it important? In 2015-16, the shortage in blood requirement was 10% at a national level, with some states facing acute shortage and others flush with excess supply through blood camps. The wastage, revealed in an RTI query, 24% of which occurred in 2016-17, points to the severe lack of a safe blood sharing network among banks, hospitals across states. Experts also fault indiscriminate blood donation camps, organised by politicians, which end up collecting blood that has no place to be stored and used fruitfully.

Tell me more: Maharashtra, UP, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh saw high wastage of various components such as plasma (long shelf-life), red blood cells and whole blood.

 

Rs 10,000 crore

What is it? The estimated advertising revenue the Indian Railways plan to earn from 200,000 giant digital screens.

Why is it important? It will boost advertising income, part of non-fare revenues, for IR. The screens alone could then fetch 67% of the estimated revenue of Rs 15,000 crore in non-fare revenue in the next 10 years as set in January. The screens would also display real-time passenger information. The railway display network would first be installed in 400 A category stations.

Tell me more: Non-fare revenue accounted for 6.17% of IR’s total revenue in FY17, and grew from Rs 5,928 crore in FY16 to Rs 10,181 crore FY17.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of cars in India Volkswagen has been able to correct, after recalling them as they had the defeat device installed along with the EA 189 diesel engine series.

Why is it important? The auto manufacturer admits to a delay in upgrading the recalled vehicles, spanning VW, Audi, and Skoda brands. It had started the recall of 340,000 cars in July 2016 through 2017. This is part of the larger global scandal which beleaguered 11 million of Volkswagen’s cars across the US, Europe and other markets. India’s vehicle testing agency, Arai, found the Indian cars were equipped with a derivative of the defeat device plaguing the EA 189 diesel engines, to pass emission tests.

Tell me more: So far, Volkswagen India has received approval for engine updates for 70% of the recalled vehicles, and says the delay is due to the different makes of cars involved.

 

4.2%

What is it? The boost to real GDP of India, if the aggregate weighted GST (goods and services tax) works out to 16%.

Why is it important? The estimate, by the US Federal Reserve, is based on the assumption that the GST aggregate will work out to be 16%, goods and services are allocated to the four tiers of taxes —  5%, 12%, 18%, and 28% — in a certain way. Lower taxes on manufactured goods would make products cheaper and also help reach the aggregate taxation. An alternate estimate of aggregate weighted GST rate of 20% would provide a boost of 3.1%.

Tell me more: Meanwhile, India’s Niti Aayog estimates GDP to be Rs 469 lakh-crore by 2030.

 

21.4%

What is it? The percentage of vote won by the far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the first round of French presidential elections, with 97% reporting

Why is it important? In the run-off, to be held on May 7th, Le Pen will be facing the centrist Emmanuel Macron of En Marche!, who outpaced her in the first round with 23.9% vote share. For the first time in France’s history, neither of the two mainstream parties in France — Socialists represented by Benoît Hamon and the Republicans represented by François Fillon — made it to the finals. If Le Pen wins, it could mean France taking a nationalist route, away from European Union and Euro.

Tell me more: Macron, a former banker, served as economy minister in Hollande administration till he resigned in 2016 to fight this election. He is 39, and has never fought an election before. Le Pen has been leading her party, FN since 2011, and has increasingly grown stronger, a rise similar to US President Donald Trump.

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News in Numbers, Mar 17, 2017: 🚲 Green mobility

100+

What is it? The number of cities to be covered by the government’s green urban mobility scheme.

Why is it important? While vehicles are not the only pollutants in urban centres, they contribute significantly to pollution. Promotion of green vehicles can potentially improve the quality of life. Several studies have confirmed Indian cities have poor and unhealthy air quality.

Tell me more: The government plans to spend Rs 70,000 crore on the scheme, and it would include initiatives including creation of separate lanes for cyclists.

 

40%

What is it? The percentage of colleges in the US that reported a decline in the number of applications from international students.

Why is it important? Impact of US president Donald Trump’s immigration and protectionist policies. While the biggest decline is from students from West Asia, those from other countries, including India, are holding back, worried about how things might turn in the US. At least half a dozen bills seeking stricter work visa regulations are up for consideration by US Congress.

Tell me more: The number is from a survey of 250 colleges conducted by American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

 

6%

What is it? The increase in advance tax collection from top 100 companies for March 2017 quarter, compared to earlier quarter.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of business outlook, and the slow growth is a reflection of the negative impact of demonetisation announced in November last year on the corporate sector. Yet another report says the advance tax collection in Mumbai zone, which contributes a third of all corporate taxes, fell by 10% compared to year ago period.

Tell me more: Of the top 100 companies, 43 contributed Rs 29,239 crore in March quarter, up 6% from Rs 27,584 crore in December quarter.

 

12

What is it? The number of world’s leading chocolate and cocoa manufacturers who pledged to tackle deforestation.

Why is it important? The companies include well known brands such as Mars, Mondelez and Nestlé. It underlines the agricultural impact on tropical forests, and the pressure companies are under to tackle some of the problems they create. In India, Pepsi and Coke have come under fire (even though they won a legal battle recently) for the usage of groundwater, even as South India faces a severe water shortage in the coming months.

Tell me more: The companies made the pledge to come up with an action plan by November in presence of Prince Charles, an active campaigner in this area, and will initially focus on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, two largest sources of cocoa.

 

2.5%

What is it? The targeted public expenditure on health as a percentage of GDP, according to India’s new National Health Policy

Why is it important? It is 1.4% of GDP at present. While the policy doesn’t state when it proposes to achieve the target, it’s an indicator of the direction the government wants to move. India presently doesn’t fare well on health indicators. The policy spells out a few metrics that the state wants to focus on – under-five mortality rate, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, life expectancy, number of hospital beds.

Tell me more: A National Healthcare Standards Organisation is also on cards. It would give guidelines and protocols for healthcare sector, and resolve disputes, according to the policy.

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News in Numbers, Mar 16, 2017: Snapped 👓

$2.3 billion

What is it? The amount State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, plans to raise from capital market in the coming fiscal.

Why is it important? It will help the bank to increase its capital adequacy ratio from  13.73% at present. It will also help in providing for bad loans. State Bank’s gross NPAs (non performing assets, or bad loans) stands at 7.23% of its total loans. Its chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya recently said that resolution of NPAs is one of the key near term challenges for the bank.

Tell me more: Bad loans is a broader problem in the country, and Indian banks need $90 billion to meet Basel III standards, according to rating agency Fitch.

 

Rs 200

What is it? The maximum a cinema theatre can charge per ticket in Karnataka.

Why is it important? In the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, movie ticket price is capped at Rs 120. It was not the only populist measure that Karnataka, which presented its budget on Wednesday, took from Tamil Nadu. The state will open 198 “Namma Canteens” in the Bengaluru to provide breakfast for Rs 5, and lunch and dinner for Rs 10, similar to the hugely popular Amma Unavagam, state subsidized canteens, in Tamil Nadu.

Tell me more:  The budget – which had a number of announcements aimed at improving infrastructure, access to finance and healthcare – also removed value-added tax on liquor.

 

$24.49 billion

What is it? India’s exports in February 2017.

Why is it important? It’s up 17.49% from same period last year. Imports went up 21.76% to $33.39 billion. The increase in trade comes at a time when there is widespread fear that the world is turning more protectionist, led by United States and Europe.

Tell me more: Trade deficit came down to $8.9 billion in February from a provisional $9.84 billion in January 2017. For the eleven months ending February trade deficit stood at $95.3 billion.

 

14%

What is it? India’s logistics cost as a percentage of GDP.

Why is it important? High logistics cost is an indicator of inefficiency, and erodes competitiveness of a country. Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, said the government wants to address it and has unveiled a plan that includes aviation as a part of multi-modal logistics hubs in India. The 400 regional airports that the government is setting up across the country will have cold storage and other logistics solutions to make the sector more efficient, he said.

Tell me more: The government expects 15 logistics parks to be set up in the next five years, as a part of the larger Make in India initiative.

 

$20.77

What is it? Share price of Snap, the company that runs Snapchat, at the close of Wednesday

Why is it important? Snap made its debut in the public market on March 2 at $24, and hit an intra-day high of $29.44 the next day. Its IPO was priced at $17, and its grand debut was seen as a reflection of the high valuation that the companies at the intersection of social, mobile and hardware commanded. However, many analysts believe that it’s over-priced, and see the decline that Snap saw in the four out of last five sessions as a necessary correction.

Tell me more: Snap’s market cap is at $24.06 billion. Unlike Facebook, which has users from across age groups, Snap appeals mainly to an younger audience. It had 161 million daily active users end of December.

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