News in Numbers, May 2, 2016: Gujarat’s 10% quota for poor, Uttarakhand’s forest fire crisis…


What is it? Reservation quota in education and jobs for those with less than Rs 6 lakh of annual family income in general category, as announced by Gujarat government on Friday.

Why is it important? This is a move to appease the protesting Patel community, which has been demanding ‘Other Backward Class’ status to avail reservations in education and jobs. This comes ahead of the state elections next year, and after Congress won 23 of 31 district panchayats in the civic polls last year. The BJP has been in power for the last 18 years in the state.

Tell me more: The Patels are unhappy with the state government’s offer and have demanded that its community get a separate quota, similar to what the Haryana government has offered the Jats. The reservation move will exceed the 50% reservation limit set by the Supreme Court but the BJP says it is ready to go legal to defend its move.

7.5 tonnes

What is it? The quantity of gold Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the famous temple on the hill in southern Andhra Pradesh, is considering moving under the Indian government’s gold monetisation schemes.

Why is it important? This would be biggest mobilisation under the schemes launched last November. Over 1.5 tonnes have been deposited so far, and the board may move its entire reserves of 7.5 tonnes. The schemes are aimed at lowering India’s gold imports, which form the second highest component in the imports bill after crude oil. India imported 926 tonnes of gold in 2015-16, 16% less than the previous fiscal.

Tell me more: TTD wants the government to pay the interest component on medium and long-term schemes to be paid in gold instead of cash and also, calculate the interest on gold at the time of return instead of at the time of the deposit. This, on top of some changes the government had announced on Friday.


What is it? The number of people from state agencies involved in putting out the forest fire in Uttarakhand.

Why is it important? This is one of the biggest disaster the state has faced with 1,233 cases of fire covering 1,900 hectares of forest. While the effective area under fire has come down by 70%, the government hopes to put out the fire in the next 3-4 days by putting  10,000 more people on the job.

Tell me more: The area under fire is many times more compared to previous two years- 930.3 hectares in 2015 and 384.5 hectares in 2014. On Sunday, the government announced a pre-fire alert system that will issue warnings to the concerned departments via text messages. As on April 21, 20,667 forest fire incidents have already been reported, compared to 15,937 in 2015 and 19,054 in 2014.

1.25 crore

What is it? The number of people who paid taxes in 2012-13.

Why is it important? This was just 1% of India’s population at that time, indicating the extent of domestic tax evasion. Direct taxes accounted for 51% of the total tax revenue in 2015-16, the lowest since 2007-08. Indirect taxes (levied on goods and services) puts a greater burden on the poor.

Tell me more: Only 2.9 crore individuals filed their income tax returns in 2012-13 and nearly 89% of them paid taxes less than Rs 1.5 lakh with the average tax outgo being less than Rs 21,000.

13.2 lakh

What is it? The number of individual household toilets built in urban areas in 2015-16.

Why is it important? This is just around 53% of its 25 lakh target for the year and indicates that India would be hard-pressed to achieve open defecation-free status by 2019.

Tell me more: 11 states reported they have not constructed even a single household toilet. Gujarat accounted for around a third of the total individual household toilets last fiscal. States were also unable to meet their targets in the community and public toilet category where they have reported construction of only 68,500 toilets as against the target of 1 lakh.

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News in numbers, Jan 22, 2016: US firms have $1.9T in cash, solar system may have 9 planets…


Rs 657.28 crore


What is it? Net profit of InterGlobe Aviation, owner of India’s largest airline Indigo, in quarter ended 31 December 2015, an increase of 24% from a year ago.


Why is it important? This is mainly because of declining fuel prices, which account for nearly half of expenses for Indian airlines. Indigo’s fuel expenses were down by 20% to Rs 1,170 crore while number of passengers increased 28% to 8.33 million. Its market share in 2015 stood at 36.7%. In its first quarterly results after its public listing, the airline’s income from operations increased 11.4% to Rs 4,297.75 crore. It beat analyst estimates – a survey of three analysts by Bloomberg had expected the company to post a profit of Rs 642.8 crore and net income of Rs 4,176.3 crore.


Tell me more: Interglobe Aviation raised Rs 3,010 crore in its initial public offering (IPO) recently and its share prices have jumped 57% since its listing.


Rs 5,500 crore


What is it? The minimum annual global consolidated revenue above which Indian multinational companies have to mandatorily follow country-by-country reporting from April 1, 2016.


Why is this important? This is part of the base erosion and profit shifting guidelines (BEPS), a set of norms announced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to plug loopholes in the global taxation system. The OECD estimates that countries lose up to $100 billion a year due to such loopholes. This measure is to provide all the details about the entire operations of a company, which is to help reveal if it is shifting profits to a low-tax country to evade taxes.


Tell me more: Governments are supposed to adopt country-by-country reporting as part of the BEPS guidelines by 2017.


$1.9 trillion


What is it? Amount American companies have in the form of cash.


Why is it important? Raises questions on whether keeping it idle is the best use of cash. Financial management principles hold that a company should give cash back to shareholders unless it can provide better returns. Cash in bank gets about 2% interest rate for the companies. Some believe investment opportunities might be just around the corner. Nonetheless, American companies seem to love cash now. For instance, Google’s parent company Alphabet has $80 billion in cash, which is enough to buy Uber, its Indian rival Ola and Palantir, a data-mining startup.


Tell me more: A study by Lee Pinkowitz and Rohan Williamson, professors at Georgetown University, shows that investors perceive a dollar of savings differently in different sectors. For example, one dollar of savings by a publishing company is seen to be worth around 40 cents while for a software company, it is perceived to be more than $2.




What is it? Commission to be paid (including handling charges of 1.5%) to banks by the government for medium and long-term deposits under the gold monetisation scheme for one year from its launch (November 5, 2015), according to new RBI rules.


Why is it important? Another measure to unlock idle 20,000 tonnes of physical gold lying in households and institutions. The commission is likely to encourage bankers to push the scheme, which has mobilised over 500 kg of gold so far. Under this scheme, people can deposit jewellery, bars or coins with the banks, which can be refined to meet consumption demands and reduce imports.


Tell me more: Banks can accept gold under medium (5-7 years) and long-term deposit (12-15 years) schemes where customers can earn 2.25% and 2.5% interest per annum respectively.




What is it? Likely number of planets in the solar system. A recent research indicates the existence of a possible ninth planet.


Why is it important? California Institute of Technology researchers Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown provided theoretical evidence of the existence of the ninth planet based on mathematical modelling and computer simulations. The planet has not been observed directly yet. Brown said there have been two true planets discovered since ancient times and this could be the third. Pluto was relegated to being a dwarf planet in 2006 and if this ninth planet exists, the solar system can be back to having nine planets.

Tell me more: The likely ninth planet nicknamed ‘Planet Nine’ is 10 times bigger than the earth and is orbiting far beyond Neptune.

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News in numbers, Jan 15, 2016: Punjab’s opioid problem, expected average pay increase in 2016


500 kg

What is it? Amount of gold mobilised under the Gold Monetisation Scheme, which aims to convert the yellow metal lying idle in households into the banking system.


Why is it important? Indicates increased acceptance for the scheme, which received poor response in the first month after the launch in November last year where only 500 grams worth of gold was deposited.  


Tell me more: At 500 kg or half tonne, it is a small fraction of estimated total stock of 20,000 tonnes of gold held by individuals and institutions in India, and around 1,000 tonnes of annual import.



What is it? Number of tourists visiting India who have availed the e-tourist visa in calendar 2015, as compared to 39,046 in 2014.     


Why is it important? Though the growth is high, the number of tourists availing e-tourist visa is only 5.5% of around 8 million tourists who visited India last year. The overall tourist arrivals increased by 4.4%, even as the world’s second largest population attracts less than 1% of world’s tourist arrivals.   


Tell me more: Tourists from 114 countries can get tourist visas online, without visiting the Indian consulates, under the e-Tourist visa scheme.  


Rs 7,500 crore


What is it? Estimated value of opioids consumed in Punjab each year. The state now has 2.3 lakh (or 0.84% of state’s population) opioid dependent people. This number does not include money spent by opioid users who are not dependent on drugs.  


Why is it important? The extent of socio-economic problem is revealed by the fact that three-fourths of the opioid dependent users are in the age group of 18 to 35 years, 54% are married and 56% of them live in rural areas.   


Tell me more: Total number of opioid users like heroin is estimated at 8.6 lakh, though the main aim of the study done by AIIMS, Delhi and Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses was to estimate drug dependency.


Rs 100,000 crore


What is it? Amount of housing loans disbursed by ICICI Bank, which became the first private sector bank to cross this milestone.  


Why is it important? With corporate lending slowing down, banks are looking at mortgage lending to boost their disbursals. For ICICI, home loans account for 25% of its total lending and 50% of its retail loans.      


Tell me more: Total market size is estimated at Rs 7 lakh crore, with state-run State Bank of India and HDFC having around Rs 1.7 lakh crore disbursements each. HDFC is a non-banking finance company, focussing on home loan finances.  



What is it? Average increase in base pay expected in 2016, which is same as last year.


Why is it important? Expected salary increase can be seen as a proxy of how companies perceive prospects for their sector this year. Life sciences, information technology and chemical industries firms expecting more than 11% pay increase. Salary forecasts are lower for the consumer, auto and services sectors.


Tell me more: Nearly half of 691 firms surveyed plan to increase headcount.

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News in numbers, Dec 14, 2015: CSR platform on BSE, CCI’s recovery of penalties imposed…


Rs 2,000 crore


What is it? Amount sought by projects listed on ‘Sammaan’, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) platform on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). This helps companies find implementing agencies for carrying out social welfare activities.


Why is it important? It’s an early indicator that the marketplace for social welfare activities might work. Sammaan provides an alternate way to raise funds for the estimated 20 lakh implementing agencies in India, which face a number of challenges while looking for money to help their causes. Corporates, on the other hand, would also benefit as they would be able to view a pool of verified implementing agencies along with their objectives, estimated budgets and progress and pick the ones they want to fund. It will also help certain classes of profitable companies, which have to spend 2% of their three-year annual average net profits for CSR projects.


Tell me more: In three days, 600 projects across 325 cities/towns have been listed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and 200 corporates have registered.

38 million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd)


What is it? Quantity of natural gas India would receive from the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline for a 30-year period, which would be operational by 2019.


Why is it important? Will help India’s future energy requirements, which by one count will be the third largest energy consumer in the world by 2020.  This deal between the four countries heralds a new phase in regional cooperation and is seen as a move by India to connect with Central Asia to counter Chinese influence in the region.


Tell me more: The $7.2 billion deal would see Pakistan getting 38 mmscmd of natural gas while Afghanistan would get the remaining 14 mmscmd. Natural gas is the third major source of energy in India, accounting for about 10.2% of total production in 2013-14.


200 kg


What is it? Amount of gold Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in Maharashtra wants to deposit under the Indian government’s gold monetisation scheme. This is over half of the gold reserves (380 kg) it owns.


Why is it important? If this happens, this would be the largest contribution under this scheme so far, beating Shri Siddhivinayak’s likely deposit of 40 kg of gold. However, it remains to be seen how the temple would go about this, given the Bombay High Court’s 2012 order, which had stayed the trust’s decision to auction gold, silver and diamond articles given by the devotees. The petitioners, two Shirdi residents, had argued that these were offerings by devotees and not for the purpose of raising money.


Tell me more: At Rs 2,661 per gm, 200 kg of gold would be worth about Rs 53.2 crore, not accounting for the impurities.  


Rs 82.1 crore


What is it? The amount the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has recovered from fines imposed on companies for violating rules since its inception in 2009.


Why is it important? This is just 0.6% of the combined penalty levied on companies (Rs 13,900 crore). And, approximately 97% of the penalties imposed have been stayed or overturned by courts or appellate authorities. Shows the competition regulator’s dismal record in recovering fine amounts, and brings to question its effectiveness.


Tell me more: Last week, the Competition Appellate Tribunal set aside an order of the CCI, which had asked 11 cement companies to pay a fine of Rs 6,316.6 crore for alleged cartelisation.




What is it? The number of women who have won seats in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia.


Why is it important? Women rights in Saudi Arabia is keenly watched by India and rest of the world. This is the first time women have contested and also, voted in elections in the country’s history. It is a step towards social equality and political openness in a country that is deeply conservative. (Now, Vatican City is the only country in the world where only men are allowed to vote.) Hopefully, this step would be followed by lifting of other restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia, which include- driving, venturing outside only with a male guardian and limited interaction with men they are not related to.
Tell me more: These municipal councils do not have legislative powers but advise authorities and help manage local budgets. Saudi Arabia ranked 130 among 142 countries in World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index Report 2014.

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