News in numbers, Apr 25, 2016: Mixed signs of economic recovery, judge-population ratio…


What is it? The year-on-year net profit growth of 60 companies in the January-March 2016.

Why is it important? This is the lowest in four quarters, though it is better than the 10.6% growth a year ago. The analysis of companies that have declared their fourth quarter results so far indicates mixed signs of economic recovery. The net profit growth numbers disappointed observers, but the combined revenue growth at 0.6% the highest in seven quarters provided some cheer.

Tell me more: A better picture would emerge after key manufacturing and infrastructure companies declare their results. This sample of companies analysed includes some of the biggest companies in India – Reliance Industries, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Wipro – which account for a majority of the combined net profit and revenues in the three months to March 2016.


What is it? The number of judges for every 10 lakh population in India.

Why is it important? Lack of judges is one of the main factors for India’s slow justice system. It has serious economic costs too. A survey by Bengaluru-based NGO Daksh estimated that the loss of wages and business for litigants attending lower court hearings, in addition to legal fees and other costs works out to be over Rs 80,000 crore a year, 0.7% of India’s GDP in 2015-16.

Tell me more: The Supreme Court has six vacancies while as of February 29, the High Courts had 464 vacancies of judges. This has resulted in high pendency of cases – as of February 19, 59,468 cases were pending before the apex court; around 45 lakh cases pending before all 24 high courts and 2.75 crore cases before the trial courts as reported in early January.


What is it? The number of complaints against private universities received by the Indian government and University Grants Commission (UGC) in the last three years.

Why is it important? The government and UGC have stepped up their scrutiny of private universities, which are loosely regulated and enjoy a great amount of freedom in their operations. The challenge for India is to improve the quality of higher education even as it aims to increase gross enrolment ratio to 30% by 2020 from 23.6% in 2014-15.

Tell me more: The complaints – including on fake degrees and irregularities in finance – have seen a threefold increase in the last couple of years.

~ $1 billion

What is it? The value of offshore loans, which SSG Capital Management, a Hong Kong-based distressed-asset investor, is reportedly interested in buying from Standard Chartered’s India portfolio. It’s the only firm that has shown interest so far.

Why is it important? Indicates tepid response to the sale of distressed assets in India as banks scramble to clean their balance sheets before the March 2017 deadline set by the central bank.

Tell me more: Standard Chartered’s sale of India loans was reported about a fortnight ago. The Hong Kong-based firm is also seeking a 30% discount on the value of the assets.


What is it? The number of people killed in a gun battle between two rival groups at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during the weekend.

Why is it important? AMU is ranked among the top 10 universities in India, and it comes on the back of unrest at Jawharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad University. The AMU incident was said to be due to groupism, which also resulted in the destruction of 28,000 students records in fire.

Tell me more: Reports say that trouble began when a hostel student was assaulted and an attempt was made to set his room afire. Following the student’s complaint to the proctor against this, a rival gang arrived with weapons and both the groups resorted to firing at each other.

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Why is Bengaluru the graduate capital of young India?


This piece originally appeared on

Be it technical disciplines such as engineering and medicine, or non-technical subjects, this Karnataka district has the largest catchment of graduates aged 20-34—a bracketing that captures young students and working professionals—among all districts, shows recently released Census 2011 data on higher education. Even at a city level, Bengaluru compares well against Mumbai and Delhi.

India is not a graduate country—just 12.5% of the 301 million people in 20-34 age bracket have at least a graduation degree or equivalent. It also shows deep disparities—in more than half the districts, this figure is below 10%. In just 8% of districts is this figure above 20% and five of the top 10 districts are in Delhi.





Top districts and cities

In terms of the absolute number of graduates in the 20-34 bracket, Bengaluru leads all districts. But a census district is often not an entire city as we know it. It is for Bengaluru, but not for any of the four main metros. For example, Delhi is divided into 10 districts. In order to show an indicative city picture, we remapped district-level graduate data for the four main metros by ‘urban agglomerations’ (the census equivalent of a city). Even here, Bengaluru compares well against more established economic centres like Delhi and Mumbai.






Engineering and technology

Just three states account for nine of the top 10 districts: Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra. The remaining district—Bengaluru—has the maximum number of engineering/technology graduates, more than Delhi and Mumbai put together.







Bengaluru leads all districts in medicine. It even has more graduates than Chennai or Delhi, though not Mumbai. As a discipline, among states, medicine is the most popular choice in Kerala.





Non-technical graduate degree

Delhi and Mumbai are populated with graduates without a technical qualification. They still have opportunities to tap. The same cannot be said of states such as Bihar, where most graduates have non-technical qualifications but inadequate opportunities; and when they do go out, the non-technical qualifications become a disadvantage.





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An agenda for Smriti Irani: Five issues that need immediate attention

This piece originally appeared on


In the backdrop of a scathing critique of her performance and style of functioning by University Grants Commission (UGC) member M.M. Ansari, minister of human resource development Smriti Irani has promised that the government will consult a wide cross-section of society when it begins work on a new education policy next year. Here are five pressing issues in the Indian education system the government needs to tackle.

Stem the school dropout rate

More children are joining school, but are dropping out at every stage. Just 20.8% of boys and 17.9% of girls go on to pursue higher education. This figure is lower for children belonging to scheduled castes (13.5%) and even lower for those from scheduled tribes (11.2%).




Lift teaching standards

Many schoolchildren are lagging behind in basic reading and arithmetic, their education compromised by the lack of good teachers, paucity of funds and inadequate infrastructure. Several metrics that measure the quality of education are dropping further. For instance, the percentage of Class III children in government schools who can subtract has fallen from 33% in 2010 to 19% in 2013.




Level the gender gap

The gap between the literacy rates of males and females is still high. That difference was 18.3 percentage points in 1951 and rose to 26.6 percentage points in 1981. In 2011, it was 16.3 percentage points—a marginal improvement on 1951.




Draw more students into higher education

As shown by gross enrolment figures earlier, only about 20% of youth pursue higher education. The drop from graduate to postgraduate is also steep: only 13.8% of those taking up some form of undergraduate course study further.




Make them more employable

A trained labour force is a prerequisite for India to achieve higher growth rates and also to generate higher incomes for workers. But colleges churn out unemployable candidates, making hiring an expensive process (due to increase in training costs) for companies, who also have to deal with a paucity of talent.






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