A One-Stop Hub For Public Transport

Indians would soon be able to catch several modes of public transport to their destination from one single station, technically called Intermodal stations. These stations hold a promise of decongesting Indian cities, which often get clogged due to overwhelming number of private vehicles on the roads. In US, cities like Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Orlando have experienced benefits of intermodal stations firsthand. Closer home, it may do us some good, too.



What is it? The number of Indian cities in which intermodal railway stations are being planned. This would mean integration of various modes of transportation, including rail, bus, inland waterways, auto rickshaws, taxis and private vehicles.

Why is it important? This move aims to reduce congestion and vehicular pollution. It counts as benefits higher footfalls in intermodal stations (than disaggregated transport terminals), improved experience of passengers who are likely to spend less time and money to transit between terminals, and shared infrastructure resulting in lower investment and land requirements. The governments of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala are making efforts to set up seamless transportation networks in some key hubs in their states.

Tell me more: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has conducted pre-feasibility studies to set up intermodal stations in Nagpur and Varanasi as part of the pilot projects. The project will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle set up by the ministry of road transport and highways (through the NHAI), the ministry of railways and the respective state governments.



$38.8 billion

What is it? The market capitalisation on Monday of Delta Airlines, in which Warren Buffett-controlled Berkshire Hathaway owned 7.4% as of December 2017. Of the four airlines in which Berkshire holds a stake, Delta is the most valued.

Why is it important? On Monday, in an interview to CNBC, Buffett said “he wouldn’t rule out owning an entire airline” with the $116 billion Berkshire has in cash. Till 2016, Buffett never invested in an airline, seeing it as a capital-destructive business that often fell victim to competitive zeal. Powered by low oil prices, airlines are currently in the midst of a good profitable run.

Tell me more: Besides Delta, Berkshire holds stakes in Southwest Airlines (market capitalisation of $35 billion on Monday), American Airlines Group ($26.2 billion) and United Continental Holdings ($20.5 billion).


Rs 119 crore

What is it? The amount Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) had set aside as liabilities for the months of November and December, and offered to deposit in the Consumer Safeguard Fund, after it could not pass on the November GST (goods and services tax) rate cuts to its customers on its existing stocks.

Why is it important? The Directorate General of Safeguards has asked HUL to explain the math behind this sum, besides asking it to submit documents to show how it arrived at these figures for both the months. Other companies are also being tracked in similar cases. Last month, the government had served notices to Lifestyle India and Hardcastle Restaurants (which operates McDonald’s branded restaurants in west and south India), among others, for not passing on GST tax benefits to customers.

Tell me more: In November, the government had brought 178 items from the 28% tax bracket to 18%. The government said it had received 169 consumer complaints against suppliers or goods and services for not passing on the benefits of the reduced tax rates or input tax credit.



What is it? The number of days by which there has been a delay in the repatriation of the mortal remains of Indian actor Sridevi from Dubai to Mumbai. She died late on Saturday.

Why is it important? According to a tweet by Dubai Police on Monday evening, the actress died due to “drowning in her hotel apartment’s bathtub following loss of consciousness”, which is different from the earlier account of a cardiac arrest being the cause of her death. However, it is unclear what caused her to lose consciousness. The local police further added that it has transferred the case to the Dubai Public Prosecution to carry out regular legal procedures that are followed in such cases.

Tell me more: Various reports have raised questions about the circumstances surrounding the 54-year-old actor’s sudden death and the repatriation of Sridevi’s mortal remains is likely to happen today.



What is it? The number of days in a year, in a single city, over which a new format for Davis Cup—the pinnacle of men’s team tennis—is proposed to be played, beginning 2019. On Monday, investment group Kosmos signed a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with the International Tennis Federation, effectively signaling the end of this team competition as we know it.

Why is it important? At present, the Davis Cup world group unravels across four weekends in February, July, September and November. This format, which has existed since 1900, has progressively been criticised for scattered spectator attention, and the reluctance of top players to commit whole-heartedly. The new 18-team, starting in 2019, is structured like a world cup and aims to compress the tournament in a week.

Tell me more: Footballer Gerard Pique is the founder of Kosmos, and several top players have come out in support of the new format.


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News in numbers, Oct 15, 2015: Pharmacy stores’ protest, wholesale inflation of pulses…

~ 800,000

What is it? The estimated number of Pharmacy stores that closed their operations for a day protesting against online sale of drugs.

Why is it important? The All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD),which represents the offline pharmacy stores, claims their business is affected 50% since online sales of drugs., Zigy and 1mg are among the several startups backed by investors like Intel Capital, Omidyar Network, and Sequoia Capital that sell drugs online.

Tell me more: The protests by AIOCD is a broad reflection of conflict between brick and mortar retailers and online portals. Last week, a traders body complained to the Commerce Ministry that online retailers like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon India are violating India’s foreign investment rules.



What is it? Price cut on soaps and detergents sold by Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India’s largest fast moving consumer goods firm, to boost sales in three months ended September 2015.

Why is it important? HUL’s sales is a proxy of consumer demand, especially in rural market because of its extensive network. Price deflation because of poor rural demand and lower commodity prices is a validation of the Reserve Bank of India’s outlook that inflation has moderated.

Tell me more: Soaps and detergents account for nearly half of HUL’s revenue of Rs 30,791 crore. This is a better reflector of rural demand compared to personal products or beverages.


Rs 249 crore

What is it? The amount Corporate India donated to Swachh Bharat Kosh, a fund created to get contributions from individuals and companies, towards government’s pet project, ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India).

Why is it important? Swachh Bharat had set an ambitious target of building 25 lakh individual toilets in urban areas, and achieve 100% collection of solid waste in 1,000 cities and towns in current fiscal. In the first year, this report says, only 25% of targets were met in urban areas.

Tell me more: Larsen & Toubro, a conglomerate with interests in engineering, construction and financial services, donated the maximum with Rs 60 crore.



What is it? Wholesale inflation of pulses in September this year, as consecutive deficit monsoon rain has hit domestic production.

Why is it important? Pulses is a major source of protein for Indians. India consumes 22 million tonnes of pulses annually, and domestic output is not enough to meet the demand. A further fall in production will mean increased prices.

Tell me more: A fall in domestic production of pulses is a boon for Canadian farmers, who are getting 50% more prices for their red lentils and yellow peas.


8 years

What is it? The duration for which Nissan will be the global partner to cricket’s governing body. The Japanese car manufacturer will sponsor all multilateral events of the International Cricket Council, including the 2019 World Cup. The deal size was not announced.

Why is it important? While it has sponsored other sporting events, this is the first time Nissan, which is owned by French company Renault, is padding up for cricket. It’s part of its international push, especially India, where it started selling in 2010 and has managed a market share of 2% so far. It is now targeting 5% by 2020.

Tell me more: The previous global partner of ICC was South Korea’s Hyundai, one of the three global car manufacturers whose India ride has not been bumpy.


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News In Numbers – August 20

News In Numbers: August 20



The equity stake in Uber the Tata Opportunities Fund, a private equity fund, would have received for $100 million at the taxi-hailing services provider’s last valuation of around $50 billion. According to Reuters, the Tata fund invested around $75-100 million in Uber. The fund’s managing partner had also said it invests up to $100 million in its deals. With 150,000 contracted drivers and a 40% growth on a month-on-month basis, Uber says it commands a 35% market share in India. Uber is looking to accelerate its growth in India, where the leader is homegrown taxi app, Ola. Bangalore-based Ola raised $400 million in April to become the third-most valuable venture-backed company in India.



The number of entities that received an in-principle approval yesterday from the Reserve Bank of India for setting up payment banks, out of 41 applications. These entities include telecom companies (Vodafone and Airtel), conglomerates (Aditya Birla Nuvo and Reliance Industries), technology providers (Tech Mahindra) and the Department of Posts, among others. The idea of payment banks, first suggested by a committee headed by Dr Nachiket Mor, is to provide basic banking services such as deposits, payment and remittances to the unbanked and the under-banked. Interestingly, a report by Morgan Stanley India says though the bigger cities such as Bangalore rank high in terms of job opportunities, the smaller ones are better in terms of financial infrastructure (ATMs and bank branches). Nashik and Varanasi are the toppers in terms of financial penetration.



Of the total CSR (corporate social responsibility) amount Nestle India should have spent in 2014 (the company follows a calendar year), it ended up utilising only 28%. The Companies Act 2013 stipulates that companies meeting certain benchmarks in terms of net worth, revenue and net profit must spend 2% of the profits generated in the last three years on CSR initiatives. Of the six major FMCG companies, including ITC and Hindustan Unilever, Nestle India is the only one to have missed its CSR targets. As many companies missed their targets in 2014-15, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs cut down its estimates of the corpus to be created through CSR spending by nearly half.


Rs 27.92 crore

The total disproportionate assets former telecom minister A Raja has been accused of amassing between 1999 and 2010. The fresh charge against him, his relatives and close associates has come about after the team investigating the 2G spectrum case submitted a report suggesting the possibility of disproportionate assets. This May, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was acquitted in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case, though BJP leader Subramanian Swamy (who filed the case against her) termed the Karnataka High Court judgment as a “tragedy of arithmetic errors” and had decided to appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court.



The rate of total cognizable crimes per lakh population in Indore, the highest among 53 cities with a population of over 1 million people. Surat has the lowest rate of total crimes per lakh population at 95.9. The three biggest reasons for murder in India in 2014 were: personal vendetta, property dispute and love affairs. Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of honour killings. Delhi recorded the highest number of rape cases per 1 lakh citizens at 1,813 followed by Mumbai. is a search engine for public data


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The stress in agricultural incomes, lower prices of agri products and falling rural demand

This piece originally appeared on


The latest data on two widely considered corporate barometers of rural demand—Mahindra’s tractor sales and Hindustan Unilever’s overall performance—point to stress in agricultural incomes. Wage increases on the farm, and opportunities to earn, are flat or falling. As are prices of agricultural and allied products, both in the domestic and international market.

Lower rural wage increases and opportunities…

Incomes of agricultural labourers are under pressure. The rate of increase in rural wages for all agricultural occupations has dropped steeply from last year’s levels. And the rural employment guarantee scheme, a safety net of sorts for rural labour, appears to be seeing a pullback: between April 2013 and December 2014, our period under study, unmet work demand is the highest and expenditure levels the lowest.




…and lower prices of agri products…

Even the income of farmers is under pressure. The increase in domestic prices of key crops in 2014 was lower than in the previous two years. Realizations are dropping even in the export markets, the effect of which tends to be felt in the minimum prices the government sets for farmers in the domestic market.




…are leading to flat consumer demand

Lower farm incomes are putting pressure on sales of products that are closely tied to rural disposable incomes, impacting corporate revenues and profitability.






Source: Labour Bureau; MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) dashboard;; Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Kolkata; Mahindra website; Hindustan Unilever quarterly results

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