News in numbers, Apr 19, 2016: Bullet train’s viability, global switch to a new polio vaccine…

32

What is it? The number of equity investments in private cancer therapeutic companies in the three months ended March 2016.

Why is it important? The investments into these companies – totalling $604 million in three months alone – might bring a cure for cancer closer. There were 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012 and the number of cancer cases are expected to increase from 14 million in 2012 to 22 million within the next 20 years.

Tell me more: Internet billionaire Sean Parker recently announced a $250-million funding to bring together 300 scientists at 40 labs and six institutions to work on a new area of cancer research called immunotherapy. This uses a person’s immune system to fight cancer.

88,000-114,000

What is it? The number of passengers India’s proposed bullet train connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad should carry to be financially viable, according to an IIM-Ahmedabad report.

Why is it important? Raises questions about its viability. To be viable, the train has to undertake 100 trips daily (50 trips each way), assuming ticket price of Rs 5/km for 300-km distance and an operating cost of 20-40% of the revenues. This also means three trains would be needed every hour each direction.

Tell me more: The government expects to start work on the Rs 98,000-crore project next year.

155

What is it? The number of countries (including India) that will switch to bivalent oral polio vaccine from trivalent polio vaccine between April 17 and May 1.

Why is it important? It reduces the risk of vaccine-derived polio. The bivalent vaccine protects against types 1 and 3 of wild polio strains while trivalent protects against all three strains. Wild polio virus type 2 was confirmed to be eradicated in 2015, and by switching to bivalent vaccines, these countries eliminate the risk of causing vaccine-derived Type 2 polio.

Tell me more: India was declared ‘polio-free’ by the World Health Organization in 2014. The agency’s goal is to stop all three types of polio vaccines by 2020.

$5.07 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit (excess of imports over exports) in March.

Why is it important? The lowest in five years thanks to 80.5% decline gold imports in March and a 35.3% fall in oil imports (because of low oil prices). Low commodity prices have guarded India from the effects of global economic slowdown, which have caused exports to be the lowest since 2010-11, contracting for the 16th straight month in March.

Tell me more: India’s exports declined 15.9% to $261.1 billion in 2015-16 while imports fell by 15.3% to $379.6 billion in March.

7.1%

What is it? Revenue growth of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest software firm, in 2015-16.

Why is it important? While TCS has done well financially (its profits beat forecasts), the company is facing a trial in the US. Last week a US federal court jury imposed a  penalty of $940 million on TCS in an infringement case of intellectual property and trade secrets.

Tell me more: TCS plans to appeal in the higher courts. The company’s net profit grew by 14.8% to $3.69 billion in 2015-16 from a year ago.

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