IITs and unicorns

Rs 21,000

What is it? The wage ceiling for mandatory Employees’ Provident Fund coverage that the central government is considering. It’s Rs 15,000 at present.

Why is it important?  The move will bring 6 million more employees under the mandatory social security plan which includes PG, pension and insurance, with each employee contributing 12% of salary monthly to the EPF. Those in the organised sector, earning upwards of the salary, can opt in voluntarily. The cost to the Union government would be an extra Rs 1,617 crore at Rs 5,659 crore a year. According to last reported numbers, the PF portion of the corpus was Rs 360,000 crore.

Tell me more: The EPFO had suggested a threshold increase to Rs 25,000 but it would have raised cost to government by Rs 2,708 crore.

 

Rs 6.24 crore

What is it? The total value of fake Indian currencies seized by various law enforcement forces after demonetisation and introduction of new notes in November, 2016.

Why is it important? Following reports of fake currencies flooding the market after demonetisation, some replicating crucial security features on the new Rs 2,000 notes, the government reassured they were still easily identifiable and furnished the seized numbers as proof. The volume of fake notes exceed thousands.

Tell me more: In a Rajya Sabha reply, the home ministry also assured demonetisation of the new currency notes was not on the cards.

 

500,000 tonne

What is it? The volume of raw sugar that was allowed to be imported duty-free.

Why is it important? This is over 3% of the sugar production in the October-February (full year: Oct-Sep) period of 2016-17 marketing year. Sugar cane supply hit by drought in the major producing states of Maharashtra and Karnataka has led to a fall of 19% compared to 2015-16, leading to the import.

Tell me more: The move will raise global sugar prices given India’s status as the second-largest sugar producer and an exporter till last season.

 

12

What is it? The number of unicorns founded by alumni of Indian Institutes of Technology, according to a report by UK software firm, Sage.

Why is it important? That ranks IITs fourth in the list, after Stanford (51 unicorns), Harvard (37) and University of California (18). For long, IITs were criticised for not producing enough entrepreneurs, but that has been changing in the last few years. According to one count, 60% of all startups that have Series A venture funding have founders from IIT/IIM. Set up as engineering training institutes, IITs have been expanding their scope over years, and now plan to offer MBBS courses as well, starting with IIT Kharagpur.

 

Tell me more: Massachusetts Institute of Technology & University of Pennsylvania which follow IITs in the list have lead to nine unicorns each. Unlike others in the list, IITs are a group of institutions, having over 60,000 students all campuses put together. Stanford has about 16,000 students, Harvard, 22000  and MIT 11,000.

 

$3.6 billion

What is it? The investment Indian Railways will need to achieve a solar energy target of 5GW by 2025, according to a study by Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Why is it important? Railways is a big consumer of electricity, and its move to solar will help India in achieving its larger renewables energy target, besides helping with its INDC commitment of 40% non-fossil fuel installed power capacity. Railways uses close to 2.4% of the country’s total electricity consumption, and it’s growing at 5% a year.

Tell me more: The report estimates that 1.1GW of 5GW would come from rooftop and the rest from utility scale projects. Railways has an installed capacity of 16 MW of solar as of March 2017, and has is in the process of commissioning 255 MW of rooftop solar projects.

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5 kms = 500 kms 🚌 – News in Numbers July 13, 2016

Please accept my apologies for the rather cryptic subject line. I promise it’s not some kind of clickbait. It’s a reality for thousands of our fellow citizens living in rural areas. For years there were no roads, and when the roads came, there were no inexpensive but comfortable way to go from one place to another. If the photo below is cliche, it’s a cliche because the scene is so common for a lot of people.

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One of the numbers we picked for you today hints at an answer. Let us know what you think about it.

25 paise

What is it? The amount by which Kerosene prices is likely to be raised every month till March 2017.

Why is it important? This will cut down the subsidy bill by 30% in current financial year, and also reduce adulteration of other petroleum products by mixing Kerosene. At present, the subsidy per litre of Kerosene sold is Rs 13.12. Kerosene price was increased by 50 paise in the first of this month, after a gap of nearly five years.

Tell me more: If the decision to rise Kerosene prices are implemented, it would be replication of the strategy adopted earlier to cut down Diesel subsidies. Price was increased by 50 paisa per month until all subsidies were eliminated.   

125,000 villages

What is it?The number of villages the government plans to connect by purchasing 80,000 mini-buses.

Why is it important? This will increase the mobility of people living in rural India, expanding job opportunities and market access. Government built 190,413 kms of new roads and upgraded 258,189 kms of existing roads under the Bharat Nirman program. Despite the connectivity, public transport were not available as it was not viable for private operators and state transport undertakings did not have the resources to expand.

Tell me more: The program will be 60% funded by centre, with the states contributing the rest.

6 months

What is it? The number of months Honda’s top selling scooter model, Activa outsold Splendour, which is sold by its erstwhile partner, Hero Motors. Splendour was the highest selling vehicle for 17 years.

Why is it important? Underscores the increasing share of scooters in the two-wheeler market and the foothold of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters in the Indian market. Honda now sells every second scooter bought in India.

Tell me more: Scooter sales was 5 million units in last fiscal, and accounted for a third of two-wheeler market.

823

What is it? The number of students from the scheduled castes who made it to IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) in general ranking list, up from 515 last year. 22 of them were ranked among the top 2000.

Why is it important? IITs have come under heavy criticism for its lack of diversity, especially the low numbers of students from socially backward communities. The elite institutions responded by increasing the seats reserved for students from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes – and by waiving their fees. Their growing number in general list underlines the importance of education/training interventions outside the campus.

Tell me more: 49.5% of the total 10,500 seats in IITs are reserved for various castes – 7.5% for STs, 15% for SCs, 27% for OBCs. The students who got through the general list might still use the quota to get a campus of their choice.

2,36,000

What is it? The number of dollar millionaires in India end of 2015, according to ndia 2016 Wealth Report, by New World Wealth

Why is it important? The number is expected to almost double by 2025 to 5,54,000, the report says. This in a country where almost 30% of the population live in poverty spending  less than Rs 32 a day in rural areas or Rs 47 in urban areas. Whether the wealth of the few will create the much needed jobs remains the big question

Tell me more: The report attributed the growth of millionaires to growth in local construction, financial services, IT, business process outsourcing and healthcare sectors. The wealth of 2.36 lakh millionaires adds up to $1.5 trillion, the report said.

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News in numbers, Apr 8, 2016: IIT fees increased, share of loss-making public companies…

5 million

What is it? The number of Reliance Communications’ (RCom) customers who will be migrated to fourth generation network operated by Reliance Jio, the yet-to-be launched telecom venture by Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Industries (RIL).  

Why is it important? This will be a test of call quality and broadband speed of Reliance Jio, whose launch is delayed to end of 2016. For RCom, owned by Mukesh’s younger brother Anil Ambani, the deal will help to launch the 4G services without spending much on setting up additional infrastructure.    

Tell me more: The two brothers signed a deal to share resources. RCom will share its network and spectrum, and RIL will allow RCom customers to use its network.    

 

Rs 2 lakhs

What is it? Revised annual fees payable by undergraduates studying at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The earlier fees was Rs 90,000 per year.

Why is it important? The upward revision will cut government’s subsidy bill. The central government spends Rs 6 lakh each year to educate one student. The increase will be spent to improve the infrastructure within IIT’s.

Tell me more: Students from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and most economically backward families (annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh) will not be required to pay the fees. For rest, either partial remission of fees based on family income or bank loan is made available.

 

18%

What is it?  The Goods and Services Tax rate that finance minister Arun Jaitley says will be a part of the GST Bill

Why is it important?  The move – to make the 18% cap a part of the bill – might lower the resistance from the Congress Party to the passing of the bill in the parliament. While there is consensus about the tax rate – proposed by a committee headed by chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian – the government was reluctant to include any rate in the bill (as demanded by Congress) because it puts a constraint on raising tax revenues.

Tell me more: Experts have argued that implementation of GST will widen tax base, eliminate myriad taxes and their cascading effects, simplify compliance and help center and state tax administrations work together efficiently.

 

30%

What is it? The percentage of State Level Public Enterprises estimated to be incurring losses, per Reserve Bank of India.

Why is it important? The losses have adverse impact on state budgets, leaving less funds for development. The financial performance reflect poor management and excess manpower at the state run enterprises as well as policies such as administered prices and other market conditions.

Tell me more: There are 849 state level public enterprises operating in the areas of manufacturing, finance, power, infrastructure, agriculture and allied services and employ over 18 lakh people.

 

€ 1,500

What is it? Fine payable for anyone caught paying for sex in France. For second offence, the fine will increase to Euro 3,750 and an entry in that person’s criminal record.   

Why is it important? The law passed by the French parliament will criminalize paying for sex rather than the act of soliciting sex. France follows the model adopted by Norway and Northern Ireland. Opponents of this approach say this pushes prostitution underground.   

Tell me more: There are 3 million sex workers in India and 40% of them are children, as per Ministry of Women and Child Development estimate in 2007. Sex workers are allowed to practise in their private homes individually, but organized prostitution is banned.

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News in numbers, Feb 2, 2016: India’s rising food imports, proposed fee hike for IIT students…

 

51.1

What is it? Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in January, a composite indicator of India’s manufacturing activity based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company.

Why is it important? This has jumped to a four-month high after touching the lowest in 28 months in December (49.1). This is also above the 50-level threshold, an indication that manufacturing, which accounts for 16% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), could be on the revival path. This strengthens the expectation that the Reserve Bank of India will keep key rates unchanged on Tuesday when it announces its sixth bimonthly monetary policy review.

Tell me more: The new export orders sub-index increased to 52.5 in January from 51.5 in December, the highest in five months.

 

2.6%

What is it? Increase in global corn prices since January 13.

Why is it important? An impact of India importing corn for the first time in 16 years. It has announced plans to buy half a million tonnes, and according to traders, might import 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of corn. Two consecutive droughts and growing demand from India’s 1.25 billion population is likely to force India to import other commodities such as lentils and oilmeals. This is likely to transform the country into a net importer of some of the commodities for the first time in years. India needs to step up investment and other measures to ensure agriculture grows at a faster pace than the 2% recorded in the first half of 2015-16.

Tell me more: Agriculture accounts for around 13% of India’s GDP and two-thirds of the country’s population depend on it for their livelihoods.

 

Rs 3 lakh

What is it? The proposed annual fee hike for the students of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by a committee of the institutes’ directors. This would be over a threefold increase from the current Rs 90,000 annual fees charged per student.

Why is it important? The fee hike is one of the two main measures suggested by the panel to provide greater financial autonomy to the IITs and is enough to cover the salary and maintenance costs. The other suggestion is to create a non-banking financial company (NBFC) with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore, which would offer interest-free loans to students (from IITs and other higher education institutes) for projects and research infrastructure.

Tell me more: These proposals are being considered and could be part of the budgetary announcements later this month.

 

4

What is it? Total number of public health emergencies declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) so far, the latest one being the Zika virus.

Why is it important? There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus, which is suspected to cause birth defects (microcephaly) where babies are born with abnormally small heads, underdeveloped brains and usually die young. Though the virus (caused by the same mosquito as dengue) has spread in 24 countries in the Americas region, one-third of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of dengue infection (Africa, India, Southeast Asia and Latin America).

Tell me more: Brazil, the worst affected nation, has reported over 3,700 cases of microcephaly and according to the country’s health minister, in 80% of the infected people, there were no symptoms. It has reported at least 1.5 million cases of Zika infection. Elsewhere, Tata Motors is now considering changing the name of its new small car, Zica for fear of the negative association with the virus.

 

~$568 billion

What is it? Valuation of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Why is it important? Alphabet is the most valuable traded company in the world today, dislodging Apple ($535 billion) from that position. This is not the first time, though. Google was ahead of Apple in 2010. This comes after Alphabet announcing its fourth quarter earnings where it posted a profit of $4.9 billion from $4.7 billion a year ago.

Tell me more: This is the first time the company has given separate figures for its Google business (includes search engine and YouTube) and “Other Bets” businesses (include experimental projects such as self-driving cars, internet balloon programs). The latter posted an operating loss of $3.6 billion and revenue of $448 million in 2015. Google’s revenue in 2015 was $74.5 billion while its operating income increased by 23% to $23.4 billion.

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