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.


Read More

News in Numbers – September 16, 2015

News In Numbers: September 16, 2015



The combined wealth of India’s 198,000 high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) population as a percentage of India’s GDP (in 2014-15). The world’s second most populous nation is home to the 11th largest population of millionaires. India recorded the highest growth rates in the world for HNWI population (26.3%) and wealth (28.2%), due to falling oil prices and “constructive” election results. India and China led the growth of rich individuals and wealth in Asia Pacific, which surpassed North America’s HNWI population by a slim margin and is expected to overtake it in terms of wealth too, by the end of 2015. China’s HNWI population in 2014 stood at 890,000 whose wealth rose 19.3% to $4.5 trillion, which is more than twice of India’s GDP in 2014-15.



The drop in India’s merchandise exports in August, the steepest decline in five months and contracting for the ninth consecutive month. The two main reasons for this are lower commodity prices and a weak global demand. Exports stood at $21.2 billion while imports declined 9.95% to $33.7 billion in August. India’s trade deficit marginally narrowed to $12.5 billion in August from $12.8 billion in July. The decline in exports was mainly due to a 48% year-on-year fall in shipments of petroleum products to $2.8 billion. Reviving exports is critical as it accounts for nearly a fourth of India’s GDP. S C Ralhan, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations has called for the intervention of the Prime Minister and the Commerce and Industry Minister to immediately consult with the export bodies and draw up a roadmap to tackle the situation where reaching last financial year’s export target was looking difficult.


Rs 1 lakh crore

The amount Indian Railways is planning to seek from the Finance Ministry for safety upgrade, after a spate of recent railway accidents across India including Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, which has brought the spotlight once again on the safety aspects of the railways. Chairman of the Railway Board, A K Mital, has said the Indian railways is preparing a “comprehensive safety plan” that includes elimination of all level crossings and strengthening of tracks and bridges. Japanese railways and companies have agreed to help the Indian government in achieving its ‘zero accident mission’. In 2014, 27,581 people died in railway related accidents, of which 9.3% were railway crossing accidents.



The number of days within which private airlines would have to present their plans to reduce “excessive” fares on certain routes to the Indian government. Junior aviation minister Mahesh Sharma said the government is open to imposing price caps if the responses of the private carriers are inadequate. He also said that the last minute fares are on the higher side and that these are giving the airlines “a bad name”. However, he added that the government prefers to settle this issue without introducing any caps or other rules. The Indian aviation is struggling with $11.3 billion in debt and just two airlines- Indigo and GoAir – made a profit in 2014-15. GoEuro, a European travel website, ranked India as the most inexpensive country in terms of air travel where it costs about $10.36 per 100 km. Recently, chairman of Competition Commission of India, Ashok Chawla, said that there is no need to put a cap on airfares and that market forces would be able to fix the right fares in an unregulated environment.


Rs 20,000 crore

The estimated revenue that the festival of ‘Ganeshotsav’ generates across India, according to a report by industry body Assocham. ‘Ganeshotsav’ or ‘Ganesh Chathurti’ is an important Hindu festival celebrated to honour the elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Terming the festival as ‘recession-proof’, Assocham said expenditure on the festival is growing at an annual rate of 30% and the number of ‘mandals’ (elaborate, artificial structures erected with idols of Ganesha) is increasing at 5-10% per year. The report says the setting up of these ‘mandals’ attract “generous contribution by people from all walks of life” and generate employment for thousands of people. A proxy of how the big the festival: organisers of ‘mandals’ across Mumbai had taken a combined insurance cover worth Rs 450 crore last year. is a search engine for public data

Read More

Spotlight on food products made in India after Maggi ban but how safe are food imports?

This piece originally appeared on


The recent ban on Maggi noodles puts a lens on the deficiencies of the food regulator to test products made in India. The problem is compounded for food products from other countries: the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) fails in its own stated objective to test every import consignment.

Import coverage

The stated objective of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is to test every import consignment. But in 2013-14, matching FSSAI test data with food imports shows that, at 7,246 tonnes of consignment volume, FSSAI tested only about 0.004% of food products entering India. In comparison, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) physically examined 1.9% of its food import lines in 2011-12.


chart-1 (1)



Part of the reason is presence. According to FSSAI, it has a presence in only 16 of the 673 entry points into India; additionally, it works with 68 registered laboratories. In 2013-14, FSSAI examined 53,692 consignments of food products weighing 7,246 tonnes. It rejected 371 consignments, amounting to 0.21% of the quantity sought to be imported.


chart-2 (1)



Then, the sample sizes drawn by it are without relation to consignment size. “For example, if 10,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units) are being imported and in another case 1 lakh SKUs are being imported, the number of samples drawn for testing should be different, which is not happening,” says Ashwin Bhadri, chief executive of Equinox Labs, a registered laboratory.





Despite an apparent need to build testing infrastructure, FSSAI is not using the entire funds available with it. It is now looking to move towards random- and risk-based inspections like the US, which has an automated system that, according to the USFDA’s annual report, “uses data analytics from the entire lifecycle of a product to better identify and target high-risk products”.




Data sources: FSSAI, ministry of commerce; all data for 2013-14.



Read More

News in Numbers – June 17, 2015


21-month low

At Rs 64.25 against the US dollar, the value of Indian currency closed at a 21-month low on Tuesday, as overseas investors pulled out some of their money from the Asia’s third largest economy. With exports recording a decline of 20% in May this year, the falling value of rupee may aid the exporters to increase their competitiveness. Dip in exports hasn’t widened trade deficit as imports too fell because of lower crude oil prices.


In a country with over 1.25 billion population, just 928 households own a fifth of India’s private financial wealth, according to a global wealth report by Boston Consulting Group. India ranks fourth among countries with the highest number of households with over $100 million. Asia (excluding Japan) is expected to overtake North America in terms of private financial wealth in another four years. In a stark contrast, in 2010, one out of every three extreme poor people were in India, according to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals Report 2014.


Indian firms are depending less on bank credit to borrow, as they are able to raise money at a cheaper cost through market loans and foreign borrowings. Three years back, bank credit accounted for nearly half of debt taken by companies. Vodafone Group Plc, the parent company of India’s second largest mobile service provider, raised Rs 7,500 crore rupee bond at 10.25% coupon rate. A part of this will be used to refinance costlier bank loans.


That’s the cut-off for Commerce students for admission in English Honours class in Delhi-based St Stephen’s College for the 2015 academic session. The equivalent cut-off for Science is 97.75% and 97.5% for Humanities. These are the highest among the subjects on offer at the college. St Stephen’s has received a record 32,100 applications this year, of which 400 would gain admission.


Coimbatore (21%) and Mumbai (19%) are the top two cities with the highest incidence of chronic constipation. Almost one out of every five people in these two cities suffer from this less-talked about problem. The findings are a part of a survey conducted by Abbott, a pharma company and Ipsos, a market research agency. Overall, about 14% of people in urban India battle this problem.


Twitter: @Howindialives

Read More