News in Numbers, Feb 17, 2017: TN gets a new CM, 🇪🇰🇵


What is it? The number of legislators claimed to be backing Edappadi K Palanisamy, the newly sworn in chief minister of Tamil Nadu

Why is it important? Palanisamy is expected to seek vote of confidence in the assembly on Saturday. Palanisamy’s elevation as chief minister comes after the Supreme Court upheld VK Sasikala’s conviction, which will keep her behind the bars for more than three and a half years and prevent her from contesting elections for another six. Palanisamy has mostly kept the ministerial positions unchanged.

Tell me more: Palanisamy, 63, is the 13th chief minister of the state, and the third in the last six months. He has been representing Salem district’s Edapadi constituency and was the  minister for highways & minor ports under J Jayalalithaa and O Panneerselvam.


What is it? The number of seats on Saras, the indigenous aircraft made by National Aerospace Laboratories.

Why is it important? This would be India’s first indigenous passenger aircraft. The twin-turboprop plane, 30 years in the making, could ease efforts to activate remote air-routes in the country. However, India’s home-made aircrafts have not gotten off to a flying start. The combat aircraft, Tejas, produced by Hindustan Aeronautics, proved too heavy for the Navy’s requirements, though the Indian Air Force (IAF) has adopted it. Saras would have to overcome its own grim past that includes the crash of the second prototype’s test flight in 2009, killing all three on-board. It is currently being tested.

Tell me more: The IAF has committed to buying Saras as well, and will have to test it before sale to commercial airlines.


What is it? The new entrants in the oil and gas sector that won bids in the government auction after the last one in 2010.

Why is it important? The small debutants won around 16 contract areas, or 52% of total number of blocks (31) that were awarded. Their entry will boost local oil and gas production as these blocks were lying untapped earlier. Larger players, some of whom stayed away from the auctions, concentrated elsewhere from these blocks for reasons such as these being isolated, small in size, having high development costs etc. But their development is needed if Narendra Modi’s plan to reduce oil imports by 10% by 2022 is to be realised, as these blocks would increase oil output by 15,000 barrels a day and gas production by 2 million standard cubic metre a day. A total reserve of 62 million tonne of oil and oil equivalent gas is expected to be monetised from the auctioned areas.

Tell me more: The gross revenue is estimated at Rs 46,400 crore including Rs 5,000 crore in royalty and Rs 9,300 crore in central government revenue.

$19.5-22.3 billion

What is it? Snap Inc., owner of photo-messaging app, Snapchat’s reported valuation.

Why is it important? The parent of one of the fastest-growing and widely-popular mobile applications was expected to value its IPO (initial public offering) at $20-25 billion. But it is being said the unprofitable company revised it downwards on initial investor feedback as its daily average user (DAU) growth slowed to 46% in Q4, 2016. The world of listed social media companies is already seeing two outcomes playing out: Facebook which has managed to make profits on its social media platform and Twitter which is still trying to. With Snapchat’s growth in new users, mainly comprising short-on-attention millennials, slowing, its business model could be under a cloud.

Tell me more: By valuing its shares at $14-16, Snap Inc. wants to ensure enough demand for its stock to trade up on its debut. Snapchat has a learning curve which could deter new users and keep non-users from turning to it.


What is it? The ceiling on merchant discount rate (MDR) for small merchants using a physical point of sale terminal for card transactions, as proposed by Reserve Bank of India. MDR is the rate charged to a merchant by a bank for card / digital transactions. For digital transactions the proposed ceiling is 0.3%.

Why is it important? MDR has been a point of contention in India ever since the government announced demonetisation and sought to push digital transactions by cutting MDR to zero for transactions up to Rs 2000 till 31 March 2017.  MDR’s slabs are usually based on ticket size. RBI has proposed to the banks to consider the turnover of merchants too, and charge the small merchants (with turnover of less than Rs 20 lakh, for example) lower rate.

Tell me more: Reserve Bank has also proposed that banks charge lower rate for transactions that don’t involve physical point of sale terminals that are usually supplied by the banks.

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News in Numbers, July 25, 2016: Search on for AN-32 plane, Kabali’s first day earnings…


What is it? The number of Chinese journalists whose visas in India have not been renewed by the government and hence, asked to leave the country.

Why is it important? This comes at a time when relations between India and China are strained after the latter opposed India’s entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group last month. Analysts say this could result in a tit-for-tat approach by the Chinese government who could send back Indian journalists stationed there. There are five Indian journalists who work out of Beijing in addition to a number of them working with China’s English state media.

Tell me more: While the government maintains that the Chinese scribes overstayed their visas in India and would accommodate their replacements, a couple of reports attribute this to the Chinese journalists meeting some Tibetan activists recently and for engaging in activities beyond their journalistic brief, which came under the scrutiny of security agencies.



What is it? The number of Navy and Coast Guard ships including a submarine in addition to 13 aircraft and four helicopters that are involved in a search operation to find the Indian Air Force’s AN-32 plane that went missing on Friday morning.

Why is it important? There are 29 people on board. Three days of search has yielded no results so far and the search and rescue team is now seeking satellite imagery to find clues about the missing plane that lost contact over the Bay of Bengal. The search is difficult because the the depth is over 3,500 metres and the weather is rough. India’s technical capabilities do not allow it to search beyond 500 metres in the oceans.

Tell me more: In 1968, another Indian Air Force plane carrying 98 defence personnel went missing between Chandigarh and Leh, and after 35 years, a trekking team discovered the remains of a human corpse. This led to the discovery of the remains of the people in the aircraft, which had fallen into a glacier.


88.1 billion

What is it? The number of cigarette sticks Indians smoked in 2015, according to a study by Euromonitor.

Why is it important? A decline of 8.2% from 2014 figures, cigarette sales dropped to a 15-year-low last year. One of the main reasons could be an increase in illicit trade volume in cigarettes – India was the fourth largest market in this regard in 2015, which could be a result of steep tax increases on cigarettes.

Tell me more: India has the second highest number of tobacco users in the world and its share in illicit cigarettes increased to 19% in 2014 from 12% in 2006.


Rs 80-90 crore

What is it? The estimated earnings of ‘Kabali’ worldwide on Day 1 of its release.

Why is it important? The movie opened amidst crazy fan frenzy (as is the case with any Rajinikanth movie) but drew mixed reviews from various quarters. This may result in a drop in its box office collections in the coming days. In India, the movie earned Rs 48 crore on the opening day, beating Salman Khan’s ‘Sultan’’s day 1 collections of Rs 46.5 crore.

Tell me more: The movie, largely set in Malaysia, portrays the Tamil Superstar as an aged don. In the US also, ‘Kabali’ broke the first day box office record collections of Aamir Khan’s movie ‘PK’ ($1,418,817) and ‘Sultan’ ($784,194) and earned nearly $2 million.



What is it? The number of islands in the Andaman and Nicobar region, Lakshadweep and the east and west coasts that would be opened up to the public soon.

Why is it important? This gives additional options to tourists who tend to feel restricted while exploring the pristine beaches and trails, as these provide limited access to outsiders and are often the preserve of the natives or tribes. For instance, the Andaman archipelago has 300 islands, of which only a dozen or more are open to the public while the Nicobars is not accessible to tourists at all.

Tell me more: The islands would be given public access once the government prepares a blueprint for the development of these islands and ensures coastal security.

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