Indians Are ‘Partly Free’ On The Internet


Indians are only partly free on the internet, and so are the 28% of the world’s internet users. A recent report pointed that share of non communicable diseases among all diseases has gone up. India’s trade deficit has shot up. Amazon is shoring up its war chest, Flipkart watch out!



What is it? The share of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India’s total disease burden in 2016, up from 30.5% in 1990, according to a report released by the government.

Why is it important? There has been a reversal in trend. In 1990, communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases (CMNNDs) accounted for 60.9% of the disease burden; this is down to 32.7% in 2016. The transition from CMNNDs responsible for a majority of disability-adjusted life years (disease burden expressed as the number of years of life lost due to ill-health, disability or death) in 1990 to NCDs dominating in 2016 varies from state to state, highlighting the need for different policy approaches in each state.

Tell me more: Last year, three of the five leading individual causes of disease burden were NCDs-ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers and diabetes and they kill 40 million people globally, or 70% of all deaths.


$14 billion

What is it? India’s trade deficit—the difference between imports and exports—in October, compared to $9 billion in September and $11.1 billion a year ago.

Why is it important? This is the highest in 35 months as India’s merchandise exports declined for the first time in 13 months in October to $23.1 billion and imports expanded at the slowest pace in nine months to $37.1 billion last month. Exporters put up a poor show as their money was stuck in refunds under the goods and services tax regime. A nearly 28% increase in petroleum imports and higher crude oil prices also widened the trade deficit.

Tell me more: For the April-October period, exports increased 9.6% on a year-on-year basis to $170 billion and imports 22.2% to $256.4 billion.



What is it? India’s Internet Freedom Score out of a 100 with, according to a report by human rights group Freedom House. A score of 0 means most free and that of a 100 represents least free.

Why is it important? India falls under the category of ‘partly free’ in terms of Internet Freedom in 2017, and has showed no change since 2016. Between June 2016 and May 2017, India employed key Internet controls—that reflect restrictions in social, political and religious content—in five of the nine parameters studied. This included social media or communications apps blocked, political/social/religious content blocked, localised or nationwide ICT shutdown, blogger or ICT user arrested, imprisoned or in prolonged detention for political or social content, and blogger or ICT user physically attacked or killed (including custody).

Tell me more: Of the 65 countries assessed covering 87% of the world’s Internet users, only 23% come under the category of ‘free’, 28% ‘partly free’ and 36% ‘not free’. Nearly half the countries posted declines in the coverage period and only 13 made gains, that too minor.


$4.74 billion

What is it? The latest authorised capital—the limit for equity capital declared by a company—of Amazon India, up from $2.4 billion previously.

Why is it important? This gives Amazon more room to channel capital into its Indian operations, as and when it likes. In its fight against Flipkart for e-commerce supremacy in India, far from stepping back, Amazon is willing to raise the stakes even more in a market it has identified to be pivotal for it.

Tell me more: The Amazon move comes about three months after Flipkart added $1.4 billion to its own capital chest from new investor SoftBank.



What is it? The number of initial route proposals received by the government yesterday in the second round of the Udan regional connectivity scheme, which aims to make air travel affordable in less-serviced or unserviced routes, partly via a government subsidy.

Why is it important? In the first round of this scheme, the government cleared 128 routes in March, but only about 20 have become operational for a variety of reasons at both the airline and the airport end. How the second round, the routes for which will be allotted next month, plays out remains to be seen.

Tell me more: Airlines have been moving on their plans to add smaller aircraft to their fleet. IndiGo has placed an order for 50 ATRs and expects to launch its first regional flight in December.


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News In Numbers – August 13

News In Numbers: August 13



The fall in the rupee against the dollar during the one-year period from July 2008 which was the previous time that China, the world’s largest exporter, held its currency from appreciating consciously and for a sustained period. On Wednesday, for the second consecutive day, China pegged the yuan lower, rattling markets the world over. The rupee fell 0.94% for the day, closing at 64.81, its lowest value since September 2013. The fear is that the currency devaluation by China, which potentially makes its exports even more competitive globally, will force other governments to do the same just to stay in step.



The percentage of the estimated $5 billion in economic losses suffered by Nepal in the earthquakes in April and May that were covered by insurance, according to a recent report by reinsurer Swiss Re. While Nepal was under-insured against natural catastrophes and manmade disasters, the world, in general, was better off than in the recent past: of the $37 billion of economic losses in the first half of 2015, 45% was covered by insurance firms against the 10-year average cover of 27%.



The percentage of seats filled by Vistara on its flights in June, the last month of the summer holiday season in India and the latest for which occupancy data is available. This was the lowest among all airlines, the next being in Air Pegasus (73.1%). In May, the full-service airline co-promoted by the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines filled 71.1% of seats, and its drop to June was the largest among all airlines in India. July to September is a slack period for airlines in the country, and offers and discounts are a norm. On Wednesday, Vistara said it would offer a premium economy-class ticket free with every business-class ticket purchased, usable till 15 October, the approximate beginning of the other busy window for the airlines.



Of the 4,363 information requests sought from Twitter by 62 governments during January to June 2015, 2,436 came from the US, as per the latest biannual transparency report by the microblogging site. Of the requests made by the US, which has about 10% of the world’s Internet users, 80% resulted in some information being produced. India was ranked sixth, with 113 requests (against 16 in the January to June 2014 period), 19% of which resulted in information being produced. However, India made more removal requests (33) than the US (25). Twitter has been releasing such data since 2012.



Number of double hundreds scored in Test matches by decorated Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara, who is currently playing his last Test series, against India. His count of double hundreds is second only to Sir Donald Bradman, who racked up 12 doubles. Among active cricketers, Younis Khan has the most (four) hundreds. In other records, Sangakkara is ranked number five in Test runs. He is also ranked nine in batting averages, though the eight above him have played between 10 and 85 Test matches, which is significantly less than Sangakkara’s 133. On Wednesday, in the first innings of his penultimate Test, he was dismissed for 5. is a search engine for public data


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News In Numbers – August 4


News In Numbers: August 4



The median forecast of the repo rate—the rate at which the central bank lends money to banks—for 2015-16 by 27 professional forecasters surveyed by it in June 2015. The repo rate currently stands at 7.25%, and the Reserve Bank of India, as part of its monetary policy review today, is unlikely to cut this key indicator of interest rates. In calendar 2015, the RBI has cut the repo rate thrice, each time by 0.25 percentage points. Even if it pauses, lower interest rates remain the expectation for the next 18 months: in the same RBI survey, the 27 forecasters predicted a median repo rate of 6.75% in 2016-17.



Of the total funds committed by members of Parliament (MPs) in the last 14 years towards rehabilitation after major natural disasters, less than 40% has been utilised. Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme scheme, MPs can recommend up to Rs 1 crore for disaster rehabilitation. They had committed a total of Rs 250 crore since the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, of which, only Rs 99 crore has been used. As many as 21,975 people have died in India between 2001-02 and 2010-11 in major natural disasters.



Prices of crude oil, as represented by Brent futures, fell below the $50 a barrel mark on Monday, the first time since January. On the one hand, there is lower demand from China, which has been powering growth in the world economy. On the other, the expectation is that oil-rich Iran, following the removing of western sanctions, will increase supply in the market. Lower crude prices are good for India, which imported $116 billion worth of this commodity in 2014-15, or 25% of its overall imports. In 2015-16, for April and May, India’s import bill under this head was $13 billion.



The average capacity utilisation of thermal power plants in 2015-16 (till June), continuing a consistent decline. In 2009-10, this was as high as 77.5%. The largest decline in plant usage has been in plants run by private players, followed by those run by state governments and Central governments, respectively. In its first-quarter results yesterday, central government company National Thermal Power Corporation announced a 7% drop in power generation and 6% drop in revenues due to lower demand from cash-strapped state distributors of electricity.



Of the 353 million Internet users in India as of June 2015, 127 million are local language Internet users, according to a survey by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB International. The total digital advertising spend in India is estimated to be Rs 3,575 crore by December 2015, of which digital ad spends in local languages are projected to have a share of 5%. In India, 122 languages are spoken. Of this, Hindi has the maximum share (41% of total population), followed by Bengali (8.1%) and Telugu (7.9%). is a search engine for public data


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