News in numbers, Jan 29, 2016: First batch of India’s smart cities, agromet services’ impact…


Rs 102.7 crore

What is it? Revenue earned by Power Grid Corporation of India from its telecom business in the third quarter ended December. It has seen a jump of 49.2% from the year-ago quarter’s Rs 68.9 crore.

Why is it important? It’s an indicator of 4G investments by Indian telecom companies. Power Grid, which is India’s biggest transmission company, is the only utility firm that has overhead optic fibre network (by using optical ground wire on power transmission lines), which is used by telecom companies to provide their services. Telecom companies have committed to an investment of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, of which Rs 1.15 lakh crore is for 4G spectrum in five auctions.

Tell me more: Power Grid’s revenue from its core business (transmission services) increased by nearly 23% to Rs 5,142.8 crore.  The company plans to raise Rs 2,000 crore through domestic bonds in February to meet its capital requirements to execute the ongoing projects.


3.54 crore

What is it? Number of people in 20 ‘smart’ cities.

Why it is important? These people would soon see their cities getting a makeover under the government’s ‘Smart Cities’ programme: citizen-friendly governance, promotion of a variety of transport options, uninterrupted power and water supplies, provision of housing and integration of urban planning with the smart city mission to address issues such as infrastructure, land use planning, urban design and architecture. The cities would receive an investment of Rs 50,802 crore over a five-year period.

Tell me more: The 20 cities, which include Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Pune (Maharashtra), Jaipur (Rajasthan), Surat (Gujarat) and Kochi (Kerala) were chosen out of 98 based on the proposals submitted by them. The government plans to create 100 smart cities by 2022.


4 million

What is it? Estimated number of people who could get infected by the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, in the Americas region (North and South America), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Why is it important? Zika might turn into an epidemic, With cases being reported in 23 countries in the region and the virus “now spreading explosively”. The virus has been linked to severe birth defects in babies born in Brazil, though it has not yet been proved. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and clinical trials for two potential candidates in the United may begin by the end of this year, meaning we are still years away from a possible cure/vaccine. The most common symptoms of zika virus disease are fever, rashes, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes. The WHO, which came under fire for its slow response time when Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014, has promised a quicker turnaround time to tackle the spread of zika virus.

Tell me more: Closer home, though there have been no cases reported in Singapore, the authorities are preparing for the worst, because it could be imported into the country by tourists, and it’s a tropical country, prone to mosquito-borne diseases.



What is it? Maximum number of tickets one can book per month on the IRCTC website, effective February 15.

Why is it important? Presently one can book 10 tickets a month. Railways says the change is to prevent misuse of the online ticketing system by touts. According to an analysis, 90% of the users booked up to six tickets a month online. This will affect certain passengers who travel by train frequently for work or other purposes.

Tell me more: Other checks put in place by the IRCTC are: one can book only two tickets using his/her user-id in a day for advance reservation booking from 8-10 am, an individual can book only two tickets per day per user-id under the ‘Tatkal’ option from 10 am to noon.


Rs 50,000 crore

What is it? Economic benefit of providing agro-meteorological (agromet) advisory services to farmers in 550 districts in 2015. These include weather updates and information on crop-weather relationships.

Why is it important? This provides some cushioning against the vagaries of the weather and also, helpful to most Indian farmers who rely on the monsoon for agricultural production. Rain-fed agriculture accounts for over two-thirds of India’s cropped area, which provides livelihoods to 48 crore people. If all the farmers are provided with the agromet services, the potential economic benefit is estimated to be Rs 2.11 lakh crore.

Tell me more: Agromet services are also being provided through text and voice messages on mobile phones to over 2 million farmers currently.

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News in numbers, Jan 20, 2016: VC-backed startups’ funding falls, ad spending in 2016…


Rs 4.34 per unit

What is it? The price at which Finland-based Fortum Finnsurya Energy has bid to build a 70-MW solar plant in Rajasthan under NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park tender.

Why is it important? This is the lowest solar tariff in India, beating the recent bids by SBG Cleantech and Sun Edison at Rs 4.63 per unit. Though such low tariffs raise concerns about the viability of these projects, the government says this has been possible “through transparent auctions with a ready provision of land, transmission and the like”. Lower crude prices tend to be bad for solar energy firms, but India’s energy push is opening up opportunities for some of them.

Tell me more: State-owned NTPC conducted the reverse bidding for 420 MW solar projects to be set up at Bhadla’s Solar Park – Phase II on Monday.


35 seconds

What is it? The minimum time it will take to book a train ticket on IRCTC website.

Why is it important? The railway ticket booking website has deliberately kept the booking time to 35 seconds to prevent automated software from exploiting the system. The 35 second wait time was arrived at after considering that it takes at least 35 seconds to fill in the needed information. This is expected to reduce complaints from individual users who end up not being able to book tickets online.

Tell me more: In 2014-15, 18.3 crore tickets were booked on the IRCTC website and 14.9 crore between April-December 2015.



What is it? The rate at which print advertising is estimated to grow in 2016 in India, according to a report by media agency GroupM.

Why is it important? However, print’s share in ad spending is estimated to decrease from 32.4% to 29.7% in 2016. Share of digital and television advertising are expected to increase to 12.7% and 47.1% this year. The growth in print sector is to be driven by auto, banking and finance and the government, besides regional advertising of telecom and consumer product brands in vernacular papers.

Tell me more: Total ad spending is estimated to grow 15.5% in 2016 to Rs 57,486 crore. Digital spending is likely to grow the fastest at 47.5% while growth rates of television and radio advertising are likely to slow down from 2015.


$1.5 billion

What is it? Amount venture capital-backed startups raised on 114 deals in the October-December quarter of 2015, according to a report by CB Insights and KPMG.

Why is it important? This is a decline of 46% in funding and 18% in number of deals in the last quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter. In Q3 of 2015, VC-backed startups raised $2.8 billion on 139 deals. An indicator that startups may not enjoy the same steady flow of VC money as in the previous quarters. India recently announced setting up a fund of funds with a $1.5 billion corpus to spent over four years.

Tell me more: At a global level too, there was a 30% drop in funding to $27.2 billion invested across 1,742 deals, marking the “lowest quarterly deal activity since Q1 2013”.



What is it? China’s economic growth rate in 2015.

Why is it important? It is the slowest in 25 years. A slowdown in China, which is the second largest economy and the second largest importer of goods and services, is bound to affect the global economy. Concerns over China’s slowdown and a slump in commodity prices have prompted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to cut its global economic growth forecast to 3.4% in 2016 from its October projection of 3.6%. It has kept China’s growth projection unchanged at 6.3% this year. China’s release of its weak economic growth prompted speculation that the government might announce some stimulus package, causing global stocks to rise.

Tell me more: China’s economic slowdown in the last two years comes as its government is trying to transition to an economy that is led by consumption and services rather than exports and investments.

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