News in Numbers, Aug 19, 2016: SBI board approves merger, Sindhu aims for the gold…

63,000

What is it? The number of jobs technology companies in the US have shed so far this year, according to an outplacement agency.

Why is it important? Automation is replacing jobs, and analysts say that this trend is likely to continue. Hardware engineers are the most hit with firms such as Cisco making the shift to more profitable software-oriented services. Cisco laid off 5,500 employees recently and it may affect its research and development centre in India.

Tell me more: Other companies that are likely to lay off employees are IBM Corp, Oracle Corp, Dell Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, according to analysts. A Global Equities Research analyst said the tech industry is likely to shed 370,000 jobs this year.

 

Rs 37 lakh crore

What is it? The balance sheet size of State Bank of India (SBI) and its five associate banks post merger. This proposal was cleared by its board on Thursday.

Why is it important? The announcement was made in May and this is the first step in what is believed to lead to a major consolidation phase in the banking sector after many years. This, despite the fact that bank unions have been opposing the move and have gone on strikes in the recent past.

Tell me more: The SBI has announced swap ratios (acquiring company offers its shares in exchange for the target company’s shares) for three of its associate banks (State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore), in addition to that for Bharatiya Mahila Bank. It is yet to announce the swap ratios for State Bank of Hyderabad and State Bank of Patiala.

 

1.6 million

What is it? The number of pellets fired by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) between July 8 and August 11 to control violent mobs in Kashmir, as per its admission to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday.

Why is it important? The use of pellet guns, which caused eye injuries (including loss of vision) to many, has come under sharp criticism by human rights organisations and political parties. After Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement in July that the government would form an expert panel to consider other non-lethal alternatives for crowd control measures, the court had said this meant that pellet guns are not non-lethal weapons and this is enough reason to discontinue its usage.

Tell me more: The protests erupted after separatist militant, also the head of a terrorist group called Hijb-ul Mujahideen, Burhan Wani was killed in July. The CRPF told the court that pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted form of riot control and if these are withdrawn, then it would have no option but to open fire with rifles in extreme situations, which could be fatal.

 

41%

What is it? The gap between the actual number of toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission and the official numbers as put up by the sanitation ministry in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, as per a field survey report of select districts.

Why is it important? Such a mismatch raises concerns about the real progress of the programme. India has set a target to eliminate open defecation by 2019. In some states such as Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the gaps between the actual numbers and those reported to the central government are 19%, 23%, 27% and 28% respectively. The field survey numbers for Sikkim, which became the first to achieve the open defecation free status, are the only ones that match with those with the ministry of sanitation.

Tell me more: Retired civil and defence services officers and non-government institutions with rural development experience are empanelled by the rural development ministry as individual and institutional National Level Monitors. These monitors covered 24.22 lakh random households in some districts across states.

 

51

What is it? The duration of the semi-final match between Indian shuttler PV Sindhu and World Number 6 Nozomi Okuhara from Japan on Thursday. Sindhu smashed her way into the finals.

Why is it important? With her Thursday’s win, Sindhu has assured India of at least a silver medal – the second one after Sakshi Malik won a bronze in the 58 kg women’s freestyle wrestling category on Wednesday, and the fifth Indian female athlete to get a medal overall. All eyes are on the 21-year-old athlete from Hyderabad who would face World Number 1 Carolina Marin from Spain this evening and if Sindhu defeats Marin, she would be the second Indian sportsperson to win the gold after ace shooter’s Abhinav Bindra’s victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Tell me more: This was Sindhu’s debut at the Olympics. She trains under Pullela Gopichand at his academy in Hyderabad.

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News in Numbers, July 11, 2016: Mallya accused of fund diversion, Burhan Wani’s killing…

Rs 1,225 crore

What is it? The potential amount that United Spirits has allegedly diverted when it was under chairmanship of Vijay Mallya.

Why is it important? This adds to Mallya’s woes, who is wanted by Indian investigation authorities with a Mumbai court issuing a non-bailable warrant for his arrest. United Spirits, now owned by Diageo, a British multinational alcoholic beverages company, has informed Enforcement Directorate and the Securities and Exchange Board of India about the diversion of funds, and has directed the management to pursue its recovery and sue Mallya if necessary.

Tell me more: United Spirits has said the funds have been diverted to Force India Formula One, Watson Ltd, Continental Administrative Services and Ultra Dynamics, in which Mallya “appears to have a material, direct and indirect interests”. Mallya said in a statement that all transactions were above board.

 

500,000 tonnes

What is it? The quantity of duty-free, non-genetically modified corn India will import.

Why is it important? This would help overcome shortages and check prices, giving relief to starch manufacturers and the poultry industry, the main consumers of corn. Due to two consecutive years of drought, India’s corn production is estimated to have decreased to 21.02 million tonnes in 2015-16 from 23.67 million tonnes in 2014-15. India has traditionally been a major exporter of corn to the Southeast Asian region.

Tell me more: India, which allows cultivation and consumption of only genetically modified cotton, has been facing difficulties in sourcing non-genetically modified corn recently.

 

23

What is it? The number of people reportedly killed after protesters clashed with the police, angered by the killing of separatist militant Burhan Wani in Jammu and Kashmir.

Why is it important? Wani, who led the Hijb-ul Mujahideen (one of the largest and important terrorist groups perpetrating violence in the state), was seen as the face of new-age militancy in the region. The show of support by thousands who attended his funeral despite orders to restrict movement of people and traffic, indicates support for the cause and there are concerns that death might prompt increased attacks on security forces and civilians.

Tell me more: Around 200 people were injured in the clashes that erupted after Wani’s killing. Wani was popular on social media, releasing videos and pictures online with an aim to recruit young Kashmiri men for terror.

 

20%

What is it? The percentage of seats that go unoccupied in Air India flights on the routes connecting Delhi to Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

Why is it important? The state-owned carrier hopes to fill this up by offering tickets (booked within 4 hours of departure) at the same rate as 2-tier AC fares in Rajdhani trains. It’s Rs 2,870  from Delhi to Mumbai; Rs 3,905 from Delhi to Chennai; Rs 2,890 from Delhi to Kolkata and Rs 4,095 from Delhi to Bengaluru. High air fares charged by carriers have come under criticism recently.

Tell me more: The domestic traffic between the metros account for around half of the domestic air travel. Air India’s losses were expected to be Rs 2,636 crore in 2015-16 compared to Rs 5,860 crore in 2014-15.

 

79.1 crore

What is it? The number of person-days of employment generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme in the first quarter of this year.

Why is it important? This is the highest since the first quarter of 2012 and around 12% higher than the projected figure of 70.5 crore person days in the first quarter of this year. The spurt in numbers was due to higher than expected demand in some drought-hit states such as Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Tell me more: Some states including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand have been lagging behind in terms of person-days of employment generated and the central government has written to them to increase the pace of the scheme’s implementation.

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